Billy Lockett interview

Earlier this week we went to check out Billy Lockett’s live show at Nottingham’s Glee Club, and in the quaintest foyer slash dining area I’ve ever seen decked up for Christmas, we had a chat with Nina Nesbitt’s main support on her acoustic run about his relationship with her, his current and upcoming work, and how he finds touring.

Fairly recently you released your Old Man EP; tell us about it.
It’s my third EP, the first one to get in the top 40, which was great, I was the only unsigned act to do that in the top 100, which was great. It’s all about my dad, because he passed away four or five months ago so it’s all kind of, around him, and about me dealing with it, so all the songs are kind of about that. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, I’m really happy with it.

Your video for the title track is a bit unusual because it’s animated; how did you come up for the idea for it, what inspired that?
Originally we were going to use me and my dad in it, because the single before was me and my dad in, so we were going to do a sequel, but obviously he passed away so the story line got a bit scrapped, so we were like, “oh, we’ll change it”, but then a guy got in touch and was like, “why not recreate the whole thing but in an animation form?” Then we could carry on with the same story and still have him in it, which we loved the idea of. Originally it was going to be drawn, and then he decided it’d look better if we did the whole Wallace and Gromit play dough effect, which I really really liked. It all turned out a lot better than I expected to be honest.

The whole EP has gone above and beyond expectations, how does that feel?
It’s great that you’re able to put so much work into something and the whole time you’re thinking, “this might actually do really badly”. You put all this work into it and there’s no guarantee that any one’s going to listen to it, but it’s just nice to have that feeling of “yeah, what we doing for ages, was right and everyone else agrees”, to know that you’re on the right track, and people really like it.

Is there pressure to replicate that now with new work?
Yeah there is, but the album we’re working on, my debut, is beyond that by miles, and I’m really, really proud of it, I’m certain it’s a lot cooler, it’s a lot more advanced, I’ve really found my sound, I know exactly who I am and I know exactly where it’s going. I’m not exactly worried, because my new stuff is a lot better than the EPs, it’s a bit different because I used to play guitar and I’ve completely scrapped that now, and I just play piano, with electronic beats in the background so it’s quite different from anything before but, it’s like just a developed sound from the past EPs.

You’ve recently completed your biggest tour to date. How was that?
Great. It was tiring, it was very, very stressful but it was really good. It was nice that all of my fans got to see me, ’cause I literally played at like their doorstep so, it was really, really nice. It was nice to completely focus on the music ’cause you’ve got so much time when you’re playing a show every day, but by the end of it everything is perfect, everything’s crafted and I’m bit of a perfectionist anyway, so it was nice to constantly have so much time to be like, “right, that song didn’t work, we’ll tweak that at the next gig, that did work, we’ll tweak that, change that bit of talking to the audience”, and it was so good to constantly have something to refer to, it was like practising in front of an audience every night, and by the end of it I was a lot more comfortable with it as a project and as a musician. There was a lot of learning. I love supporting people, but it’s so much better when you do a headline show and everyone there is purely there to see the song that they’ve heard you sing on YouTube for years, it’s so much better playing to your own fans rather than having to win people over.

This tour started last night, how did it go?
Amazing, Union Chapel was the London gig, that was really big. I toured with Nina two years ago, when we were both kinda starting out, so we’ve been friends for a long time and it was nice to come back and do it on a bigger scale, when we’re both a bit further on in our careers, it’s great. A lot of the fans I remember playing to when they were thirteen, fourteen, and I haven’t seen them since two years ago, and now they’re like sixteen, seventeen with photos of me having a photo with them two years ago, it’s crazy.

You seem to spend a lot of time on tour, are you one of those people who can just pick up and move around?
I’ve got a house, I do actually have a house that I live in, but I’m barely ever there ’cause I like to be busy, I like to be constantly busy; if I’m not doing something with music, I’m going backwards, that’s how I see it. I don’t want to be bored, I don’t want to waste any time, I just want to keep getting on, the more tours, the better, I don’t want to be one of those bands that makes it when they’re like, forty, fifty, I want to start to get there, like, now, so as much work as possible is good. Busy is good.

Anything you miss whilst you’re on tour?
I miss my cat. A lot, actually, ’cause he’s great, but other than that, I don’t really miss much, ’cause I’m so used to not really getting used to anything, so I kind of taught myself not to get attached to anything and move on, so missing things, I haven’t really got time for it.

How did you first get to know Nina, through music?
Yeah, I think. She just asked me to tour with her, I did a few YouTube videos and she saw them, liked it, asked me to tour. This was like years and years ago, and it was before we really had anything in place, I think I’d just got management, it was like a really new thing, so we did it and that was when it started to kick off a bit, that was when we started getting fans and Facebook likes and all these things, and actual started becoming like an actual product thing, like an artist name. So from then on, we stayed in touch a bit, haven’t really chatted that much, it was quite a nice surprise for her to just ring me out of the blue a few months ago. It was funny ’cause I’d literally just finished my own tour so I was free, and that’s rare ’cause I’m never free, so, yeah, it was good.

You’re on tour again next year, have you anything special lined up for it?
It’s my biggest tour, my biggest venues, so I just want to try and sell it out that’s my main task, to sell it out. It’s only four dates this time as well, I’m kind of saying this time like, “I came to you on the last tour, so now I’m only doing four dates so you have to come to me”. So everyone near Manchester, come down to that, and the same with London, Bristol and Glasgow. Glasgow, I’ve played King Tuts quite a few times before, I’ve sold it out twice before, as well. That it probably my favourite venue of all time, ever, to play at, so.

What makes it so special?
Well Glasgow is crazy anyway, like they’re just mental. And I’ve always gone down well in Scotland and I don’t know why, as soon as I got Radio 1 play, Scotland just loved it. England was a bit slower, but the Scottish fans have always been so supportive of me, which has been great.

Your best live show; would it be Glasgow?
I played Tabernacle recently in London, that’s the last show of the tour I’ve just done, that was incredible, that was possibly my favourite show. My mum was there and all my family and it was nearly a sell out and yeah, it was really, really special.

What else have you got planned for this year, or is that it for now?
I think we’re going to be putting out a new single soon, other than that I’m just going to focus on writing for the album, I’m writing songs, like, nonstop, I’ve written like seven songs this week and then hopefully I’ll write another seven after the tour, I’m just churning them out at the moment and then getting the album perfect.

How do you decide which will go best into the album?
It’s purely, like, the song, it’s nothing to do with live. Because you could write a song that could be terrible live, like no one would be interested, but on the record, it’s incredible. So, it’s purely down to songs, plus a few of them, the lyrics mean a lot to me, so it’s like, I’m having them in, no matter what the management say, they’re in. But it’s purely down to what I want in there, that’s the beauty of not having a record label – not that I don’t want a record label – the whole thing is me and my manager’s decision. We decide on everything, we have complete control over the whole project.

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