After taking a break from music due to a rare condition, Billy Blond has crafted a compelling musical identity. In conversation with TheBerlinClub, the singer-songwriter highlighted the importance of staying upbeat & true to yourself.
4 minute read
Interview: Sam // Words: Ollie
“Don’t compromise…if you do it early, you will do it forever…”
Singer-songwriter Billy Blond talks to us about finding music, overcoming personal struggles including an incurable eye disease & his future aims in the industry.
“If you release something that’s not you, you will feel compromised. Everyone’s path in music is different, but I have learned to work with people I am comfortable with & not make music that doesn’t represent me. There is so much power in saying no” he continues.
The Introduction. //
Describing growing up, he says, “My family aren’t musical, but singing was something I have done since I could talk. I was a natural performer even at a young age. It wasn’t like anything ever clicked, I just always knew it was what I wanted to do”.
Attending a stage school near his home in South London, Billy’s talent was at first nurtured rather unconventionally. “I persuaded my mum to take me to this school I had heard about on a Saturday. It turned out to be the most ghetto stage school! It kept getting closed by Ofsted but would then reopen under a different name. They never had any teachers, so the owner would just stick a CD on & tell us to dance around to it” he says laughing.
Having received this unorthodox education for a brief period, Billy moved on to less quirky surroundings, winning a scholarship to the respected Sylvia Young Theatre School. Billy explains, “The place was very musical theatre. Even though a lot of pop artists went there, including one of my idols Amy Winehouse, it was not something I really enjoyed because all I wanted to do was sing RnB, not what this traditional school was teaching”.
Leaving Sylvia Young at 16 to follow his own route to stardom, things did not at first go to plan. “I thought I was just going to make it as a pop star, but it doesn’t happen like that does it? I worked in retail for a bit, got fired from every job. I was a bit of a crazy teenager. If someone told me to do something, I would do the opposite – I was & probably still am that type of person. It wasn’t coming from a bad place, I was just trying to find my tribe” he explains.
Never giving up on his dream to make music his career, Billy ultimately did find his tribe. “I’d go around my friends’ houses and record little hooks for their raps on their bedroom studio setups. I would then record my own little demo’s. I ended up getting scouted by a major label through Myspace” he reveals.
The Setbacks. //
While Billy has already managed to achieve what other up & coming artists hunger for, namely to get signed, his story is not one without difficulties.
Billy had personal challenges to contend with, including being diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Speaking about this, Billy says, “It’s a hereditary eye condition & will eventually make me go blind. I can deal with it better now, but when I was younger & touring, it affected my night vision & playing gigs or clubs would give me anxiety. I kind of sabotaged everything, because I couldn’t deal with it. In the end, I had to take a break from music”.
After ceasing to write for a period, Billy’s deep love for the art meant he later returned & because of the low times, with an even greater desire to push on & make something of his career: “My personal life inspired me to make music again. I was in a dark place & needed music to be my therapy. Music is pure medicine. I have been a self-destructive person in the past, but by channelling my energy into creativity, it helps me deal with things in the right way & heals me”.
The Healing. //
After experiencing so many lows, this has made the Margate-based musician even more keen to stress the importance of remaining upbeat: “My songs deal with dark subjects; however, I have made a conscious effort to add a silver lining to them. I believe if you view the world positively, positive things will happen to you. I also think if you’re going through hell, you just have to push through it!”.
One aspect Billy admits to finding particularly tough is shedding information about his personal life through his songs & then having to sell it for commercial gain. He states, “Hopefully money will come my way, but it’s not the sole focus”.
Looking to the future, Billy makes his intentions clear: “I just want to keep making music that’s honest and timeless. My EP came out September 13th & I already have my follow up EP written. I’m also working on my debut album which I am really excited about”.
Asked what a pinnacle of success to him would be, Billy replies: “I don’t think it’s healthy to have an end goal, because once you hit it, that’s it. Life’s a journey isn’t it? I just want to keep making good music & having a good time. I would love to play massive shows, but really, I just want to make honest, timeless songs”.
Finishing the interview, we discuss the paradoxical role of music streaming sites in making it both simpler & simultaneously more difficult to get noticed in the digital age. Billy says, “Streaming sites like Spotify are great because it gives everyone the opportunity to be heard…but by giving everyone the opportunity, it also makes it harder as the market is so saturated. Overall however, I would say it is a good development because there are artists being signed who wouldn’t have been given the chance before…it feels like music is getting more authentic, as people know they can be successful by being themselves”.
With Billy too demonstrating authenticity in his approach, he is sure to be on the right path to achieve success. Harbouring a clear passion to apply his difficult experiences constructively, he uses music as a vessel to provide a light for others where darkness falls.
Billy Blond’s new EP ‘Glow Up’ is out now.
Follow Billy @billyfanciesyou