Special Interview: Billie-Jo Porter

Singer / Songwriter Billie-Jo Porter stops by THEAUSSIEWORD.COM.

How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?

I guess it all began in school at Quirindi, I really enjoyed singing and took advantage of every opportunity to have a sing.

When I moved to Tamworth I became friends with Rachael Kennedy, she was playing guitar and writing songs and I was so inspired.  I had to be part of it, so I bought a bass and got some lessons and joined the band!

I hung out in Tamworth for a few years but ended up heading to Perisher Blue for snowboarding, then I chased that rainbow all the way to live in North America for several years.  I started writing my first song in the carpark of a Walmart, just singing about my experiences traveling.  That first song opened a can of worms and I have been writing ever since.

When my partner Kyle and I moved to the Coffs Coast I linked up with Mark Bergin and Peter Clarke in Bellingen for the music project Quasi Dada.  We had a fantastic time experimenting a lot with sounds and songwriting and released a few music videos and an EP.  We had a few great wins with a spot at Bello Winter Music Festival, a feature on SBS tour de France coverage and a promo video for Macaronis Surf Resort in Indonesia. 

Working with Pete and Mark inspired me to start gigging so I could get better at playing and entertaining.  

Being able to test out the new songs we had written in a live setting was so important to building my confidence as a songwriter.

What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?

My ultimate personal mission is to create a positive impact on the world around me through music.  

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?

Well, I will know I have made it when I get a residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, so whatever I have to do to make that happen, I am on it!!!

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?

I am stoked to be getting out and about in Australia to celebrate my debut album! Seeing everyone and bringing this music to life in person is going to be the highlight of my year.  I have some festivals coming up and working on dates across the country, dates are always getting added to the website billiejoporter.com – let’s get into it!!!!

Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?

When Kylie Gale and I teamed up on Zoom to write this jam, the world was in chaos, and everything felt like a giant mess. We were all up in the air! But hey, challenges make for the best tunes, right?  Kylie coined the term “Upside in the Upside Down,” and we started riffing on life’s ups and downs. It’s wild how even the smallest things can throw us for a loop!

For me, staying positive is key. I’m all about finding the silver lining and focusing on the good stuff, especially when things get rough. Life is all about managing expectations and shifting our focus when things don’t go as planned. It’s important to surround ourselves with good vibes and people who lift us up, so we can stay on our A-game.

Recognizing patterns and taking control of our destiny is a must. Whether we’re stuck in a dead-end job or dealing with toxic people, we have the power to change things up and live our best lives. At the end of the day, we’re in charge of our own happiness, so let’s make it count! “Upside” is one of those tunes that always gets people grooving, and it’s become a fan favorite on my Facebook Live Streams.

Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?

I write all the songs I release either solo or with friends.  Inspiration for me comes from everywhere and anywhere.  I always have a notebook handy for lyrics and ideas along with my voice memos on my phone.

Sometimes if I have something big going on and there are a lot of emotions involved, I will channel that into a song.  Basically, I just have to be open and ready at any time for inspiration.

Sometimes in a co-write we might just start talking between us about what is going on at the moment and someone will say something, then we will decide to write about that.  

I always want to write about something I know, or have had the experience we are writing about.  

If it is not something I have directly experienced, I ask a lot of questions with the co-writer so I can try to imagine and put myself into the shoes of the character we are writing about.

I almost always edit  a song by going over a song again and again, remaining open to little changes or tweaks if they need to be made.  

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? 

Basically, life is too short to wallow in self-doubt, the songs encourage the listener to bring more joy in their lives and make positive changes where possible. 

Success, what is the secret to it?

Success to me is not all about hitting big milestones, don’t get me wrong – achieving big wins is awesome, but if we spend our lives waiting for something big to happen before we celebrate success, we are missing out on the moments between.

Success is about finding time everyday to do the things that make living worthwhile.  Doing the things that make you happy, and make you feel alive.  

If you can fill your own cup with the things that you love to do on a daily basis – even if it is as little as enjoying a sunset, or a wander in nature – in my mind you have made it.  

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

Recording and releasing music has always been a dream of mine, so doing that and then experiencing all the opportunities that have come from that.  Including big festival stages, collaborations with artists I love and getting to be backstage for some really really cool events has been really cool.

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?

Reba Macintre, Shania Twain, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton.

Powerhouse women who keep on doing their thing inspire me so much.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

Writing for a new album!  So really enjoying that and saddling up to do it all again!  Love it.

The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself in a few years?

Few albums deep, and touring around the world.  My favourite thing is playing live and writing songs.  So you will find me doing my favourite things and having fun with it.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?

Favourite part – writing songs for sure.

Least favourite – snapping a guitar string on stage!

Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.

There are so many top Australian artists, hard to just name a few, but here goes:

The Waifs, Kevin Bennett and The Flood, ACDC, Loren Ryan, Jen Mize and the Rough and Tumble, William Crighton, Andy Golledge Band, John Butler Trio, Mama Kin, Gretta Ziller, Andrew Swift, Clint Wilson, Kelly Brouhaha.

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media. How do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?

Life is about change.  Whether we like it or not, everything changes and evolves.  Being able to go with the flow and continue learning and adapting is the way forward.

For my music, social media has played a significant role in connecting with people outside my regular area.  The last few years I have been doing a consistent Facebook Livestream every Thursday night to muck around a bit and engage and connect with people.  It has been a lot of fun and so many people have told me it provided a feeling of belonging and has helped create genuine connection and make new friends.

Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?

Yes!!!  One of my favourite things is to collaborate with other songwriters.  I have attended some songwriting retreats at the DAG sheep station in Nundle, where it’s all about connecting with like minded people and writing songs non-stop for the duration of the retreat.  Co-writing online has been really great to connect with songwriters all around the world.  

I am really proud to have worked with some amazing artists on songs that have been recorded and released to radio including:

Loren Ryan has recorded a song we wrote together called ‘Bounce Back’ and it’s a real anthem for turning things around for yourself and finding your groove again.

Andrew Swift and I wrote a real barn burner called ‘Head Full of Honey’ which peaked at No.7 on The Music Network’s Hot 50 Airplay and is one of the tracks on his 2022 Golden Guitar nominated album, Art of Letting Go.

There are a few more in the pipes for next year, so stay tuned!

What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Get out and meet people who love what you love.  Write with artists, play lots of live shows and put yourself out there – even if it is uncomfortable at times.

Write a goal list and start ticking things off.  It’s going to take action, perseverance, resilience and a fantastic team to help you along the way, so ask questions and learn as much as you can.  If you want it, and you do the things you need to do to make it happen – it will happen.  The key to it all is have fun, be authentic and hang around people that encourage you and lift you up.  But remember – you are your biggest cheerleader, you need to believe in yourself.

A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?

Instagram and Facebook are my most visited platforms.  7pm AEST on Facebook I hold a livestream every Thursday night, get involved in the comments and let’s have some fun!!!

Any last words?

Be good to yourself, you are worth it.

Website:  https://www.billiejoporter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billiejoportermusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/billiejoportermusic/?hl=en

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