Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meet Billie


BILLIE MYERS 11 INTERESTING FACTS

1. I suck my thumb when I’m stressed

2. The first time I found myself on a stage was at a Grace Jones concert in London when she pulled a few fans on stage... thousands in the audience. The first time I actually went on stage and sang “Kiss The Rain”, it was to an audience of 2- both of whom were friends

3. Most humiliating moment was following a chicken hypnotist on live TV in Portugal.

4. The artwork for Tea and Sympathy literally reflects the title! ...Sad, but pathetically true; Armed with some sort of skinny double Starbucks concoction, I decided to surprise my then lover. So I popped around early in the morning, only to walk in, hug the person and smell cheap perfume (ok...so I’m a little bitchy) that was clearly not mine on them! As “the how could you think that” denials were flying, I spotted a cup on the bedside table which had a rather undisputedly guilty looking sluttish shade of red lipstick on the lip of the cup and luke warm tea in it ...thus the Artwork/ title.

5.
Named my record label, Fruitloop Records after the “happy pills” I take everyday.

6. I was informed that Universal Records had dropped me whilst I was having a colonic.

7. I am without a doubt a dreadful guitar player. Favorite chord is Dm7 it just sounds so depressingly sad. One of the real guitarists who played on the album is Marcy Detroit who wrote Lay Down Sally for Eric Clapton.

8. I’ve got dreadful eyesight—I once asked Sheryl Crow what she did for a living

9. I am currently listening to Paolo Nutini's “Sunny Side Up”, Kings of Leon's “Only By The Night,” Lily Allen's “It’s Not Me, It's You.” Favorite songs of all time are Joan Armatrading's “Love and Affection,” Sinead O'Connor's “Jealous,” Madame X's “Cherries in the Snow,” and Grace Jones' “Private Life.”

10. In regards to my sexuality, I like to refer to the term “gender non-specific”

11. My guilty pleasure is tabloid Thursdays


It was just another day in LA for British native, Billie Myers; trying to jump start a diet, she was lying on a colonic table, wishing her therapist would stop giving a blow-by-blow description of the so called ‘release’, when her cell phone rang. “I don’t know why I answered”, says Myers,” but taking that call was life changing”. She was informed that Universal Records had dropped her.

Naively, she had thought that being personally signed by Doug Morris (Chairman of the Universal Music Group), having a global hit (Kiss The Rain), and an album that sold more than a million copies worldwide (Growing, Pains) would outweigh the fact her sophomore album Vertigo had sold poorly, despite across the board media acclaim.

Described as reassuringly long on singer-songwriting talent” by The London Times, her uncanny ability to seamlessly sculpt poetic narratives out her life experiences, not only inspired comparisons to Chrissie Hyde, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading, but resulted in Billboard heralding her as “One of the most gifted of this year's new pop crop”.

However, despite, all of the above praise, the next few years proved emotionally turbulent. A managerial dispute embroiled her in a costly, drawn-out lawsuit, nearly bankrupting her along the way, her personal life went to pieces and all attempts to get signed proved fruitless. “Honestly, at that point I would have had more chance sleeping with the Pope, than getting signed”, says Myers, in her usual off beat way.

Worn down, she gave up, and as she bluntly puts it “wasting another three years wallowed in self pity”. Flipping between sadness, anger, indifference, fear and self-pity Myers hid out at home, killing time by sleeping the days away. “I didn’t socialize because I didn’t want people to ask how my non-existent new album was coming along, I alienated good friends and I couldn’t write, which of course completed the circle and sent me back to be bed”. In short, she was a walking depression checklist.

Crisis point hit when she started talking about how great it would be not to wake up. The friends she had left did an intervention of sorts. “They actually took my car away, because I’d spoken about playing chicken in my Miata” With tongue firmly in cheek Myers laughingly laments that the worst thing about the whole period was “ my compulsion, to clean and reorganize...any useless junk had to go and in my mind, stage clothes, musical equipment and awards were just that!”

Getting diagnosed and treated for depression was the turning point for Myers. She began writing again and it wasn’t long before she returned with a pulsating and provocative new record, Just Sex. Described by Billboard as having delicious verses that gambol across a melodic carnival imprint topped only by a chorus so intuitive that one would swear this is a remake of a song heard a thousand times before.” Myers explored sexuality with her renowned, often-controversial directness. “Just Sex” became an instant top 10 smash on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart. The popularity of which brought Myers back on stage, where as always, she both stunned and delighted audiences in venues across the U.S. and abroad. “A dance diva, I’m not,” says Myers “ But that remix not only gave me a confidence boost, it also gave me the financial flexibility to do own thing”

Slowly, but surely she decided it was time to try again, and this time Myers wasn’t waiting around for a record label to get on board. “The advent of computers and the internet has, to some degree leveled the playing field for artists...you can make records for less and you can be heard even, if you don’t have a major behind you”. Forming FruitLoop Records, her nickname for the pills she takes each day, she began writing with such highly acclaimed songwriters as Peter Vale, (Lemar, Beverly Knight) Marcella Detroit, (Shakespeare’s Sister, Eric Clapton) and Kristen Hall, (Sugarland).

Returning to her roots, Myers went to the UK, to record “I wanted a fresh start, working with people who I knew would let me be me, but at same time push me forward in a way that complemented, not detracted from my style”

While staying true to the expressive vocals and incisive lyrics that have earned her a loyal fan base and ongoing critical acclaim, Myers has broken new ground musically. Working with UK producer Dee Adam, she has fashioned a collage of sound that intertwines electronica, trip-hop beats, and bluesy guitars around her live acoustic/rock roots.

Honest to the point of painful, Myers pulls no punches as she lays bare, bruising portrayals of her struggles with self worth (“Anonymous”). Midnight losses of faith (“Send Me An Angel ...Is God Dead?”). Infidelity (“You Send Me Flying”). Defeated Hollywood dreams (“Lady Jane”).

The first single, “I Hope You’re Happy Now is a cathartic ode to an ex- lover. Hitting you where it hurts, lines such as “Another lover in my bed, wishing you were here insteadexpress the lonely frustration of an unwanted break- up. Luring the listener with its infectious hook and melancholy melody, its universal relatability ensures the listener feels that they are part of a highly intimate conversation.

Ever self- deprecating, Myers says “there’s even one moment of misguided optimistic romanticism (“Wonderful”) where I wonder what a lover, so seemingly perfect, sees in me but don’t be fooled - on Not Another Love Song” (written about the same person), the answer becomes clear, NOT A LOT!”


Notes from your friendly fanboy chronicler:

In early 1998 I took a business trip to a big Marriott in Denver, Colorado. One night I went to a party there at the hotel. I stood there, sad and alone behind a bell jar constructed of my own crippling self-consciousness, all the while wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. This wasn't unusual for me at the time; if that had been all there was to it, I imagine I'd hardly remember the trip at all. As it is, I can reach back and touch how I felt at that time, and Billie is the reason why. She happened to be singing there that night, and when she began it was like her voice pierced that bell jar, reached into my chest, and touched my heart. She's got an honesty of emotion that travels down the channel of her voice like an electric charge, and it transfixed me. The ache in her voice didn't bring me out of my depression, but it made me feel connected again.

After Billie finished her last song, I noticed that she was standing at the back of the stage talking to her crew, and that there was no security preventing me from going back there. I felt that I had to take the opportunity, so I walked back, shook her hand, and told her how her voice had touched me. She seemed not to know quite what to make of this person approaching her, but she thanked me graciously. I walked away satisfied, and
very soon after I got back from the trip I bought a copy of Growing, Pains. I must have listened to it hundreds of times over the next year or two. Years later I enjoyed her second album, Vertigo.

In July I featured Michelle, of gay-friendly.org.uk. I noticed that she featured Billie on her site, so I began to wonder if Billie was, ah, eligible for "Meet Adam and Steve". Thanks to Michelle, I got talking to Billie on Twitter, and soon found out that she was indeed "not entirely straight". To say that I'm thrilled to have Billie as a face of the day is a huge understatement. We're talking
major squee here.

3 comments:

  1. Hi!
    So happy that you are at it again, Tea & Sympathy is simply wonderful.

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  2. Thanks. As you know, I've been quite sick - really not good for anything but sleeping and moping. But having Billie on my blog certainly helped bring me about. I'm looking forward to hearing "Tea and Sympathy".

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  3. OMG, love her! I have to admit to (sadly) never having heard of her before reading this blog. But since, I have watched videos, read the website, downloaded songs, posted everything I can about her to my FB site. New biggest fan. Thanks for introducing her to me!

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