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Billie Ray Martin
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Billie Ray Martin biography
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The non-stop Electronic Cabaret of Billie Ray Martin
”The singer is Billie Ray Martin and she’s one of the living legends in modern music history and one of the best voices on planet earth.”|DJ Hell
“Billie Ray Martin does it better…She is the thinking man’s diva, never being afraid to take a chance and push forward”|Dean Thatcher
To anyone with a soul, the return of Billie Ray Martin is long overdue. Where the average soul singer seems content to substitute bluster for raw emotion, Billie’s voice taps into and lays bare long-withheld feelings, deep-seated memories, and passions beyond your wildest dreams… | |Forming Electribe 101 in 1989, Billie gave dance music fans something to think about. Their first single, “Talking With Myself”, rode the crest of the deep house wave with highly individual style. Its striking blend of Billie’s oblique, other-worldly vocals and lush electro had critics thumbing their thesauruses ragged, leading to it being unanimously declared one of the finest records of the decade. Two further hits and the album “Electribal Memories” followed, each meeting with unparalleled acclaim, as did a Depeche Mode support tour slot. But, in 1992, Billie left the group to follow her muse at leisure, a muse that has been leading her down progressively more adventurous alleyways since infancy.
Billie grew up in Hamburg’s red-light district with her working-class grandparents, who bombarded her with Elvis and German Schlager music and otherwise worked hard at keeping her away from the hookers and harbour-workers that populated her family and the area in which they lived. First demos were made at the tender age of five years old. Her childhood years were taken up by an obsession with the songs of Elton John, which was later discarded for a lifestyle of punk, which she lived to the limit in Hamburg and London.
In the late ‘80s Billie moved to Berlin and had her musical sensibilities tweaked yet again: it was the time of the electronic invasion by bands like Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and the early Human League. Billie’s conceptions of music were changed entirely. Equally important, she was consciously encountering the soul music of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and Aretha, and was riding the Motown and Stax revival wave. The goal became clear: after a fruitful time of musical explorations, (during which she formed a number of soul and sixties garage oriented R&B bands, which cleaned up in Berlin in the late ‘80s), Billie moved to London with one mission: to fuse soul and electronics - the intellectual and the emotional, as she put it.
Her move couldn’t have been more timely. The arrival of Chicago house in the shape of Fingers Inc. and countless other pioneers allowed Billie to discover where her musical future lay. The rest, as they say…
Following Electribe’s break-up, Billie released two monumentally beautiful records (the “Four Ambient Tales” collection and the thoroughly scary “Persuasion”, made with The Grid and Spooky respectively), and subsequently scored a worldwide number one hit with her song “Your Loving Arms”, now regarded as one of the all-time classics of dance music. Three more hits and the album “Deadline For My Memories” (Warners) followed; a collection of soaring, sting-in-tail reflections on the subjects of unrequited love and the bizarre in everyday life. The album explored her vision to create music that is equal parts Kraftwerk and Phil Spector. Enthusiastically received, sold out shows confirmed that she had hit a nerve in a public gasping for something real. The nerve is still throbbing…
On her last album, “18 Carat Garbage”, released in 2002, Billie once again developed her dream of “Memphis meets Deutschland”. The basis of the songs was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, with the legendary Hi-musicians and members of Aretha’s band before experimental electronic sounds were added. A duet with Billie’s favourite singer, soul legend Ann Peebles (“I Can’t Stand The Rain”) on the album’s title song makes the buff’s heart jump for joy and a lifetime dream come true for Billie.
Two singles appeared on Billie’s new Disco Activisto label in 2004: “Dead Again”, getting closer to her Electribe 101 roots and, “No Brakes On My Roller Skates”: infectious electro-punk-pop topped off with Billie’s vertiginous vocals. A re-release of this is in the works.
The Billie-penned (and performed) song “Je Regrette Everything” appeared on the album “NY Muscle” (Universal), by DJ Hell of Gigolo Records fame. Ignore the hype and you’re left with a classic BRM drama-fest par excellence. Released as a single in May 2005, it went straight into the Music Week top ten 12”s.|2005 also saw the release of a song she wrote and recorded with Scottish duo Slam. The track, entitled “Bright Lights Fading”, was the highlight of their “Year Zero” album, universally acclaimed in reviews and, again, hit the Music Week top ten 12”s when released as a single.|The style press continue to cover Billie’s unique visual style and she was recognised as one of i-D Magazine’s “25 Influential Women” as part of their 25th Anniversary issue and photographed for this by Wolfgang Tillmans.|As a DJ Billie started taking to the decks with the launch of her own London clubnight “Komputerliebe”, which she aims to relaunch in 2007. She delivers a distinctive and spot-on set of cutting-edge new electronic music. The growing response to her DJing has led to bookings taking her across the UK and worldwide, generating a frenzied reaction wherever she plays. Already in 2007, she has twice visited NYC and also Japan, as well as the Spring Seven Electronic Music Festival in Graz.
Billie is currently working on her new solo album, which she describes as the ultimate pop-fest, with more than a cutting-edge twist. The first single “Undisco Me”, a Moroder-fest released in May 2007 on Rebirth, is gathering momentum on dancefloors as we speak, being the highest new entry on the UK club charts and currently number 7 in DJ Magazine’s Hype Chart, and reaching number 12 in Music Week’s Cool Cuts, number 4 in DMC Update’s Buzz Chart and number 6 in Update’s Club Chart. Remixes are by Peter Juergens, Acid Jacks and Edison.
It’s made Single of the Week in MixMag Update and has received an overload of praise and plays from DJs including Roger Sanchez, Tom Novy (“Welcome back Billie! We put our loving arms around you.”), Joachim Garraud, Oliver Lang (Bora Bora, Pacha), Dave Dresden, David Vendetta, DJ Paulette, Stuart Millar (“massive crossover potential… getting caning by everyone imaginable”), Spooky, Sarah Main (Pacha), Oscar G, Rob Mello, Jody Wisternoff, Mark Moore, Anthony Pappa… the list goes on. It’s already starting to make an impression in Ibiza and across European radio and was Tune of the Week on Huggy’s XFM show.
Meanwhile, Billie has formed a new project, The Opiates. Already dubbed “the Carpenters of electro”, they have just finished perfecting their album “Hollywood Under The Knife”.
Current releases include her new collaboration with DJ Hell entitled: Silver Machine, which is out now on the Japanese Version of his current album.
Her latest project, entitled: The Crackdown Project is currently getting released and features Maertini Broes., Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire) and Lusty Zanzibar.
She has also recorded a song with electronic act Risque, entitled “Push The Button”, to be released in the next couple of months.
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