Billy Lockett is probably that artist you didn’t realise you were looking for.
And even if you don’t read a word of this interview, just listen.
In a world dominated by highly produced music Billy is a bit of a wonder. His music is stripped back, instrumental, raw, emotive, and at the same time his sound is huge. He is a self-taught musician and with it an incredible pianist. He’s thrown out the rule book on genre and song structure in places, and his beautiful, mournful songs can be likened to powerful movie soundtracks.
His power comes from the fact he’s very cautious about over cooking his tracks, they should be organic and simple, he exclusively told Metro.co.uk ahead of his gig at Union Chapel on 15 February.
‘Sometimes you don’t need more than a piano,’ he said. ‘A good song is a good song. Most of mine haven’t needed drums, if I thought they needed drums I’d get drums. I think going forward I’m starting to add drum elements and that’s because I want to, not because I’ve been told to.’
So with sometimes just the backing of the piano, Billy’s music is hugely emotive and worms its way deep into your soul as he sings about things that have deeply effected his life, such as the tragic death of his father, artist John Luce Lockett at the age of just 62.
There’s something deeply stirring about his vocals too, and you feel every word he sings, largely due to the pure honesty he pours into the songs which often leaves his fans crying their eyes out.
‘I get a lot of criers at the show. They’re normally quite loud and in the front row, because I do write sad songs,’ he laughed. ‘I want to give people a feeling. My dad would always say you have to make them laugh and make them cry, so a lot of my songs are emotional.
‘So after a few being a bit dark I’m like ‘so, chickens!’ just to liven it up a bit. Pick them back up. I like that feeling, it’s an emotional roller coaster.’
For him though being sincere in what he sings is incredibly important. His songs are sad because he was sad when he wrote them, and his happy music will come with time. And when it does, the sad music will cease to come.
‘People can read you, and I think the reason people like what I’m doing is because they believe me,’ the 25-year-old said. ‘And if I’m not honest they will know that second. You have to wear your heart on your sleeve and be real.’
‘I might change, I might write different songs,’ he added. ‘I might write a happy song. But I can only do that when I’m super happy and if I was writing depressing music when I’m super happy then that would be fake!’
Music became his therapy in dealing with the death of his dad, he said, and that he feels he’s lucky he has a job where he can express himself like that.
The realness of his music has got him noticed by a few celebs, three in particular being Lana Del Ray, Birdie and MIC’s Binky Felstead. And he really seemed to resonate with Lana’s fans.
‘I played some shows with Lana, we did Manchester Apollo. I did the show and when I came off stage and everyone had bought the EP online and it went to top 10 in 10 minutes,’ he revealed. ‘The thing with Lana and Birdie is that their fans are music lovers, They are really into actually buying the music and surrounding themselves in the whole thing. It’s a lot more credible and real, they’ll stay with me for years I hope. Lana fans really care about the music.’
He added that Binky Felstead is almost a bit of a groupie, following him around whenever he does shows.
‘She’s like my number one fan!’ he laughed. ‘I met [her boyfriend] JP at an event and he introduced the music to Binky about a year ago and she’s been to every London show. I was on Made In Chelsea in one of the shows! I was her surprise present, I played Burn It Down.’
He revealed she was even star struck when they first met.
The thing about Billy, who once worked as a Barbie salesman in Toys R Us, is that his love truly lies with the music and nowhere else. When asked what he wanted to achieve his answer wasn’t a top 10 single, or to go global. His answer was that he’s already achieved it – he’s doing what he loves and that’s what matters.
His audiences are diverse, with 70 year olds stood appreciating his music next to teenagers, which shows how his songs can touch people from all walks of life, and that in itself is a huge achievement.
‘I feel like I’ve achieved everything personally in the fact I love what I do and it means everything to me,’ he said. ‘When I started with a show with 100 people I felt like I’d made it. Everything is else a bonus.’
There’s something so genuine about the guy that when talking to him you know he really means it. Especially as at the time of the interview he wasn’t even signed, and has since been snapped up by East West Records/Warner.
It’s easy to hear in his music he has been inspired by contemporary pianist Ludovico Einaudi. ‘His songs are like pop songs without vocal sometimes,’ he said. But there’s always been one huge influence on his music – his dad.
‘My dad surrounded me in music from day one,’ he said.
Billy is performing at Union Chapel on 15 February.