I took a very short break from recording and touring plans, getting my soul and mind back on track.
I now have some firm ideas of what kinds of recording projects would be next for me.
To gather the funds to record and develop them I have opened this BRM recording fund where you can donate and support me for the forthcoming recording projects.
I did not want to do a purely one-project-based crowdfunding campaign at the moment, as what I am doing now is too varied and flowing, and ongoing. I also feel like I want to develop a real dialogue with my fans and supporters, where they get to know what I get up to, and where they can ask me questions on an ongoing basis, and get involved more than before.
That’s why this fund is staying open for various projects, which I’ve prioritised.
Studio time, musicians, recording, some travel to get to the studios, perhaps some hiring of instruments where needed.
What are the projects:
There are a few and I’ll probably come up with more any minute now.
Here are the priorities:
– an album of new songs, recorded in unusual ways, with unusual people and at least one unusual instrument. Is it house or dance? Not strictly but there is that influence going on too. I’m just not sticking to the orthodox way of creating it.
I will post more as this project comes to fruition and there are some links I can send you of stuff that’s influence me.
(about 10000 Eur or more needed)
Status: Planning stage
– composing and arranging the music to a play I’m developing about the last days of a famous playwright. The words are written and funding will eventually be applied for to get it to a stage-level, but this is about making the music happen so I can start performing it in interesting spaces. I don’t want to put too much detail on here at this point but please do ask me questions and I’ll give you more info about it. I will also put more info on here as this develops.
(about 8000 Euro needed)
Status: Planning stage, researching, contacts made, words are written etc.
– an album of cover versions of Brel, Aznavour…and writing new songs whilst recording.
Call it the french connection. Piano, drums, strange arrangements, breaking barriers and singing the songs in ways not sung before. I tried a little something with a song like this not long ago and the way I sang it surprised me and It was even shocking in parts due to the intensity that came out of me. So I want to explore this more.
(about 5000 Euro needed)
Status: Doing it. First session in April.
– Recording some of the Northern Soul Style songs I recently performed live with the soul band
(about 5000 Euro needed)
Status: Band is there, just need funds.
I will post videos and updates on here as each project develops and as priorities become clearer.
All supporters who give amounts over Eur 200 will get mentioned in the credits.
People who donate larger amounts: please talk to me about what kinds of credits you’d like or what else I can do to make you a happy bunny. Let’s communicate.
If you’d like to give a certain amount each month, we can set that up either via bank transfer or paypal.
If I don’t raise enough, unfortunately things will not happen, so this is the opportunity to make sure it does.
Anything else you’d like to bring to the table to help? Talk to me!
And please do get involved, I really want to start a dialogue with you.
I’ve been spending the week listening to music, getting inspired for my forthcoming album production.
Mostly I listened to things like African Headcharge and Muzlim Gauze, and, as always, the Ramadanman refix of ‘In the nightair’. Then I contemplated how to apply the intricate and percussive elements into house music.
And then these promos get pinged into my inbox and I’m inspired to explore it all even more.
First of all
God, how I love people who re-invent the wheel and you feel like you’ve never took a ride before. This does it for me .
And well done Sueno label for releasing music like this.
Check out their mixtapes too.
Miles EP by Keita Sano
Another wheel re-inventer. This is house music of the highest order. True individualism is at play here. And a play it is, playful and powerful.
My week has been made.
I thought I’d share a bunch of photos, taken by Joern Hartmann, who also made the video for the Pledge Music campaign, and who makes all of my videos. Well here they are, and they were taken while I was posing during the video shoot for Pledge. As you do…
Hope you can download them OK…..
Also if you haven’t seen the latest video… now you have:
The single comes out tomorrow:
It’s been one of those moments where world events drag at peace of mind, a promo arrives, it meets in uncanny ways with the emotions at hand. in fact, it enhances and heals them at the same time. hints of Tuxedomoon but less friction, instead, sheer beauty. David Lynch after an extended TM session? Sometimes words don’t cut it. This does. An Orchestral Masterpiece.
When the Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue first broke into the scene, the world immediately surrendered to their mesmerising blend of traditional cumbia with the modern electronic rhythms of dub, techno and dancehall. After making this local movement and gaining international attention with their celebrated debut album ‘La Alianza Profana’ and the follow-up ‘Serpiente Dorada’ EP on Enchufada, the masked duo from Lima is now ready to evolve beyond their musical influences and come into their own as their sound develops into something truly unique with their new album ‘Siete Raíces’.
Taking its name from a traditional Peruvian liquor – a potent beverage brewed from several jungle plants with mystical and aphrodisiac properties – ‘Siete Raíces’ is a suiting metaphor for a band whose distinctively hybrid sonic recipe has been perfected over the years. From their first single ‘Guarida (feat. Sara Van)’, where they introduce a melancholic vocal component to their sound for the very first time, to Murdah’s frantic juke influences or Badman’s tarraxo leanings, Dengue Dengue Dengue set out to expand the unique hybrid cocktail of sounds that has put them on the forefront of the global club music movement.
‘Siete Raíces’ fully embraces South America’s rich musical traditions while taking these cultural references towards the future, powered by thick bass lines, ethereal synths and dusty samples. Striking a captivating balance between tradition and modernity, Dengue Dengue Dengue pick the best of both worlds to expand their unique sonic universe, where the rich mystical ambience of the Peruvian Amazon is translated into an elevating experience for the world’s most forward-thinking clubs and festival stages.
I’m thrilled that I am able to offer this. I hope you will have as much fun with this as I did making it!!!
The 41 samples uploaded on bandcamp are only examples of some elements of the Vocal sample Pack.
You will be receiving a dropbox download link to a zip file of approx. 3 GB of Vocal Samples.
There are in total 404 files contained in 29 folders.
The theme of this sample pack is that it is arranged into ‘songs’ (themes). This means that each folder/section lends itself to building whole songs out of them. You can of course chose to use the samples in any way you chose, and mix and match as you please. Each sample in this pack works with every other one or on it’s own. Each folder/theme contains additional ad libs. All samples are suitable for any kind of music, for house music but also other types of electronic music or any other genre.
This is the content of the sample pack:
Main Folder 1: 100 bpm mid-tempo:
– Folder 1: Ad libs
– Folder 2: Feels so right
– Folder 3: The sound
Each folder contains sub-folders with ad libs.
Main Folder2: 120 bpm
– Folder 1: Falling
– Folder 2: House sounds
Main Folder 3: 120 bpm
– Folder 1: Positive Noise
– Folder 2: Sold City
Sold city folder contains sub-folder with ad libs
Main Folder 4: 124 bpm
– Folder 1: Lover
– Folder 2: Positive Noise (Sweet Music)
– Folder 3: What you gonna do
– Folder 4: Heavy game
Folders 1 and 4 contain sub-folder with ad-libs
Many thanks for reading and I hope you get much pleasure out of working with my vocals. I had a ball making this sample pack and it was a challenge for me to just stand in front of the microphone day after day and make things up on the spot. It is not how I normally work, and when it all came pouring out in the end, after deciding on a ‘theme’ or ‘song name’, I was surprised and pleased with the results. The sample pack was recording using Neve pre-amps and EQ and other state of the art recording equipment, and I am very pleased with the sound quality. I hope you will be too.
released May 29, 2016
Today I feel inspired to share Claudio’s new video recording. I have felt the strong feeling that this woman must be heard. A while back, when another female artist who works in ‘this genre’, and who is now in the major ‘fame league’, became well known because of extremely polished and expensive looking videos on youtube and a highly developed sound production, I was wondering who had paid for all of this to come seemingly out of nowhere. I had pondered on how media now creates the new generations of major players and I did not quite understand the process, if there was one to be understood. That’s not to say that there was/is no talent there, on the contrary. There just seemed to be something ‘other’ going on than just coming into musical existence because of music that reaches people. Then again, it seems natural that visuals are now such an integral part of the landscape… and why shouldn’t it be. It just made me wonder at the time who someone without those means would be hear.
However once again coming across Claudio I realise, and this is just for me speaking, not for anyone else, what it is all about. Substance and music. Claudio is not concerned with presentation but with getting the message across. And it inspires memore than 1000 glossy videos because it cracks my heart wide open and changes me. For this she is to be applauded. The voice, the vision, the sheer talent is what Rachel Claudio is about. And it is for this she will be heard.
And lady, I love those basslines.
I just saw this tweet. Quickly brushed it aside as I had lots of stuff to get on with. Suddenly realised what a seminal moment this was for me. What a great memory. Thank you to everyone who made this happen. And I know this happened because of people out there, no one else. Well, I guess I had something to do with it too. But without the Junior Vasquez Mixes, it would have never been as huge worldwide, so thank you Junior,
Today I’m thrilled to share some videos from the show. More to come. I’m really happy with these so please share them everywhere :))) Thanks to all of you who were part of this – please see details in the credits.
Today I’ll share the photos that Caesar Gergess took of our show. He’s not only a lovely musician, but a very skilled photographer and video maker. I love these Photos and I hope you do too.
Sometimes shows start difficult in the planning stages. You worry about funds, equipment needed, musicians availability, communication between artist and promoter etc. etc. You feel unsure. Then magic happens. Berlin made me happy last night and I have many people to thank. The audience being the obvious ones that made it all happen in the end. But also my dear dear friend Ceven Knowles, for spending the little time he had to create magic visuals, Caesar Gergess coming from Paris for no fee to play the Theremin, Romain Frequency of Electrosexual for lending us some equipment. Monika and Jacqueline for selling CD’s. And many more with their presence and support. Olaf Zimmermann and Radio 1 for supporting the show from the start and making it ‘show of the day’ as well.
These Photos were all taken by Olaf Zimmermann
Waking up with the flu, sweating, seeing that my Pledge Campaign has reached 101%. I’m between seating more and wanting to be well so I can get on with stuff. I’ve got the basics covered now, but now we can get to the glam stuff: remixes, singles… please keep sharing my project people!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much everyone. I still can’t fathom it. http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/billieraymartin
I posted some new pics as well which you can download.
🙂 Hugs to all of you.
I didn’t want to cry. And then I walk out of the front door and there, where David and Iggy lived: Candles, FLowers, Tears, Media. And finally I cried.
And I resent the media for being there with their :”…and thiiis is the building blablabla..”, – as if they have a clue about this street, this address, this building. And I wish just for once they’d leave and stay away. So I left quickly.
You lived a live rich and bestowed with gifts beyond measure. I celebrate you.
The gifts you gave during your time here, beyond measure too. I thank you.
The journey which you now are going on will be so rich and exciting. I salute you.
There is no one resting here, no one gone, there never is. But let them think so. I wave to you.
There is no mourning here, just amazement at your life.
I saw a video of a great talk someone gave about business ideas for creatives. He used to be a major player in the music business, a good guy, enabling musicians to make money directly from what they did. I won’t name names. I wrote back to him with feedback about his beautiful talk and then thought I’d share it here.
Fabulous talk. Funny, wise, thought provoking.
I bet when you ran your company, allowing musicians to make direct money for what they do, you never realised that 2 pirate guys would start a company called Spotify (and others followed) taking it all away.
The ‘industry’, i.e. the few major labels, own the entire planets’ songs and make millions from simply offering streaming, keeping the money for themselves by:
a. being shareholders in the streaming companies and pocketing that money
b. pocketing most of the royalties form streaming as well
c. getting millions in advances for dishing out the back catalogues, and suing anyone who won’t cough up
Artists now have no way to make money any more.
There’s no nurturing of talent or music, just engines to stream stuff others made, with 3 major companies profiting and nothing much ending up with artists.
The internet didn’t deliver what it promised some years ago: If you get featured on a bunch of blogs everyone will love you, and you will at least get profitable gigs and all record companies will bang your door down to shower you with money. Never happened.
The game is over.
The only way to make money for independent artists, be they young or old, is to perhaps create novelty products and sell them for more. I.e. I press up 200 Vinyl records (once I’ve taken out a loan to produce the expensive vinyl) and sell it to fans for say, 100 Euro. I will have handmade the artwork and whatnot to create interest.
Or, if I’m Wutang Clan, I do the same, but charge 5 Million.
That’s it really.
So I guess this means that what you talk about still applies in some ways, and not in others, for musicians. I know you talk more to startups anyway, but I have actually found your advice useful on a personal level, as a musician too.
It’s just that I don’t see any ways forward any more, because the majors and their streaming buddies have this firmly in their hands.
I have been a speaker a few times at major music conferences about the whole thing, where I have found myself on panels next to the big cheeses of the Streaming companies and some bigger cheeses of major record companies, and have been aghast at the aggressiveness, cynical attitude, and self-congratulating tone they display when artists dare mentioning the fact that they get paid … say… 0.00001 cent for a stream, and that even this amount doesn’t arrive in their account either really.
This also goes for one of the main independent conglamerates, who are also shareholders in Spotify.
The are laughing all the way to the bank and they have a firm hold on the entire industry as it displays itself now. They are nothing but automated administrators of back catalogues and new stuff.
So, thank you for being the good guy for a while, while that was still possible. You made a big difference to the industry as it presented itself for some hopeful years.
When asked if Transgender people were discriminated against, in my favourite Holly Interview, her reply was: “Thank god they do, otherwise I’d be fighting in Vietnam.” Such was her wit and I loved her for it.
Why has Holly inspired me the way she did, and continues to do so? Why is she my kind of Legend? For me she was always the ultimate Warhol superstar, the best and most fabulous one. The one with the most realness. Jackie had the sheer talent and intellectual capacities, Candy the impressive beauty, humour and campness, but Holly had the star factor, coupled with a real feminine beauty and rawness of talent, that, when she wasn’t completely off her head (and maybe because she was usually) shone with a special kind of vigour and rebellion. Never taking herself seriously, never driven by ego, she was, and always will be to me, an inspiration. She made it Ok to be different. You don’t have to be trans to know different. Believe me: this woman knows what it is not to fit in. But her pioneering work, alongside Jayne County and many others, is so underrated in today’s media landscape, where pioneers don’t matter and where credit is not given to the once who paved the way.
She performed a show in Berlin a few years ago, and stupidly, i missed it. However I’d heard that she was doing a little appearance at the Arsenal cinema the next evening, and on four hours sleep (hence looking so rough in the photos) I threw on a coat and rushed there. I went downstairs and there she was sitting, alone with her assistant, in the lobby. I shyly asked if it would be ok to say hello, and that I was the one who had written that song about her, but that she probably wouldn’t remember. She immediately waved for me to come and sit with her. We spent the entire evening together.
I told her how much I loved her work and that I was the singer she’d been told about by friends we had in common. She asked me to sing a few notes and as I burst into ‘Maybe this time’ she joined in. We sang loud and off-key but she just kept going, asking me to sing it again and again. We laughed so much, fearing that we’d be thrown out. She asked me to come on stage with her and sing. I declined saying: ‘This is your night, not mine’. “Bullshit’ she said, but I declined.
We talked and I was thrilled to be told stories about Andy and the other girls. She told me that she did not have one bad word to say about Andy and that without him, she wouldn’t be sitting here. She also said kind words about Paul. Morissey. This attitude of acceptance I had seen her display in many interviews and I have always found it to be most humble and kind, quite unlike some of the other stars.
She asked me if I wanted to join her the next morning at the hotel and I said yes. I brought her some CD’s of mine. She wouldn’t stop talking about our singing and she was still so thrilled about that.
Later, I was told, she also listened to my CD’s a lot and loved the music.
George Cukor, the famous movie director, had campaigned for her to be nominated for an Oscar for Trash, in the role of best female, but the story goes that at that time the board just wasn’t ready for this kind of female. They said that it was too late to nominate but they were probably freaked out. I do believe the Oscar nomination should have gone to her. And in my book, of course, the Oscar too.
Holly is my kind of star and always will be. I will miss knowing that she is on this planet, but I know that she will be back and serve the next dose of fabulousness.
I didn’t want to post the video, because a. I look so tired and b. you can see how shy and nervous I was. But all vanity must take a back seat and here’s our little impromptu session at the foyer at Berlin Arsenal.
Holly will be missed by many. And those who don’t know who she was better do their homework, because without her they wouldn’t be where they are today.
I discovered a new thing. Cleaning the house. It’s the new kind of meditation. I was radically cleaning, immersed in grease and dust… and noticed that I was hollering ‘If you go away’ for hours. Then I realised i should record it. Cleaning is the new meditation and I shall do it again. #meditation#cleaning#marcalmond#jacquesbrel #chanson #french
Everywhere I go, and choose to sing it, people come up to me afterwards and ask me what the Bond Theme was that I was singing. The song seems to have gained a lot of admirers along the way, gathering more and more friends as time passes. So this is for those of you who have asked.
The song is called ‘Je Regrette everything’ and was written with Michael Delta. It was covered by DJ. Hell, or ‘Hell’ as he is nowadays known, and featuring moi on vocals.
T’is available here: https://billieraymartin.bandcamp.com/merch/hell-feat-billie-ray-martin-je-regrette-everything-cd-single-gigolo140
It came out with some cutting-edge remixes by the likes of #Superpitcher and was a club smash when it was released.
The demo of the song is also out on the CD album ‘New Demos 2002/03’ .
And this is the video, which I had nothing to do with. And my name misspelled, infuriatingly.
The song is about … well the story is that I walked by a local book shop in Berlin and in the window I saw someone’s autobiography, entitled : “I forgive no one”. I found this extremely funny and i wanted to write a song with a Title somewhat resembling this one. That, plus the fact that I regret a lot of things…and I never liked Piaf’s song…
as Morrissey said: I bear more grudges than lonely high court judges. That is how I wrote the lyrics and melody to the song. Michael Delta who created the original demo music is a very talented composer and the dramatic nature of the track fitted by vibe very well.
So, on the 10th October I play my new album to fans at Shoreditch House, London. There is no campaign, no release date. Why then, have I decided to do it? In the process of decision making about the best route and strategy of release of my new album (which is a soul album by the way, by the name of ‘The Soul Tapes’) many ways seemed obsolete or pointless. There are no more record companies really that sign music for music or it’s quality. There are no advances, allowing for a planning of marketing. Label services are the best options but again, most of them don’t pay, can’t pay so it is again up ot the music creator do foot the bill. To simply release it digitally with no substantial campaign, in effect throwing it out to a few people, while the rest of the world does not find out about it? Producing vinyl, in vogue again, but costing and arm and a leg and having become the tool of major labels to make their acts look cool. Is it all grim? Am I continuing to compliain? And don’t get me started on throwing this out digitally, for Spotify and other streaming companies just ‘taking it’ for free and throwing it out there with no return ever to reach my pockets?
I could go on. Instead I’ve decided to take my music where it is appreciated, until my best strategy is finalised, and that is TO MY FANS. My aim is to give value back to music, by holding a listening event, where the music is what matters, and where the memory stays with the people who are there. Where we have a meaningful exchange and where it is nothing but the music that matters. So that’s my little manifesto. Worry not, there will be a proper release. But for now, I am looking forward to this evening, where music touches people and where feedback and exchange happens. Needless to say I’ll follow the listening event with a mean live show, with the able assistance or Roi Robertson on keys and tweakage and Caesar Gergess on Theremin. And perhaps Clifford Slapper will pay a visit on piano?
Listen to this in-debth interview, where I talk about my background, my loves and dislikes and my beginnings in #sexpress #electribe101
This week’s Bass Agenda is up for streaming etc via the archive. Interview and track selections from the amazing Billie Ray Martin
Illektrolab & 4th Genome – Bass Agenda Intro
Billie Ray Martin – Persuasion
Billie Ray Martin – Sweet Suburban Disco
S’Express – Hey Music Lover
Electribe 101 – Talking With Myself
Elton John – Daniel
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Heartless
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
The Sex Pistols – Submission
Billie Ray Martin – On Borrowed Time (Take 1)
Billie Ray Martin – After All
Billie Ray Martin – Conquer Tomorrow
Billie Ray Martin feat Aerea Negrot– Off The Rails
Billie Ray Martin feat Stephen Mallinder – The Crackdown
The Opiates – Oprah’s Book of the Month Club part 2
All The People – The Hills
Bobby Womack – Please Forgive My Heart
Slam feat Billie Ray Martin – Bright Lights Fading
Billie Ray Martin – Crime of Passion
Billie Ray Martin – Systems of Silence
Billie Ray Martin – House of Love (instrumental)
Billie Ray Martin – House of Love
DJ Hell feat Billie Ray Martin – Je Regrette Everything
Billie Ray Martin – Your Loving Arms
My first thought, on listening to “Send my body to her” (the first song on the album): The Shaggs have reformed!
In other words: This is good.
This is very good.
But reducing it to that would be missing the point.
Where to start….
This album is a universe of it’s own. It’s beyond category, description…
It’s a listening experience that manages to expand the tainted, bored, mind and bring it back to source.
Remember when music was always like this?
“Weak Robe” with it’s ‘drummer falling down stairs’ percussiveness and naïve beauty….
“Her daddy broke”. Discordant blues.
This album must have organically grown on a planet, where Per Ubu and the Shaggs hang out during a long hot summer, writing songs.
Each song makes me certain I have visited this realm before, but I can’t remember when and where.
There are some never quite hitting in the ‘right’ spot electronic drums on “Pansize”, alongside beautifully, almost, but not quiet, discordant vocals. A whole planet is painted.
This is a work of exceptional beauty. I know I will listen to it over and over again.
Some more info here:
Zac Nelson conjures a freak matrimony of chaos and beauty for New Once, his first album with Styles Upon Styles.
Born in Illinois and based in Sacramento, Zac Nelson cultivates a daunting discography of pop experiments across a myriad of personas, collaborations and solo affairs. A feral drummer, versatile vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Zac performs with ALAK and Biosexual, recorded as CHLL PLL w/ Zach Hill of Death Grips and maintains a steady output of solo material. His past excursions in leftfield rock (Charbroile [Debacle, 2012]) and blasted sound design (Exis [Further, 2013]), meld into one beautiful orgy of sound in his most idiosyncratic album to date.
Our first letter from Zac included three albums of original material spanning all genres Discogs could muster. His demos for New Once resonated with a startling intensity, bursting at the waveform seams with a colorful, richly layered sound. Entranced, we brought the demos to Rusty Santos, who was instrumental in fostering the songs into the teeming, vivid universe you hear now.
New Once flits from four top harmonies and acoustic strum-alongs to psychotropic passages of blistered ambiance from one minute to the next – each song barely averages above the two minute mark. The rapidity mirrors the musings of a dosed poet or a Hunter S. Thompson novella, dipping from the exuberance of “Some Are This” to the melancholic duet “Her Daddy Broke” with brushstrokes unfettered yet focused.
It’s Zac’s vibrant drumming and sense of groove that elevate New Once beyond the freak pop standards. Beckoning a wild energy from his kit, Zac cascades into proto-funk fills and poly-rhythmic timing with a freewheeling tenacity best reflected in album closer, “Ex-Stream-Esque”.
Zac Nelson blurs the borders of pop nostalgia and experimentalism with unabashed glee throughout the brief and wondrous sound of New Once. New Once will be available in vinyl and digital forms on June 16, 2015 via Styles Upon Styles.
US retail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UK/EU retail: email@example.com
general inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
What better day than today to introduce to you the producer and guitar player of the new soul album that was completed a month ago, and i hope gets released at some point in the near future.
He has a new record out and it’s a fabulous one.
Jon Tiven was introduced to me many moons ago by Warner Chappel . His impressive list of productions made me interested. Fast forward to me sitting in his NYC appartement with him and his wife Sally (Bass) and writing a number of songs in a short space of time. Jon and Sally are the kinds of writers who can send me six arrangement ideas and I will pick at least four of them to write lyrics and melodies on. So we ended up very soon with a number of songs and the idea for the album was born.
I’ll write more about the album very soon and I am currently looking forward to organising a listening event for this album, but today I’m introducing the legendary Mr. Tiven.
He’s won a ton of awards and has produced legends!
Even little me did some backing vocals on this one:
and a couple of other songs on the album ‘It’s harder now’.
He produced BB King!
On the soul album we did together Jon’s guitar playing actually has me so excited at times that I can’t believe it’s something I’m involved in. I keep listening to certain parts over and over, which is something I normally don’t do.
Jon and Sally now live in Nashville and continue to wreak havoc on the music scene.
His album is out on July 3rd on MsMusic Productions, available online from Foothill Records.
#JonTiven #soulmusic #blues #memphis #wilsonpicket #bbking
Sometimes things just work and come full circle. I announce a gig, find the right venue within 24 hours, and an entire group of musical associates and friends tell me they’ll be happy to join me for a song or two. It’s times like this where all the falseness of whether an artist gets paid 0,00000001 cent or 0 cent per stream by Apple takes a backseat and you realise that it’s people that matter. And talent. In previous blog posts I already introduced to you Caesar Gergess and Waterson and today I’m thrilled to say that the family gathering will be complete with Viccsen (as i lovingly call her) joing us to lend her powerful tones to some songs of mine. I cannot wait, since we have never shared a stage before. We are all going to be under-rehearsed and nervous, since a lot of this will be quite spontaneous.
Here are some of my favourite Viccsen moments of recent years.
For those of you wanting to look further back:
and of course she’s worked with the shamen and many more.
#victoriawilsonjames #soul2soul #shamen #diva #soul
Most people know Waterson and myself have collaborated on a number of projects. I am thrilled though that he has agreed to lend his dulcet tones at my July Gig at the GLory, London as well. This is special to me. I first came across Waterson at a small gig he was doing at the Whitechapel Gallery and much has happened since. He has become one of my favourite music producers and his voice has developed even more. Silky is the word i suppose, if words can describe his humble soulfulness. So without further ado, please listen to his recent productions here.
Sometimes, among all the bullshit one decides one must give attention to, in any given moment, there comes a ray of sunshine. Unexpectedly it reminds us what’s important: What we decided to give our hearts to a long time ago perhaps, and that we have forgotten about? Or that there are people out there that have no other goal in mind than to spread some good vibes and have some fun?
Whatever the case may be for you: for me it was the above mentioned.
Some people took the accapella vocal stems i offered to my subscribers on my bandcamp page, and wrote a song around it, about me….and a bloke named Fred. And I love it. It brightened my day, it made me laugh, even cry a little tear.
It made me feel I matter to some people out there and that its time to knock the daily bullshit on the head and concentrate on what’s positive.
And here it is:
I thought I’d take some time to introduce some of the people that have kindly agreed to lend me a helping hand for my show at the Glory, London, on the 6th of July. The show sold out within two hours basically, making me feel like Kate Bush 🙂 . So it was even more of a thrill when the people who i wanted most to be on stage with me for a song or two all agreed. Well here is the first installment. Caesar Gergess will play the Theremin. I came across this instrument a couple of years ago (why didn’t i before…. no clue) and my friends all chipped in to buy one for my birthday. But for my show I’ve recruited the able hands of Caesar. Please check out his beautiful music on bandcamp.
Especially this album captured my attention. I find it an inspiring listen.
There is even a cover of “love comes quickly’. Not to be sniffed at.
Also his early recordings display a beauty and vision not often found.
While digging out some unreleased Electribe stuff, i ‘found’ the raw memphis recordings of my album ‘Eighteen carat Garbage’. To my amazement it sounded great, with the backing vocals, sung by Ann Peebles and Carla Thomas, up loud and raw and beautiful and the musicians (Aretha’s band) twanging away and me hollering out guide vocals. Even laughter and chit chat, it’s all there. So on my list it goes for future mixdown, to be released as ‘The Memphis Session’. Even the prev. unreleased song ‘Hearts in Armour’ was recorded.
In case you don’t know the album that was released here it is:
The album sold out on import in the UK within days, and sold very well elsewhere, for an indie album. So much so that subsequently, the eighteen carat garbage demos was released. The album gets dearer to me each year, as it seems to find ever new friends and more and more emails are received where people express their support and love of this album.
Also of course, there is the ‘Recycled Garbage’ album, and many Vinyl releases.
Today’s subscriber exclusive comes in 2 parts.
Again, it is a previously unreleased an unheard song.
This time there are 2 versions:
The Opiates – Are you loathsome tonight (unreleased demo and vocal acapellas/stems) for remixing and producing.
Billie ray martin new demo – Are you loathsome tonight (basic demo and vocal acapellas/backing vocals/stems) for remixing/producing.
This Friday sees the release of some very special subscriber exclusive releases:
The first one: Black Breakers:
(Vocal Stems, and demo of an unreleased song) to try your hands on your own production/mixes.
The links will be posted on Friday.
Check back Friday the 15th for the second set of vocal stems:
‘Are you loathsome tonight’:
An unreleased ‘The Opiates’ demo as well as the vocal parts for you to do your own mixes and production of this song. And:
‘Are you loathsome tonight’ (Alternative Version)
A different vocal performance with backing vocals and rough demo, to create your own mixes and production.
(please note, the subscriber service is still on Beta, and at present ‘subscriber exclusive’ items are not displayed to non-subscriber. We have notified them repeatedly that this needs to be changed asap, and we will post a soundcloud link so that non-subscribers can listen to the demos.)
If you want to clue yourself up on how the subscription on bandcamp works, please click on ‘shop’ on this website and bandcamp will show you how it works.
Live Shows update: Leeds and Dublin, Berlin
Also don’t forget this gem:
There is a new/re-released rare single added to bandcamp store:
(love it and share it to support it please)
buy it: click on ‘shop’ tab on this website or link: https://billieraymartin.bandcamp.com/album/the-pacemaker
The Pacemaker single (1998) produced and programmed by the very talented Bill Lee in NYC, part of the Crime and punishment EP in it’s orig. version.
The song describes my recordbreaking impatience.
The backing vocal arrangements reflect my obsession with Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes arrangements.
The song started out as a Billie and the Deep song in approx 1983
The track was later re-recorded as “The Pacemaker” and appeared as a bonus track on the I’ve Never Been To Memphis CD in 2001.
#House #DrumnBass #SynthPop #SynthSoul
Produced, Programmed By – Bill Lee
Written by Billie Ray Martin, Bill Lee, Vinny Vero
So here is another example of another band/artist getting upset about not getting paid adequately for their streams. I’ve been harping on about it for years, but it’s only when big names speak up, we pay attention. so here you go. And in case you don’t know it, our money goes into the pockets of major record companies, who are shareholders, and a bit goes to spotify. Next to nothing ever goes to the artists. You don’t care? I don’t blame you. But my ass has been robbed for years now. And it’s legal #fuckoffspotify and #fuckmajorlabels #theft
My little contribution to the upcoming Record Store Day. With any vinyl order I’ll send out an additional free Vinyl record, signed, as well as a free DVD. All orders come with a signed Postcard as well. #RSD2015
back in the 90’s, one of the most exciting things going on in hamburg were andrea junker’s ‘housefrau’ events. andrea ran a booking agency and artist representation agency too, as well as having her own tv show on viva television. she had gathered around her an artist- and musician/dj collective, and it was always great fun for me to drop by their office right by the harbour. miss nico was one of those creatives. the events had a distinct visual identity and the label ‘housefrau’ could not, and cannot to this day, be separated from the artwork. their posters were cult.
today i was thrilled to receive a gift from nico, that i had announced on facebook i wanted. not only was the st.pauli keyring included but a multitude of customised and handmade gifts, from packaging to special goodies made by hand.
i feel super happy to get this keyring, as a st.pauli girl, i would be.
this is nico’s website http://www.miss-nico.de/
i can recommend to check it out. a very talented and uniqe artist. if you ever need a truly special gift… here’s your woman.
i was looking for an old housefrau image online but there’s nothing.
so here’s what i received today. magic!
Mark Moore: “The vocals are by Billie Ray Martin from Electribe 101. I’d met her at Shoom, which was the original acid house club that kicked off the whole dance music revolution. She’d read in the NME that anyone could be in my band, so took me up on the offer. I was on the dancefloor, under this smashing stroboscope, with this interesting looking German girl talking to me, and I thought, ‘She’s obviously nuts’. But she had this great silent movie star beauty to her, so I told her to pass by the Beethoven St Studios the next day. She came in and we set up the mic for her and gave her a backing track for L’age du gateau. Suddenly this voice came out of her. It sounded amazing. We couldn’t figure out how this voice was coming out of this white German girl. I was just obsessed with her after that.”
see the whole article here
how lovely of mark. thank you my dear!!!!
wowowowowow (slap me, i sound like kate bush) i just received this in the post. i posted about how much i would love to own this. and someone sent it!!!!!! vice versa is one of the main inspirations for me to want to sing and do electronic music. and even better…i ended up becoming friends with stephen singleton from the band. they later became ABC. i’m such a lucky lucky lady :)) this box set is incredible.
i just received this message:
“Today i heard “I’m not Simone Choule” for the first time on You Tube and i was totally blown away and up in tears of joy. Maybe the best song i ever heard and will hear in my whole life.”
it really moved me. without Robert Solheim it wouldn’t exist. and without Antonio Lerario the video wouldn’t exist. and without Michael Huber we wouldn’t have been able to make videos and promote the album. i feel gratitude and i am reminded why i continue to try to release music.
gratitude also Ceven Knowles for doing all the video art for live and much more and Philip Marshall for graphic design. and of course to Wolfgang Tillmans for the images and much more
Remember i was carbon-dioxide.
the best title since: are friends electric?
Fujiya and who?
krauts rock the best.
gutsy, shimmering, kraftwerkian keyboard hooks, ‘wire-esque’ … and clean.
no, dirty as punk.
melodic and beautiful music that has all the right elements and, in combination with the stunning beauty of the artwork, are really modern classics to be.
i would like to see them live.
3 albums are out. the artwork is stunning. you want to own them. i want to own them.
near where i was staying in paris on my last trip there, was pierre cardins’ shop.
it was so amazing for me to even go in there and talk to staff, let alone to be greeted by his muse maryse gaspard, who looked so stunningly beautiful and stylish that, arriving from berlin, i felt i was on a new planet. a planet where people had dignity and grace and cared about what they looked like. this is not a shallow outcry for more importance to the exterior but for mindfulness in the presentation of self.
to say i am a fan of pierre cardin’s fashion is an understatement. to me, he is one of the genius human beings of design. his designs were ahead of their times all the way up to the 90’s, even if not many people cared to notice this. he has just, at age 92, re-designed the 60’s look and the collection is quite marvellous to look at.
we were kindly given a telephone number to call to maybe arrange a meeting, or drop by again for lunchtime the next day, as monsieur cardin drops in each day. i did not make use of this kind offer because i felt that he might be confused about who the hell i could be….
what you need to understand is that, even being in a room belonging to pierre cardin, is en par with meeting ann peebles or siouxie sioux.
so, respectifully not bothering anyone, i sent a nice package of cd’s and dvd’s to them all afterwards.
so i took in the beautiful designs but mostly i was stunned to find, more or less diagonally opposite the shop, a shop of his sculpures. the sculpures have been in my consciousness for many years. hand painted wood mostly, they are, of course, pieces of furniture, designed as sculpures. underrated again, he has created something of such beauty and timeless pop-artness, that i’ll let the images speak.
here are some impressions. long may he live and create.
thank you caesar for translating and being there, and eric d clarke for hanging out with me….
A few words about this ‘gender thing’, and other prejudices.
I grew up in the red light district of Hamburg, with my grandparents. Most of the women around me, my mother, aunt, etc. looked more like glamorous transvestites than ‘real’ women. Beehives, bleach, eyeliner to the ceiling– glamour in a child’s eyes. ‘Who are these people, and what is their connection to me?’ I wondered, when they would visit. Where do I fit in? In the ‘hood’ I came across every type of mix of sexual orientations and gender combinations. Wide-eyed, I dreamed of another world I sensed was out there, where these people somehow had the key to something I had yet to encounter. (My song ‘Legends that die’ is about this.)
On the staircase… rumors whispered…’you know, he’s the other way around’ (German polite term for gay)’. ‘What does this mean?’ I would ask, finding it all rather interesting. My gran wouldn’t tell me.
My aunt went with girls. She looked like a cross between Jayne Mansfield and Marlene Dietrich but with a very masculine touch in those fierce eyes (covered in eyeliner) as well. My grandmother, not amused, kicking her out of the house. Me: Confused, missing her.
I had a removed cousin Ronald (no pun intended), who became Regina.
When Regina turned up at his gran’s house, who was then 86 years old, she said: ‘You come here looking like that, ok get it out I want to see it then.’ Thus said, she touched his newly created ‘parts’ and said: ‘Ok, now take me shopping’.
Although sexual orientation was all hush-hush with my gran, something not spoken about, I lived in a kind of semi-exotic Hollywood world of peroxide and pearls, made in Hamburg, and I sensed a hint of something bigger out there than my gran would let me know about.
Our Sunday walk along the Reeperbahn, past the neon signs of naked girls, women strutting in their heels, doors to establishments I did not know the interior of, all just part a normal Sunday out and about. Needless to say the exact gender of people encountered in my childhood, was often hard to establish, and no one worried about this, not even my gran. It was simply part of living by the harbour of Hamburg, with its whiff of the world of sailors, and exotic journeys only dreamed about.
These circumstances are probably the reason why I have never spent one minute of my time worrying about what sexual orientation or gender someone happens to inhabit in their lives. The thought of judging someone or even wondering about who they happen to be sexually or/and in their wider identity, was always, and is today, alien to me.
Yesterday I posted new photos of myself and Aerea Negrot hugging while showing a bit of skin. A couple of people started analysing if I am a lesbian or trying to be controversial or if, in fact, I didn’t mind being ‘seen as something I’m not’. Someone from an Arab country posts: ‘Satan’.
Naively, I stared in disbelief. We were two people on a photo shoot, having a great time fooling around spontaneously. No agenda, no intentions and certainly no thought that this would even raise an eyebrow in this day and age.
Hence I decided to write a few words about this. I happen to be straight these days, so you can stop wondering. I would also mostly rather have the famous cup of tea than get my nickers in a twist. I have no issues hugging with males, females, queers, transgender people of all variations, nor do I think about who or what they ‘are’.
Everyone should get over placing too much attention on a.) Sexuality and b.) Gender or sexual orientation, and instead enjoy life in all it’s richness and support anyone who differs from the norm; a norm that still seems to exist in people’s heads, although not in mine, nor, luckily, in 90% of my friends’. Do we really need to point this out in 2014? Apparently so.
Let’s support each other in our potential and in what we have to give. Let’s comment on what we did well, how we touched someone or were touched by something someone did. The planet is going to pot and we don’t have time to piss about, let alone wonder about unimportant details concerning others. This goes for all of use, gay or straight. Just let’s have fun celebrating each other in the face of a dysfunctional world that tries to stifle our individuality at every moment. Sexuality and gender orientation is only a part of who we are, not all of us. We need to start looking beyond, and find ourselves, not lose our wigs shading others.
accompanied by caesar gergess on theremin
thank you romain frequency and mavin le magass for videos 🙂 and connie werner for the photos. i’ll update this with more photos and videos as they come in.
Billie Ray Martin live
Freitag 5.September 2014
apostel paulus church berlin schoeneberg
organ and piano: frank schreiber
thank you to everyone at apostel paulus church. it was a memorable evening for me and i am so glad we made it!!
thank you to a wonderful audience!!!!!!!!!!!!
thanks to mavin le magass for sending these videos.
i found these wonderful drawings of designs to chose from for my video for ‘you and i keep holding on’. they fell out of a box today and i really like them. i cannot remember who made the dress or made these beautiful aquarell drawings. all i remember is that i worked the way i always do. i gave some basic ideas and bad drawings of mine, as well as some images of gowns i had found in books to the designer and was in turn presented with these results seen here. which design i chose you can see in the video. i yet have to upload all those official videos to my own youtube channel. meanwhile the director seems to now have uploaded the video to his.
a DVD of all my videos and more can be bought at my store. a preview is here:
i was plannning to blog about Roedelius, the legendary master of intuitive music and now i guess this will have to wait a couple of weeks.
this cd arrived and had me stop in my tracks. hints of ‘My life in the Bush of Ghosts’ perhaps, but labels and comparisons don’t quite describe it’s unique beauty. Improvisational Constructions? Deconstructed Intuitions? Labels, Labels…..
Dieter Moebius charted new “Krautronik” ground as one half of Cluster (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius) for many years. The Americans Tim Story and Jon Leidecker are two electronic musicians who could not be more different to one another. Story is known for his warm soundscapes whilst Leidecker has made an name for himself, or rather for his “Wobbly” pseudonym, with experimental adventures in sound. “Snowghost pieces” features harmonious, electronic improvisations of the highest order. Hypnotic rhythms embellished with sometimes bizarre, always surprising sounds and noises. Out June 27, 2014, on CD / vinyl-CD / DL
Liza Minelli started singing because she wanted to sing songs like his. Everyone from Elvis Costello to Dusty Springfield covered his songs. My own perception of how lyrics are written and my perception of how a vocal is performed was transformed by this man, the moment i heard ‘Yesterday When I Was Young’ and had trouble even fathoming how that phrasing and flow was created.
So i finally got to see him last night. It had been my dream to see Charles Aznavour in concert for as long as i can remember. Last night, on the day of his 90th birthday there he was, onstage at 02 world. He made even this soul-less venue, that i wouldn’t normally set foot in, shine with his charisma, his voice, which was as strong as ever, and his unforgettable songs. A full band accompanied him. quite amazing how strong his vocal performances were at this point in his life, where some stars dissapointingly lose their vocal powers at age 50.
My favourite songs ‘Yesterday When I Was Young’ and ‘What Makes A Man’, songs that i have on cd in their german, english and french versions, were sung and i was enchanted.
I don’t go to see many concerts so i guess it was almost the first time that i saw an artist who is a true world star. he just oozed a larger-than-life stage presence and charisma which floored me. i was glued throughout the two hour show.
Regarding the multitude of artists who have covered ‘yesterday when i was young’ and ‘what makes a man’:
shirley bassey turned it into a meaningless showtune, others who’ve tried shouldn’t have bothered.
the only decent version i’ve heard is Mark Almonds
Here is his version of Charles Aznavours “What Makes A Man’:
it’s been an eventful week. we shot 2 music videos for my new singles. the first one was a video shot on potsdamer strasse and hauptstrasse berlin, reminiscent of ‘bowie in berlin’, kind of. i am excited to see the outcome, when director joern hartmann (again) makes the most of it. The second one i’ll talk about when the time comes for the follow-up release. we had huge fun – it was the most relaxed shoot i’ve ever been on. carl stanley once again flwe in from london to do the make up. inez koernich assisted and much more, michael bidner was the assitant to the director and filmed extra footage on both videos. it was also funny to only have to walk out the door more or less, and be on the ‘set’. the second video was shot at o-ton theater, http://www.o-tonart.de/ , a tiny, and i mean minute, theatre with a black stage. it was more than perfect. special thanks go to herrn bossmann for letting us use it and huge thanks also go to georg jenisch http://www.georg-jenisch.com/ for lending his puppets.
the week also meant approving the final remixes for the following two releases. this never comes easy to me as i have to pay attention to so much detail. I have to be well rested and in a fairly relaxed mood to actually do it, otherwise i feel too much pressure. that’s just the way i tick. you’ve got to get it right.
So…next on the menu are the masters approval and the releases themselves. i’ll set a release date in the coming week.
here are a couple of first shots from the video sets.
I don’t think these mixes were released (i could be wrong), so i thought it might be a good way to share some of the soulfulness of Frankies Work he did for us here. Farewell and thank you Mr. Knuckles. To me the scary sounds on some of these mixes are just amazing and give this tune edge. The basslines are killer! The strings and pads pure soul. I was never keen on my vocal on this song, but …you live
and learn. Enjoy.
SOUL-TRONIC! ..is the name of the evening. For any of you early birds this might be interesting. On the 5th of September I will be playing a full live show at Apostel Paulus Church in Berlin Schoeneberg. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apostel-Paulus-Kirche/429903893771633
The Church celebrates the 50th birthday of their Organ in a month long series of concerts. This will be electronic music along with the big church organ and piano. EXPECT STEAMY STAINED GLASS WINDOWS!
i will be playing a large selection of songs from my entire period as a musician as well as the latest single(s) and more.
Expect Kate Bush style ticket frenzy (:brm humour)
oh! the church is a stunning, listed, gothic building and was designed by Franz Heinrich Schwechten, who, if i am not mistaken, also designed the famous Gedaechtniskirche (memorial church).
so today started a bit as a potential write-off. unsuccessfully trying to make all kinds of arrangements for my new video shoot, like getting the right clothes, locations etc. kind of took it out of me. then i received word that http://www.doritchrysler.com/toc.html is going to remix one of my new releases, a david bowie cover. while i’m waiting to buy my own first theremin, what could be better than having this wonderful artist work with me. check out her website.
then someone on my facebook page (david henru green THANK YOU) suggested i find out who did the sound design for this video:
now i WAS inspired. the fact that nothing impresses me easily these days usually doesn’t help but this reached me. eraserhead parallels are obvious, both visually and in sound design, but svankmeyer is not far. and i do wish i knew who did the sound, it is a work of art in itself.
now, THIS had excaped my attention before. so much feeling and poise as well as sheer ability to get THOSE sounds out of THAT thing.
so…who knows…i’ll certainly do some practicing once i get my hands on a theremin. the film is well worth watching. very moving in fact.
Brooklyn DJ/producer Pocketknife aka a string of other names, aka Laposky, with a string of big name remixes and a sting of this and a string of that is an odd sort. not content with working the floor using ever ‘new’ fomulaic combos, he wipes it with a mindblowingly simple yet…über exciting new sound. How it’s possible to manage this with a hi-hat, a kick, a snare, a piano and sme more odd bits is beyond me.
but take a listen for yourself, you lucky social media users. one click and it’s at your demanding fingertips to free streaming.
personal favourites? not even sure. i find myself singing along as if i’m recording a memphis soul record. and that can only be a good thing.
Boonlorm – String Figures
Vinyl and compact disc in stores now and available from the Wilde Calm Shop
Digital album available now
Simon Mills, one half of Bent, made this album, MADE it. Someone MADE this music. It’s full of quirky love, it’s full of …music. It sounds like music should sound. Remember when music charmed it’s way into your consciousness instantly and effortlessly? And this is by no means saying that it sounds in any way retro-esque, au contraire. But it’s sound is so instant that it vaguely makes you remember a time when music could do that.
No hypem.shite, no ‘if it ain’t in this blog it ain’t worth a f…’ this is pure delight and will convince on it’s own merits. The love and work that has gone into this album cannot go unrewarded and therefore fork out a few quid, post it, blog it, cane it from the rooftops.
this makes up for any snoozing on my part. just sharing this quickly. i promise there’ll be more posts soonest.i came across this. no idea when it came out but it’s in the vein of my favourite act in the world, alien alien, and it’s fierce as fierce can be. it grows on you with each listen. and let’s face it, videos in which people are dancing are always the best.
and here are my favourite dance track and video of all times.
Sometimes I have to rub my eyes in the unexpected realisation that my life may not be as dreary as I normally perceive it. For me, meeting Billy Name is equivalent to meeting Andy Warhol himself. Billy Name-Linich, in his own right, has shaped popular culture with the same magnitude as Andy. The way we look at the world today is a result of their historic efforts to document the time they lived in and change it into something entirely new. Without Billy there would not be a fraction of the first hand documentation of Nico or the Velvet Underground, of Edie, Andy and the rest of the factory. He was Andy’s lover and best friend and one of his three main collaborators of the 1960’s. Without going into the well-documented history of Billy’s influence on the factory and Warhol’s work: (Billy’s first job at the factory included covering the walls in silver foil; he rest is history) his own work is just as unique as Andy’s. As a photographer he did something with light I’ve not seen before or since: His light seems to illuminate the subjects faces to expose their uniqueness and beauty, while at the same time placing shadows and contrasts that create and convey great meaning and context. To combine both these seemingly opposing directions in one photograph seems to me a special gift and a rare occurrence in photography. The sitter is displayed revealing their outer beauty yet somehow their inner soul is exposed at the same time. I do not believe that our perceptions or intuitive images of what we believe the sixties were like would look the same without Billy Name.
I realised that some of my questions to Billy would be somewhat different. I wanted to look further behind the surface of the man who has influenced me for centuries and who has such a unique approach to visual art. Well aware, from watching the documentaries, that he also has a great sense of humour and shares my love for Warhol the man and the artist, where others try to tear him down, I went on a sleepy but joyful two hour train ride to meet Billy at his house in Poughkeepsie, a modest but spacious and pretty space in which he made me feel instantly at home. Since I had been communicating with Billy by e-mail for some years, he was aware of my work and welcomed me as a familiar friend. One of the first things he told me was: ‘You’re one of us’. (More eye-rubbing), and so we enjoyed hours talking and laughing and went on to spend the rest of the day at a local Italian bistro, where other locals joined us for food and talk, like we had known them for years. A magical day found it’s magical ending.
Billy Name on Photography, Film, Andy and the Factory.
There’s something you do with light that nobody else does. How do you do it and how did you do it then.
BN: I was a lighting designer before I worked with Andy. I worked with dance companies and for off-off-Broadway plays and so when I started working with Andy I was totally trained in various arts of the theatre so I knew how to do lighting.
But they didn’t have so much equipment there at the factory…
BN: No, but I knew about angles and about coming from the side or above or behind and how to do lighting with angles. I knew all that.
And did you also use a lot of natural daylight. Was there any daylight available there?
BN: No, not at the factory. There were front windows but there were covered with foil. (Laughter)
Did you vary your light set-up each time, according to the subject?
BN: No, basically we used the same lighting set-up. Because we were setting it up initially individually for each person as they came, for the screen tests, on different days. We would set it up then, but still in the usual way.
And then you would vary it according to the changes you wanted?
BN: Yes, when we started doing groups and people within sets and what have you, I did basic lighting design.
Did you work at the off Broadway theatres like La Mama etc. before?
BN: Yes, and the Cafe Cino, the Church, The Living Theatre….
But Andy gave you his camera and that started you off.
BN: Yes, that started my career as a photographer
And he gave it to you, not to anybody else, but to you.
BN: Yes, he gave it to me, because we were sharing it for a while. This was 1963, the year before the factory opened. And at one point he just gave the camera to me and said: “Here Billy, you take this camera and do the still photography, and I’m going to start making movies.”
And that was it.
BN: Yes, so I had the camera from then on.
And was there any intention prior to this event where you might have been hoping for this…
BN: No, I wasn’t hoping for it, we just did it. (Laughs)
Were you aware of the historic importance of documenting all that was happening?
BN: No, not at this time. The sense of importance came later. At this time I was only aware that Andy gave the camera to me and I would be doing the still photography. But then I got the handbook for the camera and I got the Kodak darkroom guidebook. I read them and built the darkroom and so knew how to do photography because I mastered all the camera techniques from reading through the program guide. I built the darkroom and was then no longer buying cassettes of film but 50 feet or 100 feet rolls of triax and then put them into cassettes by hand. So I made my own cassettes and then when I shot the film I developed the film by myself in the darkroom, and dried it and cut it and I made contact sheets and selected for the prints. I printed and developed my own prints, so I did everything that you could do with it.
I guess you probably didn’t have the sense where you would have thought: “Oh my god, here’s the velvet underground, here’s this and that, it’s all happening, and one day everything is going to freak about about it.”
BN: We just did it.
Because when you’re young you don’t think about it. You just do it.
BN: Yes. Andy was twelve years older than me, but he was still young too. And he just did it too. We were just experimenting, finding out what the cameras did. His technique seems so much like a put-on, like ‘he’s just doing this’ but he was actually experimenting and learning what the camera did, with the film, with the light, what have you. And these things became films, but they were really just basic studies in photography and filmmaking.
Yes, because Andy was very serious about his filmmaking and all of his work.
BN: Oh sure!
…Which is something that Paul Morrissey always lies about. But Andy had such seriousness and purose about his work.
BN: He had such seriousness that he disliked the initial film work he did because it looked too much like underground film. It was handheld, it was ‘bouncing around’ camerawork, and it looked like underground filmmaking. It didn’t look like a Warhol film. And he said: “I’m going to stop this. I’m going to get a tripod, put the camera on a tripod and see what it does.” So he did that for the screen tests for instance and he didn’t move the camera. He didn’t do anything with the camera. He didn’t touch it because he wanted to see what it would do, and then he started doing things like the ‘Kiss’ series, where two people kiss, and it built from there.
There’s a funny anecdote about when they shot ‘My Hustler’, that everybody else involved in the making of the film at that point were trying to figure out how to get Andy to pan the camera. There were saying: “he’s refusing to pan. We’ve got the house over here and the beach over there and he won’t pan.” So a conflict ensued and an argument, because Andy said no. I think Paul Morrissey then too over at that point. It’s funny. Andy either didn’t see the sense of it or he didn’t know how to do it.
BN: Well, Andy wasn’t ready to do that. It basically demonstrates Andy’s technique. He didn’t wanna pan because he wasn’t ready to do that. He was still working on the basic camera. The story sounds funny to other people because it shows Andy’s ineptness but it’s not that at all. Andy didn’t wanna do panning and he didn’t wanna do the interweaving of the scene with the people and the beach scene because that’s not the scenario that he wanted.
So you’re saying that he knew what he was doing.
BN: Oh, sure! I’m saying yes! But Paul was there and Chuck was there and they were going on: ‘Yak yak yak’ – and after a while you’re just going to stop doing what you’re doing if people are gonna keep going at you.
Part 2: Billy Name about the Velvet Underground, Andy and Music, the Factory, blashemous rumours and more.
Part 3: Billy Name on spirituality, staying in the Darkroom for two years, the shooting and leaving the factory (and I’m having an argument with Billy about Andy’s final departure).
Part 4: Billy Name about Valerie Solanas, Superstars, Factory Girls, Drugs and Gossip.
Billy Name – Legend
Billy Name about the Velvet Underground, Andy and Music, the Factory, blashemous rumours and more.
We already covered that with the Velvet Underground for instance, you didn’t sit there thinking: “This is all going to be very important one day.” But how did you experience the music. Was it music that was exciting you at the time?
BN: Yes, it was very exciting and very thrilling. And besides the pop aspect of it, John Cale had done music with John Cage and La Monte Young, with the wired up cello and all this.
Did you love all that?
BN: Oh yes! I was knocked out by it. I said: “Wow, this is great.” Before, when we were deciding whether or not to go with the Velvets I said to Andy: “John Cale is in this, so it’s pretty much a fact that it’s going to be fabulous.” Because he was working with La Monte and he came over here on a John Cage scholarship and I said: “Let’s go with this, because they have John Cale.” And they turned out to be absolutely fabulous – a great mix of pop and classical. It was just astounding how great they were. This is a time now, where Edie was there, and the Velvet Underground were there, so this was a time where we started to feel our greatness…
…Because people were starting to take an interest and wanting to be part of it….?
BN: Yes, but more than that. We felt the greatness. The Velvets and Edie Sedgwick! We felt the impact and the impact they had on the audiences. It was stunning. We were a big New York attraction in the art world and in the popular world. And so we felt the power, we felt the prestige; we felt all of the things that the Warhol factory had become. But we didn’t think of it in terms of history. We felt it now. And when you’re feeling it now that’s what you’re feeling. It didn’t say anything about the future and that it was going to be lasting.
…. And that the college kids today would freak about the velvets.
BN: Yes, and that people would pay millions of dollars for the paintings. So we felt the power of it.
Andy didn’t very often comment about details of the music. He didn’t seem like the type of guy that would comment very much about elements of the music being fabulous or liking one song better than another etc. How would Andy have experienced all of this? He does not mention music all that much in his diaries, in detail, but more in connection with the fame element of it. He will mention that a concert or a record is great in connection with the famous artist he got to meet and hang out with.
BN: He would not intellectualise it. He was an intuitive person so his appreciation would have been intuitive.
But did he appreciate it? Did he get excited about it?
BN: Oh yes, sure. But he would be commanding too. You see, this is the type of director he was. He would be aware of what was going on totally but he would be moving within that awareness of being the director, of going on to the next piece and the next thing and preparing it or setting it up. So he was like going through it as if going through a dream, to the next thing.
But how would he comment about it?
BN: He would not comment about it at all. He would just move on.
I guess that’s why you don’t read much about his comments.
BN: Yes, he would just let it go on. He wasn’t going to usurp it by commenting on it. (Laughs)
Later, in his diaries he comments on music only in the context of fame. He would say stuff like: “I’ve met this fabulous singer called Esther Phillips and she has to be fabulous because she looks fabulous.” Or he would be smitten with Diana Ross because he first of all was smitten by her fame. He would go on to say that her concert was fabulous but first he was taken by the idea of her fame and personality.
BN: Yes. And the diaries are a specific type of iconic reading and he would comment on the fabulosity of people.
Yes, and this is why I sometimes wondered if music was really his thing, because he doesn’t comment on it that much.
BN: Yes, he sort of took it in as the event…
Part of a whole..?
BN: Yes, but the music would be what it was. Like, when we went to the psychiatrist convention….
(I’m referring here to the Velvet Underground’s show at a Psychiatrist’s Convention in 1966)
They hated you….
BN: Not all of them!
It sounded like mayhem, like they all fled in horror.
BN: Not necessarily. I think the press or whoever made it seem like that but some people got it. But the people who hated it got it too. It was a presentation of popular culture that was exhibited.
But I read that even John Cale and people like that said that people were horrified.
BN: Yeah, that’s because it’s a better story to tell, but the mass of the people that were there weren’t. Even rock stars like John Cale would chose the easy context. They’re not going to explain it like I’m explaining it.
No they tell it for the media…
BN: Yes, and I’m telling it for authenticity.
I don’t even know if you like to go into the whole Andy thing. You, as well as other factory people get asked the same old questions.
BN: Yes but I usually don’t have the same answers.
You don’t mind?
BN: No I don’t mind.
(Billy Name on the left)
Hopefully my questions won’t be all that dreary. But I noticed the stereotypical questions that every one gets asked. For instance a recent Holly (Woodlawn) interview for a Canadian publication was so beneath what he essence and role were, and yet she was polite enough to answer the same stuff again, instead of beating the shit out of them. “How did you meet Andy and what was he like” etc. It’s almost degrading for her to have to repeat the same stuff over and over.
BN: I say, most of the people ask the same questions over and over again but the way I see it is that when people come to me, they have a viewpoint, they have a focus and they’re working from this point of view and each point of view is different. This is very interesting to me and very novel. And so I can talk about it.
You don’t mind…
BN: I don’t mind because I’m a prime participator. I was there. People can get an authentic version from me. I do this as a joy because I’m one of the people who can recite an authentic version. Whether people accept it or not or whether they’re just find it too analytical; at least you’re getting it from a first person, singular, who was there, and they’re getting a valuable thing.
Are there any things of the past, to do with Andy, that you don’t like to talk about?
Well this is my personal thought: He should have supported you financially after you left and after you’d moved back to Poughkeepsie etc.
BN: I don’t think about people supporting me. I think I’m gonna have to support myself.
Of course, and I’m sure Andy felt the same way. Andy did not feel that he owed anyone a living. But I just felt like you people were so instrumental in setting him up. The first group of people to be around him…
BN: Yeah, but you can’t do that because when you think like that then were are you gonna cut off. Are you gonna cut off these people and not these people….it’s just not possible to do.
How about a couple of paintings a year to set people up?
BN: No, it’s not the American way….
That’s interesting…. (Laughs).
BN: And he got upset when people started clamouring at him for money.
But sometimes, for instance reading the diaries, you do wish that he had picked up the phone and called certain people and just been around a bit more. This doesn’t bother you at all?
BN: No I’ve never been concerned about it.
Ok, then what about the spiritual aspect of it, the mental support.
BN: Well, I can figure out how to do that myself. And I want to be able to do that myself. I don’t want somebody else figuring it out for me or doing something for me.
So you don’t mind him not calling you…
BN: I don’t think about it. I think about what I’m going and how I’m living. It’s supposedly the American way. And there are a lot people who didn’t view Warhol as a money thing. It’s just a few people complaining about the money thing but it’s always comes to the fore but it’s not to the fore. But there’s so much going on spiritually and artistically and it gets lost in this type of conversation.
I know, but I’m not only talking in terms of money, but I’m talking about him at least thinking about the people that were so instrumental for him, and feeling a loyalty and If that means money….
BN: But it can’t be seen that way because he was a power. He had an aura, he had a mystique. He had a synthesizing, melting, cultivating thing that went on and if you’re someone who came upon him….
When I came upon him he wasn’t famous. We bonded really well. We were synchronised, and we just worked together so greatly…
We started out as being lovers but it quickly became just two guys working so well with each other. And it was so fascinating and so synchronous that we became so overjoyed with that, that we forgot about the lover thing. You know, it was totally irrelevant and we were just great synchronised workers together, for the first two years. You see, it had nothing to do with money; it had nothing to do with fame. It only had to do with Andy and I working together on the things that we were working on. Purely and simply.
So you don’t feel that later, in the 70’s and 80’s he should have supported anyone from the group…
BN: I don’t think he should have supported anyone. Period. (Laughs). Maybe Paul Morrissey got supported in that he got a salary, because he goes out and grabs that stuff. That’s why he’s got the house and that forty-five million dollars, because he’s a grabber. He’ll go in and latch in on the parts and manage those parts and benefit from those parts. I just take the whole thing.
Well it’s applaudable that you don’t sit around pondering those things then.
BN: Yes, but I’m an unusual guy.
I get angry when I read Andy’s diaries in those places where support of his old co-workers is concerned. And let me get this out: for me Andy is a saint! But I’m thinking: why didn’t he just pick up the phone and call Billy or Holly….
BN: He would just call someone late at night like Brigid or Henry Geldzahler. He had a regular routine of calling people.
But he never called the ‘old’ people.
BN: No, he never called me on the telephone.
It doesn’t bother you….
BN: No! I had the real Andy.
Well that’s nice then, that you don’t look back in anger.
Part 3: Billy Name on spirituality, staying in the Darkroom for two years, the shooting and leaving the factory (and I’m having an argument with Billy about Andy’s final departure).
Part 4: Billy Name about Valerie Solanas, Superstars, Factory Girls, Drugs and Gossip.
Billy Name – Legend
Billy Name – Warhol Screen Test
BN: Well I’m just that type of guy. I’ve been a Buddhist since I’m twenty years old and I’m totally self-contained spiritually. Finally last year I looked into numerology. I already do tarot and astrology so I wanted to see what’s going on with numerology. So I got a book and I realised it was just based on your date of birth and reducing the numbers to the final number and your name. So it’s William George Linich, and that reduced down, you take the letters by the alphabet and you give them each numbers from one to nine, and from one to nine and then repeating that four times which is three nines…whatever it is. And then you add those numbers all together and my date of birth comes out to the number eleven. My name also comes out to the number eleven. Now that is a spiritual master number. When you come to eleven you stop there; don’t reduce it down to two and twenty-two, if you come to that, you stop there, and you don’t reduce it down to four. And so my birth date is the twenty-second. And the master numbers are eleven and twenty-two. And so I had a double eleven.
And what does this mean?
BN: It means that I’m a spiritual master. (Laughter)
You’re the man….
BN: I was born on a certain day and I was given a certain name and these are both the number eleven and it’s very rare that someone comes up with two elevens. And you add those two together and then you come to twenty-two and that adds another master number. And my birthday is the twenty-second and so I’m a spiritual master and numerology says so. I never considered myself that…
But still Billy, we’re human and we have feelings, so hence my opinions on the loyalty thing.
BN: Yes but sometimes we have feelings and sometimes we don’t and sometimes we have feelings and we improve upon them. I’m much different now from when I was very young. I improved upon a lot of things and I’m getting old and tired now because I’m a nice old man, but I’m a spiritual master and I can say that now, because numerology validates it. Now I’m in my seventy-second year and in numerology that is the paradigmatic year. From then you go to recession, to death. And that was in my seventy-second year that I read that it told me that ‘now you’re going to discover what you are’. All my life I was constantly overwhelmed by the spiritual.
The spiritual…I picked that up the minute I watched you on documentaries. It’s easy to see.
BN: It’s fascinating that I had to wait all that time to realise I am a spiritual master. That’s why I say that I never thought about money. I never think about it and I never thought about it. I’m too involved with my own spirit.
Andy was like a phase in my life. It was something that I passed through and then I went on to other phases and although people usually come to me and they wanna talk about Andy, now they’re starting to want to find out about me.
That’s why I’m here too and that’s why I wanted to talk to you because I feel that it’s important.
BN: I can say that I am interested in the factory and I am interested in Warhol but only because it was a part of my life. Each decade is another part of my life. I was born on the decade, in 1940. The sixties were the Warhol phenomenon but then I left. I left in 1970, and then there was that period, and then the eighties and the nineties and the two thousands and each decade is a new life for me. And I don’t mind reminiscing on the Warhol thing because it was a sensation on the whole culture.
The darkroom! I want to talk about the darkroom because it is another element where the media always ask you the same question and they do the whole story in one minute: “So, you went into the darkroom, you stayed there for a year, you left – thank you very much”. That’s not enough. I want to know what you did in there.
Billy Name with Warhol’s Jackie
BN: It happened because of the trauma of Andy being shot. When Andy was shot it was an immense trauma for the whole factory. All the people in there were immensely traumatised by it. For a couple of years we were traumatised, I was traumatised by it too. So I stayed in the darkroom.
What did you do – meditate?
BN: Yes, I did meditate, but I also did a lot of reading and a lot of darkroom work. I had a large darkroom in the second factory. It was a big place, and that’s where I did my work. But other than that I did meditating and reading.
Did you read spiritual books as well?
BN: I read most of the books by the Tibetan Alice Bailey.
What was the process you went through? It reminds me of the Indian rishis…
….who sit in a cave for a number of years to see the nature of being. To me that’s what it is. Right?
BN: It is.
And nobody asks you about that.
BN: Depending on who it is – whether it’s a newspaper reporter or if it’s a book writer or a documentary maker, I’ll mould it to them.
It was a cleansing process maybe?
BN: Yes, also. It was a very synthetic process, a karmic cleansing.
And you needed that time in there…..
Did they get it? Did anyone get it? Did anyone bother to get it?
BN: Well, Lou Reed got it. Ondine and Lou were the two people who I actually let in the darkroom. I didn’t let anybody else in there. But they got it. But they were familiar with that type of life too.
And what would Andy have made of it? I guess he didn’t judge it one way or another.
And it was almost a year is that correct?
BN: It was a couple of years. Sixty-eight, sixty–nine and seventy.
That’s a serious amount of time.
BN: Yeah. But I also did work.
And you came out at night.
Did people knock on the door and ask you how the hell long are you going to keep this up?
BN: Yeah. But I still met with Andy at Max’s Kansas City at night.
Oh you did?
BN: Yeah, it’s sketchy, but the laying down of a story that I locked myself in the closet…that is a piece of it. I didn’t lock myself in. But it sounds better if you say:” he locked himself in.” It wasn’t a closet but it was a big darkroom. So we let these things go on because people get fascinated with some guy who locked himself in the closet for two years.
I just feel that people didn’t get the spiritual connection. They don’t ask about it.
BN: They don’t get the whole connection when they focus just on one aspect, because it’s just a fragment of it. I also did my work and I also went to Max’s Kansas City.
After you left, you travelled. Where?
BN: I went south and I ended up in New Orleans. I was there for a large part of a year. Mostly the summer. Then I went up to Boulder, Colorado. Then I went to San Francisco and I stayed there for several years. But this is the type of stuff that I usually don’t talk to people about. It’s my life. The Warhol factory years I will talk about because it’s a public episode and it’s a public phenomenon but I usually I don’t talk about what happened afterwards, in new Orleans and San Francisco and then, when I came back here, what happened here also. But things happened. (Laughter) But I think it’s better to keep it on the Warhol phenomenon because that’s an important historical factor. It’s worthy of discussing and I focus on myself then that may be interesting for a while but then the interest will decrease. But the Warhol factory is of the importance.
Asking about the darkroom thing was important to me, also because of the aspect of leaving Andy behind….
BN: Well, I was doing reading in the Tibetan spiritual literature but I never left Andy behind until I left in 1970.
So the decision was made and by that time you were ok with that decision.
BN: I realised that I was saturated with the factory. I realised that it was no longer an artist arena. When I started working with Andy it was an artist arena, it was an artist place for making art, and that’s all we were doing. And this was changed, and when he got shot, we got traumatised, and it was changed again….and I realised I was saturated with it and that I didn’t belong here really. Paul was here, Fred was here and everybody was here to take care of Andy and he didn’t need me anymore. I was superfluous so I decided I would go out into the world and see what the world is doing and see what the world is. I had been engaged in the factory for ten years.
Andy and P.Morrissey (left) at Max’s
Was it a painful process, the process of leaving? All these guys coming in and changing the factory and renting premises that were not arranged in the way you would have wished etc.? Was this tough on you?
BN: Things are always tough on me but they never bother me. I can go through wrenching heartache or backache or neck-ache but they’re just things. When Andy was shot and I went out and found him in a pool of blood on the floor and I picked him up in my arms, and I was just crying. It was such a trauma. It was such a tremendous trauma. Your best friend was dying in your arms. And he did die but then Mario Amaya was there in the hospital with him in the emergency on a different cot. But he had also been shot, in the back, but he was conscious. And he could see these doctors standing over him.
This is when he shouted: “the guy is rich, he has insurance….”
BN: The doctors were saying: ‘there’s nothing we can do for him’, so they just let him die and Mario popped up when they said: “he’s dead”, and he said: ‘no, you can’t let him die, he’s a famous artist, and he’s rich’. (Laughter)…so they got this Italian specialist in who revived him and got him back. Andy was always saying that he wasn’t sure if he was alive or dead because he’d been allowed to die and he didn’t know if he had come back or if it was a dream or something. He then turned into the cardboard Andy. (Billy calls the post-shooting Andy cardboard Andy, because of the loss of authenticity and adventure in favour of creating a worldwide business-phenomenon).
I’m sad about Andy not being around anymore. Valerie Solanas is not one of my favourite people.
BN: Well, she’s not my favourite person either but you know, a lot of women make a big thing about her. About her being a seminal figure in the women’s movement. But I don’t like her either. It’s like with Taylor mead who came on to me with his cane. But I don’t want to make a story out of it. With Valerie, I tolerate her. I respect the women’s’ movement viewpoint about her and I will accept that in history. But as for her personally, I don’t care for her. I thought she was dull, dreary thing.
(Before the interview commenced, Billy told me a story of Taylor Mead, who had beat on Billy with his cane recently, accusing him of collaborating with some documentary film-maker and financially benefitting, which was not true).
Andy could possibly be around today if his health hadn’t deteriorated so much as a result of the shooting.
BN: But he couldn’t have been. His line of fame…
I know people go when they’ve gotta go. …
BN: It’s like a comet that comes into the sky and then….
But don’t forget that Andy created what I consider to be his best work in the last year of his life. The Last Supper series. It’s my favourite work of his. So he was not someone who was washed up. There had been times in the seventies and maybe some times in the eighties where he had not produced his best work but then he got so inspired to paint again. He drew the inspiration partly from his collaboration with Basquiat ….
BN: But look at the title of this thing: The Last Supper. It was his last magnificent piece.
I know. But I think as far as his work goes, he could have done more.
BN: But he didn’t need to.
BN: No, he didn’t need to. He had done quite enough. Tha Last Supper was a very significant thing. I mean, he went to church every Sunday. The reasons he did the portraits as icons was because of the icons in the church.
In the church in Pittsburgh. All these icons. So he did iconic work. And he was very much in that mode. The wizard child from Slovakia who grew up to be a master artist and do all that iconic work. That’s what he was, and when he went into the hospital….he refused to go into the hospital because he had a fear of it and he had been traumatised and now they wanted him to go there. He went to all kinds of doctors and Chinese herbalists and what have you and had them treat it. Finally the pain from the gallstones got so great that he conceded to go to the hospital.
Well call me sentimental but I think it would be amazing he was around today, wandering around the neighbourhood. ….
BN: …he went to the hospital and they left him in the care of a specially hired nurse, because they reckoned they needed to get a hired nurse in and she neglected him. She didn’t check his signs and he died in the morning of a heart attack. It was the same type of trauma that he usually got. When he was shot the fist time, three days later, Bobby Kennedy was shot. Andy was supposed to be on the cover of Life Magazine that week, and because bobby Kennedy being shot in the same week, they pulled Andy and put bobby Kennedy on the cover. It was a typical Warhol thing where he gets stepped on (Laughter). He got that second grade treatment as a tragedy. He wasn’t even the first choice to be assassinated. He wasn’t the first choice! Valerie Solanas’ publisher was her first choice.
BN: Yes, and he wasn’t there, so she said: “he’s not there. Let’s assassinate Warhol.”
So he wasn’t even first choice to get assassinated! who gets that! Whoever gets stuff like that! (Laughs) And the nurse doesn’t check his symptoms so he died. He died! It’s incredible! The way things happen to Warhol. Things like that happened all his life.
But anyway at the end he did all this great work.
BN: Well you have to say: “his life ended, and he did great work.” Not that he should have lived more.
But it’s annoying to die for stupid reasons like you’re neglected by some nurse.
BN: It happened. It’s a fact. You see, the Buddha has an opinion. So if you’re gonna make opinions about things….
Yeah but I’m human….
BN: I am the spiritual master; I’m not human (Laughs)
I know, but I am….know what I mean….
BN: I fully accept that. You’re human and you have this feelings, which is legitimate. But I don’t see it like that. You have these feelings but you don’t leave it there…
Well it’s Andy…(Laughter).
Part 4: Billy Name about Valerie Solanas, Superstars, Factory Girls, Drugs and Gossip.
BN: Valerie Solanas, she died of a liver infection or something. Ultra violet followed up on her and found out how she died and where she died and all that stuff. Oh, you haven’t met Ultra yet have you?
I’m wasn’t planning to contact her.
BN: But she’s very interesting. But if you not so keen on her you shouldn’t see her.
My impression is that she was not a great creative force?
BN: Oh, she was. She was very important. She’s not one of the underground people but she came to America because her parents got rid of her and sent her to America. They sent the naughty girls to America to get married but she was also Salvador Dali’s’ muse. She was with these other fabulous artists too. She then met Warhol and she set out to conquer Warhol. But there was no conquering Warhol. He was not interested in women. He wasn’t overtly interested in men. He was a generic artist and she couldn’t conquer him but she was a strong presence throughout Warhol’s life. She was at the factory, we did films at her apartment and she was with us at all times.
But did she get creatively involved? Did she make suggestions etc.?
BN: Oh yes! About what colours for the paintings. She had a big flower painting that Andy gave to her because she had suggested certain colours. Yes she was very significant. And Viva was impossibly significant too. She’s like the Lucille Ball of the Warhol stable. She was someone who was not totally beautiful but could turn into something to beautiful.
She was magical.
BN: Yeah. She could always look beautiful and she is a riot.
Well Billy, I’ve taken so much of your time. I could go on and on!
BN: Well, maybe we can do it again!! You know, this was a fabulous interview. You got me really going there. You landed on interesting topics. And talking about the Warhol girls is fabulous. Talking about Susan Bottomly….she was another colourful parrot. And Mary Woronov was an exiting person. And Ingrid superstar.
BN: She was the magic goof.
Actually there is something else I want to ask you. The hundreds of tapes that Andy and Brigid recorded of their phone conversations they taped for years. When will they, meaning either Brigid or the foundation, start to exploit those? I know I would sell my soul to get my hands on them. And they would be of immense historical interest.
BN: I don’t know if it’s on the agenda to do. You have to have someone assigned to do that. Either by a museum or by the foundation.
But there’s money in there…
BN: There’s not enough money in there and there’s so much money in the paintings, so the paintings are the prime assets. Even the films are considered a secondary product.
Who has the tapes?
BN: The museum has them.
All the phone conversations?
I thought Brigid might have them.
BN: Maybe she does, but generally speaking the museum has all the tapes.
(I’ve since read Brigid mentioning that someone is helping her digitising all the tapes, so I live in hope).
In the wonderful documentary about Brigid, Pie In The Sky, there are a few excerpts of phone conversations and they’re more insightful than reading an entire book about Andy. There were things that Andy was advising her about, like how she should handle her career and pursue her work. In one conversation she’s asking him how she should present her work to some people who want to see it and Andy’s response is so instant and so switched on and in a couple of sentences he’s telling her exactly what to now and in future.
BN: Andy always had ideas what people should do and he would tell them. But most of the people didn’t pay any attention to this. He would tell them, as a great manager, exactly which steps they should take. He told Edie exactly what steps she should take to become a bigger star, and not just a Warhol star. These people who Warhol engaged with were all underground people and they wouldn’t emerge. They would stay in the underground. They would not emerge into bourgeois America. But Andy did. And he knew.
Why did Edie not listen? Was she too out on drugs?
BN: Yes, she was mostly out on amphetamines but she was basically an ethereal fairy. She was in fairy world. Having engaged with these underground people, he became a star himself. He became greater than his own works. He became the star Andy Warhol and he did that by doing it. By connecting with people. He had an accountant, he had a lawyer. From the beginning he had them. And he always made sure that connections were made, and that’s how he progressed. He wouldn’t have progressed if he hadn’t made connections and going to all these editors of magazines in person, presenting his portfolio. He did all of that work.
And he never complained and he never upset anyone.
BN: Yes, right! And he was always there. And he could be relied on to do the work. You approached him with work and he would do it. Now that is a consistency, which is remarkable and unique. Andy Warhol worked hard and made connections to secure his absoluteness as a figure of power. He advised the people who worked with him to go the same way but they didn’t pick up on it. Their head wasn’t in that gear. But regardless he succeeded. It all looks like it was a magic occurrence but it was because of his connections. But it was simultaneously magic. It was magic too. Regarding the tapes: there are so many things that are so interesting. There isn’t the money to do it unless you get a patron or a foundation to fund it. There’s so much going on about Warhol now, still. Why would they wanna focus on some tapes when they could focus on paintings.
They’d have t go through all these people to get all the tapes together. It’s just not interesting yet. ‘A, a Novel’ is interesting. People come to me, because they’re doing papers on it, and what have you. It’s interesting, a great artistic work
I guess I don’t understand the mechanisms of the money thing. I just want to buy a quadruple DVD pack with hundreds of taped conversations on them. Give them to me! Andy was absolutely magical in his way of communicating with people and Brigid was the lucky co-communicator. They had something going on in their friendship that made him want to talk to her. She was his equal in this.
BN: And she was a talker too. I wasn’t a talker in those days. I was always very silent. I stayed in the background. I was occasionally in a film, but I usually was in the background. We were all competing with each other, but mine was a silent kind.
But in this role, I understand that you had a lot of power at the factory. You had the power to decide who stayed and who had to go.
BN: Yes, I had a lot of power at the factory and I could kick people out and I could keep people in. But it was silent power and I didn’t talk a lot. For instance when Edie Sedgwick came on the scene, Naomi Levine had been the first ‘girl of the year’, before we thought of that title, but then it went to Jane Holzer. And then Edie Sedgwick became the girl of the year, and we were doing shoots for Vogue magazine at the factory and so forth. Naomi Levine came early one morning, around ten or eleven o’clock and she said: “what is going on here, what is all this stuff for Edie Sedgwick. I’m the girl of the year, not her. I will always be Andy’s girl of the year.” And she started ripping down the sets. Nobody knew what to do so I grabbed her, pulled her over to the doorway; the hallway, and I slapped her in the face. I explained to her that she was no longer the girl of the year and she had to go.
BN: So she left (Laughter). I don’t know where it came from that I slapped her in the face but it was the only thing that would have woken her up and come to realised the reality of the situation.
Was it you who kicked Ivy (Nicholson) out, when she went mental?
BN: No I didn’t kick her out. I banned Gerard from the factory for a while. He was starting to take advantage of Andy, doing all these projects and wanting Andy to co-sign them and all of that. I wasn’t gonna take any of that chewing on Andy like that. I was powerful and then at the second factory my power got transferred to Paul and Fred. Especially when Andy was shot. So I was finding that it wasn’t an art scene any more and I was happy to leave now.
Who kicked Ivy out?
BN: I don’t know about ivy getting kicked out.
Mary Woronov talks about Ivy getting kicked out and pooping behind the sofa or in the lift.
BN: Well, Mary always has good stories and her book ‘Swimming Underground’ is a very good book.
It’s an amazing book. However she writes the book like Andy was hardly there.
BN: Andy was a silent figure in these people’s lives. He didn’t talk a lot or gabbled about fabulous stuff. (Laughter) but in Mary’s life he was probably a silent figure, and so he wasn’t demonstrated in the book. In a lot of people’s lives he was a silent presence. But she wrote about me because I was on her level. In Ultra’s book ‘Famous For Fifteen Minutes’, which is a fabulous book …it’s totally a French novel…when she starts talking about her uncle molesting her in the backseat of a car….it’s such a French novel, it’s so fabulous. I just think it’s great.
I think Holly’s book is fabulous.
BN: I haven’t read that, what is it called?
It ‘s called ‘A Lowlife In High Heels’. It’s so honest, from the heart, like she is. She tells it how it is. She doesn’t say a bad word about Andy. And this is also what she told me when I met her a few months ago. She said: “I don’t have a bad word to say about the guy. I would not be sitting here if it wasn’t for him.”
BN: I also do not have a bad word to say about him. I actually defend him a lot when people do tear him down. I point out the right way to see it and I point out that they’re seeing things the wrong way. I defended him to so many people so many times, in so many documentaries and books, because I loved him. We started out being lovers and we became great friends and co-workers and I will never forget that experience. It’s something I cherish and treasure, and what bad thing could I say about him.
Look at how Andy’s life was as a child. He lived in misery. I can see him in his older years, being mad at somebody, resenting something, because he is that child being resentful at having nothing. His mother would cut the tops of tin cans and make flowers out of them to sell. It was such a ridiculous life that he had to live. So I don’t blame him for getting mad. I remember one interview of him saying: “All these people at the magazine deciding stuff, but who’s magazine is it anyway?”
That’s actually in his diaries too.
BN: Yes, and they would just make decision and overlooking him. So he has a lot of resentment that he could have poured out on people but he didn’t really. He kept it to himself. He may have said to Fred: “Let’s not do her”, or something. Or when Jean Stein did that book on Edie Sedgwick he was so angry. He told me: “Don’t work with her, she’s really lied about me”.
Thank you so much. Shall we go to the Italian place to eat?
BN: Yeah, let’s.
I thank Billy from the heart for this wonderful interview, for his time and love and kindness. Long may he reign.
Waverly Press sell the most wonderfully put together books of Billy’s Photography http://thewaverlypress.com/category/billy-name
KOMMEN SIE BITTE UND LISTEN TO….
IT’S WOT I LIKE……
Robbie Basho Visions of the Country out August 20th, 2013 on Gnome Life Records LP + digital download
I feel ‘wrong’ blogging about this Robby Basho album. It’s like eating caviar off a paper plate, meaning that really one should shout about this album from a rooftop while flying kites, or create an event celebrating it or listening to it in silence with a worthy group of friends. The throw-away moment we call reading about music on a blog seems utterly inappropriate here. However……
Let’s hear sound:
And that’s just for starters. The rest of this album has the debth of, say, ‘This Mortal Coil’ make a country/folk album but even that does not begin to describe the mountains of emotion shining here.
Here’s another taste.
I leave the rest to you. Words will only disturb the symbiosis of souls that takes place when listening to this masterpiece.
Respectfully crafted by the label and with warm analogue mastering bringing out the sound to maximum beauty, this re-issue deserves recognition.
1. Green River Suite 2. Rodeo 3. Rocky Mountain Raga 4. Variations on Easter 5. Blue Crystal Fire 6. Orphan’s Lament 7. Leaf In The Wind 8. Night Way 9. Elk Dreamer’s Lament 10. Call On The Wind
Order the album:
Screaming Rachael – Queen of Soul
Label: Trax Records
This retrospective album compiles 32 tracks, spanning the beginning days to hip-house anthems to hits such as ‘You used to hold me’. The versatility and no-bounds attitude of early house is apparent at all times. For me it gets really interesting on tunes like ‘I’m into you’, ‘Build you a house’ and ‘Fantasy’ where it gets soulful and song-based. But basically it’s all there and just shows again the influence of early house and dance music on everything that attempts to be done today. There are new-wave’ish and Blondie’esque moments on tracks like ‘Insult to Injury’ as well as tunes displaying her very own kind of poetry, especially on my own personal favourite moment, the poetry reading ‘Princess in Penthouse A’.
Every single of the dance track will cut it on the floor today without re-edit, which is often rare with classic dance and house-tunes, as they often weren’t snare heavy enough to fit into today’s sets. I’m glad to have all these tracks on one compilation. Well done Traxx.
BANG THE BOX – THE LOST STORY OF AKA DANCE MUSIC
CHICAGO 1987 – 88
Release Date: 09.17.2013
Art ist : Vari ous
Tit le” Jerome Derradji Presents Bang The Box!
The (Lost Story) of Aka Dance Music. Chicago 1987-88
Label : Sti ll Music
Cat No: St il lmdcd010
The real the true Chicago Vibe here. Tracks that have set the template for things to come. Dump your laptop, buy a 2 track tape machine. You’ll be happier.
Tracklisting (Double CD)
1 – Nexus 6 – Take Me Higher (The Ultimate Acid Mix)
2 – Matt Warren – Bang The Box (Bang The House Mix)
3 – Michael Griffin Feat. George Karchmer & Khrissie Henderson – Close Your Eyes (Club Mix)
4 – Team – The Music’s Got Me (Club Mix)
5 – BnC – House Ain’t Giving Up (Jackin Mix)
6 – Modern Mechanical Music feat. Matt, Nick, Michaelangelo – Pleasure Dome (House Mix)
7 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Exotic (Vocal)
8 – Nexus 6 – Take Me Higher (Club Mix)
9 – Modern Mechanical Music feat. Matt, Nick, Michaelangelo – Pleasure Dome (Inst.)
10 – Matt Warren – Take It To The Wall (Matt’s Mix)
11 – Team – The Music’s Got Me (Dub Mix)
12 – Matt Warren – Bang The Box (Original Re-Mix) 1994
1 -Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Rock It
2 -Michaelangelo – Lost In The World
3 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Exotic (Dub Version)
4 – Michaelangelo – Alternative House
5 – Michaelangelo – Jackin
6 – Michael Griffin Feat. George Karchmer & Khrissie Henderson – Close Your Eyes
(Matt-N-Steve House Mix)
7 – Michaelangelo – Disco House
8 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Don’t Bring Back Memories
9 – Matt Warren & Michelangelo – Let It Flow (Short Version)
10 – Michaelangelo – Pick It Up
11 – Michaelangelo Feat. Pepper Gomez – Shake It
12 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo- Remember The Last
13 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Exotic (House It Up Dub)
14 – Matt Warren & Michaelangelo – Dusty House
And if that’s not reason enough to keep jacking, there’s MORE:
KILL YOURSELF DANCING
THE STORY OF SUNSET RECORDS INC. CHICAGO 1985 – 89
Release Date: 08/20/2013
Artist : Various
Title” Jerome Derradji Presents Kill Yourself Dancing
The Story of Sunset Records Inc. Chicago 1985-88
Label: Still Music
Soon to become familiar names make their first appearances here. Matt Warren, Miguel Garcia and Ralphi Rosario created an outlet for their sound here. The influence of the tracks compiled here is massive, although everyone was going nuts about traxx and DJ International at the time, the tunes compiled here are up there with the best of them. Cowbells anyone?
Tracklisting (Double CD)
1 Razz Feat. Matt Warren & Ralphi Rosario – Kill Yourself
2 Modern Mechanical Music – Persia
3 Master Plan – Electric Baile (Commercial Mix)
4 White Knight – It Could Be Acid
5 Ben Mays – Jail Bait
6 Hex Complexx – I Want You – Suite – The Dash Riprock
7 Michaelangelo – You Can Do It
8 White Knight – White Knight Jacks Club Mix
9 Razz Feat. Matt Warren & Ralphi Rosario – Razz-Matazz
10 Boom Boom & Master Plan – Face The Music Club Mix
11 – Razz Feat. Matt Warren & Ralphi Rosario – Pump It Up
1 Matt Warren – The Way To My Heart Club Mix
2 Kajsa – Try Try Again House Mix
3 White Knight – Demons A Mix 4U
4 Modern Mechanical Music – Doo Doo Da
5 Razz Feat. Matt Warren & Ralphi Rosario – Say It
6 Boom Boom & Master Plan – Face the Music Dub Mix
7 White Knight – Yo Baby Yo Mix 1
8 Master Plan – Electric Baile (Large Dub)
9 White Knight – Acid Dub
10 Matt Warren – Rock
Tracklisting (Double LP)
A1 Razz – Kill Yourself Dancing
A2 Ben Mays – Lover Man
B1 White Knight – It Could Be Acid
B2 Boom Boom & Master Plan – Face the Music Dub Mix
Lp 2 –
C1 Modern Mechanical Music- Persia
C2 Master Plan – Electric Baile (Commercial Mix)
D1 Hex Complexx – I Want You The Transcontinental Mix
D2 Matt Warren – Rock The Nation Remixed By Kenny Jason
sort of. the project I’m working on at present is always my favourite project. but why not succumb to a moment of nostalgia. some bad artwork, some good…it’s all there. the image was kindly supplied by andy reynolds from popular publicity who’s been working my wares in the united states and is an all round PR genius really. hopefully the glittering gutter, which is currently receiving a remix treatment, will make it onto the list of covers at some point soon….as i said, the current project is always the favourite.
The legend that was JR ewing passed on today. i felt it my duty to dig out my pictures of our rather fun outing in Dallas to the southfork ranch whilst on tour in the states approx. 1998…or was it 97. i had line danced at a disco called ‘country 2000’ the night before to ‘insane in the membrane’ followed ‘Blue Monday’ (I swear!). men in white cowboy hats and wranglers jeans…what more could a girl want. ‘Take me to southfork’ i demanded of the record company reps the next morning and the happily obliged. accompanied by friend and road manager Steve honest who was always happy to join in all the pranks. here’s the evidence:
Southfork is run as a museum. The neon sign with me posing of course.
me posing in front of a ‘who’s who in Dallas’ picture gallery
Sue Ellen and JR’s BED!!!
brm at the southfork gate
the ewing’s living room
the pool!! avec brm of course.
the ewing’s bathroom
well that was fun…to be honest, i can’t remember if this was LA or Dallas …but anyway typical ‘exit’ by brm and steve honest. the limo is ready..off to the next town.
after the most wonderful garden party at thomas herrmans summer house we were thrilled and laughed our butts of when we rode the underground to find that my face was all over every screen on the entire network. now the party can begin. it’s there for another week and then again for another week before the release date. enjoy the ride. party is next thursday. release is 4th sept in germany and 10th sept rest of the world. :))
As time passes and i’m making more and more preparations for the release of ‘Five Takes (A Song About Andy)’, the many facets of Andy Warhol’s true thoughts and feelings, as opposed to what he showed in public, goes through my mind. Only they were not ‘as opposed to’. Andy Warhol was a complex individual, it was all ‘one’. in this video clip jeff koons reads the words of an unusually frank interview andy gave after the shooting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hovl8LJ5ftQ
One of my dreams of a lifetime came true when i had the immeasurable pleasure of spending an evening with the legend that is Holly Woodlawn. I’ll post a little video soon. We got on like we’d known each other for years and i cannot describe how i felt for days afterwards… Let’s just say i felt good.
We sang songs, we chatted, we laughed, we bitched….. Holly is one of the kindest and most loving people I have ever met and i will draw from this experience for a long time. I gave her copies of songs i have written about the Warhol stars, including Holly’s good friend Candy of course and ‘Bright Lights Fading’ about Holly. She was thrilled to receive my little gifts.