When covers are done properly they’re effortlessly emotive, drawing on familiarity whilst tilting sideways through a fresh take. Collaborations follow a similar pattern, if two musical forces combine harmoniously then it can elevate each act beyond their individual strengths.
Two stellar acts, both labelled as promising two years ago on HumanHuman, have joined forces to create a sumptuous collaborative cover of Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’. BETSY has a rousing vocal which she has combined with anthemic production to create pieces of polished power-pop. biLLLy is a fellow Londoner whose energetic, effective electronic efforts have seen him rise through to the top of a crowded market. I had a little chat with the pair, both of whom I have the pleasure of calling friends, about how their new record came about.
Hey friends, congrats on your new collab - how did it come about?
BETSY: We've been mates for years so after many nights drinking and chatting about working together we finally got in the studio and collaborated!
So, you're mates in real life - did that make it more comfortable in the studio?
biLLLy: Definitely, my studio's at home so BETSY’s always hanging out working on tunes or just messin' with her dogs! (Charles and Archie).
BETSY: You love those pooches Billy Boy! I love working with biLLLy and the pooches. The studio's so relaxed and easy... we've recorded loads of the vocals for my album there. Not to mention the parties!
You both have an instantly recognisable sound, was it difficult to marry the two?
biLLLy: It actually happened quite naturally. I knew BETSY’s vocal had to lead, then it was a case of working my stuff around it. I think some of the best collaborations are the unexpected ones, better to surprise the listener.
Why Kanye West? What drew you to Runaway?
BETSY: I mean Kanye is killer. We both love his work and for me Runaway is one of my all time favourite songs. So forward-thinking yet soulful and heartbreaking - also that piano line is the work of a genius.
Over the last year and a half you have both become playlist staples. Do you feel like that stream love has helped you break as artists?
biLLLy: Definitely, it's wicked how much exposure you get from playlists and I love the crossover of listeners.
BETSY: Yeah it’s true, it’s been killer and I love how you find loads of different new things to love in one spot.
You’ve also received a lot of support from the blogs, is there a particular feature that stands out in your mind from when you were starting out?
“Sometimes, abstract tracks take a few listens to appreciate the artistic approach behind them, and with “Sertraline”, a standout track from UK-based and no-info act biLLLy, we've one of the most unique tracks we've heard in quite some time.”
biLLLy: I guess the early reviews are the most special - when you've not released anything before it feels great having support from the unknown. One review that stood out was Hillydilly writing about 'Sertraline', one of my first tracks. Emotional.
Are there more collaborations on the cards?
BETSY: Funny you should say that, Kanye called yesterday and wants biLLLy and me to write and produce his next album ;)
What are you working on individually that we can look forward to?
biLLLy: Alongside my next EP to be released early next year, I've been busy producing a good friend of mine, Suzi Wu. We've just put a live show together which I'm playing drums in too. Keep an ear out!
BETSY: Are you? Killer, looking forward to that! I’ve got my album BETSY coming on the 29th of September and a tour in November so it’s all go!
Finally, tell our readers a little fact that they might not otherwise find out about you.
biLLLy: I once moved to Egypt to write a pop album... It didn't work out but fuck...! The vibez.
BETSY: I have a third nipple on biLLLy's back.