Dance diva Billie Ray Martin was born and raised in Hamburg, spending her teen years in London and Berlin; initially influenced by ’60s soul and early ’80s industrial, during the mid-’80s she led a Motown-inspired soul band dubbed Billie and the Deep, gaining her first exposure on the Berlin club circuit.
After moving back to England in 1987, she formed the techno-pop group Electribe 101, scoring a series of club hits including « Talking with Myself. » Eventually going solo, Martin debuted in 1995 with Deadline for My Memories; the first single, « Your Loving Arms, » not only reached the UK Top Ten but also topped the American club charts, while its follow-up « Running Around Town » fell just shy of the US Top Ten.
Martin resurfaced in 1999 with the Crimes & Punishment EP, which was followed two years later by 18 Carat Garbage, her first album released on her own Sonnenstahl imprint.
The new single « Sweet Suburban Disco « ( single + EP remixes ) is available since 28th February 2011.
Thanks to Billie Ray Martin
Hi thierry. I’m in berlin, taking a break from editing the tracks for the opiates album, to answer your questions.
Tell me a little about where you’re from: do your surroundings affect the music that you create?
I’m from the red light district of hamburg. Actually your question is a welcome one. not many people know how much my surroundings, which were entirely positive, have influenced me and are influencing me, my outlook on life, and my music, to this day.
Visually, esthetically and musically the athmosphere and the images i grew up with make me write the lyrics I write.
I grew up with the great protection and support of my grandparents and I also grew up with a lot of ‘borderline’ characters, a special kind of glamour and the blowing wind of the markets and the sea, which were right there outside our house. but i could write a book about all this….
Can you recall the moment when you first decided you wanted to become a musician?
Yes, I was about five years old and made tapes with my grans old reel to reel tape-machine. I gave her the tape and asked her to post it to one of the singing stars of the time. I told her it was important. she actually didn’t send it off. Also i would spent much time in front of the tv telling my grandparents to be quiet, and i sang all day… All of this to let them know what i was going to be doing.
What is the theme of “Sweet Suburban Disco” ? What is it about ?
It’s about someone who, as long as she dances the time away at the local disco, doesn’t have to deal with the pain of her life. As long as she keeps going and dances, and goes to all these parties, she can pretend that this is all that exists. It reminds me a little of ‘saturday night fever’. it had a similar theme, but i didn’t write the song with this in mind.
Do you have many new songs for a future album?
Yes I have them mostly written but have not finished recording them yet. I’m develping them as I go along and some new songs I think will be written still. because my next two releases after ‘sweet suburban disco’ are my collaboration with hard ton (in 6 weeks) and then the opiates album, entitled ‘hollywood under the knife’ (at the end of may or beginning of june), I’m giving those projects priority at the moment. But the solo album i am recording bit by bit as well.
Reading one of your Interviews, I found out that you wrote a track for Kylie Minogue called « Satellite ». What’s the story behind the track and when did you write it? Did you record a demo out of it and if so will we eventually hear it on a forthcoming album or a demo compilation?
I sent the song to EMI, who said they’d received it but then never responded again saying they didn’t know the plan yet for the identity of the kylie album. emi no ideas? suprise suprise.
Then when the last kylie album was about to come out it was publisized that there was a song called ‘satellite’ on the album. I waited for the album to appear, so I could hold them accountable , in case they had stolen my song. I don’t know if they removed the song or if they had just nicked the idea and had someone else write a different song with the same title.
Anyway I won’t use the song. it’s not for me really….
From S Express to Your Current work, How do you look back to your carreer … Is there anything you would have done differently ? or Maybe you wouldn’t change a thing?
I would change many things, too many too mention. like I say in my song ‘je regrette everything’. from productions that didn’t work as well as they should or could have to the way I handled my career. All kinds of things.
but these days I’m pretty happy with the way I do stuff.
You are active with social media (Facebook, etc…). how do you feel properly handling that kind of communication can benefit an artist?
All the networking websites, as well as working with blogs and online magazines etc. etc. Is a must of course. how to use them is an individual decision.Bulk-ramming your message dodwn everyone’s throat is bad news. That’s why myspace has become obsolete. no one needs it. But using them as a real means to communicate with people, and have fun along the way, is a great way to spread your news.
What is your view on the current music industry model? Do you think it makes promotion any easier or more difficult than the old business industry model with physical formats in stores?
If there’s a chance to do a physical cd as well that’s a bonus. There are many people who do not download or get their news from the internet. But the beauty of digital releases are that you can do it, when and how you want, and it’s out there worldwide, for your public to buy it. it give power to the artist.
We all know about the downside, the fact that no one makes money from sales. I suffer from this greatly, always trying to find a budget for my next release, when there are virtually no earnings.
If you weren’t making music, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a female sailor on a big ship, from hamburg around the world….
well…something like that….seriously? I have no idea.
Can you tell me some words in French? 🙂
Je regrette everything
What’s on your wish list for 2011 and what do you hope to achieve?
I would love for more people to find out about my music and I’d love for it to be fun. That would be all the reward I need to continue. Money of course would be much needed too.
Your last word for our TEEZ’FM listeners?
Je t’aime all of you.