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The many musical ventures of Willem James Cowan


Fanshawe Music Industry Arts (MIA) student, Willem James Cowan, is proof that it is possible to balance a heavy workload and schedule, while pursuing a dream career.

Lliam Buckley | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 19th, 2018

Willem James Cowan, is an ambitious student in the Music Industry Arts (MIA) program at Fanshawe College. He's a well-versed song writer who is currently involved in a number of musical projects, both as a composer and an instrumentalist.

Cowan was first introduced to the world of song writing through his father.

“My dad showed me The Ramones when I was six and because it's punk music, it was so based around song writing and that was something that really intrigued me”, Cowan said.

Cowan went on to tell how this interest led him to start writing at the early age of eight.

Soon after, Cowan attended Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts. It was here that he met like-minded musicians and formed the band U-Turn, of which Cowan was the lead singer, frontman and a primary songwriter. For a group of local, elementary school kids, U-Turn did tremendously well, playing lots of community events, recording an EP and even winning The London Music award for “Most Popular Young People's Group” in 2011.

Cowan gained a lot from this experience, growing as a musician and a performer.

“It taught me a lot of basic things that I think I use unconsciously everyday,” Cowan said.

One of the biggest areas in this regard was his stage presence.

“It was good to grow up and kind of come of age playing shows because it made me comfortable on stage”, Cowan said.

Though U-Turn eventually parted ways, it did so only so that its members could pursue many more ambitious musical ventures together, several of which Cowan is a part of. These include, Pencil Diver, a psychedelic post rock band that Cowan does a large amount of writing for; Day Trip, a recently formed indie pop rock band in which Cowan plays guitar and synth and Waterbaby, an indie pop funk band that features Cowan on synth and trombone.

A true jack of all trades, Cowan is somehow able to juggle all of this along with his studies at MIA and still spend the majority of his time pursuing a solo career under the title Willem James Cowan (and The Friends of The Cove). Although Cowan enjoys his work as an instrumentalist and performer, his true passion has always been songwriting and this project serves as an excellent vehicle for him to explore this craft.

“It was a way for me to find my place in music,” Cowan said, referring to his desire to pursue a song writing career. “It's kind of been the only thing musically that's really appealed to me”.

Cowan believes that as a songwriter, it is important to be a wellversed storyteller.

“You can tell stories in different ways, but I think that you should be trying to write as many different types of songs as you can,” Cowan said.

This certainly comes through in Cowan's lyrics, which are quite thoughtful and poetic. He describes his genre of music as “psychedelic and alternative inspired folk rock”. For those interested in hearing what this type of music entails, Cowan is currently hard at work on a five song EP, with plans for its release on April 2 and a release concert planned for April 6 at The Pickle Social Club.

Once the EP is released, Cowan intends to tour with it in order to raise the money for an even bigger follow up project. “I've been writing so much and I write so constantly that…if I get enough cash together from the shows that I'm hopefully gonna be playing, I'm gonna try to get into a studio and record…for a full record,” Cowan said.

With Cowan recently winning the London preliminaries for Youth Discoveries “Road to Summer Folk” contest, there are certainly many exciting things to come.

From afar, the multitude of projects he's been involved in so far is just the tip of the iceberg on what promises to be a very successful career.

For those who'd like to follow along and stay in the loop on his current projects, Cowan can be found on Facebook at or on Instagram @WillemJamesCowan. Upon its release, his EP can be found on Bandcamp at
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