Published: January 23, 2014
By: Mica D'Alesandro
Have you heard of Billy Van? You have now! Straight of Indianapolis, Indiana, this producer is releasing 12 EPs all in the calendar year, collaborating with different artists from all over the music spectrum and The Untz will be exclusively releasing all of his content! #AYearOfSongs!!
Billy Van is one of the most downloaded in 5 of the top 20 countries with the most BitTorent downloads, including India, Brazil, Greece, and Romania. He is the only artist in the top 10 list that gives away his content for free. His BitTorent campaign resulted in over 7 million downloads.
The Billy Van Mashups! was his first introduction into EDM as a mixer and producer was through YouTube. He made videos of the covers and remixes being played live in a studio, calling them "remashes". They are incredible showing all the energy and people involved playing an instrument, calling it Orchstep. This resulted with over 200k plays, one with a half a million.
After seeing the responses to these videos, Billy quickly put together an EP of Dubstep remixes. In October 2012, he released his first full length album, Retro Punch. This collection of originals displayed the versatility of Billy's production, featuring electro house, dubstep, drumstep, moombahcore, and glitch hop tracks all in one expertly crafted LP. It debuted at #61 in the iTunes Top 100 Dance Charts.
"Convergence" the title track from the first EP in the #AYearOfSongs series!
We decided to interview this talented fellow from the Midwest. Here's what went down:
Which artists have inspired you over the years, either bands or electronic acts or whatever?
I'm inspired by everything. From Five Iron Frenzy to R Kelly. I draw inspiration from lots of different areas. My ska phase was pretty exhaustive though.
How and why did you decide to produce music?
I began producing so that I could write songs. I would play piano as a youngster, and always heard accompaniment with the little pieces I wrote. I bought a Fostex multitrack recorder with a whopping 256 megabytes of memory and would record the piano, then play drums over it, and layer other parts. Naturally I progressed to a computer system and more complex production.
What were some of your favorite tracks/artists in 2013?
Electronic acts I've been particularly inspired by recently include Koan Sound and Madeon. "The City" had a peculiar magic to it.
I absolutely love your mashups, the videos, and orchstep, it’s genius and much needed in the way music is progressing and changing. How did you come up with the idea?
The mashups started back in college, as a way to collaborate with other local artists. Our unique spin was recording the live vocals on the mashups, rather then just using acapellas. It let us add a whole different spin/visual element to the pieces.
Orchstep was created for sync licensing purposes. We did it as an experiment for placement in film/commercials, but had such a great time creating it that we figured we should make a whole EP and give it away for free. It's pretty unique stuff.
I love your mission in life, your drive, and your artwork for the upcoming year. What motivates you to keep going and inspiring others?
I've realized that the act of creating is motivating in itself, and nothing else can quite compare. I live for the musical breakthroughs... When I play the perfect melody for the song I'm working on, or the right lyrics land in my brain. When I can't help but jump around in the studio, I know I'm doing exactly what I was designed to do. Those moments are worth grinding it out and sitting down to create on a daily basis.
Downloading an artist’s tracks for free is a blessing in disguise and also gains more attention from the fan base. What gave you the idea to make all your content for free?
I make music for me, but I publish it because I hope other people connect with it. Why should I put barriers on the reach of the music? I would rather give it to millions of people for free intentionally than a few hundred facebook friends for few bucks. My fan base has grown a lot based on this policy. I've been given opportunities (production gigs, shows to play) as a result of my music reaching further which continue to make free downloads possible. It's risky, I suppose, but I can't imagine doing it any other way. (I also offer the music on iTunes and BeatPort for people would like to support me)
What has been decided for this year of releases, and what is still up in the air?
I have the first few months mapped out, but beyond that I am just letting inspiration guide the project. Hopefully, as more people that hear about #AYearOfSongs I will meet more people to create some unique art with.
I like your idea to collaborate with unknown artists that your fans like and shared with you. I got a few for you: G Jones, Wayvee, and Manic Focus! Who do you have in mind?
I've been writing down lists of suggestions from my fans, and looking up/listening to as many of them as possible. I'll definitely check those acts out! I love to work in person with people, but I'm willing to travel/host people if necessary. My couch is mad comfortable.
Are you going to be on tour or play any upcoming festivals this year?
I'm super focused on content this year, so making 12 EPs takes priority. If I can squeeze some touring or shows into that schedule, I will, but for now I've kept my timeline open.
What's your spirit animal?
A Chameleon. I love changing the colors of what I work on. This first month is orchestral dubstep music, and next month is nu-disco pop. I pride myself in being able to morph into new genres and sounds.
I also literally change the color of my studio with lights depending on what type of music I'm working on.
There are a lot of artists out there trying to get their name out there, what advice can you convey to others?
Be fearless, and do what fulfills you, not the current hypes. The true pioneers of music have all been people who create their unique brands tirelessly until the world caught on. It's hard to do, and takes a lot longer than just riding the trend waves to moderate success, but it will be exponentially more rewarding in the end.
Make sure to check out this good looking guy, Billy Van, especially on youtube. He has amazing mashup videos you cannot take your eyes off of! Be sure to stay posted with The Untz for Billy Van’s upcoming 12 EP releases!