Meet the Bakers: Willy J

Sometime in middle school I started listening to bands like Static-X,Slipknot and Fear Factory and decided to start playing drums as well. My neighbors thought it was really cool. So cool they even invited local law enforcement over to listen to how awesome my high school band was. I got into school band and eventually jazz band and decided that I wanted to try the Bari Sax. I played on a busted old school loaner bari sax that was probably more suited as a gravel scoop than a horn but I ended up loving it.

This is about when my time with Cakewalk products started. Some buddies and I decided one summer that we should record ourselves, because you know – there wasn’t a big enough market for angsty teen rock bands. One friend got a set of drum mics and I end up getting a mixer that came bundled with Logic 5. That was way back in the day when Logic supported Windows. It didn’t work out very well and I ended up buying a copy of SONAR 2 XL. Yes – I actually bought it. I know, unheard of for a teenager that was tech savvy in the days of Napster.

I spent that entire summer playing around with mic positions, effects and learning how to mix. The following school year I was dual-enrolled in a local community college and took a few courses on recording. We used these old Tascam 16 and 32 track machines and would mix everything down to 2-track tape. It was a great experience although sometimes I wasn’t sure if the machine was about to take off like a helicopter. I have yet to have the opportunity to apply my capstan cleaning skills in a real studio.

So I did the I’m into music and don’t know what to do with my life thing and went to Berklee College of Music. I got more into writing and exploring new musical styles and decided to do the Film Scoring program – a weird mix of contemporary composition and technology. With so many unemployed friends that did the recording program I figured I’d try something different. I met this girl right as I graduated with a plan to move to LA and start a life as a broke musician and film composer. She was finishing her last year of grad-school I decided to stick around Boston to see where things went – she eventually became my wife.

Where you can find Willy on the Weekends:

In space, literally. I spend entirely too much time playing Eve Online.

In the kitchen. I spend a ton of time cooking and have recently become obsessed with BBQ sauces. This is my current favorite recipe:

Wild Willy’s Chipotle Honey BBQ Sauce

  • Dice the onions into as small of pieces as possible or run them through a food processor. In a small pot heat the onions with a little bit of oil and a dash of brown sugar. I prefer coconut, but olive is fine. The onions only have to be soft, but if you want a sweeter sauce then caramelize them down to little brown bits.½ onion (or more if you like onions).
  • 2 cups organic ketchup* (or make your own). If its not an organic ketchup watch out for the ones that contain too much sugar. Alternatively you can use tomato paste, but you might need to add more vinegar
  • honey, buy local, it’s good for your allergies and I know you have them because, well, you’re reading a blog
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar* or white wine vinegar
  • canned chipotles in Adobo sauce
  • Dark complex red wine, bourbon* or a hoppy beer
  • Liquid smoke
  • Mustard
  • Brown sugar

* preference

Crack open the bottle of wine, Bourbon or Beer that you opted for. Take a sip. You earned it.

While the onions are getting soft, pull a few chipotles out of the can and cut them up into small pieces. Toss the chipotles into the pot with the onions. Don’t be afraid to throw a bunch of adobo sauce in with it, it’s awesome. Wash your hands after you’re done handling the peppers. Trust me on this one.

Add the ketchup, vinegar, a cap full or so of liquid smoke and a teaspoon-ish of the mustard, ¼ cup or so of your chosen booze. Be sure to take another sip while you do this, it’s important. Mix it all up and bring the heat down to low so it just bubbles a few times every minute or two. Add honey to taste. I usually start with 1-2 tablespoons.

Stir it all up a bit. Get your immersion blender and chop up all the onion and chipotle bits. If you don’t own an immersion blender this is your excuse/opportunity to get one. It is one of the coolest kitchen toys ever. Once it is all blended it will thicken up a fair amount. At this point you have two options to thin it out if it’s to heavy. You can add more vinegar, or if you have bourbon left, you can add more of that. If you opted for the hoppy beer option, go with additional vinegar.

Favorite Movie: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Years @ Cakewalk: 7.5ish
Instruments: Bari Sax, Drums, composer’s piano
Favorite Bands: Ben Harper, Mindless Self Indulgence, Bela Fleck, Sigur Ros
Preferred Styles of Music: Rock, Reggae, Metal, Funk
Superpower: Can grow a beard really really fast