Wallis Schriver, WALLIS: “I wish someone told me how much work goes into putting out music”

I wish someone told me how much work goes into putting out music. Being a musician is not as simple as just being a musician (laughs). It has to be run like a business, and since my dad and I are working on this together, and I have not signed to a label, we’ve had […]

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I wish someone told me how much work goes into putting out music. Being a musician is not as simple as just being a musician (laughs). It has to be run like a business, and since my dad and I are working on this together, and I have not signed to a label, we’ve had to form a team to figure out how to navigate all of the behind the scenes work required to put out music.

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

WALLIS has been dazzling audiences with her musical skills since she was a young child. Raised in Philadelphia, she got her first taste of performing arts at the tender age of two when her parents took her to see “Peter Pan” the musical. Mesmerized by the performance, WALLIS immediately declared that performing was what she wanted to do with her life. Delving into the local choir and theatre landscape eventually led to WALLIS being cast in a production of Annie at The Walnut Street Theatre, on the very stage she saw her first show. Growing up with a musician for a father, meant a steady stream of musical friends visiting their home and having impromptu performances, which she often joined. A songwriter by 9 years old, WALLIS became a paid performer singing cover songs in local theaters and cabarets by the time she was 12. As she approached junior high school, WALLIS decided to study her craft full time, pleading with her parents for the opportunity to audition for a performing arts charter school over an hour away from their home, to which she was accepted and now attends as a sophomore.

Frequently collaborating with her father, WALLIS has enjoyed recording in their home studio for years. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, WALLIS gained worldwide recognition at 15 years old after she released her first song “Lonely Christmas” on December 3, 2020, which spoke to the loneliness that was inevitable for many during a pandemic. Uploaded to YouTube, with a music video shot on her father’s iPhone, “Lonely Christmas” quickly went viral, gaining over one million views in eighteen days.

Co-written with her father, Gene Schriver, her most recent single “Another Day” was recorded at their Pennsylvania home and at the famed Criteria Studios in Miami with Grammy-winning engineer Carlos Alvarez. “This is a song about coping. It’s about seeing light in the darkness and dancing through it. Growing up in a world that’s often very confusing for my generation, I have to remind myself that I have everything I need to survive, and when I feel lost I can find myself through music,” says WALLIS.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/4a02c4ebb7d19418283a691f8ac610ce

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! I grew up, and am still growing up (laughs) near Philadelphia. I have 2 younger sisters, Maren (13) and Soleil (10), and we perform together as the Schriver Sisters. I went to my local elementary school but then switched to cyber school after I got cast in my first professional theatre show. Starting in 8th grade, I attended a performing arts charter school for a couple of years, and now am 16 years old and going into 11th grade. I live in the same town where both of my parents grew up. My father (Gene Schriver) is a tech executive, but his first love was music, and he’s my writing partner. We’ve always had instruments around the house, and parties at our house usually involved some really talented musicians picking up instruments and blowing minds. It’s been a special place to grow up. We live in the house where Joey Lawrence and his family lived, and where Bradley Cooper, Molly Bair and Adam Goldberg grew up close by — maybe there’s something creative in the water in this tiny town.

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

My whole childhood I was constantly surrounded by very musical people who have influenced me and helped me to find my love for music. I joined as many choirs, cabarets, community theatre productions, and any other opportunities to perform that I could. In one long car ride, my Dad taught me how to sing harmony and from that point on I knew that this would be my path. From there I auditioned for some professional theatre productions, studied music and performance more in-depth, and now I am writing and producing in collaboration with my Dad.

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

Lots of interesting things have happened along the way, and my career is really just getting started. There are two things I think felt meaningful or just serendipitous that I can share. How my first single, “Lonely Christmas,” broke into the mainstream was pretty interesting. I was doing an interview and the reporter asked me if I had seen the new BeeGees documentary (I hadn’t), because in it they talk about the Gibb brothers and how sibling harmonies are like an instrument that you can’t buy. There’s something unique about how sibling voices blend together, and it’s very special. We were in Miami at the time and decided to watch the documentary with our family and we were blown away by the story and how much amazing music the BeeGees put out. When we got to Criteria Studios in Miami to recut vocals, horns, and bass, the engineer let us know we were in the studio where the BeeGees did most of their work. And when Julio Hernandez showed up to play session bass, he let us know he spent 15 years playing bass for Barry Gibb. It felt very cosmic how three sisters who are pretty good at harmonies were suddenly getting comparisons to the BeeGees, and that we were recording in the same space where they made legendary music, and a documentary about their career came out at the same time as our first song was being released.

Another interesting story to me is how I fell in love with performing when I was about 3 years old. My mom took me to see the musical Peter Pan at a famous regional theatre in Philadelphia. When Peter Pan flew over my head, I was mesmerized and knew that’s what I wanted to do. Nine years later when I was twelve, I got my first professional acting/singing job at that same theatre, and I was in the same cast as the actress who played Peter Pan and who inspired me as a child. That was pretty cool.

Finally, seeing my first song posted to social media by Ellen DeGeneres was definitely an interesting moment.

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’ve made a ton of mistakes and I don’t plan to stop making them. It’s easy as a writer and a performer to second guess creative decisions you’ve made, but you can’t take them back. And that’s okay because the inspiration never stops coming for me. I’m always thinking about the next thing. I usually second guess things that are just dumb, like a social media post. I still struggle with social media. I’m here to make music and sing, and while I want everyone on the planet to hear my work, I’m not very confident with social media. I don’t know if and when I will get more comfortable sharing so much outside of music. We’ll see. Another silly mistake was my cover art for “Lonely Christmas.” “Lonely Christmas” was the first single that I have ever released. It came out in December in a hurry, and since we were rushing to get it out, my dad submitted a screenshot of a video he had taken of me for the cover art so we could get it up on Spotify after the YouTube video started to take off. When I saw it on Spotify I noticed that it had a random highlighter streak across the picture. He didn’t even notice.

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

I am excited about a lot of projects that I will release in the future. I have many songs and other pieces of content in the works. We are hoping to release several songs this year and maybe an EP or an album at the start of next year. I am also hoping to perform live shows this fall!

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?

This is so important. I think it is important to have diversity in film and television so that there is a representation for everybody consuming the media. It’s important for children growing up to see diversity so that being different from one another is embraced and accepted. Diversity can help to eliminate stereotypes, and it can help to remove standards and defaults that have been programmed into society. When I see people like myself in the media, it provides a sense of community and gives me something to relate to, and it is so important to make sure that everyone has that opportunity. Diversifying television and film can help to provide people of different races, genders, sexualities, abilities, ages, religions, and other marginalized groups, a chance to feel seen and heard. This will bring new perspectives to the media and it will form necessary connections with the audience. I have cousins in Argentina, and I dropped a few Spanish lyrics into “Another Day.” I would love to recognize culture, diversity and acceptance in my work more and more in the future.

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. I wish someone told me how much work goes into putting out music. Being a musician is not as simple as just being a musician (laughs). It has to be run like a business, and since my dad and I are working on this together, and I have not signed to a label, we’ve had to form a team to figure out how to navigate all of the behind the scenes work required to put out music.
  2. Not to overthink interviews. I have to learn how to not beat myself up if an interview did not go as smoothly as I was hoping, or if I didn’t sound as eloquent as I had hoped.
  3. To be surrounded by supportive people who have your best interest at heart, not just “yes” people. I’m incredibly lucky to have the most supportive family I could ever ask for, but like anyone else, there are always some people who you think are close to you, but who break your heart.
  4. How much social media is involved in music. A lot, and I don’t even do much compared to many artists.
  5. How all-encompassing a music career can be. I train at everything — acting, writing, guitar, piano and vocals, and I still have to do Algebra, Chemistry, and the rest of my academics (and sports). Makes for a busy schedule.

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

Well, I don’t feel totally qualified to answer this, but whenever I’m feeling burned out, I like to listen to music from artists that I love, or read an interesting book or article, or watch a movie. Essentially, I just take inspiration from other creatives and it usually helps me to get new ideas. Even though doing it all can be a grind, I’m just getting started, so I have a lot of energy. I think persistence is key. If you have talent and you are willing to invest in the long haul, you will have your day.

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 have many causes I would like to inspire people to get involved with. For now, I think it would be to improve the conditions for incarcerated people.

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?

Yes. My Dad. Hands down. Not only is he an insanely creative thinker, but he is also the father of three daughters and the only male in a house of 4 women. He sits and listens to me patiently late at night when I know he’s tired and has had a long day of work. He will literally sit in my room and let me cry to him and vent to him and throw all my teenage emotions at him, sometimes for hours. He coached my sports teams, he helps me in school, he has mentored me through auditions and performing, and now he’s my writing partner and producer. He is a true renaissance man who can do it all. He’s such a gentleman and is also the funniest person I know. My mom and my sisters are lucky to have him — and they’re amazing as well. Definitely can’t leave my mom out of this mix either. She does the other half of “it all.”

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

I think recently my life lesson to live by is, you will never please everyone so just do what makes you happy, and be kind.

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. 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Lorde. I think she is an incredible writer and I just find her very interesting. I think she would be a good conversationalist and someone I could learn a lot from. I know she has sisters, and I think they used to sing together (hopefully they still do), just like us! I did a cover of “Writer in the Dark” and added harmonies that my sisters sang. It’s on my Instagram and TikTok account if you wanna check it out, Lorde!

How can our readers follow you online?

On social, @i_am_wallis or just search WALLIS

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/i_am_wallis/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/I-Am-Wallis-101806798495466

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0gMhmwvjwwuKGDrn8AvXG3?si=UWirqWHyRea1RvCQmlSnOw&dl_branch=1

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0dNudEMWwUmngsVHz5CLyw

Twitter: https://twitter.com/i_am_wallis

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@i_am_wallis?lang=en

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

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