Willow shares love for Deftones and Lamb Of God, says metal has been gatekept by old white men for too long

Willow Smith
(Image credit: Debbie Hickey/Getty Images)

In the run up to the release of her new rock-orientated album, Coping Mechanism, this Friday (October 7), Willow has discussed the artists who inspired her from a young age, and shared her thoughts on the current rock and metal scene.

Willow's first jump into heavier territories was marked by the release of her 2021 album Lately I Feel Everything, and in a new interview with Guitar.com, the pop star-turned-rocker has outlined what inspired the move.

“Rock has always been inspiring to me,” she explains. “Ever since I was born, I’ve always been inspired by Deftones, Lamb Of God, Crowbar… But I think that when you start doing something at such a young age, your mind is still growing in a lot of different ways. Then you grow up and you understand [that] you need to really apply yourself in a way that you might not have thought of.”

Willow's indoctrination into the world of heavy music was initially driven by her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the frontwoman of the nu-metal band Wicked Wisdom.

"The first artist that inspired me was definitely my mom,” she reveals. “She was the first rock artist that I ever saw perform up close.”

Speaking of how rock and metal has historically been dominated by older, white male artists, Willow offers her perspective on how the genre is changing into a more diverse and inclusive space.

“I am always hoping to spread more joy,” she says. “I think the only reason why it’s older, white men mostly listening to this music is because metal has been gatekept for a long time by these people.

"[Now,] new people of colour are coming to say that that’s really not the way that it should be. Rock is for everyone [and] I’m gonna bring my people to the space and we are gonna vibe it out like we always do… hopefully the old white dudes vibe it out too.”

Willow released Split as the latest track from her new album yesterday, October 3.

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.