South East England has a lo-fi/electronic stunner you may want to be keeping tabs on. After a big 2016 music-wise – both with his post-punk collective Gang of Four and his solo project – Billionaire (John Sterry) has emerged with a new EP titled Cheap Credit! and a ridiculous amount of energy heading into more tour dates throughout the remainder of the year. In honor of the EP release, we took a few moments to speak with Sterry about the whirlwind around him.
What was the first album or song you remember listening to, and who introduced it to you?
I think it was probably some kind of Elvis compilation on tape that we played in the car on our way to the sea for the summer holidays. I think I actually picked it out as it was the most colourful in the shop, that’s informed my musical choices all my life
Do you believe that moment at all influenced the way you approach your work now?
Well I was pretty obsessed with Elvis for a while, used to dress up in a gold shirt and charge my parents 50p to watch me sing jailhouse rock in the living room.
Was there an “aha” moment for you too, when you decided music was your thing? Or was it always kind of a thing?
I kind of fell into being in a band by accident anyway and after doing it for a while realised it was the only thing I was any good at so I just kind of carried on. There’s the odd gig where you feel a magical feeling of ‘this is what I want to do all my life’ too, which helps keep you motivated. Mind you, there’s times when you get the opposite of that feeling and want to get off as soon as you can.
So SE England… do you find that being located there has influenced your sound at all?
I’m not sure- being around London is no bad thing for gauging what’s going on and trying to be at the forefront of it. Where I’m from in Kent has a great history of music, most of the punk and post punk stuff came out of Bromley in Kent. I actually went to the same school as Keith Richards…he wasn’t there when I was though, shame, would’ve been fun.
Where do you pull your main influence from?
Tabloid newspapers mainly- I like how absurd the headlines are, how sensational everything is. ‘We’re all gonna die cos of some spider that came over in a shipment of bananas’ that kind of stuff. And Tom Waits, same reasons.
Cheap Credit! just came out! What was that like? What has the response been?
It was really exciting to finally share it with everyone. It has felt like it has been a while in the making. The response has been pretty positive which I am pleased about.
Any fun anecdotes from production?
I did it all alone holed up away in my house; great in terms of getting stuff done, not great for anecdotes. Seagulls are everywhere where I live so trying to edit them out took the longest, I’d sometimes drift off and imagine elaborate ways of killing them, mainly involving a lasso.
We have to know… do you have a favorite track?
Yes. “World Loves a Trier”. I think I nailed exactly what it was that I wanted to say and production wise there’s some new things I tried out like reversing reverbs and weird stuff like that, that I think sounds good, without it sounding messy and overproduced. I’m happy with that one.
Who is your favorite superhero? Substantiate that claim.
I only really know the mainstream ones so I’d go for Batman. He’s rich as fuck and gets to drive cool cars
What is the best advice you have heard that you could give to aspiring artists, especially with the looming threat of cutting funds for the arts nationwide?
Don’t get a 9-5 to fund it- unless you’re the most disciplined and motivated person in the world you won’t want to do anything creative when you get home. Suffer a bit, get money where you can and you’ll have time and the inclination to do stuff. Admittedly in London it’s hard without a full time job; That’s why everyone’s leaving to places where you can do it; like Hastings and Margate…
What’s up next, wonderful human?
Quite a few festivals, some live sessions too. We’ve got a great band together now so I want to play more and record with them so I’m not stuck on my own thinking of ways to kill seagulls.
Billionaire Upcoming Shows:
29th April – City Sound Project @ Westgate Towers, Canterbury
27th May – Unfest, Tunbridge Wells, Forum Main Stage
15th July – Zooquarium Festival, Hasting Pier
Cheap Credit! is available now via Blue Mary Records. Keep up with Billionaire here.