Billy the Kid
Originally from Chicago's south side, Billy was surrounded by music from an early age, first with his mother's piano and then his brother's saxophone. He picked up the trumpet at age 8 and began studying classical trumpet technique, eventually finding his true love in the sounds of jazz and big-band swing. After attending New York University, Billy was picked up by the Daptone Records family to tour with the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," Mr. Charles Bradley, playing some of the most prestigious theaters and festivals in the world. After spending 6 years on the road with Bradley, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Antibalas, The Budos Band, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Mark Ronson and many others, Billy founded Dala Records and began writing and producing his own soul-inspired compositions.
Using a 4-track cassette recorder, Billy produced and engineered John Fatum's debut LP as well as singles from Camellia Hartman and The Soulful Saints which now serve as the foundation of the Dala Records sound. After acquiring a Tascam 388 8-track tape machine, he pushed the Dala catalog even further with releases from The Rad Trads, Michael Harlen, Emily Rault, The Hook Brothers and his debut 7" single entitled Pullin' on My Heartstrings. In 2018, Billy’s debut offering, Stay Strong, showcased his rapid evolution in production, songwriting, arranging and vocal ability. Backed by members of The Extraordinaires, Antibalas, The Dap-Kings and The Rad Trads, Billy was able to craft songs boasting heavy horn sections, sweeping string melodies and a steady analog backbone courtesy of the Maestro Rhythm King, his trusty vintage drum machine made famous by the likes of Sly Stone and Shuggie Otis. Another huge asset in Billy’s arsenal is his self-built, analog-centric, Brooklyn recording studio, Hive Mind Recording, where all the Dala records are now produced.
After exploring the sounds of psychedelia and soul on Stay Strong, Billy shifted his focus to the pop realm with his single Live Freely / Hold Me Till Tomorrow. Taking cues from The Beach Boys, Emitt Rhodes and Paul McCarntey in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Billy let his voice shine, while also commiting to a more pop-centric song structure. His next single, Dreamin' of My Love / I Love You (Without A Doubt) found Billy taking himself back to his soul roots, with even lusher arrangements and vocal production.
While locked down in 2020, Billy the Kid dove into the wide world of vintage synthesizers and created an experimental EP called Explorations in ARP where he created grooves and cinematic soundscapes using only the sounds of his two vintage ARP synthesizers, the ARP Omni and ARP Axxe, and his trusty Maestro Rhythm Kind drum machine.