Billie Ray Martin – After All – Disco Activisto
I admire Billie Ray Martin since I saw her perform with her Berlin bands “Billie & The Deep” and “Idiot Cards” back in the late 80s. She left Berlin for London, to sing and perform with S’Express and Electribe 101 and is without a doubt one of the few true divas of electronic music.
Now she is again a confessing Schöneberger and I am more than happy to finally collaborate with her by remixing her superb cover version of David Bowie’s song “After All” (yet another part-time Schôneberger during the 80s).
She played her cover to me while we were having our occasional chit-chat in one of those nice cafés around Goltzstrasse. She has been recording her original during her “Soul Sessions” in London lately and the opportunity to touch both her voice AND a song by David Bowie just appealed to me.
I did a full vocal remix version (since only a dork would not embrace BRM’s vocals) and a dub version, which focuses on the line “live to your rebirth and do what you will” which corresponds with my current contemplation about birth, death and the time spend in between. And if you were wondering about the cowbell percussion, yes, it is indeed a nod to The Night Writers’ Let The Music Use You by the late great Frankie Knuckles, who sadly passed away just when I started my remix. I guess, he was in my studio in spirit. R.I.P.
Also, let’s not forget the wonderfully weird remix by Caesar Gergess, where he used a trumpet and even a Theremin.
The single and remixes received already great DJ feedback, web love and airplay on BBC and several podcasts of course including my own show music 4 the microglobe.
Even better: Billie’s release received an honorable mention on David Bowie’s Official Facebook Page.
I was superhappy to remix Billie Ray Martin’s fresh take on a not so well-known Bowie original. I do feel frustrated as well sometimes, when mediocre artists cover legendary songs and can’t put their own personality in it, because they have none. I feel that nothing of this is true with Mrs. Martin’s version.
She put a lot of love, respect and musical difference in her cover and hopefully will inspire a new generation loving her version to listen to the original and to more Bowie music in general.
Listening to David Bowie never let me down.
Billie Ray Martin on Facebook
And BTW: if you ever felt you would like to have Bille Ray Martin in your studio – at least sonically, here’s your chance: she produced and approved this terrific vocal sample pack. BRM 4 Sale. Now could you ask for more?
Preview the whole release on Billie Ray Martin’s Soundcloud
Official release information:
A spontaneous idea while in a writing session with Dark Storm (aka Abdullah Al-wali), Billie casually recorded demo vocals for this Bowie cover. To record the song had been on Billie’s ‘to do’ list for a number of years and Abdullah’s production vibe lent itself perfectly to the idea.
Billie and Abdullah had come together by chance, after Billie had received the Dark Storm album promo and replied that she loved it. Soon after, they got together for a week in Berlin to work on song ideas.
Billie had a an epic sound in mind for the mix, where reverb-spaces are played to interact, and managed to create something in the studio that surpassed her own expectations. Not designed to service dancefloors in an obvious way, it still manages to create a ‘back to the roots’ groove… anyone uttering Electribe 101?
Legendary House and Techno Pioneer Mijk van Dijk’s mixes give this release a serious old school house vibe with an Electribe 101 feel, while the chilled Caesar Gergess Dub adds the theremin (!!) and jazzy trumpet to the package.
Early support from: Kim Ann Foxman, Severino, Napoleon, Snuff Crew, Aerea Negrot, Rod Thomas (Bright Light, Bright Light), Dan Beaumont.
Tracklist ‘After All’
Mijk van Dijk Remix
Mijk van Dijk Dub
Caesar Gergess Mix
Written by: David Bowie
Produced by: Abdullah Al-wali & Billie Ray Martin
Mixed by: Billie Ray Martin & Steve Honest at Hackney Road Studios
Additional Guitar: Steve Honest
Billie Ray Martin Biography
Dubbed the “queen of electronic soul”, Billie Ray Martin first came to prominence leading the acclaimed deep house act Electribe 101, her unique voice hitting both the house scene and the charts with a strong infusion of soul. Electribe 101 scored a brace of hits including the classic Talking With Myself before Billie departed to continue exploring fusions of electronic music, pop and soul. After releasing the thoroughly scary Persuasion with Spooky and the monumentally beautiful Four Ambient Tales with The Grid, Billie found herself with a worldwide number 1 in Your Loving Arms; now considered one of the all-time classics of dance music. Four more hits and the album Deadline for My Memories followed.
Billie travelled to Memphis to work with Ann Peebles, Carla Thomas and members of Aretha Franklin‘s band on her album 18 Carat Garbage, which she followed with a series of cutting edge electronic productions, including hit collaborations with DJ Hell and Slam and solo releases such as 2008’s Undisco Me which hit the top spots in the UK and US dance charts.
The Crackdown Project released in 2010, featuring Billie‘s takes on Cabaret Voltaire‘s landmark Crackdown album, reinforced her unique position as an artist who appeals to both the uber-cool mags like Flux and The Wire as well as the pop mainstream, achieving ‘Song of the Day’ status at Popjustice. 20,000 downloads in a matter of days, plus overwhelming press and DJ supportmade this an unexpected success.
2011 began with the solo single Sweet Suburban Disco, Billie’s take on Italo disco, followed by a collaboration with Hard Ton on the Sold Life E.P., taking her back to her house beginnings and Electribe 101 roots.
This was followed by the Rainy Days & Remixes EP by Billie’s project The Opiates, serving as a prelude to their long awaited full-length album Hollywood Under The Knife in October. The album met with massive support from DJs, press and blogs alike including a four star review in Metro and many ‘album of the year’ entries in major publications. A deluxe double CD remix collection entitled Hollywood Cuts was released in March 2012, with one of the mixes being chosen to soundtrack HMV’s Summer TV campaign. Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans, who has twice photographed Billie and selected her as ‘most influential woman’ in i-D Magazine, supplied 10 previously unpublished photographs for the artwork of the two albums.
Spring 2012 saw the release of a series of collaborations including Make Me Feelon Terranova’s Hotel Amour album, and Hyper Lust on Motor’s Man Made Machine – both earning support when released as singles across the Summer.
The limited edition DVD Five Takes (A Song About Andy), featuring five movies inspired by Andy Warhol‘s Screen Tests, was released in September. A song entitled On Borrowed Time is presented in five unique takes, with music by electronic producer and soul singer Waterson. This unique project was greeted with press and online acclaim.
Billie is currently working on her next solo album and a number of exciting to go collaborations. She runs her record label, Disco Activisto, in Berlin and DJs around the world with growing success.