CANADIAN singer/songwriter Billy The Kid has arrived in the UK for her first UK tour after making a big name for herself in her home country. The Mail caught up with her to chat about her upcoming live shows and the release of her second full-length album Stars, Exploding.
VANCOUVER singer/songwriter Billy The Kid may not be a household name on these shores yet but she has certainly put in the hard yards to reach this point.
Real name Billy Pettinger, the singer, who turns 31 today, made her way in the industry collaborating with some top musicians to try and get her foot in the door, as well as fronting the band Billy and the Lost Boys and playing drums in a Ramones tribute band.
After her debut release The Lost Cause, Billy began a crowd sourcing campaign to fund her debut full-length album.
In addition to offering pre-orders with bonus material and specialised bundles, she travelled across the continent to play fund-raisers, anniversaries, birthday parties and private concerts, as well as going camping, white water rafting and rock climbing with fans.
The result was the appropriately titled Ours.
After working so hard just to get her first two solo ventures on record, Billy told the Mail getting new album Stars/Exploding to the shelves was a much easier ride.
She said: “It was easier just in relation to time as The Lost Cause and Ours took years to get out. Stars, Exploding was made in about two weeks and then released a couple months later.
“It’s all work but the more you do anything the easier it gets, I guess.”
Stars, Exploding is a more collaborative effort as well for Billy after really ploughing a lone furrow previously, particularly on Ours.
She worked with star producer Jamie Candiloro, who has worked in the past with the likes of REM, Ryan Adams and Willie Nelson.
She told the Mail how the pair came to work together and what it was like not being alone and relying on the skills of someone else for a change.
She said: “On Ours I was much more involved in the production aspect and wasn’t working with anyone in terms of a ‘producer’ on that one. Stars, Exploding is more of a collaboration, sonically.
“After Ours I was working in a warehouse and recording on the weekends when I could afford it until one of my favourite producers in the industry (Candiloro) and I started communicating online.
“It was apparent I needed to work with this person as soon as possible so I started a fan-funding campaign overnight, locked myself in a room and wrote about 20 songs writing a week.
“The recording process was so easy – everything it should be. It was actually more like hanging out.
“I was into the idea of just enjoying the process, having laboured on every minute detail of Ours.
“Jamie is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist and just good company to be around. You appreciate those things more when you’re making your third album.”
Billy has just begun a nine-date tour of the UK, her first time playing venues in this country.
I asked her how the new material had been working with live audiences and whether she was looking forward to performing in the UK.
“I have only played one show since the album came out,” she said. “All this time I have still been writing so I played something like six songs that aren’t even on a record.
“I will be trying out lots of new material in the UK. I’ve honestly waited my whole life to visit.
“I did a trip to Europe a while ago where I played some shows and I purposely avoided the UK because I knew I wouldn’t have the time I wanted to spend there on that particular trip. This time, I will.
“I have a little bit of a fanbase over in the UK but I am interested to see how it is doing, actually.”
Being halfway around the world can be tough for a home-loving soul like Billy, as has been spending a lot of time on the road across the States.
However, Billy said although it can get repetitive she just loves the touring life.
She said: “I love it when it’s new and in exciting places. Sometimes I find myself on the same highways 10 years later and that can be trying at time.
“But if that is the worst of my problems it is not really a problem. I love being in Europe though so touring becomes such a brand new adventure again.”
If you take a trip to Billy The Kid’s website you will see that she has just completed her aim of uploading her covers of 31 Ryan Adams songs in 31 days.
The link to Adams through her producer Candiloro was clearly not where her love for her fellow Canadian singer/songwriter began.
She said: “His music is a big inspiration to me. The 31 covers in 31 days project started in 2012 as kind of a New Year’s Resolution.
“I never really learned any cover songs as a kid (or even as an adult) because I was always writing. I was a writer and always had too many songs instead of too few.
“So I made up this intensely laborious project with the intention of becoming a better musician. Ryan’s my favourite songwriter so this year’s version has been very special to me.”
Talking about what the rest of 2013 has in store, Billy admitted she hopes to find her way back in the studio by the year’s end.
She said: “I’m on the Vans Warped Tour in the summer, playing the Canadian Music Fest and then just touring any and every place I can.
“I will still be writing a lot so I am hoping to find a way to make another album soon.”
Billy The Kid performs at Taylor’s Music and Arts Centre in Coventry on Wednesday with tickets available from the venue. Her latest album Stars, Exploding is out now.