The talented Billie Myers, stormed onto the music scene back in the late 90s with her transatlantic hit Kiss The Rain. The former nurse from Coventry who has been residing in America for the last 8 years, is back on her home turf to promote her impressive new album Tea and Sympathy. The songs are indicative of an older and wiser Billie Myers; they are heartfelt, truthful and cathartic.
The album has some fantastic tracks like Send Me An Angel (Is God Dead), Anonymous and of course the new single Wonderful. But I really feel that soft rock ballad You Wear Heaven is the stand out track on the album and could be a sleeper hit for Billie. Does She have a favourite song fromthe album? “It depends on any given day...I love them all. I don't have a favourite,I'd feel I was abandoning the other songs.”
Billie talks candidly and is deeply passionate about her music and issues close to her heart. She is gracious and humble with a sharp mind and sense of humour. In-spite of a roller-coaster life, including battling and managing depression, it is refreshing to meet someone so down to earth. Now she has come through the other side with help and support from those around her. She is planning to work with the charity MIND to help de-stigmatise depression as an illness. She says, “it needs a voice and a face. It needs to be made ordinary...we aren't dealing with it. You can't stop people waking up and finding themselves there, but nobody needs to stay there.”
For Billie many of her songs have been her own voice. A way of expressing her angst and battles with depression. She tells me “I sing what I've experienced. I can tap into it easily.” She has always kept journal for her thoughts and writings or her “doodles” as she affectionately calls them. When she is writing a song the lines come first, she says that they come from a phrase and a scenario is worked around them. The melodies come later. Billie is adamant about one thing in the song writing process - she won't change a lyric. “I want the melody to work around it. I've had lines in my head for years just waiting for the right canvas.” For Billie a great song should “capture moments and the psyche of reality.” She sites country music, of which she is a fan, as an example, “they make complex themes simple, they have a good narrative and make things real...great pop songs, like country songs are difficult to write...because they're seemingly easy.”
After the success of her first album Growing Pains, her follow up, Vertigo, received critical acclaim but failed to do so well commercially. As a result Universal Records dropped her from the label. "At the end of the day it’s a business...the critics loved the second album, but it didn't make money..." Billie talks openly about how her confidence suffered as a result of this bombshell, and also spiralled her into a troubled time. "With a song like Kiss The Rain when you don’t' follow it up, you feel like the biggest loser in the world...I didn't want to face people...” She continues, “I feel more comfortable here (in the UK)... but it's also the place I feel most judged...I spent years being really embarrassed to come home, and not wanting to face friends or family...I think I've moved past that now." Which is certainly good to hear!
Having had the luxury of time to focus on her work, Billie is now in a
good place and ready to put herself totally back into her music. Looking back does she feel that it was a blessing in disguise and that she now has more creative freedom and autonomy over her music? "I had complete autonomy then...universal left me alone...I didn't experience any downfalls that I hear many people talking about...they were great, they didn't ask me to change at all...if they are not trying to control you it's perfect.” Although she doesn’t deny that it would be easier to get air play and promote her music if she were with a major label, she seems content to fly solo and concentrate on putting her music out on her own label Fruitloop Records, affectionately named after her nickname for her anti-depressant medication. It's not just music she is working on, but she is also working on a screenplay, a black comedy about dealing with depression, and of course her continuing work with mental health and LGBT organisations.
Does she have any advice for newcomers to the business? “Be authentic about what is real to you...You're unlikely to become multi millionaires these days in the music industry. But you can pay your rent by doing what you want to do...Cultivate those people at the very beginning who like what you do, it's those people that will follow you because they are passionate. If you're lucky enough to sing, write, record, do live stuff, and make a living doing that. Don't be an ass... you are nothing without the people you work with.”
Sound advice from the voice of experience. So good to see her back. She deserves success with this brilliant new album, it's a gem, don't miss it!