G-7L1BQ01JC4 google-site-verification=FcHx71H1bjVosBa3N5PbNSP0lPlz9dKW5Fnb3zbHVBI Billy Mick is In the Key of Q - Gay Music: In the Key of Q

Episode 11

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Published on:

24th May 2022

Billy Mick: Cocaine, Toxic Masculinity & Dinner Theatre

Welcome to In the Key of Q the weekly podcast where I chat with inspiring Queer musicians from around the world as they share stories, inspirations and of course their music.

Billy Mick released his first single in 2019. He's performed at Pride and Gay Days events. And in America's pandemic lockdown continued to release songs and music videos. The autobiographical studio album Just Be came out in 2020, followed up by the long-player Levelling Up.

Billy speaks openly in this episode about the challenges of growing up in a household with a father who was both a drug dealer and a bullying influence on the family home. Eventually, Billy escapes into adulthood and performing dinner theatre and on the stages of Universal's theme park in Florida.

A surprise HIV diagnosis eventually leads to hospitalisation and a near-death coma. But emerging from this crisis point Billy's life begins all over again and he goes on to produce some amazing tunes.

He is passionate about the queer community, embracing the ethos of Manchester Pride in the UK. Here he witnessed what he describes as a true community where sub-groups did not disappear into their own silos, and instead mixed and enjoyed each other's strength and power. It’s how he feels out community should be.

Additional Material

If you enjoyed this episode why not take a listen to Daddy Dawg.

In the Key of Q is a weekly 30-40 minute podcast publishing every Tuesday. I’m your host Dan Hall, and in each episode, I chat candidly with a gay/bi musician about their life and music. 

Access exclusive interview content and support the production of this podcast by heading over to Petreon and making a small donation.

Enjoy the music of previous guests by listening to these playlists with tracks selected by the artists themselves.

Credits

  • The podcast can be reached on email and on social media at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The podcast’s forever home can be found here.
  • Theme tune is by Paul Leonidou.
  • Press & PR by Paul Smith.
  • Many thanks to Kaj and Moray for their continued support.
  • In the Key of Q is presented and produced by Dan Hall and made at Pup Media. Dan has recently produced the landmark BBC film, "Freddie Mercury: The Final Act" (dir. James Rogan) and is the producer of the podcast series Been There Done That. For audio or video production inquiries Dan can be reached here or at Talent Manager.

Would you like to appear on the show? Or have an artist you'd like to recommend, please tell them to get in touch via email.

Transcript

Billy Mick

I was part of the poster child for an argument as to why it's wrong to be a homosexual.

Dan

This is In the Key of Q featuring musicians from around the world who inspire my queer identity. Everybody is welcome to the conversation. Whatever beautiful identity pleases you, music helps us feel connected and know that we are not alone.

This programme is made possible thanks to the financial support of listeners like you over patreon.com/inthekeyofq and remember to join the conversation across socials using the hashtag #QueerMusic.

I'm Dan Hall. Come on in and be heard.

released his first single in:

Billy Mick

Hello. Hi, how are you?

When I was a kid, like, well, most kids were outside playing. I was inside with my head in front of the stereo speaker. Like I always, I would just put on an album and I'd listened to the whole thing, start to finish. And, um, I. Was always obsessed with music. And I started writing songs um, gosh, when I was probably six or seven, I mean, those aren't very good, but some of them are. Um, actually Angel off of my first album I actually wrote when I was like eight. I had gotten my first keyboard eight. Yeah. I got my first keyboard and started messing around and just kind of strung words together. And so I was, I was excited to, uh, put that on the first album. And it actually won an EDM award for a song.

Dan

That's increadible!

Billy Mick

I know it was like, oh wow. That's amazing. That's exciting.

My family was all very musical. My dad, my dad was, he was quite honestly a little bit of a pothead, so he was very heavy metal. He was Black Sabbath. He was Jethro tall. He was, um, Rolling Stones. So he had all of those albums and my mom was a little more be-boppy. So she had all the Frankie Vallies and the disco and the Bee Gees.. And, but then my aunt was very musical theater and my, uh, we, I was went to a lot of dinners and things with my grandparents and it was always a lot of Frank Sinatra and standards and all that kind of stuff. So I was around all of it and I enjoyed all of it.

I moved to Orlando in 91 and I. Started working in games at Universal. It was a good paying job at the time and it was fun. And I was at a theme park and I auditioned for everything. I was not the most talented person in Orlando, so I didn't get a lot of anything for quite a while. And then I, um, got Tom Sawyer at the Mark Two Dinner Theatre. And so I was at the dinner theater for a couple of years and did a, did a few shows there. And then I got trained in two parades at Disney.

Dan

So, can you tell us a little bit about the kids you?

Billy Mick

I'm from Jacksonville. So I grew up in Jacksonville, um, and then, uh, as soon as the year, a little bit after I graduated, I graduated in 90 beginning of 91. I applied to Universal on a Friday. I got hired on Saturday. I moved on Sunday. I was like, I'm ready. I'm ready. I need something new.

Dan

So tell us what was Jacksonville like? What's it like being a kid there?

Billy Mick

Um, it wasn't bad. It was fine. I mean, there's. It's not, it's not my bag. I don't enjoy necessarily going back there. Um, I luckily my entire family moved down here, so I don't really have to go back there. Um, but I, you know, I still have friends there and there's, there's a lot of really, really gorgeous parts to Jacksonville. Um, I was fortunate enough when, um, I had gotten to high school, we had a Douglas Anderson school of the arts there.

So I was able to go to the school of the arts so that, um, a lot of struggles that a lot of, um, teens have with coming out. I didn't have that issue. You know, I'm very thankful for that. My mom was a beautician. I went to the school of the arts, so I mean, I was able to be an out person at 15.

Dan

Did you ever feel growing up that there was any pressure to be straight or, or to, or were you given an awareness of being wrong or incorrect or in fact, was this world you grew up in this sounds very creative, just always a little bit bent a little bit queer from the outset and that you were always allowed to feel comfortable just being yourself?

Billy Mick

No, uh, that that all changed for me when my father, uh, when my father left. When I was young, my father, uh, on the side, my father was a drug dealer. He, um, he dealt marijuana and, um, he, uh, Uh, lots of, lots of shady dealings and things like that as a child. I, I remember. And then, uh, he was very

I had to play football. I had to play baseball. Um, I was allowed to take ballet one, one year because it, uh, I don't know if you remember. I don't know if you're as old as me, I don't know if you remember, there was a whole movement in like the early eighties where, um, all the football players were taking ballet because it helped them with their game. So I was able to take one year of ballet because I was playing football.

Um, I did play, I did play soccer one year and I did really like that, but I wasn't allowed to play again because it interfered with football.

But when I got to, um, junior high school, by the time I got into junior high school, my dad had kind of transitioned into doing coke so he was never, he was never. I mean, he was never physically abusive with us ever, ever. That was never a thing. He was never, he was not a nice person. He was always a shady person and he was always a, this is what you will do kind of person.

So when he made me go out for the football team, I went, I busted my ass. I made first string and I came home and told him I didn't make it. So I didn't have to play.

Dan

And what did those years where your father was in your life and in your home? What were you led to believe masculinity was? What did it mean to you?

Billy Mick

I always thought it was toxic. I felt that way, my entire life, that was something that I always looked at. And I was like, I don't, I don't get this. And also, I, I think I felt it was so toxic. I. Always saw through my dad. So to me, I see this masculinity and I associate it with, I know you're cheating. I know you're lying. I know you're doing all of these things. So there's a, so there's that other level of that I always associated with masculinity and I was like, you know what? I don't want to be that.

Dan

How old were you when your father departed the scene?

Billy Mick

uh, then gosh, I think it was:

So, but we, but I, I was, I felt good that we had mended that, you know, that we had at least come to an understanding where we could check in with each other and, and have a genuine compassion for each other.

Um, well, you know, it's really interesting. My mom, she like everyone from her generation got married when she was like 18, um, to her high school, sweetheart.

They'd been, so she had been with him since she was like 12 and, um, you know, there was a lot of, um, also empowerment for women at that time. That was a big, that was a common thing at the time, you know, the early, late seventies, early eighties, people were getting divorced, people were done. Um, so my mom and I actually got to kind of go on a growing up journey kind of side by side, you know, I mean, this was the first time that she had ever been single. This is the first time she'd ever dated. You know, she, she got into Aerobicise. We, she, you know, she, she started doing all the things, but she had to go back to work. So I was, you know, cooking dinner and I was taking care of my sister and I was doing those things, but I was kind of discovering myself at the same time that she was discovering herself really. Cause she had never been anything other than his partner..

In 96, I was working at the Mark Two DInner Theatre and a friend of mine wanted to go get tested for HIV. And I had never really done it because I was like, I'm fine, I'm safe. And, um, he, so he didn't want to go by himself. So I went with him and we both did. And, um, his came back negative and mine came back positive.

It was really scary. And the end, the bad thing is, I mean, everyone, everyone talks about sensationalism in the news. It was the same thing then. It was exactly the same thing then. It wasn't just happening to the gay community. It was happening. It was happening everywhere. That was just all they focused on because they wanted everyone to think that that's all this was attacking.

And it was, it was very obvious if you look back at it. And, um, but it was, it was scary. Everyone was scared and you know, again, it was a, it's a turnoff, you know, it's not, it's not something that people want to be involved in. I felt awful, you know? I mean, I was now a statistic. I was, I was now part of the poster child for an argument from all of these people as to why it's wrong to be a homosexual.

But I, I, I was now representing that and I, I felt awful, you know, and at the time, at the time I was like, I'm never, no one's ever going to want to be with me again. Um, you know, and you think those things, I mean, I was only 26, um, and I, uh, I did meet somebody. And I just got into a relationship with the first person that came along, just cause I thought I was just going to be alone.

well until it didn't, uh, in:

Um, I was, uh, show director, uh, I was doing, um, I was working around the clock. I was working a lot and we, uh, I just kept getting sick, like all throughout 2011. I'd still, I'd still not to a doctor or anything like that. And so I finally went to a doctor in, uh, November of 2011 and my T-cells were super low.

Dan

Just to explain to people who don't know, T cells are the cells within the human body that fight. That fight, uh, badness is and illnesses that come in and if your T-cells are low, there's basically not a lot of foot soldiers to fight off infection.

Billy Mick

Oh, yes. And I had mine were dangerously low, so I, uh, I did get sick and I made it through Christmas and new years. Barely. I, and I was, I looked terrible and, uh, we got to January 3rd and, uh, I was home, sick and I, uh, had 106 temperature.

They, uh, put me into the ambulance. I was in a coma for about 10 days. And then when I came out, I was very confused. You know, I had no idea what was going on. Um, and, uh, I couldn't, uh, being after being in the coma, I couldn't walk. Um, and I couldn't really talk either.

So, uh, and it was interesting all like I, I worked with, oh my God, sorry, a little, most of them. So I had, um, all of our friends and all of our family had come together and they had started this Facebook page where they had like a nine o'clock prayer where they would, or, you know, whatever you want to call it. And they would, uh, I'll think about me at nine o'clock and put that energy out there. And, um, as much as every doctor said, I was not going to come back I did, um, And I had to learn to walk again before they would let me out. So I, uh, had to go through rehab and, and all that kind of stuff. Once I had gotten off the machines. And, um, I got out on February 24th. And, uh, that was a fabulous day.

I got back into exercising. I got into holistics. I started reading a lot in Buddhism. I started meditating a lot and, um, I just started focusing on me. And by the time I got to where I met my husband, um, which was the Friday before 9/11,, I was at a place where I knew what I didn't want. I had just gotten out of a relationship and I was completely fine by myself.

So when we actually talked, the first thing out of my mouth was I'm HIV positive. Take it, leave it up to you. And he he was fine. And we, we talked and we talked and we talked and we, uh, have been together twenty years.

Dan

On this long recovery journey to fix your voice, or what point did you realize, oh, I am actually going to get this back? At some point it won't be tomorrow, but actually this is a journey of recovery rather than just, oh, am I going to get it back?

Billy Mick

Um, the first time that I really felt that, um, was when we were in Manchester, we were in Manchester. We were saying at the Velvet Hotel.

Dan

Manchester in the UK?

Billy Mick

London for the first time in:

And so a couple of years later, we had a friend of ours that was getting married in London. And, um, Brian looked around to see what prides were happening. And Manchester happened to be happening the week before. And we had a friend of ours over there. He said, stay in the Velvet so we went and we stayed at the Velvet.

Um, and for anyone who's not at not had the opportunity to go. I know it's a little different now than it was then, but they had all four square blocks blocked off, um, for Pride and the Velvet is in that four blocks. So you'd like walk out and you're in Pride and. My Pride experience in the United States is very minimal. Um, but when I've gone, I've always felt like everyone comes together for a parade and then everyone goes off to their corners. So you have your, your bears go to their bar and the lesbians go to their bar.. You like everyone just separates and=

Dan

It's such a shame, isn't it? Cause it's a fracturing of what be a community.

Billy Mick

And then I went there and it wasn't that at all. It was everyone together. The entire time, the entire street was full, every little pub and bar had people sitting in it and everyone was like meeting new people. And I was like, this is what it is. And I went back to our hotel. And I just started singing Flesh and Bone and I wrote it down and it, um, became kind of my like benchmark Pride anthem that I it's my, like go-to, it's my it's my always requested.

Dan

That's so wonderful. You had such a great experience. Manchester is a fantastic city. I'm a Londoner myself, but due to work a couple of years ago, I had to go up quite a lot and go to Salford district of Manchester. And it's a great city at the, the, the way that they are rebooting and altering their industrial architecture is just stunning. And I do love a tram. I'm a bit of a geek. I love a tram.

Billy Mick

That is our plan. We will, we are landing in the UK. That is, that is where we are landing.

Dan

Now then Billy, after we've had these conversations, I'll pull these recordings into the edit and nip and tuck us down a little bit. But one of the main reasons I wanted to do this podcast was to allow queer voices to be heard. Uh, cause I kind of feel that we are still silenced a lot, especially in quite a heteronormative society.

So for the next couple of minutes or so I just want to give you the stage and say, I'm not going to edit anything. I'm not going to take anything out. I'm not even going to talk in it myself. You could talk about whatever you want.

Billy Mick

Okay. Um, I'm really excited about my upcoming album Levelling Up.. Um, when I did my first album, it, uh, titled Just Be,, it was really a perfect introduction to me.

when I went to Manchester in:

Uh, and I wrote Flesh and Bone, and that leads right into this album. And because we came back from that trip where you felt such love and such acceptance that we came home and you turn on the news and it's not that it wasn't there prior to that, it was just so in your face, all of the hatred and everything that was on TV and I was looking and I was like, what the F is going on?

And I, I was absolutely astounded. And I, I wrote this on The Tourist and originally that was going to be the title song off this album where I talk about the world has gone. I feel like I'm a tourist. It just like on this earth, I feel like complete alien. And, you know, and then I roll right into the next song that I just, uh, I just actually released it as a single, um, called A Little More just about how freaking greedy people are. I'm like, you know, you're when you're looking at everything and you're just wanting more and more. You're not appreciating the things that you have. Um, and I really talk a lot on this album about just how gross it is to be so intolerant.

s astounding to me that we in:

You're getting better. That's what this is all about. We should all be striving to be better. Be better as a human being. Be better being more compassionate. Um, just be better as a society. And I really hope that we can all achieve that. I wish nothing but love and happiness for everyone.

Dan

Now I think music is a great way to make us feel like we belong in the world. And I say for me, certainly growing up, listening to the few queer voices I could have was really important. Having that mirror of creativity and hearing and seeing my own voices come back at me was so important. What would your advice be to anybody listening to this podcast, any queer boys who feel a little bit alone in the world?

Billy Mick

We live in an age where no one has to feel alone. There is someone out there that will be there for you. Um, and it's so easy to do that now, you know, I mean, I, I, there's been great times where we've just zoomed with somebody and that's, that's just made their whole day better, you know?

And that's something that, that is out there and it's available. And for somebody that is coming up queer, there are people here for you. There are resources there for you. We've done fabulous zoom meetings with like 20 people where we're all talking about, you know, just things that we're running into with our music, or like trying to get things out there.

There are those things for everybody. Like there's something there for everybody where you are not alone.

Dan

So what was 15 year old Billy make of you, and your music?.

Billy Mick

Oh he would think it was freaking fabulous. I'm living my best eighties rockstar lifestyle. Like I'm like full tilt, everything. I, everything I thought I wanted to do, I've just, I'm doing it well.

Dan

That's good! Do you think he'd recognize you? What do you see your adult self now as a natural progression of who he was?

Billy Mick

1000%. Yes.

Dan

Wow.

Billy Mick

Yes. Yes. Everything. Every single step get you to where you need to be. And that's, you know, I mean, everything happens literally exactly the way it's supposed to. So everyone is like, well, if you could go back and you could do this, I would not change one thing.

Dan

Now what queer music are you listening to? And maybe what guests do you think I should get on future episodes? And I have to say, before you answer this, I recorded SonicFluxx's episode the other day having no idea that he knew you, he suggested you!

Billy Mick

I love that. I love, I love that. What about, OK King out of New York. I'm such a fan. I, I listen to their entire album on the way to work meeting and back in. I just was obsessed. It's really fantastic. I like them a lot. Um, how about, uh, Brandon Kills?

Dan

Another one I've not had fantastic.

Billy Mick

He and I actually did a duet just recently together.

Dan

Whoa, you're coming out with them. I should hire you as my researcher.

Billy Mick

I can send you a whole list. Like I said, we got, we all really connected during the pandemic and it was, it was really nice. It's sad. Cause everyone's like, it's great that everyone's back to work, but it's kind of sad because everyone doesn't have the time to get together as much as we used to, but I really enjoyed that time to be able to talk about, you know, we submitted to this place and it worked well and we paid for this promotion and it sucked and, you know, so it was kind of cool to, you know, just share best practices and tips and stuff like that.

Dan

Now, then Billy, where can we find you online?

Billy Mick

Um, everywhere. Uh, I, my website is billymick.com .Um, every social billymickmusic.

Dan

Lovely. Thank you very much. Now we've been hearing your music all the way through this episode and I have to say fucking great music. I really, really loved Tourist.

Billy Mick

Thank you.

Dan

There's not that many songs that even before the first verse,, I'm just like, I'm rocking this. I love this. That was one of them. So we played your music all the way through this episode, but I like to say to my guests, if there was one gateway song that would act as the perfect invitation into their catalog for people that weren't that familiar with it, what would your gateway song be and why?

Billy Mick

Um, I've have to always say Flesh and Bone. Like it just, it, it represents. Everything that I want to put out into the world, which is just love, acceptance equality, individuality.

Dan

Billy Mick thank you so much for coming onto In the Key of Q and sharing your stories and sharing your music with us.

Billy Mick

Thank you science for having me. This has been fabulous.

Dan

Thanks for listening to this episode. You can support In the Key of Q via Patreon - the link is in the show notes. Theme music is by Paul Leonidou at unstoppablemonsters.com with press and PR by Paul Smith. Help others discover new queer musicians by writing and reviewing In the Key of Q wherever

Thanks to Kaj and Moray for the continued support and to you for subscribing.

The show was made at Pup Media, I'm Dan Hall. Go listen to some music and I'll see you next Tuesday.

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About the Podcast

Gay Music: In the Key of Q
Queer chat. Queer music.
Music-loving gay podcast. The best bi and gay music from around the world featuring insightful and inspiring conversations with Queer musicians.

Episodes drop weekly and are 30-40 minutes in length, celebrating LGBTQ identity, tunes and stories.

Presented by Dan Hall (producer, BBC’s Freddie Mercury: The Final Act) and produced by Pup Media.
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