Billy & Louie

For their most recent single, Billy & Louie released Rosa, a Spanish-language track they wrote and recorded during lockdown last year, as well as releasing a lyric video for the new song. Billy & Louie often upload covers to their social media platforms and are currently working on a new R&B style track, and having performed at the Swindon Christmas Light Switch-On for a number of years, they took part in the virtual event in 2020. Towards the end of last year, Billy & Louie could be seen on Little Mix’s new BBC One talent show Little Mix: The Search, where they performed their rendition of Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera for their audition for the mixed group category. Answering our questions recently, Billy & Louie talk about releasing their Spanish track Rosa, working on original music and auditioning for Little Mix: The Search.

How was it working on your release of Rosa during lockdown and what’s the response been like to the song?

Louie – It was crazy going into lockdown with the music world going virtual but, in a way, it was such a creative time for us! It was the height of summer and we were desperate to be on some sandy beach in a hot country but, of course, the pandemic had other plans. Rosa was like a mini holiday for us. Writing it took us straight back to our Spanish holidays with family and friends.

Billy – Working on music during lockdown was a completely different experience to anything we’d done before. We were used to regular studio visits but we had to adapt to home recording which was surprisingly successful and we got very creative at home researching Spanish music and sounds. We listened to our favourite Latino artists and let the song take shape. We reached out to some of our Spanish supporters who helped us with pronunciation. The response was amazing and our supporters loved the new vibe. We’ve since gained lots of Hispanic/Latino supporters.

Was there anything that helped you decide to release a single in Spanish and can you tell us more about it?

Billy – We’ve always been really inspired by Spanish culture and music. We spent a lot of our holidays in Spain when we were younger and have always felt a connection to Spanish culture. Some of our biggest inspirations in music, such as Christina Aguilera, have Latin heritage and from those influences, we had already gained a large amount of Latino and Hispanic followers.

Louie – Singing in Spanish is something we’d always wanted to do to express our love for the culture. We decided to go for it and use our extra time at home to write and produce a new Spanish-inspired track. Our supportive following definitely helped us a lot in our decision to create a Spanish song.

You released a lyric video for the track, what was it like to film?

Louie – Creating the lyric video for Rosa was so much fun! It was a difficult task logistically as we had to adhere to the government COVID guidelines. In the end, we decided to collaborate with our friends who had danced for us before. It worked well because they were in our bubble so we were able to successfully film what we wanted to. However, the COVID guidelines meant that it was up to us to film the entire video! This was a completely new experience for us but our friends were really helpful on the filming day, helping us choreograph.

Billy – We actually used a lot of different styles of Latin dance in the video and we got very creative with lighting as well using half lighting to cast cool shadows. It was such a fun day and we achieved something we are really happy with. Lockdown has really encouraged us to step outside of our comfort zone and we are grateful for that in a way. Our supporters really loved the video too and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from it!

How different was it releasing Rosa to your previous releases Like the River and Changed?

Billy – Releasing Rosa was completely different to Like the River. We didn’t have the limitations of the pandemic at the time we recorded Like the River and filmed the music video. The song was written when we were thirteen but we only recorded it as a demo version and it was never released, partly because other songs and events took over. We almost forgot about the song until we found the demo on our laptop and we played around with it and then started re-recording and changing it.

Louie – Whereas Like the River was a song we’d already written and come back to, Rosa was a completely new concept and idea that we generated in the span of just under two weeks. We’d grown as artists and songwriters since writing Like the River and wanted to challenge our writing and production skills. The recording process of Rosa was drastically different to Changed. We worked with an amazing producer called Anthony Goldsborough on Changed who created that gritty, gospel beat we fell in love with! Although we love the studio atmosphere, there’s nothing like recording at your own leisure. Leaving a song and coming back to it after a chat with a friend or our manager can really help inspire us. We love the pace of working from home.

How is it working on original music together?

Billy – Working on original music together is the best thing ever! The best thing about music for us is getting to write and record as a duo. We get so excited when we think of an idea. Once one of us has an idea, the whole song just falls into place. It’s like the snowball effect!

Louie – We have a great dynamic when writing songs. I personally create the harmony and the chords and Billy does a lot of work on the lyrics and melody but these aren’t set roles. We cross over all the time. All it takes is that one flame to ignite an idea and then the song is underway. We are lucky to have the ability and skill to produce at home. I do a lot of the production and Billy does a lot of the mixing and mastering but these roles cross over depending on what we fancy doing at the time.

How do you decide which songs to cover and have you had a favourite to do?

Louie – Choosing covers to sing for our live gigs and to record for social media is always a joint decision. We always take into account our true inspirations. Even when covering a pop song, we always include our signature harmonies and as many ad libs as possible. We tend to choose songs that are very soulful and have a lot of harmony potential.

Billy – We like to cover artists such as Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey because our style is similar to them. We often choose ballads to sing as we love powerful songs that express a lot of emotion and showcase our voices well but we also love upbeat songs to cover. They are always really fun, especially the old upbeat R&B tracks!

Who are some of your favourite music artists and who would you most like to collaborate with?

Billy – We are very inspired by many different artists and our music is influenced by a range of genres too! Classic blues and soul is our favourite though! We love to listen to anything by Aretha Franklin, Etta James and, most recently, The Tesky Brothers. They are a blues band that our friend introduced us to but they create really bluesy music that we just adore! Their songs are always on repeat when we are working!

Louie – One of our dream collaborations would be with Christina Aguilera! She’s been one of our favourites since we were really young and we have been so inspired by her music and her incredible vocals. If we were to collaborate with her it would have to be a three-part harmony ballad! We would also love to collaborate with Anastacia! She’s got such a unique voice and she’s incredibly underrated in our opinion. It would be so cool to create a funky pop song with her!

When did you start singing together and how did you get into it?

Louie – We’ve been singing ever since we could talk. Our grandma loves to embarrass us with stories of us stood up on the picnic table in her garden, singing and dancing to all of her neighbours. We’ve always loved singing together and harmonising. I have vivid memories of us singing with the microwave and the vacuum cleaner and trying to create harmonies with the sound they make.

Billy – We started singing more professionally when we were about thirteen years old. We started writing music and doing charity concerts for our local community. Things then progressed and we became involved in regional radio events such as the Junior Star Singer Songwriter competition. That’s where we met our manager Amanda Neale who runs the development programme and competition. Since then, our singing career and promotion has really taken off and we have plans to do so much more.

Can you say how you found the experience auditioning for Little Mix: The Search?

Billy – Little Mix: The Search was an amazing experience and we are so lucky to have had that opportunity. We were apprehensive to audition for the TV programme. There have been many negative stories surrounding TV talent shows and we were unsure if we even wanted to be in a band. However, singing to Little Mix on a prime time BBC One TV show and collaborating with vocal coaches, choreographers and producers as well as the other artists was an opportunity that we decided would be too good to waste.

Louie – Looking back on the days we spent filming the programme, we had so much fun. It was very intense but we became really close with the band we worked with. Every stage of the competition was nerve-racking but we felt privileged to have each other to keep us going. The large age gap between us and our bandmates worried us at the start but they were all really supportive and welcoming of us which put us at ease. Little Mix were really complimentary of us and we received a lot of really useful advice and feedback from them. We made some great memories and the exposure we received was amazing.

What was it like watching your performances when the show was released on TV?

Billy – We were actually really nervous to watch our performances back on TV. At the time, we were confident that our audition and our other band performance were good as we had a lot of positive feedback from Little Mix and the audience, but as it got closer to the airing of our episode, we began to question our performances. We hadn’t heard them back for almost eight months so we’d forgotten what we sounded like. We were pleasantly surprised when we watched it back and we are still really happy with our performances.

Louie – It was weird to see us back on TV. We looked completely different and we’d forgotten about a lot that was filmed. But it was lovely to watch it as it brought back so many good memories. We still have voice memos on our phones of the harmony parts for our group performance we did and videos of us practising the choreography in each other’s hotel rooms. I remember as soon as our episode finished, we looked at our phones and we had almost 500 message requests from supporters who had watched the show and it took us weeks to reply to them all.

Last year, you were part of Swindon’s Virtual Christmas Light Switch-On, can you tell us about it?

Louie – We are really grateful to have connections and support from the Swindon Christmas Light Switch-On team. We’ve been singing at events they have put on since we first started our music career and they’ve always supported us. In 2019, we performed at the Christmas lights switch-on with our three backing dancers and it was the first live performance of our Christmas single My Christmas Dream. We performed in the freezing cold to over 12,000 people that day.

Billy – 2020’s Christmas event was very different. We were thankful to be invited to sing for their virtual celebration which was streamed on Facebook. We sang a medley of upbeat Christmas songs including our own one, a bit of classic Mariah and Michael Bublé, of course. Christmas is our favourite time of year and we always love performing in our local area.

Do you have a favourite aspect of working together?

Billy – One of my favourite things about singing with Louie is performing live. It’s my favourite thing to do above recording and everything else there is that we do. I feel like performing live is so much easier than anything else. You’ve only got one opportunity to get it right which I love. We often become so picky when we record original music and being picky is something you can’t do in a live setting because you’ve got one chance to deliver. Of course, having Louie with me makes life easier. I always have a second opinion and the energy on stage is always so fun with Louie!

Louie – I love writing music with Billy. I tend to get stuck writing music on my own as I’m missing a set of skills that Billy has. When we write together, we motivate and inspire each other and ideas keep on rolling. It’s the same when we start to produce music too. Even though I do a lot of the producing, our songs would never sound the way they do without the constructive criticism I receive from Billy.

What do you enjoy doing away from music?

Louie – Aside from music, I’m an avid artist. I paint and draw a lot of portraits. At the moment, I’m studying and observing what creates a likeness in a portrait which is really interesting. I also love crafting and Billy and I get very competitive with things like that.

Billy – I’m also an avid artist. I love sketching and painting. I also love sewing and knitting too. My grandma and great grandma taught me how to knit during summer holidays and I often resort to knitting when I’m bored.

Can you tell us about your upcoming music plans?

Billy – Currently, we are writing and recording a new R&B style track which has been really fun to work on! This song is heavily inspired by blues as well so it’s got lots of bluesy sounds in it including bass and muted guitar, which we love! We were struggling for inspiration for this track but when we came together in a writing session, we came up with the concept of being at home on a rainy morning.

Louie – We’ve also got another few songs on the go as well which we play with a few different concepts and themes. We are hoping to keep releasing as much this year and next year but our first release of the year is scheduled for late February. We hope to collaborate with more people this year too and hopefully do some live gigs!

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