Vinyl Williams

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Vinyl Williams
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Psychedelic rock, experimental, shoegazing, space rock, krautrock, dream pop
Years active 2007-present
Associated acts Toro Y Moi
Members Lionel Williams

Vinyl Williams is an American band led by the Los Angeles based multimedia artist and musician Lionel Williams.[1] He has released three albums.


Vinyl Williams' music attempts to achieve 'sonic matrices', most simply described as an identification of sounds combined to elevate spirit, embellish certain imagery, or to allow for an individual's listening experience to be an aesthetic, pleasant, and contrasting sensory experience.[2] These audible frequencies are attained by a wide variety of techniques. An early and popular example may be certain pieces by Claude Debussy, notably the use of parallel chords, chord substitution, and natural modulations. The style and genre of the music has been described in various ways owing to the multiple influences and reference points of Vinyl Williams' music, with the terms electronic, krautrock, psyched-out rock, shoegaze, pop and chillwave all having been mentioned.[3]

WIlliams released the track "Gold" through Bandcamp in 2010, followed by the "Naked Sanctuary" EP in July 2010. The EP featured the tracks "100", "Freshly Picked Diamond", "Zeal Biotics", "Spiral Galaxy" and "Psychic Shrine" and was written, recorded and produced by Lionel Williams.[4] Williams followed this with the release of "Ultimate World" EP through Warmest Chord on April 9, 2012.

In March 2012, The Guardian featured Vinyl Williams in its 'New Band of the Day' series, with Paul Lester describing Williams' music as playing host to "the effulgent aura of the more gently experimental noise-pop, with the ghostly pall of chill wave"[5] while Altered Zones commented that "Williams magnificently strings together cosmic mysticism, punchy shoegaze, and skewed acid-pop into a cohesive body of songs that pulls the listener down a prismatic spiral of feel good aural meditation."[6]

Williams says of his writing style, "There is no conception to the work, as in I let it "happen" without restricting it conceptually, or by forming preliminary ideas before actually executing the work. I let it flow out, I improvise, then toy at the improvisation until it emanates some kind of bliss."[7] He also mentions his “religiously dissonant upbringing, growing up in the atmosphere of Utah and experiencing the mysteries of Mormonism.” as a major influence over his approach to his art.

Williams uses a full analogue and digital setup, "to cross pollinate the two" and has also stated that he "constantly [records] improvisations."[8]

Ultimate World EP[edit]

Vinyl Williams released "Ultimate World" EP on Warmest Chord as a limited edition (100 only) screen print designed by Lionel and digital download on April 9, 2012. Lionel Williams wrote and performed all instruments on the EP.[9]

The lead single, "Chroma Heart", was premiered on March 9, 2012 on Abeano blog and International Tapes. Abeano wrote of the track; "Chroma Heart is kaleidoscopic, gleaming with the soft, lush hues of something lovingly crafted and utterly gorgeous", with International Tapes stating that "It’s about time for some feel-good Spring jams to start rolling out and Vinyl Williams is getting us off to a good start."[10][11]

On March 26, 2012, The Line of Best Fit featured "Teal Palm" as their 'Song of the Day', calling it "deceptively simple four-chord pop, played through a kaleidoscopic filter of Can-esque kraut and Secret Machines-esque post-rock, constantly modulated with bits of Luke Abbott-indebted pastoral electronica."[12] while Dummy went on to add that Williams is a "retro futurist with a penchant for analogue noise and sonic transcendentalism... makes the music of dreams."[13]

Vinyl Williams released the mixtape, SPACEBEAT to promote the release via Dummy. The mixtape included songs by Nurse With Wound, Stereolab, Suicide, Steve Roach, Tim Hecker, The War On Drugs, Good Amount, Spacemen 3, Pure X, Thundercat, Gas, Jon Maus.[14]

The video for "Chroma Heart" was premiered by Vice Noisey worldwide on April 10, 2012. The video was directed by Lionel and included reference to his collage work.[15]

Lemniscate album[edit]

Vinyl William‘s debut album Lemniscate was released through No Pain In Pop (EU) and Lionel Williams' own Salonislam imprint (US) on November 12, 2012.[16][17][18]

Vinyl Williams track "Harmonious Change" premiered at The FADER ahead of the Lemniscate release.[19] and Williams' own Salonislam label (US).

The Guardian's 'New Music' critic, Michael Cragg, featured a review of Open Your Mind in October 2012, ""The gorgeously lo-fi Open Your Mind creaks and rattles prettily for the first two minutes, all effects-laden guitars and Williams' distant croon, before the song shifts down a gear in favour of a wordless coda of filtered guitar frippery".[20]

The FADER premiered the "Higher Worlds" video ahead of the Lemniscate album release.

Vinyl Williams was interviewed by Dazed & Confused Digital in October 2012 and Williams contributed original art to the article.[21]

Patric Fallon at Pitchfork Media reviewed "Higher Worlds" stating "Lionel "Vinyl" Williams' retro-obsessed psych-pop is obscured in lo-fi tape hiss, riddled with microphone distortions, and sounds as if it was crafted purely from the dust lifted off of Can records. His wavering voice floats inside gobs of delay and reverb, constantly changing tone and pitch amidst the thick smoke of smoldering synth tones and destroyed guitar strums".[22]

The Guardian gave the album a positive 4*/5 rating.[23]

No Pain in Pop released ‘Stellarscope', a single from debut album 'Lemniscate', on 1 March 2013. The single included a Europa51 remix featuring ex-Stereolab member Andy Ramsay. [1]. Lionel Williams and bandmate Nikita created an interactive music video to coincide with the release which was available to download and play, Dazed Digital premiered the experience on 1 March 2013.

Trance Zen Dental Spa EP[edit]

On December 10th 2014, Vinyl Williams released a new, free interactive album available for download via Bittorrent which combined both new music and visuals in collaboration with Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick. The album named, ' Trance Zen Dental Spa' was conceptualised and brought to life after Lionel and Chaz met in Seoul, South Korea. The album music and visuals are as one, an experiment of tactile listening. Lionel, whist describing the concept behind this project explains that, "The most conceptually-intact way for this project to exist is as a digital form. It’s about issues of simulated phenomena that ultimately end up as choose-your-own-adventure hypnotism."[24]

Into album[edit]

Vinyl Williams released his second LP, ‘Into’ via Toro Y Moi’s Company Records on 24th July 2015.[1] The album’s lead single “World Soul” was premiered on 29 April through Stereogum and has been described as a clinic on layering synths and electro atmospheric sounds.[25] The announcement also included a first play on Huw Stephen's show on BBC Radio 1. On the 15th June, the video for 'World Soul' was premiered via Clash Magazine, who describe it as "a feast for the eyes - flickering colour, hypnotic shapes and more".[26]

In August 2016, Williams released the album Brunei.[27]



Title Album details
  • Released: July 24, 2015
  • Label: Company Records
  • Formats: CF, 12" Vinyl, digital download
  • Released: August 26, 2016
  • Label: Company Records
  • Formats: CF, 12" Vinyl, digital download


Title Album details
Naked Sanctuary
Trance Zen Dental Spa


Vinyl Williams rarely performs live but did tour South Korea with Toro Y Moi in February 2012. The band have since performed with Django Django and Metz in Los Angeles. In March 2013 a US tour with Mount Kimbie and Holy Other in June 2013 was announced.

After the band's first show on tour with Mount Kimbie, The Village Voice wrote, "LA psych prodigies Vinyl Williams started off the evening with a heavy set of lush distorted guitar melodies in the vein of My Bloody Valentine. Though they've only been together for two years, this young band is talented, refined and extremely well rehearsed. Fronted by guitarist and singer Lionel Williams, the band played a tremendous half-hour set that left the small crowd of only 40 to 50 people awestruck."[28]

Through March, April & May 2015, Vinyl Williams is supporting Toro y Moi on a North American tour, and supporting Unknown Mortal Orchestra in July 2015.[25]

Following the release of their second album "Into" in July 2015, Vinyl Williams toured the US throughout September and October. Supported by Gazoota and JJUUJJUU.[29]


Lionel Williams has also developed a collage art catalog that is getting worldwide acclaim.[30]

An exhibition was held in Berlin in January 2012 entitled "Let The Sunshine In" where Lionel's art was exhibited at the Mindpirates Gallery. During the exhibition, Lionel also held one off improvisations with other musicians including Jens Zygar, Manfred Kage, Raz Ohara and The Odd Orchestra, rRoxymore, Nick Henderson & Annika Henderson (Anika), Jochen Arbeit (Einstuerzende Neubaten), Brian Mitchell & Valerie Renay (Noblesse Oblige), Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), Miguel de Pedro (Kid 606), Infinite Livez (Vinnie Tifeilz), Verity Susman (Electrelane), and Michel Morin (Sneak Thief).[31]

Lionel describes his art by stating, "I create surreal art — collages and ambient rock music — that incorporates religious imagery, mystical sensationalism, sacred locations and some psychedelic concepts. I could describe it as sacred- magic-mystical-psychedelic-religious-collage art. I’m influenced by the Middle East, specifically Egypt, Israel and Turkey, and I attempt to fuse the archaic forms of art and music indigenous to those places, while simultaneously achieving a modern aesthetic. I’m also influenced by the psychedelic concepts of great thinkers and philosophers like Alan Watts, Plato and Paul Laffoley. Imperfections inspire me, as do tangibles of the intangible, visual identity of the unidentifiable, poetic process (the opposite of mechanical process), phenomena of the mind, phenomena in general, and supernatural experience."[32]

Lionel's artwork was featured in the Dazed & Confused art issue in November 2012.[21]


In addition to his musical and art works, Lionel Williams is also a video producer and director.

Lionel has produced for his own music and within a directing capacity for artists such as bEEdEEgEE (Brian DeGraw) from Gang Gang Dance along with Lovefoxx from CSS,[33] Tears for Fears, Medicine[34] and new acts such as Luka.[35][36]

In 2015, he designed a playable music video for single "Make it right" by the italian psychedelic band The Quincey.[37]

In 2016, Lionel designed a video and interactive game for LA trio JJUUJJUU.[38]

Higher Worlds Video[edit]

The track ‘Higher Worlds’ is taken from the Vinyl Williams 2012 album, ‘Lemniscate’. Lionel directed a video for this song and was subsequently premiered on The FADER ahead of the album release. Lionel explained the concept behind the video, "“The images in ‘Higher Worlds’ are made up of various religious aspects to form an idea of what it looks like to experience something extra-sensory, beyond the very limited one octave of our visual spectrum. The effect is amplified by degenerative processes, such as filming my computer screen as I’m building these 3D worlds, then transferring the footage of this digital environment into an analog composite signal, onto VHS, taking the VHS machine on a roller coaster as it’s laying over in real-time, to encounter natural distortions and imperfections. Through this project’s imperfections and fuzz, I feel like it created itself. The video has an intense amount of exotic imagery—perhaps to express it would be to attach it to the most tropical, vast, exotic dreamscape one could ever imagine. I obviously link it to something like teal treasure temples in a space lounge rainforest".[39]

Stellarscope A/V Experience[edit]

In 2013, Lionel Williams realsed his Stellarscope album which he accompanied with a directed video made with bandmate Nikita, unlike the traditional video's of most artists. This video, premiered on Dazed Digital was an interactive walkthrough 'visual project' which allowed viewers to watch and change the direction of the videos running, both visually and audibly.

Lionel Williams said that "'Stellarscope' is an interactive environment. It's meant to be explored as a generative process - in other words you create the visuals by wandering throughout. Certain objects have sounds that emanate out of them (rainforest sounds in the jungle, ambient drones out of celestial tree disks, low drones out of the ending chalice) which are in congruency with the actual song. If you can make into a close proximity to those objects during the duration of the song, in a sense you can jam with it. It's supposed to allow navigation into a visual and sonic improvisational world. There is no interface or goal, it's really about exploring, and ultimately a test of digital dexterity. It appears to be a little difficult to navigate through a space jungle kingdom built on seamless stream-of-consciousness." [40]


Also in 2013, Lionel’s work was exhibited under the title, ‘Sri Neter’ at the California Institute of the Arts.[41]

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - 'Multi-Love'[edit]

In March 2015 Unknown Mortal Orchestra released the interactive video for single 'Multi-Love'. Directed by Lionel Williams the special video offers a playable interactive environment where you are able to explore and manipulate the video world from your computer by downloading the video files.[42]


Direction for other artists[edit]

  • 2016 - 'Bleck' - JJUUJJUU
  • 2015 - 'Make it right' - The Quincey
  • 2015 - 'Multi-Love' - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
  • 2014 - 'Move Along/Down The Road' - Medicine
  • 2014 - ‘Cult' - Luka
  • 2014 - 'No Time' - Dub Thompson
  • 2013 - 'My Girls' - Tears for Fears
  • 2013 - ‘Flowers’ - BeeDeeGee & Lovefoxx

Vinyl Williams video direction[edit]

  • 2014 - 'Trance Zen Dental Spa' - Vinyl Williams & Chaz Bundick
  • 2013 - 'Stellarscope’ - Vinyl Williams
  • 2012 - 'Higher Worlds' - Vinyl Williams
  • 2012 - 'Inner Space’ - Vinyl Williams


Lionel Williams is the grandson of the cinematic composer John Williams, and son of Mark Towner Williams, a session drummer and producer.[32]


  • Lionel Williams
  • Ian Gibbs
  • Billy Winger
  • James Lake

Associated musicians[edit]

  • James Lake (drums/synth) 2011–present
  • Billy Winger (bass/drums) 2011–present
  • Ian Gibbs (multi-instrumentalist) 2011–present
  • Nikita Arefkia (synth) 2011–2013
  • Bryan Lee (drums) 2007–2010
  • Craig Murray (bass) 2008–2009
  • Calin Stephensen (bass) 2007–2008


  1. ^ a b Elingburg, Scott (August 17, 2015). "Interview: Vinyl Williams". Stereo Subverison. Retrieved 2016-08-31. 
  2. ^ "Vinyl Williams – Discover music, concerts, stats, & pictures at". 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Vinyl Williams Bio". 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  4. ^ "Naked Sanctuary | Vinyl Williams". 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  5. ^ Paul Lester (2012-03-21). "New band of the day – Vinyl Williams (No 1,233) | Music |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  6. ^ "Vinyl Williams: "Higher Worlds"". Altered Zones. 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  7. ^ "Vinyl Williams: 'I'm A Meeting Ground Between The Cosmos And The Earth' | First On | DIY". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  8. ^ "Feeding Time". Feeding Time. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  9. ^ "Ultimate World | Warmest Chord". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  10. ^ "Vinyl Williams – Chroma Heart". ABEANO. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  11. ^ "International Tapes". International Tapes. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  12. ^ "Vinyl Williams – Teal Palm // Song of the Day - Best Fit Premiere". The Line Of Best Fit. 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  13. ^ Steph Kretowicz. "Vinyl Williams - Leminscate | Dummy » New Music". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  14. ^ "Dummy Mix 115 // Vinyl Williams | Dummy » Mixes". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  15. ^ "Vinyl Williams - "Chroma Heart" (Official Video)". YouTube. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  16. ^ No Pain In Pop. "Vinyl Williams :: No Pain In Pop". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  17. ^ "Salonislam". Salonislam. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  18. ^ "Vinyl William: Lemniscate". Factmag. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  19. ^ "///No Pain In Pop\\\". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  20. ^ Cragg, Michael (2012-10-30). "New music: Vinyl Williams – Open Your Mind | Music |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  21. ^ a b "Vinyl Williams's "WHOA!" art". Dazed Digital. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  22. ^ "Vinyl Williams: "Higher Worlds" | Tracks". Pitchfork. 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  23. ^ Hann, Michael (2012-11-22). "Vinyl Williams: Lemniscate – review". The Guardian. London. 
  24. ^ "Vinyl Williams and Chaz Bundick: Trance Zen Dental Spa". bittorrent blog. London. 2014-12-10. 
  25. ^ a b "Vinyl Williams – "World Soul" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. 
  26. ^ "Premiere: Vinyl Williams - 'World Soul'". Clash Magazine. 
  27. ^ Rivers, Joe (August 18, 2016). "Review: Vinyl Williams - Brunei". Clash. Retrieved 2016-08-30. 
  28. ^ Aaron Frank. "Mount Kimbie - Bowery Ballroom - 5/30/13". Village Voice. 
  29. ^ "Catch Vinyl Williams on tour in the US this September & October! «  GIANT MEN MANAGEMENT". Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  30. ^ Lionel Williams. "Lionel Williams". Notpaper. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  31. ^ "Berlin Sessions | Let The Sunshine Inlet The Sunshine In". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  32. ^ a b "Lionel Williams | | Let The Sunshine Inlet The Sunshine In". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  33. ^ "bEEdEEgEE and Lovefoxxx Get Freaky for 'Flowers' Video". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  34. ^ "medicines new video is noise pop perfection". Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  35. ^ "medicines new video is noise pop perfection". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  36. ^ "Dub Thompson-No Time Musc Video (Interview/Director Vinyl Williams)". Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ "PREMIERE: Hang Out with a 300 Pound Gorilla in JJUUJJUU's Interactive Video for 'Bleck' | NOISEY". NOISEY. Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  39. ^ "Vinyl Williams - Higher Worlds". Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  40. ^ "Vinyl Williams's Stellarscope A/V Experience". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  41. ^ "Arte psicodélico de Lionel Williams". thvndermag. Retrieved 2013-12-20. 
  42. ^ "Music Video: Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love - HUH.". 

External links[edit]