Billie Ray Martin
Billie Ray Martin
Billie released her first solo record in 1993 together with the techno duo Spooky, a cover of Throbbing Gristle's 'Persuasion' transformed into a dark electro-chanson. After that she contacted The Grid and recorded the E.P. '4 Ambient Tales', a wonderful trip into gentle ambient blues. Next year, 'Your Loving Arms', written with David Harrow (aka James Hardway), produced (again) by The Grid and remixed by Junior Vasquez, crossed over from the clubs to the radio and gave Billie her first world-wide hit.
Billie's first solo album 'Deadline For My Memories', mainly produced by Brian Transeau (aka BT), was filled with both catchy technopop and big ballads. The album and the following singles had a measure of chart success, but not on the scale of 'Your Loving Arms'. Magnet/EastWest refused to pay for recording sessions in Memphis for her follow up album. Artist/label relationships collapsed, and Billie was dropped.
Billie's search for suitable collaborators has resulted in various featured appearances. In the early days (1989/90), she appeared briefly on releases by S'Express and Julian Jonah. A few years later, Billie's voice could be heard on tracks by the Italian dance acts Datura and Individual, although uncredited for contractual reasons. As a songwriter and backing vocalist she's made contributions to Candi Staton, Jon Tiven Group, Wilson Pickett and Shemekia Copeland.
After the disappointing experiences with major labels Billie moved to New York and split her time between working on her drum'n'bass Sonnenstahl project, writing and recording with Vinny Vero and Fred Jorio, and recording a (as yet unreleased) country/soul album with Jon Tiven. The Sonnenstahl recordings were released in 1998 against Billie's wishes.
Earlier that year Billie had signed a deal with React. In July 1999 she released a new single 'Honey', produced by Dave Ball and Ingo Vauk. The single - supported by remixes from Chicane and Deep Dish - topped dance charts. However by the time of its release Billie had left the label, after React refused to allot a marketing budget. It finally got a US release in early 2003, reaching #3 on the Billboard dance chart. The second React single 'Don't Believe A Word' remains unreleased.
Forming her own label Sonnenstahl Records, Billie spent 1999-2001 recording her second solo album, '18 Carat Garbage', finally achieving her dream to record in Memphis. London-based Lunatek started as producers, but most tracks were finished by Felix Huber of Plexiq. Remix and demo albums of 'Garbage' are also released.
Sessions in 2002 with Mikael Delta produced one single, 'I'm Not Keen', and several demos. One of the songs, 'Je Regrette Everything', ended up on DJ Hell's 2003 'NY Muscle' album.
In 2003, 'No Brakes On My Rollerskates' was demoed with Kinky Roland then re-recorded with fellow Berliner Rainer Schirner. This release also marked the end of the Sonnenstahl label and the beginning of a brand new one, Disco Activisto. 'Dead Again' (a track written during the Delta sessions) followed, reproduced as a moody acid house track. By this time Billie had enough tracks for a new album, but due to lack of funding the compilation 'New Demos' was released instead, featuring recent recordings with Delta, Schirner & Tiven.
2005 saw Billie collaborating with Slam, moving closer still to the dark electronic soul she pioneered with Electribe 101. 'Undisco Me', produced by Norwegian DJ/producer Lil'Wolf, became a moderate club hit in Europe in 2007. All official Electribe 101 and BRM videos were compiled on 'The Videos 89-98' DVD, released in 2008 on Billie's own "legacy label" Stahl2.
Billie started the new decade by teaming up with Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire, Märtini Brös. & Lusty Zanzibar and released versions of two CV songs in 'The Crackdown Project', with various remixes spread on two EP's. Next year, Billie released another pair of songs with Hard Ton on the 'Sold Life EP' and her latest solo offering "Sweet Suburban Disco", with big names remixes by Vince Clarke & Luke Solomon.
Billie is currently living in London again, writing and recording her 3rd solo album. Her new band project, a collaboration with Robert Solheim is named The Opiates.
(partially adapted from texts by Fredrik Strage, Richard Smith and Jussi Pukkila)
Billie Ray Martin Discography
- 70 Vocals
- 2 Instruments & Performance
- 144 Writing & Arrangement
- 37 Featuring & Presenting
- 47 Production
- 20 Technical
- 10 Visual