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Phillip Vilenski: “Your journey will never be exactly like someone else’s”

Your journey will never be exactly like someone else’s. So many times over the years we’ve tried to compare ourselves to other people or opportunities we saw other band’s get instead of focusing on all the great things we had in front of us. When you get inspired, do anything and everything you can to hang […]

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Your journey will never be exactly like someone else’s. So many times over the years we’ve tried to compare ourselves to other people or opportunities we saw other band’s get instead of focusing on all the great things we had in front of us.

When you get inspired, do anything and everything you can to hang onto that inspiration. For me it tends to come in waves. It’s so much easier to stay inspired than it is to get inspired


As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Phillip Vilenski.

Phillip Vilenski is the lead guitar player of six time rock charting band, Wayland. After touring the country for eight years, 300 days per year without a label, booking agent, or team, Wayland relocated to Los Angeles to record their next record right before the pandemic hit. Launching WaylandTV, they have remained true to their “always on tour” reputation by releasing more new music than ever digitally.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up as an only child in the small town of Wayland, Michigan with 3,000 people in town. My parents were local business owners there and the community helped raise me. Because of that, my parents and I were really close and they were my main musical influence growing up. My dad played bluegrass and folk music but was very educated in 60’s and 70’s rock and roll. My mom and I bonded over our love of Motown and 1950’s rock and roll like Buddy Holly & Elvis.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I daydreamed about being a musician since I was a little kid so I think from that time forward I was constantly trying to figure out how to get myself from that small town of Michigan onto big stages in front of people all over the world. I didn’t really have any other back up plan or choice. I felt a calling.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was in bands in high school but I wasn’t really sure how to get up and out of Wayland, Michigan, so I joined an internationally traveling performance group that not only performed singing and dancing but also taught music to kids all over the world, and that’s how I ended up meeting my best friend Mitch.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t really believe in mistakes because I do think everything happens the way that it is supposed to, but looking back I wish I would have versed myself in cover songs early on. Mitch and I dove right into songwriting without an education of chord structure, song structure, and arrangement. In some ways, I think that naive approach is really charming, but I also think there’s a lot to learn from those who’ve done it before us.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We recorded a batch of songs at the beginning of 2020 that the release got delayed due to the pandemic. We’re putting those songs out now with music videos to match along with launching our new channel WaylandTV, as well our membership community The Service. The Service is where we’re truly able to share our journey with the Wayland Warriors. We have about 40 unreleased demos along with a photo archive and exclusive performances. This has kept us pretty busy.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Music is about hearing someone else’s journey, it’s the most exciting thing. To experience art made by somebody else that has a different ethnic background, sexual orientation is the single most inspiring part of what I do. I was so attracted to the blues at an early age because this was music where I could hear the pain in their voices, derived from a life very different from mine. This appreciation fostered the inspiration that led me to dig deep within myself to write honest music. Diversity isn’t an importance, it’s a requirement.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Your journey will never be exactly like someone else’s. So many times over the years we’ve tried to compare ourselves to other people or opportunities we saw other band’s get instead of focusing on all the great things we had in front of us.
  2. No person is ever going to care about your career as much as you will. I heard different forms of this advice early on in my career but it never really sunk in. I wish it would have.
  3. I wish someone could have prepared me for the fact that so many people were going to come and go from my life professionally. When you first start out you think you have your team and support group together and it becomes such a loss or a hit when someone moves on and it actually has nothing to do with you. It was just time. It could have been time for them, but it could also have been time for them to leave your life so something better could come in for you.
  4. When you get inspired, do anything and everything you can to hang onto that inspiration. For me it tends to come in waves. It’s so much easier to stay inspired than it is to get inspired
  5. I wish someone would have told me that not everybody you meet that calls themselves your friend is your friend in the music business. As people come in and out of your life and want to be involved in what you’re doing, never put more trust in them than you have in yourself.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

To avoid burnout, work with people you love that inspire you and challenge you and push you.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement that brought the spirit of discernment into practice. It’s kind of a bummer people go viral for things that are not thoughtful and not art. Seeing through that fake art and viral trends as well as experiencing what’s really happening in the world versus what we’re being told is happening in the world. Embodying self trust and discernment to see what really matters and what is really important should be the movement that comes next regardless of who inspires it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am most grateful towards my mom and dad. They have been so supportive through twists, turns, victories, disappointments, struggles, even times where I wasn’t communicating with them, they were always there for me no matter what.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The first thing that comes to mind is that we all live in a yellow submarine, because it totally reminds me that no matter what’s happening to smile and laugh and it’s probably not that deep. The Beatles wrote a lot of heavy songs and right in the midst of some of their deepest darkest music comes a line like that, which can remind us all how fun this is supposed to be.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The first person that comes to mind is Paul McCartney. Not only has he been such an influence musically and lyrically to me and the rest of the world, but he just seems like a really good human and that’s the most inspiring thing to me. All the people that come off sour, this dude’s been through all that and more and he’s still super sweet to everybody. That’s probably the secret to success.

How can our readers follow you online?

www.waylandtheband.com, We’re on all social media channels @waylandtheband and our WaylandTV channel and Thursday Request Live is available on Facebook & YouTube.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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