“Dreamland II” is a new album by singer and songwriter Billy Winn. Releasing on all digital platforms today, it is a thematic sequel to the original album that told the stories of life from the perspective of a queer young man of color who has had his heart broken. The main difference in the albums is that “Dreamland I” explored life as a perception of fantasy and guilty pleasures whereas “Dreamland II” reveals more pain beneath the surface. It’s an angrier record, inspired by the death of Billy’s father.
Billy recently discussed the album via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your musical ability?
Billy Winn (BW): It was actually a teacher of mine who helped me to discover my musical ability. I started performing in theatre when I was about six, so singing and dancing were just a part of it. When I was about ten years old, and getting ready to go from elementary school to the performing arts school, I had a music teacher named Tina Payne who pulled me aside and told me I should take music seriously. At that time, I was really into music videos and felt like it was something I could do. So, I started focusing more on singing.
MM: Do you write lyrics or melodies first?
BW: I start with a concept first. That’s always the first thing that comes to mind when I start working on a new song. How it comes to me, then, can be a combination of ideas, lyrics, and melodies, or maybe just one of the three. If I have a song idea that I’m developing and I haven’t come out with any lyrics or melodies, then I’ll start with the melodies. I tend to find the right words once all the melodies are in place.
MM: What experiences do you most draw your inspiration from and how does this sequel album compare and contrast with the original?
BW: I think growing up and searching for what we call “love” are definitely two places I draw a lot of inspiration from. It’s a part of human experience that, from what I can tell, always has another question to be answered–both growing up and searching for “love”. So, writing about those things is sort of my way of trying to find answers, but also observing that these things are not exclusive to me and that everyone is experiencing the same things in their own ways. That notion is partly what led to the story for “Dreamland.” If I were to compare “Dreamland I” and “Dreamland II,” I would say that at one point they were the same. Originally, “Dreamland” was a full-length album that I split into two eps. In that process they’ve gone from being the same to be related. “Dreamland II” is more developed and more confident than “Dreamland I,” and it also tells stories from multiple perspectives, whereas DL1 was one side of the story.
MM: Your father passed away a few years ago. What was your relationship like and how did his loss effect you creatively?
BW: I am coming up on the fifth anniversary of his passing, and it is still very vivid in my mind. I think the circumstances of his passing led to a growth that I didn’t realize I needed, and it changed the way I saw the world and the way that I see people. As a writer, I’m always observing the world, and so what I take in now and then put back out into my work is done with a little more thought than perhaps it was before.
MM: What’s your favorite song on Dreamland II?
BW: There’s a song on DL2 called “Long for This Love”. It’s the last song on the EP and the final song in the “Dreamland” storyline, and in a lot of ways it sums up my sentiment for the album as a whole. The concept comes from that old saying “he’s not long for this world…” and so what I say is “…my heart’s not long for this love”. In other words, emotionally it’s killing but at the same time I want to see it through to the end. It’s my favorite, because it’s exactly how I felt when I was living through some of the situations that I talk about throughout the albums.
MM: Which venues have you played and which have been the most memorable?
BW: One of the most memorable shows I’ve done was a Pride show for Sofar Sounds in DC. If you don’t know what Sofar is, they do pop-up acoustic shows between DC and NYC. Emphasis on acoustic shows! When they asked me to perform, they were aware that I do a dance show but the other acts for this particular show were legit doing acoustic sets. The mood went from very chill to very lit once I got on stage!
MM: What are your ultimate career goals?
BW: To be a household name.
MM: Have you decided the next single?
BW: I released a new song from the EP on Wednesday via Instagram. The name of the song is “Tell Him.” An official music video is in the works, so it is definitely the next single from DL2.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
BW: I’d just like to thank everyone for continuing to support me, and for sticking with me through this process! It’s not easy being an indie/black/gay/pop singer and so I’m happy that my work is resonating with people, and that you guys continue to be interested in hearing and seeing more!
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