Billie Black’s sophisticated and well-rounded tone seems as one that has been crafted and perfected over a long period of time which would be true, having attended the Guildhall Jazz Course and then West London’s BRIT School.
She has released a total of three EP’s; ‘000 100’, ‘Teach Me’ and ‘The Simple Pleasure’, all which contain tracks with vibrant tones and feathery vocals. Her music dips into jazz and soul with electronic undertones that lightly caress her tracks. ‘Fool For The Feeling’ produced by Sam Gellaitry, is just one example of a track delving and experimenting with various genres. With a sound similar to Sango and James Blake, and a voice akin to Jessie Ware, Billie Black fits perfectly into the musical spectrum.
Billie is not one to shy away from the camera either; she’s a natural, and it appears to be another thing that she is extremely good at. Her recent May shoot for British Vogue was stunning, as are her exclusive pictures for NOTIONMAGAZINE.COM. We got to know Billie Black a little better, as she steps into the front of the camera for photographer Nick Shand, having been styled by Kitty Cowell.
When NOTION Magazine met Billie Black
NOTION: Were you surrounded by music from a young age?
BILLIE: Yes. My parents aren’t musicians themselves, but they’re both really into music. My dad’s always loved Roots Reggae and my mum has a real passion for 70’s disco, so music was always being played in the house, in the car, and at big family get-togethers. Listening to lots of different kinds of music formed a big part of my childhood.
NOTION: Your latest EP This Simple Pleasure is super soulful with electronic undertones. What is the overall meaning/message behind the EP?
BILLIE: I wanted the EP to reflect the promise and the thrill of new love. The song subjects reflect a carefree hedonism that comes with being young and having everything to live and fight for.
NOTION: What was it like working with Mura Masa on ‘Call You’ and ‘This Simple Pleasure’?
BILLIE: Alex (Mura Masa) is such a lovely guy. It was nice just to hang out and talk about music and life in general. Working on the songs was really chilled, it flowed nicely and was a really enjoyable process. It was super exciting hearing the music progress and knowing that we’d made something we were really proud of.
NOTION: What are some of your ‘simple pleasures?’
BILLIE: I love going out in the evening; I seem to come alive at night. My musical background is quite heavily in jazz, so I love going to Ronnie Scotts and listening to live music. I absolutely love listening to music live, if ever I feel down or upset it inspires me to keep going making music I love.
NOTION: You supported Jack Garratt on tour, what was that experience like? Are you a fan of his work?
BILLIE: It was so much fun! My band is made up of some of my closest friends so being on the road was such a lovely experience. Jack Garratt is one of my favourite artists, so it was such a pleasure to support him, he’s also a great guy who cares a lot about good music. The experience was really eye-opening and exciting, especially performing at London Village Underground (my favourite London music venue!) towards the end of the tour.
NOTION: We’ve read that artists like James Blake, Jessie Ware and Sampha influence your sound. Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
BILLIE: I’d like to collaborate with all three of those artists! There are so many people who influence my songwriting and inspire me as an artist. I see James Blake as one of the pioneers of electronic music and would love just to talk to him about what music means to him. Jessie Ware’s songwriting and lyrics have inspired me massively and I absolutely adore Sampha’s soft husky voice. I’d love to collaborate with Sampha just to see how our voices could compliment each other.
NOTION: You appeared in British Vogue in May. What was that experience like? Do you feel at home in front of the camera?
BILLIE: I loved every minute of it. I got to wear an absolutely beautiful Balmain jumpsuit and felt like a million dollars – I felt more than comfortable! I’ve been buying Vogue for years so it was a dream come true to be featured in it. Going to my local newsagent and buying the issue was surreal to say the least.
NOTION: We love your images for NOTION – what’s your ‘go-to’ outfit for a typical day?
BILLIE: Thanks! I love classic, timeless pieces that you can wear again and again. I don’t really follow trends but I tend to wear clothes that I feel suit my figure and make me feel comfortable. On a normal day, I’ll probably pull on some tight jeans, leather boots and a bomber jacket. I absolutely love bomber jackets – I have about 10!
NOTION: Can we expect an album soon?
BILLIE: Yes you can although it’s hard to say when! I’m constantly working on new music and thinking about possible projects/collaborations. Hopefully, I’ll have something together by summer 2016. I don’t really like to put a time on it, I’m gonna take my time to produce something I’m super proud of and release it when it’s ready.
You can keep up with Billie on her Twitter and Instagram for news and new music releases.
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Hair & Make Up: Louise Hall using Trevor Sorbie and Make-up Forever