How music saved Michael Willett from his 'darkest moments'

Knott's Scary Farm Black Carpet
Knott's Scary Farm Black Carpet

It goes without saying that music plays different functions in different people's lives. Whether it acts as a form of therapy, a creative outlet for someone to express themselves, or a mechanism to bring people from all different walks together, music's unique and often vital role in people's lives is unparalleled. Michael Willett, the 26-year-old actor and California-native, understands this sentiment completely.

Willett, best known for his roles on television including starring appearances in "United States of Tara" and "Faking It," found performing at a very young age. But when he got older, songwriting soon became a focal point in his life and career. As he notes, "It was a way for me to lash out instead of being destructive," and was a means for him to escape some of the "darkest moments" in his life. As a result, Michael Willet's original music feels as stripped down and authentic as it gets.

His newest album "Regeneration" is a three-part series that focuses on the struggles that make up the human condition. And while "Phase 1" highlighted themes of failure, "Phase 2" which was just released today, is about redefining our missteps and understanding that in order to learn, we all must fail. It's a thought-provoking collection of 70s inspired rock songs that just begs to be listened to over and over again.

On the heels of the "Regeneration: Phase 2" release, we spoke with Michael Willett about when he first realized he wanted to become a performer, the musical influences that helped create his unique sound, and how music helped him through some of his toughest times.

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And head over to AOL.com at 6 p.m. ET for more exclusives on Michael Willett!

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a performer?
I think it was very instinctual. When I was very young I would imitate cartoons, movies, and television shows and if there was ever a song I would sing it. I would perform the Lion King all the time. And eventually I ended up in voice lessons, then acting came later. Because in order to perform a song you have to act. So it was all very natural progression for me starting from a very early age.



What music did you grow up listening to?
Basically everything. I memorized every song on the oldies station. That was a big source of my education in terms of styles of music and everything that has come before me. I inherited my parent's love of 60s and 70s classic rock, so that's a big influence on me for sure.

What led to you becoming a songwriter?
It was a way for me to lash out instead of being destructive; if ever I was feeling angsty, I would write or paint or do something creative. I really felt like in my darkest moments, art is what saved me. So my songwriting has been very much like a journal entry and this Regeneration album has been my most edited journal entry. It's a series or a collection of songs that really tells a story of my personal evolution and life progression.



How do you find the balance between singing and acting?
Music for me is a personal journal entry and I get to express a side of my inner world where as acting I explore other people;s inner world and characters. I guess I'm always writing music and acting pays the bills. So I'm always going to be doing both simultaneously.

YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And head over to AOL.com at 6 p.m. ET for more exclusives on Michael Willett!

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