The goal with DrumGAB is to find the fire in the belly of the artists that I feature. Every person has baggage and experiences that make them unique and ultimately, interesting. Normally I dig deep ahead of time to find the key to the doors that contain great conversation and true honest perspective. With Billy, things went a little differently. I have been listening to MMW for years and have always enjoyed their performances and Billy Martin has been an artist that I have admired for years. Now, I must confess that beyond Billy’s music, I am not very familiar with his complete range of work.
For me personally, I have been curious about his process of creating, his philosophies on improvising and what life means to him and how being an artist fits into that. In all honesty, while this episode may feel like it’s an interview, the reason for that is because Illy B has so much wisdom to shed on every single question I had. I discovered quickly that if I were to continue peeling layers on a single topic, this could have easily become a two hour plus episode and I have to keep brevity in mind for the sake of my monthly podcast allowance. So we explore a handful of interesting ideas that are unfolded with unprecedented detail on a DrumGAB podcast. This is a podcast you may find yourself replaying just to capture the depth of his explanations. It is nothing short of incredible. Billy shapes his responses into a powerful string of sentences that are coupled with vivid metaphors time and time again that gets your brain moving.
Early in this episode, we discuss Billy’s music camp, Rhythm, Sound, and Magic, which I mistakenly addressed as a festival, oops. Illy B discusses the purpose of the camp and what campers can expect to take home with them and the concept is simply wonderful. This camp attracts all walks of life who share the love of rhythm, sound and the magic of creating in the moment with your peers. The result is a beautiful celebration that I can only imagine leaves the campers feeling inspired and fulfilled. Billy seems to have a strong inclination to implant radical ideas into people to help them find their true path for creating and find themselves in the process. It is one thing to copy someone else and shape yourself around someone else, but it is another thing to gather and store knowledge as your tools and use those tools to experiment, fail, succeed and eventually develop something that is truly you, which acts as a genuine and sincere contribution to the world.
Bob Moses is also a topic of discussion in this podcast. Billy has known and mentored, unintentionally, with Bob for many many years. The stories about Bob and Billy are treasures. It is pure gold what Billy shares with us. I won't spoil any details here, you'll just have to listen. Although I will say that I do ask about the reason why Bob and Billy both often use branches and sticks to play the drums and how it changes your playing from using conventional drumsticks. In my ignorance, I referred to the branches as "twigs" so I am somewhat regretful of how I addressed my question, however, the reasons for using this technique surely has opened my mind considerably to this idea.
There is one more particularly special element to this episode as well that I would like to share. I have a friend that I have made through creating DrumGAB and he has become a devout listener and I am grateful for him. Mayo Coates created the intro music for Ep.35 with Freddy Charles and I was so impressed with the results that I asked him if he would like to create an intro for this episode with Billy. Mayo probably thought about the offer for about a second because his response was a resounding YES! He told me he would spend the week working on something and because Mayo is an enormous fan of Billy, he wanted to make it perfect in honor of the opportunity. So he sent me the tracks and while I loved them, I didn’t see it as an intro this time around but rather one piece in particular, “Grooves for Whales” as an outro piece. It features the beloved Morfbeats Marvin in action and it just works, so instead of going the usual route of featuring the guests’ music I decided to use Mayo’s music as he saw it as a tribute to Billy and I personally believe in sharing and adding value to people’s lives whenever I can. I am sure that Mayo will treasure the experience and I love how it is a true extension of Billy’s teachings as Mayo has been indirectly mentoring from Billy for years through his books, videos, artwork, and music. You can also hear Mayo’s creative sounds when the call drops between Billy and I, in a trippy void of technological misfortune.
As for the intro that I put together, there is a small reflection of myself in this. I am an only child and I spent a lot of time experimenting with recordings and sounds as a child and I feel that as we age and we become more and more objective and realistic and as a result, we lose the ability to be open to our imagination. The man in the interview is Captain Beefheart, whom I am fascinated with and have been for years. Beefheart had an often brutal, dictatorial approach to controlling his creative environment but one thing cannot be denied. He pursued his creativity with no barriers and with a childlike nature that made him one of the greatest creative minds in the 20th century. I find that there are mild parallels to Illy B and Beefheart in terms of exploration and their prolific catalog of work but beyond that, this intro was simply interesting and fun to create, albeit dark and sinister in tone but I like that sort of thing.
As a final thought, I will never forget my involvement with this podcast. Besides the incredible experience of speaking with someone that I have been admiring and listening to for so many years, I was in the Bruce Peninsula cottaging during the editing process and I found myself in the perfect head space for working out this episode. While I was up there I kept thinking about how honored I am for the responsibility of making this special episode. The task of creating media that features Billy's wisdom and knowledge for people who truly appreciate Billy is something I don't take lightly. I consider this episode as one of the most important episodes that I have done so far and I am completely humbled to have been the director of such a thing. Amazing. Thank you for this opportunity Illy B, it has been a slice.