It was just another day in LA for British native, Billie Myers; trying to jump start a diet, she was lying on a colonic table, wishing her therapist would stop giving a blow-by-blow description of the so called ‘release’, when her mobile phone rang. “I don’t know why I answered”, says Myers,” but taking that call was life changing”. She was informed that Universal Records had dropped her.
Naively, she had thought that being personally signed by Doug Morris (Chairman of the Universal Music Group), having a global hit (Kiss The Rain), and an album that sold more than a million copies worldwide (Growing, Pains) would outweigh the fact that her sophomore album Vertigo had not sold as many copies as her debut release, despite across the board media acclaim.
Described as “reassuringly long on singer-songwriting talent” by The Times, her uncanny ability to seamlessly sculpt poetic narratives out of her life experiences, not only inspired comparisons to Chrissie Hyde, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading, but resulted in Billboard heralding her as “One of the most gifted of this year’s new pop crop”.
However, despite all of the above praise, the next few years proved emotionally turbulent. A managerial dispute embroiled her in a costly, drawn-out lawsuit, nearly bankrupting her along the way. Her personal life went to pieces and all confidence she once had was gone.
Worn down, she gave up and as she bluntly puts it “wasting another three years wallowing in self pity”. Flipping between sadness, anger, indifference, fear and self-pity Myers hid out at home, killing time by sleeping the days away. “I didn’t socialise because I didn’t want people to ask how my non-existent new album was coming along, I alienated good friends and I couldn’t write, which of course completed the circle and sent me back to be bed”. In short, she was a walking depression checklist.
Crisis point hit when she started talking about how great it would be not to wake up. The friends she had left did an intervention of sorts. “They actually took my car away, because I’d spoken about playing chicken in my Miata”. With tongue firmly in cheek, Myers laughingly laments that the worst thing about the whole period was “ my compulsion, to clean and reorganize. any useless junk had to go and in my mind, stage clothes, musical equipment and awards were just that!”
Getting diagnosed and treated for depression was the turning point for Myers. She began writing again and it wasn’t long before she returned with a pulsating and provocative new record, Just Sex. Described by Billboard as having “delicious verses that gambol across a melodic carnival imprint topped only by a chorus so intuitive that one would swear this is a remake of a song heard a thousand times before”. Myers explored sexuality with her renowned, often- controversial directness. “Just Sex” became an instant top 10 smash on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart. The popularity of which brought Myers back on stage, where as always she both stunned and delighted audiences in venues across the U.S. and abroad. “A dance diva, I’m not,” says Myers “ But that remix not only gave me a confidence boost, it also gave me the financial flexibility to do my own thing”.
Slowly but surely she decided it was time to try again, and this time Myers wasn’t waiting around for a record label to get on board. “The advent of computers and the internet has, to some degree, leveled the playing field for artists. You can make records for less and you can be heard, even if you don’t have a major behind you”. Forming FruitLoop Records, her nickname for the pills she takes each day, she began writing with such highly acclaimed songwriters as Peter Vale, (Lemar, Beverly Knight) Marcella Detroit, (Shakespeare’s Sister, Eric Clapton) and Kristen Hall, (Sugarland).
Returning to her roots, Myers came back to the UK to record, “I wanted a fresh start, working with people who I knew would let me be me, but at the same time push me forward in a way that complemented, not detracted from my style”.
While staying true to the expressive vocals and incisive lyrics that have earned her a loyal fan base and ongoing critical acclaim, Myers has broken new ground musically. Working with UK producer Dee Adam, she has fashioned a collage of sound that intertwines electronica, trip-hop beats, and bluesy guitars around her live acoustic/rock roots.
The result is her new album ‘Tea & Sympathy’. Honest to the point of painful, Myers pulls no punches as she lays bare, bruising portrayals of her struggles with self worth (“Anonymous”), midnight losses of faith (“Send Me An Angel …Is God Dead?”), infidelity (“You Send Me Flying”), and defeated Hollywood dreams (“Lady Jane”).
The first single, “Wonderful” is definitely something of a departure for Myers. An upbeat and lighthearted profession of love where she asks to be “strip- teased cherry red” by her lover, adds a delightful contrast to the otherwise more serious material of “Tea & Sympathy”. Ever self-deprecating, Myers says “Don’t be fooled, gravity always has the last laugh, and what goes up, must come down…On “Wonderful”, I question what someone so seemingly perfect could possibility see in me, and on “Not Another Love Song” which (was written about the same person), the answer is abundantly clear– not a lot really!!”
So 2013 looks to be a new chapter in Billie’s life and for now at least she is at peace with herself and ready to face the world once again.