I am ending today by speaking with Billie Black...
as her E.P., The Last Time, has just been released. She talks about themes and inspirations and which artists have compelled her; a few albums that are very dear and what she has planned in terms of the future – Black explains how music came to her and when the bug struck.
I ask whether she gets time to chill outside of music and what advice she’d give artists coming through; which new artist we need to get behind and follow – she ends the interview by selecting a great current track.
Hi, Billie. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m well, thank you. It’s been a very busy week - but I’m happiest when I’m busy.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Billie. I am twenty-three. I make music. I learnt how to sing through listening and then studying Jazz at uni but also have a passion for Electronic music. I have tried to combine the two in my original projects.
The E.P., The Last Time, is out. Are there themes and personal experiences that inspired the songs?
I wanted the E.P. to be quite bold and cinematic. It’s definitely got a romantic theme. I am a very romantic and passionate person, so I suppose it’s quite honest in that sense
Do you have a personal favourite song from the E.P. at all?
My favourite is the final track, Long Way to Go, because I love the melody and then sample of Eartha Kitt at the end. I, of course, love all of the songs though.
Might we see more material next year?
Yes! I took some time out of music to start a degree in Social Anthropology at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). I finish my course in May and I am looking forward to focusing solely on music again; it is my passion.
Are there particular musicians you draw inspiration from? Did you grow up around a lot of music?
I love Billie Holiday. I am really inspired by her honesty and raw emotion that comes across in her expression. Chet Baker. I also love old Soul – Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin. I don’t come from a musical family: I am the only person in my family who does music for a living but my mother used to be a professional Disco dancer so I grew up listening to a lot of Disco. My dad is into Reggae and Bob Dylan - a strange mixture!
Your music has been championed by the likes of BBC Radio 1. How does that make you feel?!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Continue writing, continue gigging. Start a new project – maybe start working on an album.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Well. I wanna finish my degree. I also want to do another show where I play music off my latest E.P. and maybe play some tunes that might become part of an album.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Every time I perform, whether it is jazz or my own stuff, I feel amazing. It’s hard to think of a performance that particularly stands out - as I’ve done so many - but my favourite memories are definitely being on stage. Even when I took a break from doing my own music, I was still gigging doing Jazz roughly twice a week so it makes me really happy.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Donny Hathaway – Live
Because I feel and believe every single word he’s singing. I can relate to his emotion and his soulfulness makes me feel warm. This album makes me feel like myself.
Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon
Because it helped me through a really tough time in my life. I am also really inspired by her writing and her use of strings to create a really atmospheric, bold sound
Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly - Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderly
Because it was one of the first Jazz albums I listened to in its entirety. I know all the tunes off by heart and they bring back some really fond memories.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would support Sade because she is effortlessly sophisticated and classy and an absolute legend. I’m not fussy with my rider as long as there’s red wine I’m happy.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
First and foremost, be yourself. Don’t get caught up in the race. Take things at your own pace. Try not to compare yourself with others. Constantly question whether the things you’re doing are making you happy; try to live in the moment and enjoy yourself, remember that music should be fun and fulfilling; be determined and don’t give up.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Early-2019 - I will let you know!
IN THIS PHOTO: Kadhja Bonet
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Kadhja Bonet – the most beautiful voice and writing I’ve heard in a while.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a twin brother that I’m really close to.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
This Love – Kadhja Bonet
Follow Billie Black