While most children his age would spend their free time playing outside, Central Florida singer-songwriter Billy Mick had different interests.
“I literally would lay my head in front of my stereo speaker and play my records. That’s what I would do all day,” Mick says.
Mick’s debut album “Just B,” out June 5, has been a lifetime in the making.
In 1992, a year after moving to Orlando from his hometown in Jacksonville, the then 19-year-old Mick began making demo recordings of his early songs. However, he was quickly put off by the pressures to conform to an image that wasn’t authentic.
“Everyone I tried to interact with to further my career wanted to make me someone that I wasn’t and that’s just something that I couldn’t do,” he says.
This commitment to individuality and personal authenticity would become Mick’s main inspiration in creating “Just B.”
“I really wanted this entire album to completely express myself,” he says.
The turning point for Mick came in August 2018 when he attended Manchester Pride, a UK-based LGBTQ+ festival. The camaraderie displayed by festival goers and performers inspired him to release his own music.
“Everyone was in the streets together,” Mick says. “To see all of these musical artists there and being so well-received and appreciated, this really seems like the perfect time in history to come out with my music.”
Mick’s music is rooted in themes of positivity, ranging from personal resilience to finding compassion for others. One of the songs on “Just B,” “Imitation of Life,” was brought about by Mick’s journey to recovery after a three-month hospital stint in 2012. “Flesh and Bone,” the album’s first single that was released last year, finds Mick singing about “accepting and loving everyone for their individuality and who they are.”
“I have always been of the mindset [that] when things…happen that it is just life giving you an opportunity,” Mick says. “You can either take it and learn from it or you can sit and you can wallow in it, and I have never been someone to sit and wallow in it.”
When it comes to his album, Mick wants to impart listeners with a spirit of hopefulness.
“If there’s something that is bringing them down [or] if there’s something that is bothering them, I hope they walk away from [the album] feeling like maybe they can overcome some of those obstacles,” he says.
The release of “Just B” comes at a time when many are navigating the daily obstacle of living amid the coronavirus. However, the global pandemic has not slowed down Mick.
“Strangely, quarantine has actually been pretty good for my career so far,” he says.
For the music video of his song “Imitation of Life,” Mick sent the song’s lyrics to friends and family and asked them to “video themselves in quarantine living their best lives.” Mick is also taking advantage of the performance opportunities facilitated by technology.
“I love being able to stream live,” Mick says. “That’s really kind of exciting [to] get to places that I would not necessarily be reaching right this second, especially in a live capacity.”
And while Mick wants to reach audiences of all kinds with his music, the LGBTQ+ community is a significant audience for him in particular.
“If I could do anything right this second, I would just tour all of the Pride festivals around the globe,” Mick says. “To me, that is ultimately who I want to relate to my music.”
As an openly gay artist, Mick understands the impact that his visibility and queer representation can have on members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“That’s something that kids…and struggling adults need to see,” Mick says. “To know that you can be an out queer person and do anything you wanna do.”
Ultimately, Mick’s ideal of success isn’t tied to ambitions of chasing down fame and fortune.
“I don’t need to be rich,” he says. “Being able to sustain myself with my husband [and] with my family and just make my music – that should always be the ultimate goal.”
When it comes to the overall impact of his music, the pro-unity message of his song “Flesh and Bone” succinctly captures what Mick wants to convey to the world as an artist.
“We should all be caring for each other,” Mick says. “There’s no place in this world for hate.”
Although “Just B” has yet to be released, Mick has already embarked on the next chapter of his musical career by starting work on his sophomore album.
“I’m moving forward, I’m not looking back,” Mick says.
Mick recently released a song from this project entitled “London Calling.” The song details the singer’s love for the British city.
“It felt like home to me,” he says. “I felt so comfortable in my skin when I was there…, walking through the city [and] interacting with people.”
“London Calling” is available for streaming and purchase across various platforms. “Just B” will be made available for streaming and purchase on June 5.
Mick will perform as a part of One Love Live!, Q Review’s 3-day virtual queer music festival featuring LGBTQ performers from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. May 29-31. For more information, visit QReview.ca/One-Love-Live.
For additional updates on Mick, visit his official website or follow him on social media.