Exclusive Interview: Billy La Signy

Alt-pop rising star, Billy La Signy, is shaping up to be an essential artist to your music catalog. With musical features in parallel with Ryan Beatty and Peach Tree Rascals, he is paving his unique path in the DIY music world.

To amplify his creativity and give his writing process space, he created his first released project without anyone knowing. Early on, when making the album, he thought of the concept of caché. The word in French means “hidden,” and Billy La Signy was out of sight when creating, thus taking off pressure that comes with any artist putting out their first project. There is often a lot of expectation and anticipation when it comes to a first body of work, and he wanted to be free in his thoughts and experiment with his sound.

Music and Perspective talked with Billy La Signy about his first project Caché, the importance of music friendships, and collaborations becoming impactful on his career. Plus more!

Can you please give some background about yourself?

Sure, I was born in Sydney, Australia in 2001. I spent my childhood and early adolescence learning piano, singing, photography and videography, I suppose that was the groundwork for the labour of love that songwriting became for me in late 2018 and since. I moved to New Zealand at the start of 2016, I was torn away from great friends that I have unfortunately failed to keep in contact with since which makes me sad. I’ve always valued friendship, like thats my number one thing, just having good friends. I struggled a lot during high school to try to replace the friendships I had at my old school. However, I had made a few music friends in 2017 and in 2018 and I felt like it was time that I put my piano and singing to some actual use. I moved to Wellington in 2019 and I’ve been studying film and using all my spare time to work on music and that’s where I’m at right now.

You started releasing music on platforms in January 2019. What made you decide to start your artist career? Have you always been creating music?

I’ve only been actively writing songs since 2017. I think songwriting was a natural progression from learning to play the piano and singing for so long. I was also very fortunate to be surrounded by very motivating and inspiring friends in music at the time. I “started’ my artist career in 2019 because that was when my songwriting had reached a point where I felt like I had written something good enough to release.

Then you released your first project, Caché, in August 2019. Did you write more than eight songs when creating that project? If so, how did you decide which ones made the cut?

Oh absolutely. I’ve come to learn that I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to songwriting, especially during this era when I was learning how to do it. I was a fanatic about it. The album creation process as a whole was really me taking my best stab at learning to produce all my own music and also writing enough songs to get all the bad ones out. In the end I think I had around 200 songs or demos for that project that will never see the light of day. I wanted to make sure the first music I put out was as perfect as I could allow it to be for my own skill at the time, and personally looking back I’m still proud of my ability to whittle it down. My process for cutting songs out I struggled to pin down however, I think I just always had a feeling when something didn’t fit or the vignette of a certain songs story was too vague or didn’t do justice to the overall feeling of the record. I don’t really know if I’m honest. I just went by feeling and instinct a lot on that record, its way of writing and arrangement that I’d really like to go back to. It felt very pure.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when making Caché? What was the best part? Which song is your favorite/most proud of?

Obviously one of the main challenges as I mentioned earlier was learning how to produce my own songs from the ground up. I also found that consolidating ideas for songs was hard for me. I struggled to maintain focus with my lyrical content. I think that is still something I’m working on to this day but I feel like I have gotten better at it as I have practised more. I’m definitely proudest of my song “Super Seventeen.” It is such a satisfying track for me sonically and conceptually. It feels so focused and does a great job of displaying exactly how I was feeling at the time, desperately needing something to numb the pain of a whole years worth of hurt. It was also one of those rare moments when you create a song very fast and it comes out really good, those are my favourites.

What is the importance of the word Caché to you?

The word Caché sort of has multiple meanings and was a simple concept I came up with early on when I was making that album. The word means “hidden” in French and essentially I was making the album completely hidden from sight, entirely by myself. At the time none of my friends new about it. In hindsight I feel like there would have been too much pressure on me if people had known, as nobody knew me to be someone who could write songs. Also there might have been some sort of expectation from my friends and peers for it to be great so I’m glad I kept it a secret till the very end. No expectation from anyone gave me a lot of freedom within my learning process, it gave me a lot of room to forgive myself for early mistakes and to quietly learn from them and just build my skill in solitude. Under that umbrella of the “hidden album” was that I had a lot of stories to tell from my high school experience that people didn’t really know. Nothing profound but just portions of my life, little vignettes that were hidden from view, relationships, experiences heartbreak etc., Regular teenage things I guess but I liked that they were my little secrets, mine to own and to share through my music when the time was right.

Was there a song that was the hardest to write mentally? If so, what’s the story?

Probably the title track, the last song on the album. It’s sort of a love letter to my high school experience, I feel it’s the most sincere moment on the album for me. The song is sort of a dialogue between me and my own regrets and with people I’ve had tough experiences with. The last section of the first verse is a conversation between me and the person I think I’ll become once I leave high school. It discusses my fear about releasing the album, “all of my tears, will spill out of the speakers in good time.” Also the person I’ll become as an artist, questioning whether I’ll have to break myself completely through self reflection as an artist, to share everything that is “hidden” in the end. The chorus is sort of a shutdown where the scared part of myself that is afraid of the future, says “no I’ll hide myself six feet under, I’ll stay caché”. So it’s sort of a chaotic mess of feelings. I don’t think its the most effective or direct song in my discography but I think it was definitely the hardest to write mentally.

Do the people you write about know the songs are about them? Do you ever get scared to release songs that are so personal?

A few do. I prefer to keep the meanings behind songs pretty ambiguous when I talk about them, even if the meaning or identity behind a character in a song is obvious to people in my life. When it comes to the choice of releasing a personal song, I don’t really get scared of releasing personal songs because if I wasn’t telling the truth there wouldn’t be any point. Songwriting is like therapy. If I cant tell the truth about my personal life, then I’ll never make any progress and there wouldn’t be any meaning behind my music. That’s the best kind of song: the honest, transparent kind. If the song is good and tells my truth then it’s worth releasing in my opinion. It’s the only way for an artist to survive if their audience feels they are genuine about the message or emotion behind a song, so thats what I always strive for. I also think it’s always my right as a songwriter to deny the meaning behind a song if there is any confrontational interactions about my music between myself and the people that I write them about.

You have a few collaborations on the project. How did those connections come about with Tom Verberne, George Barney Roberts, and Postcard Boy? How does your collaboration process work?

Pretty simple. George is my brother so that was a natural collaboration. Tom, I met in high school through music and we’ve been friends for like 4 years now. We always collaborate and constantly send music back and forth. Today ,Tom is probably my biggest inspiration constantly because he is so good at what he does and doesn’t get enough credit for it at all. I think me and Tom have a good collaborative process because its based around friendship which allows for honesty and no bullshit in the creative space. We both produce all our own music so there is always stuff we can learn from each other. I’m probably doing more learning than him but its always awesome because he’s so humble and down to earth about it. When it comes to doing a song with him, every now and then like a song will come around and it’s all about feeling really. Does it sound natural to have us both on it and we’ll just try it out. With Garrett (Postcard Boy) I met him at the start of 2019 over the internet. I think I heard one of his songs and hit him up about liking it, and he said he thought the mix on “Stay Warm” was good or something haha. I asked him to be on a song on my album and he was down so we banged it out in like a week over FaceTime, it was pretty simple. We’ve been great friends ever since and he’s always been a big inspiration for me. I think his melodies and songwriting are second to none. I was lucky enough to go visit him with Tom in LA and San Diego over the summer and it was awesome. We spent like two weeks just hanging out and made a bit of music as well. Our collaboration process is a bit different than Tom and I’s I guess. Something we did a lot in San Diego is we would put a beat on that one of us made and plug in the autotune and just riff and sing melody line after melody line maybe for 60 layers and when one of us would come up with something good we would both catch each others eye and grin. That’s the best ever when something just clicks and we both like it. Garrett is awesome and I can’t wait to go back.

Who would be your dream collaboration? Why?

Probably Charli XCX. I think she just has a fantastic grasp of the quintessential pop song, but knows how to make it sound so original through autotune experimentation, experimental production and mixing, while still maintaining that catchy pop appeal. I think I would just love to sit in a room with her riff on autotune and play some crazy experimental beats. I’d love to play her “Turbo Speed” as well, thats a big dream of mine haha.

Do you write and produce all your music independently, besides your collaborations?

Yes!! It’s something I’m quite proud of. It gives me confidence in myself to know that I’m in full control. I never shy away from suggestions and production collaboration with my music friends. We constantly send demos back and forth giving feedback and support. It’s a really healthy way to make music in my opinion.

Your latest single “Burnout” has a very fun and carefree video that was released in February. What was the inspiration behind your creative idea for this visual?

I’m really into the movie Trainspotting right now. The whole filthy, rough vibe of the fashion and colour palettes is something I’m really intrigued by visually. I’m not a huge fan of commercially produced videos that look to clean cut. I’ve tried to make the roll out of these new songs really dirty as that is the aesthetic of the new EP. The “Burnout” video was one of those explorations into that visual style for me. It’s very clearly homemade and kinda rough. That’s how I like it. It pulls a lot from old fisheye VHS videos from the 90s and early 2000s which I’m also a big fan of. I’m super proud of that video.

At the end of the video, “Turbo Love” appears at the end. Is that foreshadowing to your next project?

Turbo Love is the name of the EP that my latest two singles all belong too. “Turbo Speed” is the newest single off of the new project.

What excites you the most about your newest single “Turbo Speed” ?

I’m really excited for this single. It’s with out a doubt my most experimental song I’ve ever made and I’m so proud of it. The sound is a mix of dirty, high impact dance pop and dubstep. It’s crazy. I’m mostly keen to finally have people see the crazier side of my style as a producer and the reactions to that.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you personally?

I have a lot. Blonde and Endless by Frank Ocean changed my life and my whole view of music and artistry in 2016. Brockhampton, 100gecs, JPEGMAFIA, Charli XCX, and Ryan Beatty. My friends Tom Verberne and Postcard Boy. Knowing them has played a major part in where I am today musically. Maxwell Young, who I know personally and hope to become closer friends with eventually. I think his style is so enthrallingly intricate and fascinating and is extremely reflective of this new alternative “internet pop” scene which I adore. Also Jon Hopkins, Roy Blair and Jack Larsen. I know thats a lot but I love all of them so much and its really hard to narrow it down.

Who are you listening to these days? Who are on your playlists?

Honestly, I’m really into a lot of soundtracks lately, Interstellar, Wall-e, How to Train Your Dragon, as well as all the artists I mentioned above.

During this crazy time in the world, what is getting you through?

Honestly, nicotine, Zoom calls and making Music.

Any last thoughts?

Yeah, thanks for the Interview, this was awesome. You asked really great questions. To the readers, thanks for taking the time and getting this far in the interview! Go stream my new songs “Antithesis”, “Burnout” and “Turbo Speed.” I hope everyone is doing okay and getting through in this crazy time in the world, and once again thank you for the interview!

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