Soul _ survrvor
Since the demise of Electribe 101 , Billie Ray Martin has battled to
keep her artistic vision intact. Rory Weller meets a woman who refuses
‘My life depends to a frightening degree on people letting me put out records.‘ says Billie Ray Martin. So. what would happen if they stopped her? ‘I would die.‘ The diva of melancholic dance came to prominence when she formed Electribe lOI . a group which shared her vision of using electronic music to create a ‘genuine new soul music'. it‘s this vision that has been earned on and expanded in her new
album Deadline F or My Memories.
‘lt‘s what Electribe would have done if we had stayed together,’ she says. ‘We wanted to go on and make ballads‘ - which is what the mainstay of this album is. Phil Spectre meets Cabaret Voltaire. The continuation is so direct that she even uses three unreleased Electribe backing tracks on the album.
When the recession came. though. Phonogram decided to drop this most esoteric of bands: they couldn‘t quite work out how to handle a woman who looked like she’d open a vein at any second. Billie Ray Martin has a reputation for being difficult to work with. She writes all her own material. and the concept for her styling. make up. clothes and photography is all her own. ‘if l‘d wanted to, i could have had hit singles ten years ago. but because i didn‘t want to. it meant that people didn‘t know what to make of me. It took an extra ﬁfteen years to get where l amjust because i wouldn‘t change me, my
product or my attitude.‘
With Martin. it‘s never a question of ﬁtting in with what others want her to be. She‘s written a script for
a TV show about German decadence where she presents and sings German songs. Although it has been turned down three times already. she knows ‘that one day it‘s going to be on TV and that’s that. All ofa sudden people want things of mine they‘ve rejected the previous year. but they‘ll come round to it. I know exactly l0] per cent what i have to offer.‘ She can allow herself to be so dogmatic after having seen her record ‘Your Loving Arms' rejected by eight record companies before being picked up by Magnet and selling half a million copies.
To say her music is her life is glib and hackneyed but. with Martin. the remark is all too precise. As an only child brought up by loving grandparents. she was allowed to indulge her fantasies. She realised from age three that singing was what she wanted to
Billie Ray Martin: the diva of melancholic dance
' do: ‘All I did as a child was sing. and I didn‘t really
; see or hear anything else. Whenever anyone would
- try and speak to me l’d say. “Go away. l‘m singing". , Practically all my extemal stimulus was music. My
‘ grandparents completely ovet'protected lite and
i would prefer I stayed indoors rather than go outside and play and get hurt. i wasn‘t brought up to socialise. but to live in a world of my own.‘
Manin has had long periods of titne when life has been extremely hard. but her Vision and strength helps her to get through. ‘This unbearable pain is part of me. and it makes rne write the songs i write but.
1 hey. if it pays the rent. what the hell.‘
Billie Ray Martin performs a fall lire set at Love Boutique on Saturday 4 November Her new album H out early I 996.
mat:— Heaven sent
Guest lids . . . love ’em or loathe ’em, they’re here to stay. Are they booked for their music or their name? Time and again, half-hearted wannabe promoters slide into the big name = big profit trap and, inevitably, it’s the punters who lose out. Door prices go up, the place gets overfilled and the DJ turns out to be shite, if he bothers to turn up, providing, oi course, he’s even been booked in the first place that is. Sound familiar?
Thank god then, for clubs like Tribal Funktlon (Pure and Yip Yap), where lids are booked on the basis of their music and not on the amount of money they might bring in, a policy that
Straight from heaven: Angel Moraes
forces promoters to get off their arses and track down the people they want to hear, instead of dipping lamer into the pool of circuit DJs who feature endlessly up and down the country, usually playing the same records (not that anyone notices). Hence, Edinburgh’s finer clubs have actively sought out the likes of Roe and Kato, Derrick Carter and Erick Murillo, while their counterparts have welcomed a frightening array of musical mediocrity (not that anyone notices). llext up, (for those who still appreciate real house music) playing only his second ever gig in the UK, New York’s Angel Moraes; DJ, producer, remixer, creator of the sublime ‘Welcome to The Factory’ EP, head of Hot n Spycy Records and dedicated purveyor of deep, hard-
edged, soulful American house music. ‘l’ve been DJ‘ing for nearly fifteen years now,‘ he says, down the line from NYC, ‘and I still get a buzz out of it. it’s an adrenalin rush and I don’t think that’ll ever change - I could be 60 and still get it! It’s a rush and anybody that tells you different is bullshittlng you. The best this in the business, the guys that have been doing it for years, play from the heart. It has to be from the heart. If it ain’t from the heart, it ain’t real.’
And that’s what it’s all about, or at least, that’s what it used to be about. Real enthusiasm, heartfelt beliefs and adrenalin rushes. Can you feel it? (Jim Byers)
Angel Maraes will be educating and entertaining at Tribal Funktion, The Venue, Sat 11 Nov.
The List 3- '6 Nov “NS 75