"I am a Dichotomy", Billy Uomo on Transcending Boundaries and Creating Cinematic Music

Billy Uomo is an LA based songwriter curating the perfect discography featuring a 10 EP and 40 track project. Billy started off as the primary vocalist in his Sicilian family band Babes, which consisted of Billy himself and several other family members. He’s taking advantage of the band’s break by venturing out on his own and exploring his alter ego.

What inspired you to begin making music? When I first started making music, it was really because it was fun. I love it. I love music and it always made me feel good. Pursuing that feeling is what kept me interested and I started going to shows as much as I could, as early as 10 or 12. Going to local shows, everything from hip hop to punk shows, or just skating around LA with my friends - just trying to catch whatever we could whenever we could was something I loved. When I started to pursue it professionally was because people kept saying that my songs were good and yeah, that’s that.

Who are some of your current inspirations? Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler is something I’m reading now that is so inspiring. I’m reading it and every few minutes, I’m putting it down to write a bridge for a song and I’ve written like five songs while I’m reading this book because it’s so inspiring.

We talked more about the current state of the world - about how things have changed and how the pandemic was a break away to take time for self reflection and introspection. Podcasts, films, literature - all of these are media avenues that were being more actively explored during the pandemic and they’ve served as inspiration and motivation to us all.

Tell me more about where you grew up. How has that, along with your artistic inspiration, impacted the development of your own sound and creative style? Half of my family is Sicilian and I’m a quarter Cuban and a quarter Ukranian - that side of the family is Jewish. I would say that from both those sides, I’ve gotten a very specific type of musical feeling that feels like it could be like a “hereditary vibe”. There’s a lot of famous Jewish writers and songwriters in the States that have been behind a lot of pop songs that I love and I feel that. On my Sicilian side, there’s a lot of Sicilian folk music vibes that do find their way into my musical vocabulary but I try not to think about it too much because I just follow my feelings at the moment.

How has that translated over the years, from your family band "Babes" to this persona of Billy Uomo, and your solo project and goal of releasing a 10 EP and 40 track project? Being in a band is really difficult and it’s hard to be on the same page for that long with four other people and that’s why a lot of bands end up breaking up. When you’re on your own, it’s so much easier because if I say that I want to do something or decide not to do something, that’s just what it is. For me, what I do now is I make some shit that I feel is pretty cool and vibey and I put that out. I get feedback from people saying they like it and want to work with me and that’s an easy transition and something I’ve been doing since I’ve put out my first EP. I really enjoy that so much more because I’m representing myself in an accurate way.

What has it been like collaborating with so many talented artists? It’s just fun for me. I like it when I get to interact with other talented artists. It’s inspiring, it’s fun. It’s something I welcome and seek out.

How has COVID affected your creative process? For me, it’s a double edged sword. On one hand, I get more time for myself and time to work on music that I love and really wanna make - which is very valuable. But I don’t have a college degree and I don’t go and sit in an office to work. I meet people at clubs and parties who compliment my music and invite me to work with them on their projects so COVID affected that big time. I wasn’t getting any work so I’m at home like poor, broke and making my own music which was a weird and strange thing to go through.

Walk me through the 10 EP project once more. Your entire discography does an amazing job at maintaining a certain vibe and aesthetic throughout. It feels and sounds like a purposeful continuation which goes beyond just one EP, it transcends this boundary and flows over into the next EP and on and so forth. How has this musical aesthetic, lyrics, rhythm, and vibe been maintained throughout several EPs? Me being a bit of a lunatic helps. I’ll pick an idea and I don’t care if it’s something wild like climbing a mountain, I’m just that kind of a person who will do it because it’s something I want and need to do. I was becoming bored with normal songs and this project was a break from the normalcy. It’s cinematic, in my mind, and it’s linear and it tells a story. It’s not just one song. You put one song by itself and it says something. You put two songs out and now you’re fighting against that other song and you can feel that push and pull between the two ideas.

Does the track order and the sequence in which you release EPs play a vital role in the development and progression of the project? Yes, definitely. I think about everything, even if it’s a song I wrote in a day. I am very hands on with everything I create. I have to touch everything to make sure it’s in the right place. I like aesthetics, what can I say? I want things to be beautiful, I love beautiful things.

What's next for you? I’m working on the next EP now and I’m thinking about calling it Heaven or Hell. I have a whole batch of songs that I’m sort of weeding throughIt’s not necessarily about Heaven or Hell in a religious sense but more as a metaphor for a relationship. You could be having the worst time or it could be Heaven and you could be having the time of your life. The EPs are definitely happening and I know where I want to go from here with that. Outside of that, I’m gonna start pushing myself and the limits more. I like pushing myself to do and try new things. So maybe within a year or so, I’ll be coming out with work I’ve done with artists I haven’t worked with previously.