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Campus Celebrity: Will Hoggard aka “Will Wildfire”

Year/Major: Senior ’13, Communications

Claim to fame:  Performer

Musical inspiration: Michael Jackson and Fall Out Boy

You’ve probably seen him in the pit, surrounded by students and visitors. Some stop to listen, some don’t but it doesn’t matter to him because he’s doing what he loves. No, I’m not talking about Gary the pit preacher, or an environmental representative, or an animal cruelty advocate, although they are campus celebrities in their own way. No, this guy has a smile that will melt your heart and a voice that can do much worse damage. Meet Will Hoggard, a Senior from Windsor, North Carolina and this week’s campus celebrity. Never heard of him? That’s probably because as a musician, he goes by a different name, one that’s caught on like…Wildfire, Will Wildfire that is.

The Resume

Will writes music, sings, and plays guitar. I know it’s difficult, but try not to drool, ladies. He has mastered and performed an extraordinary number of popular covers (visit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxGcOcXHuLM) but he also performs music he has written himself.  If I were to classify his music, which I would warn you not to do, I would call it alternative hip-hop. He has over 12,000 followers on SoundCloud, (visit: https://soundcloud.com/#team-wildfire) where most of his work can be heard. In March 2013, Team Wildfire posted a music video on YouTube (visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2-IGXV_5l4) which was directed and produced by Team Wildfire and featured not only Will, but also members of the team. He has opened up for Anoop Desai at Cat’s Cradle and has frequented many other music venues on Franklin Street. In December of 2011, Will released a 29 song mixtape entitled Where the Wild Things Are segments of which can also be heard via his SoundCloud channel.

Team Wildfire

When talking to Will about his favorite subject, his music of course, it’s hard to miss the emphasis he puts on the team effort. Who are his team members you might ask? They’re his friends, and fellow members of the Carolina family. When asked what role the Team plays in his career he was quick to assert that their contributions are extensive, but the most important of these is loyalty.  “I grew up with these guys, whoever you ball with you fall with.” When asked if he would ever consider working solo he acknowledged that he may make songs with other artists in the future but he will never abandon the Team. Jump on the bandwagon quick quickly my fellow Tar Heels, they’re only going up from here.

The Hat

If you’ve met Will, you are undoubtedly familiar with his signature straw hat. If you haven’t met him, now you know what to look for because he rarely goes anywhere without it.  When asked about this wide-brimmed, floppy aspect of his persona, he explained that it was a gift from his father his sophomore year.  Why does he wear it? “It’s goofy” he explained “but it’s hard to be anything but happy when you look ridiculous, it just makes me feel good and it sets a positive tone with other people.” Once he discovered the infectious positivity of the hat, he continued wearing it until it broke. People came to enjoy it and associate it so much with Will and his music that someone presented him with another straw hat, and when that one broke, yet another gifted hat surfaced. Each hat seems to be bigger than the last, an accurate reflection of his growing career. I guess you can call it the straw that fueled the fire, and Wildfire is a force to be reckoned with.

The Carolina Experience

As a senior, Will has taken the time to reflect on his time at this great university. Graduation is in sight and beyond that, the team has already set plans in motion to stage a musical come up. But Will is only too grateful for his undergraduate environment; the campus vibe, the liberal arts atmosphere, but above all the people. “The type of people I’ve met here are my material, they make me want to write songs about them.” Will was never shy, but the atmosphere here at Carolina encouraged him to play in the pit on sunny days, just because, and to book shows more frequently, and to really focus on putting himself and his music out there. The receptive environment caused a domino effect for his local success because he is able to use what he has around him to create music from within. Of Carolina and his music, Will had this to say: “Places like this are made for being able to grow as a person, every artist is first and foremost just a person.”

Looking Ahead

Will Wildfire has signed with Boyd Island Music Group which has bases in Greensboro, New York, and Atlanta. He will begin work from the Greensboro location in May immediately following graduation and start touring soon after. In five years Will hopes to still be touring and writing new music. Additionally, he hopes to one day write and produce music for other artists. If you would like to catch one of his last shows here at UNC, he will be performing at the Local 506 on Franklin Street in April. Follow him on Twitter @Will_WILDfire for updates on this event and to witness his rise to stardom.

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