Country Next: William Beckmann
We take pride in introducing fans to country music’s brightest new stars through our Country Next series. Here, we chat with William Beckmann.
William Beckmann; Photo by Tyler Conrad
Hailing from Del Rio, TX, William Beckmann has made his way into the country music community, drawing inspiration from his Hispanic roots along the way.
Beckmann didn’t come from a house full of musicians, but he did always have a passion for the industry. Growing up, YouTube was his go-to source for all things music. Using the video platform, he discovered new artists and even learned how to play the guitar from watching tutorials.
“I kind of taught myself, I didn’t really have anyone to teach me how to play guitar,” Beckmann told Country Now. “I learned a little from piano lessons that I took, but I grew up in a small town, so there really wasn’t much to do and I had a lot of free time on my hands.”
In 2017, he fulfilled his parents wish of graduating college. Beckmann studied at Belmont University in the music business program, allowing him to become more educated on the industry he dreamed of being in.
Through his journey of becoming an artist, his songwriting abilities strengthened, the friendships he made flourished, and above all else, Beckmann made sure to incorporate the music of northern Mexico into his classic country sound. Whether he’s playing in Texas, Tennessee, or anywhere else, throwing a few Spanish tracks into the setlist gives his audience a unique listening experience. In doing so, Beckmann also shares a bit more about his background and personality through his music.
Starting a new chapter in his career, Beckmann got the chance to be more experimental with his music. When the events of 2020 unfolded, he and his producer, Oran Thornton, had to get creative in order to continue making music. This led to the release of what has become a fan favorite, “Bourbon Whiskey,” ahead of his single, “In the Dark.”
“‘Bourbon Whiskey’ was the first song out of the new record that we’re going to release hopefully at the beginning of next year,” Beckmann shared. “It’s a traditional country song that I’ve actually had for a while, it’s a few years old, but I play it at every show and a lot of my friends say that’s their favorite song, so I had a lot of requests for it. I’m glad it’s finally out.”
Beckman still has a few more songs in his pocket, which will be shared soon, but in the meantime, he has released his own version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.”
Country Now recently caught up with Beckmann to chat about his journey to Nashville, making friends in the industry, new music and more.
Read on to find out more about William Beckmann in this exclusive Q&A below.
At what age were you first introduced to the idea of becoming an artist one day?
I took piano lessons, that was my first introduction into music, but I don’t think I realized I wanted to be an artist until I was in high school. I would play in a band, and that was when I realized I like performing and I like playing for people. It just kind of happened. I don’t come from a musical family so it’s not like I was born to do it or born into it. It was something I discovered along the way. I’d say high school, that’s was when I realized it was something I could potentially do for a living.
Growing up near the border of Texas, what were some of your musical influences and how has that affected your songwriting today?
A lot of country music for sure, and I listened to a bunch of classic rock. The band that I played in, we played a bunch of covers and we played Tom Petty and CCR and stuff like that. Also, growing up on the border, I was exposed to a lot of Latin music, a lot of Mexican music, mariachi music, and that was a big influence on me. It was a combination of country music and a lot of hispanic music that I remember growing up. You’d turn on the radio and 90% of the time it was something Spanish, and then you could move the dial to try and find some English stations.
Country music is starting to blend with different genres more and more. How has your audience responded to your music and the way you incorporate elements of your Hispanic background?
Very well actually. A lot of people in Texas really like that because there’s a lot of Hispanic people that live in Texas, specifically south Texas, and every time we play live, I try to throw in at least one song in Spanish and everybody kind of goes nuts. Most people sing along because there’s a lot of people there familiar with the music. So, it’s great, the response is great. When I play anything in Spanish here in Tennessee, it’s still a great response, but I think it’s more of just a shock value that attracts people to it.
Why is it important for you to include the Spanish songs into your sets?
It’s part of my heritage. I do come from a Hispanic family, so I feel like it’s part of my culture, it’s just the way I was raised. So, I like to put that at the forefront of what I do, especially when I’m playing. It’s an interesting show when you come see me and my band play, because we’ll do everything from my songs, the country stuff and then we’ll throw in typically a mariachi song. For awhile we were doing Selena, which was really fun.
Is your family supportive of the musical path you have decided to take with your career?
Absolutely, my parents are awesome, and they have supported me since day one. My parents really wanted me to go to college and at the time, I was like, I’m not going to go to college, I just want to be a musician and travel, but they really wanted me to, and they just asked that of me. I agreed to go and since my parents don’t have any musical background, they did research and Belmont university, where I eventually graduated from, which is known for its music business program, and they suggested I go there. I did and it was great because it helped me learn a lot about the business side of things that I wasn’t really educated on. I play the guitar and I know how to write songs, but I really didn’t know a lot about the business aspect of pursing music. So that helped me a lot, it’s something I look back on and I’m glad I did it because it taught me a lot about how things work. So that’s another way my parents supported me and my dreams.
You and Randy Rogers have a similar music background, and he has become a mentor to you in your career over the past few years. When did you two first meet?
We met in Arlington, TX at an award show. I had a song that was on Texas radio a few years ago and then I got invited to play at the award show, which is like a red carpet, they do it every year, and all the big names in Texas show up and they do interviews with radio programmers. It’s almost liked the Texas Grammys, that’s what it felt like at least. I was there, it was my first time going and that was where I originally met Randy. I performed that evening and Randy and Wade Bowen were in the crowd. I didn’t realize they were sitting front row because I couldn’t see from the stage, but after I performed, I was talking to somebody and then I say her eyes get really big. I get a tap on the shoulder, I turn around and it was Randy Rogers. I was kind of star struck because I never met him, and I grew up listening to his music. I was like, “oh my god, Randy I’m such a big fan of yours,” and he’s like, “hey man, I came to tell you I’m a fan of yours. We’re drinking beer on my tour bus and I came out here looking for ya if you want to come drink a few beers with us.” I said, “man, I would love that.” So I followed him to his tour bus and Wade Bowen and Kevin Fowler were all up there hanging out. So it was cool, that’s where it all started really.
Now that you have known each other for a while, how much of an impact has Randy had on you and your career?
At the time, he had a management company, and they had a lot of success with Parker McCollum on Big Blind, which is the name of the management company, he signed me to his management company, and they managed me for a couple years. I still kind of pinch myself because we’re such good buddies now, he’s like a big brother to me, we’re super close. Even still, we’ll go out to eat or something and we’ll just be mid conversation and I’ll be like, my 16-year-old self would be freaking out knowing that I’m casually having beers with Randy at a bar.
It’s great when those in the industry want to help out an up and coming artist in the same way someone helped them when they were starting out.
The sense of community in Texas and even Nashville has a lot of that. This business is hard, and you do need mentors to lean on and people to help open doors for you because before Randy really helped me out, let me open up shows for him and Wade Bowen the same, I was playing really small clubs, bars, coffee shops, just any place that would let me play. So, I went from playing for 30 people in a bar to playing for 3,000 people. It was a little bit of a shock. I’m still trying to figure it out an learn.
You have started to experiment with your music and implement some new techniques. Can you elaborate on what that means?
There’s a few songs that we recorded, my producer and I recorded them in the thick of the pandemic, so we couldn’t really bring a band, we didn’t have the means to get a group of guys together in the studio. There’s a song that’ll be coming out soon called “30 Miles,” which is my second favorite, it’s a very acoustic-driven track, it reminds me of something James Taylor would have put out in the 70s. I played the guitar, my producer had to play bass and he played the drums so it was just two people layering a bunch of things and it sounds like a full band. More than anything, it was just having fun in the studio and sort of experimenting and seeing what worked, what didn’t. we actually recorded those songs in Springfield, MO of all places. There’s a really cool studio there and that’s where my producer lives, so I drove out there from Nashville. It was nice because here in Nashville, it can get really costly to record. As an independent artist, you’re always trying to work off a budget and trying to be conscious of how much money’s being spent in the studio. So, to work in Springfield where you don’t feel the pressure of checking your watch all the time or how much money you’re spending, it was really nice to not have to worry about that. Usually in Nashville it’s go go go and you have a tight schedule, so it quickly adds up. It was a pleasant experience for me to take my time and really do what I wanted.
Tell me about one of your latest singles, “In the Dark.”
“In the Dark” is one that is my personal favorite right now. I wrote that song maybe two years ago and I was doing this writer’s retreat and Randy was there, Parker McCollum was there and a whole bunch of people from Nashville came, Jon Randall, who is a fantastic songwriter and produced Parker’s last record. We spent three days on this ranch in Austin and at the end of the retreat everybody got on stage and took turns singing songs. I remember I had just written that song and I played it, not thinking too much about it. I guess I still didn’t know how to feel about it, but everybody came up to me that night. Jack Ingram was there, and he made me play that song like four times that night. I started to realize, I don’t know what it is about that song, but it seems to move people in some kind of way. So it quickly became a fan favorite amongst my fellow singer/songwriters. That’s why I wanted to put that one out next, because I felt like it was a strong song and I was getting a lot of requests to release it.
Fans can keep up with William Beckmann on Instagram.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.