Meet Billy Vena, a Panamanian boy of origin – and proud of it – though raised in Texas, he also considers himself a Texas boy: Hailing from galaxies long lost, dancer turned recording Artist Billy Vena lands only to share his love of pop culture with the world through music. Utilizing the lessons of the greatest pop stars of all time, Billy fuses their assets to give us classics. Source: About Billy Vena, Spotify.
My Kind of Music, with Billy Vena.
Honestly? I’M A DISCO MANIAC.
One very positive thing about updating my ‘Groovy Medicine’ (Feel Better!), Spotify playlist every week, is finding great stuff along the way. Names I never heard about before and ‘new’ music to add to my favs. 2021 was certainly off to a good start, when I found Billy Vena, the 4th of January. I was immediately seized by the title of the song and when it started to play and the canvas showed, I was done. You have to see it for yourself! The song instantly became one of my favs for this year and so I found Billy on Instagram and posted it in my IG story the next day, tagging him of course.
You might expect me to go through Billy’s songs by release date, but since this was the one I ‘discovered’ Billy with, I’ll follow that path here. I was so excited about ‘Disco Maniac’ (his third song, released 8/2020), I sent it to Akara (TJMC), to hear what he thought about it, I was thrilled when he told me he really liked it too and was going to post it, which he did a couple of days later. Really awesome. The song starts with a little chuckle from Billy himself, (he told me, he loves to laugh – Me Too!) and that right there, followed straight away with a catchy beat and lyrics, will win everyone over. And just to show I am not the only one thinking this, below you’ll find one of the comments on YouTube. Click some pics 😉
Billy responded to my post pretty quickly and we started to chat away. With his bubbly personality, sparkling just as much as the disco ball canvas, it felt like talking to an old friend. It’s always so much fun to actually talk to the artist themselves and hear their enthusiasm about their music. Curious as I am, I always love to hear their own view on their creations and how they go about it. I informed him the minute Disco Maniac was featured on TJMC, after which he sent me a couple of new, unreleased songs to listen to and share my thoughts. So Cool.
I am honored when an artist sends me new stuff to hear my opinion. Not going to give anything else away, except for this: I asked Billy when the next release date would be, it was That Good. Being able to talk freely, makes it so much easier to immediately throw in the ‘whenever-you’re-ready-for-an-interview‘, comment haha. It also makes the article a little more interesting, when I don’t have the feeling, I am doing all the talking. Which brings me to ‘Talking 2 Myself’ (released 9/2020), labeled as Pop by Billy himself, and Pop it is.
The above is not where it all started for Billy. The first song he released last year was ‘Space Hippie’ (2/2020), which is also the most popular song so far, with over 360K streams on Spotify. One of the things that immediately caught my attention, when going through his songs, was the difference in genres Billy used. Though the 2 previously mentioned songs clearly fall in the disco / funk genre, this is not how the others sound. Talking about ‘Space Hippie’, Billy mentioned – I quote: ‘My most successful is space hippie though, which has Disco, Funkadelic influences’.
When he asked me if I had any idea why this song was more successful than the others, I said that maybe just because of more, different, influences, the song would appeal to more people. That said, it was the first released song, also featured on YouTube, by ‘Indie Nation‘, so it naturally had the most time and opportunity to accumulate streams throughout the year. I am pretty sure, the rest will follow the same path soon. ‘Space Hippie’, took me a couple of listens, after which I really started to appreciate the song. But hearing the lyrics, would definitely speak to any lovesick fool right away: ‘Feeling like a hippie – When I talk to you – All my morals and my senses – Out the door cause I – Only do it for you’.
The second song Billy released was ‘WIZ’ (4/2020), a collab with BODÉ, aka Boris Deckers, a Dutchie! The song seems to be a bridge in genre from ‘Space Hippie’, to ‘Talking 2 Myself’ and ‘Disco Maniac’. A Dance/EDM song, with strong, catchy lyrics. I love Billy’s voice: youthful, recognizable and smooth. And though the song starts with ‘Talking ain’t my forte..’ I found out it’s not true in real life. When I mentioned a little interview, in the near future – though I didn’t want to scare him off right away – Billy replied – I quote: ‘I’m pretty shy so we’ll see how I answer 😝’. Don’t believe him! His Instagram bio actually says: ‘Lover of DMs‘.
‘WIZ’ gained over 110K streams on Spotify so far and thus makes for an awesome second place. It’s obvious that Billy knew what he was saying when he announced the song on social media – I quote: “Party everyday.. with a big dumb smile on my stupid face 🤓” WIZ comes out in 2 weeks with @borisdeckers, hopefully it makes ya dance!” Believe me, It Will. ‘WIZ’ is featured on YouTube by Soave and ChillAndVibing. It certainly helps there are so many channels out there that will give these artists a little push, so their audience can grow to one they deserve!
Last but certainly not least, is ‘Familiarize Christmas With You’, yes, a truly new and fresh Christmas song! Every year, it’s the same struggle, to find some new Christmas songs, instead of getting stuck with the same old same old. I mean, nothing wrong with ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘All I Want For Christmas’, but yeah…getting a bit tired of that. And that’s exactly the reason why I didn’t want to leave it out, although we only just celebrated the holidays and the next are still some time away. I suggest you do what I did and add it to your Christmas playlist, so you’ll be ready for it this time around.
‘Familiarize Christmas With You’ was released 12/1/2020, and did not yet get the attention it deserves, but as Billy said – I quote: ‘…there’s always next year! It didn’t do amazing this year, I released on Dec 1st and Christmas songs are tough! But maybe next year it’ll do better‘. I am sure it will, since we’re all in desperate need of more freshness around the holidays and the song is for sure a merry one!
Time for the interview and for Billy to speak up. But as always, before we go there, I want to give a BIG Thank You to Billy Vena! It’s been awesome discovering your music and meeting / talking to you! Your enthusiasm and overall happy attitude, is such a pleasure and I hope you will never lose that. Wishing you all the blessings and chuckles along your way, together with making more people happy with your music, I can’t wait for your next song to be released. I will add you to my Spotlight page, where I will update your latest release and you will stay indefinitely. Here we Gooo.
Let’s start with the obvious: Please introduce yourself and tell us, Who is Billy Vena? How and when did you get started in the music scene? Do you play any instruments (or is your music mostly sample based) and do you sing? (I read: ‘Dancer turned recording artist’, can you tell us about that turn-around?)
‘Hello I’m Billy Vena, and I basically started making music about 7 years ago! I really wanted to be a songwriter for pop stars because I was too shy for artistry, but felt maybe I should take a crack at it. I don’t play any instruments, but I have memorized chord progressions and play melodies until I find the right ones on keys. Every now and then I’ll sample but cut up melodies. I sing every one of my songs.
I was a dancer in high school, but never did it professionally. It’s something I mentioned because other than dancing I didn’t know how to sing, write or produce 7 years ago and here we are now’.
Your songs differ in genres, do you like to experiment, or are you at the point you know which way you wish to go? Is there one genre that has your preference and if so, why is that? How would you describe your music?
‘I truly adore music that was ahead of its time, or made in a way that felt like a scientist created it in a pop music laboratory.
Given my preferences, I experiment as much as possible but try to bring hints of funk, pop and synths in almost every song that I make.
In terms of my favorite genre, it would have to be pop music, as It usually has a little bit of everything swimming around, and my music could possibly be described as such as well’.
While talking to you, you mentioned that ‘you probably have a thousand songs’. I like your boldness! Where does your inspiration come from? Who were your biggest influences? I mean, if you have a thousand songs somewhere inside of you, how does that feel?
‘I’m more of a songwriter than anything else, so in my ventures it feels like I’ve accumulated all these songs that probably won’t ever be heard. I’m constantly creating because it feels like I’m always inspired by either something I’m watching, or something I’m imagining in my head. My adoration of movies, anime or stories in general really comes in handy when I need a little kick in my boot.
When it comes to musical heroes, I worship Britney Spears’s entire discography, practically study Madonna like I’m in a history class, and immerse myself in Michael Jackson songs to understand why his music compelled us so’.
Can you tell us a bit how your creative process works? What is your starting point, for example: do you start with the lyrics or the music? What is your biggest struggle when creating, or do you just go with the flow?
‘The creative process never seems to go exactly one way, and I’d like to think it’d be extremely boring if it did. Sometimes an interesting drum loop inspires me to sing a hook that’s missing everything else until its done. In other situations I could just be messing around with keys or a chorus just randomly finds itself inside my mind.
I adore writing from an honest place, that way it feels therapeutic and true as opposed to me just writing about anything that I never experienced. My least favorite part is probably producing the instrumental as I don’t see myself as someone who’s very good at it, but even so it can be extremely enjoyable when it all comes together’.
If you could tell one interesting background story about one of your songs, what would that be? Which song are you most proud of and why?
‘I love the story behind Disco Maniac, because it isn’t necessarily about a certain experience I had in real time. One of my friends Zach, (who’s incredibly knowledgeable in pop culture from the 70s/80s) was showing me a scene from a movie called Xanadu.
In it Olivia Newton-John is singing this wonderful music and it all looked so fun and disco-y, so much so that I wanted to be there. The idea of being in a disco kinda movie really inspired me, and I extracted the rare moments I got on the floor to dance in some 70s tinged Hollywood fantasy.
The song I’m most proud of is probably Space Hippie, as fragments of everything I loved sort of fused together to make what it became’.
That Spotify canvas for ‘Disco Maniac’, is the coolest. Did you make it yourself? (you know it’s my fav haha)
‘I actually didn’t make that canvas! My friend V made it, and it seemed right for the moment. I definitely think it looks cool too!’
2021 just started, what do you hope to achieve this year? Any projects you would like to share something about? Is there anything I didn’t ask about and you wish to add / share, with your fans / the readers?
‘My dreams for 2021 is that my music reaches a-lot more people than it did in 2020, and that it’s only up from here. Releasing music has made me so much happier in general, so its been extremely fun seeing the response.
I’m probably gonna release a song called Rabbit Hole, but I’m still debating on whether or not it’s the next one. Other than that everything else I leave in the hands of fate.
Thank you so much for the wonderful questions!’
Again, Big Thanks to Billy Vena. And you my Funky Friends, I hope you will go listen to Billy’s music!
Wishing y’all a Very Disco Week, and don’t go all Maniac on me now ❤