Posted On 10 May 2016
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Bill Kaulitz, Billy, Caroline, Chapter One, David Bowie, Davis Factor, De-Code LTD, Depeche Mode, I'm Not OK, Interview Magazine, Kontor New Media, L'Officiel Hommes, L'Uomo Vogue, Love Don't Break Me, Madeon, Pionear, Robyn, SBTRKT, Shiro Gutzie, Tokio Hotel, Tom Kaulitz, Universal Music
Bill Kaulitz recently embarked on a new solo project under the artist moniker BILLY. As the singer of the band TOKIO HOTEL, the international superstar has sold over 7 million records worldwide, performed for 500,000 people in front of the Eiffel Tower, won hundreds of awards and gone platinum in 68 countries.
In the midst of this enormous success, he is venturing on his own for the first time to release a 5-song EP I’M NOT OK on May 20, to chronicle his life experiences and the rollercoaster ride of finding and losing love. Available on all digital platforms worldwide and physical product in selected territories via Los Angeles – based De-Code LTD, distributed by Chapter One/Universal Music in Europe, Caroline in the US and Kontor New Media in selected territories.
“Love Don’t Break Me” is the EP’s first official song release. It is a minimalistic/electronic ballad–which reflects a new sound and impressive growth in BILLY’s musical palette.
The song is just one part of the multi-media hybrid art project which also includes a stunning Black and White short-film directed by Shiro Gutzie and Davis Factor and an accompanying fine art photo book with selected images from the film and other original pictures by the directors. A series of large format art prints complete the ambitious art project.
“I didn’t want to do a traditional music release for my first solo project” BILLY says “I wanted the freedom to explore the other areas in my life that I am passionate about like Art and Fashion and felt that a pure music project wouldn’t fulfill my vision as a solo artist”.
For the new project BILLY wrote the songs in collaboration with music producers Pionear, Shiro Gutzie and his own twin-brother Tom Kaulitz. “I wanted to go in the studio and experiment with new sounds and not be creatively held back” BILLY adds “I created an environment for myself where I had no pressure and was able to just try new things without worrying about sales, promotion or marketing plans and just focus on creating”.
Future extensions to the project include other art-driven initiatives as well as fashion related activities, a field BILLY is familiar with, he has appeared on numerous lifestyle covers including Interview Magazine, L’Uomo Vogue, L’ Officiel Hommes and many others. “Fashion is an extension of my music and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in that world. I believe they go hand in hand and can’t wait to make that a reality” said BILLY.
The fine art photo book which includes a limited edition 7” white vinyl of “Love Don’t Break Me” went on pre-sale unannounced on March 30th, with the first 300 copies individually signed by BILLY. The $50 book available exclusively through the official BILLY website sold over 1,000 copies in its first 12 hours.
For more information please visit www.billyofficial.net or follow BILLY on his Social networks:
Learn more about Billy in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! So, how’s 2016 been treating you so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
2016 has been a crazy busy one so far. I actually can’t believe it’s almost May but I like to be busy so it’s been pretty good so far. 2015 was an amazing year music wise. Probably the best I’ve ever had. I was touring with my band almost the entire year. We played all around the globe and shared the music with incredible people. It was an adventure. I drank a lot, I partied a lot, I worked a lot. It had the right balance. Most importantly I’ve been finishing up my first solo project including my EP which is very exciting and nerve-racking too. This year I spent most of my time setting everything up for the release. I wish I’d have a million more years for that.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you remember the first time you realized you wanted to make music for a living?
Yes. It’s all I ever wanted to do and it was all I could think of. There was no other choice to be honest. If I wouldn’t have become a performer I would probably be dead by now. Seriously! I feel like that’s why I am even on this planet. I can’t think of any other reason. I always wanted to be a singer or a fashion designer. I have a huge passion for both. Still working on my designer career. (laughter) That didn’t really happen yet but that’s also why I am going solo now. I want to combine these worlds and do what I always wanted to do.
How do you think you have grown as a musician through the years? What has stayed the same?
I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I think we are all constantly changing. Every single step we do somehow changes and influences us. I guess the passion to be on stage stayed. What I don’t like about getting older is fear. Adults are full of it. I think as a performer you get more and more in your head about things. When I was a little 13 years old kid I just ran out there on that stage and gave my everything without thinking about shit. There was no fear. I wasn’t scared. It was just passion. A feeling! The challenge is to maintain and treasure that. That’s not easy but I want to live and perform with no fear. Just putting out there what I love. My vision and my music. That’s the essence of my solo project.
At the end of April, you released your debut single as a solo artist apart from Tokio Hotel. How does that feel? How long have you been wanting to release solo music as BILLY?
I don’t consider ”love don’t break me” as the first single. It’s more like the first project that I am doing as a solo artist. It’s more than just a song. There is a short film, a photo book and these fine art prints I am going to show at exhibitions in LA, Berlin, Paris and Milan along with the song. I’ve been working on this for quite some time. I just created and let it flow without any pressure or a master plan. I always knew that I was going to release something solo one day without knowing when I was actually gonna do it. There are just so many things I wanted to do creative wise that I can’t do with the band that made a solo project unavoidable almost. I feel very very excited about this. And vulnerable. And nervous. I am such a control psychopath. I can’t let go of anything with my work and I am very specific with the stuff I want and what I like and what I don’t so I am even more hands on with everything than with what’s going on with the band if that’s even possible. This is completely on my terms.
“Love Don’t Break Me” is a multi-media hybrid art project that includes a black and white short film, a photo book and framed art prints. Where did the inspiration for all of this come from?
It just happened in the process I guess. Sometimes I ask myself the same question and I look back and think ‘how did that happen? How did this become more than a song?’ I guess it’s just what it needed to be otherwise it would feel incomplete. I want people to experience my music together with all the other things I am passionate about. To look at it as a whole. “Love Don’t Break Me” tells a story and visuals have always been important to me. With my fashion, my videos and my stage performances. I clearly don’t see myself only as a singer songwriter.
Can you talk about putting together your debut EP, “I’m Not OK”?
It all happened last year. It started with love don’t break me. We happened to write that song and it didn’t seem to fit for Tokio Hotel and somehow I had a different vision for it so I said ”let’s put it to the side. I want to keep that for a solo thing. The song is also so personal. I had a very toxic and painful relationship that I had so much to say about but because I am such a private person with that stuff I would never just tell people about it, but I had to write about it. Get it out of my system i guess. So this whole EP is about that horrible heartbreak and the different phases you go through when you get your heart fucked up. I couldn’t put that on a Tokio Hotel record. This is really just about me.
Can you elaborate on why you feel fashion is an extension of your music? How do the two things work together?
I guess it is different for everyone. For me I never just saw myself as a singer. I wanted to perform. Put on a show. Take people on an adventure. Entertain them! I can’t sit with a guitar and play dreamy songs at a bonfire. That’s just not who I am. I loved fashion my entire life. When I was in school I started to sketch my own designs. Sew my own t-shirts and pants cause I felt like there wasn’t something that fit my personality out there and they didn’t have stuff for boys that I liked. My heart was always rebellious. I hate the norm. Fashion and music is freedom for me. In my world they don’t go without each other. To tell what I want to tell with my music I need the right outfit. It supports and underlines, the message, words and the feeling. Fashion and music are both an attitude towards life.
How will you be balancing your work as a solo artist and your work with Tokio Hotel?
Good question. I don’t know! I haven’t really thought about that. I think it will figure itself out. I am not worried about that. This is just the beginning so we’ll see.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Sadly some of the people I loved are dead. David Bowie is one of them. He was my childhood hero but I like so many. I love Depeche Mode and Robyn. A song with her would be cool. I really wanna work with Madeon or Sbtrkt. The list goes on. There are so many.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope fans take away from your songs?
I hope it gets to them and they can relate to it and incorporate into their lives. I hope they cry, smile and dance to it. That’s what I really want.