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Interview by Polys

Billie Ray Martin comes up with a very interesting and fresh collaboration this year. The “Queen of electronic soul” meets “The biggest disco queen of the 21st century” Hard Ton. Billie Ray Martin is a well known artist with a unique voice. She first came to prominence leading the acclaimed deep house act “Electribe 101” (1990) and has in the meanwhile a plethora of Albums, EPs and Single releases. Her song “Your Loving Arms” became a worldwide number 1 and is now considered as one of the all-time classics of dance music. Hard Ton is composed of two incredibly charming Italian boys, Max and Mauro.

They signed to the legendary label “Gigolo Records” of DJ Hell. With their music combining Disco, Italo Disco, 90es House and Chicago House, the brilliant falsetto voice of Max and their outstanding live shows filled with pure erotic and tons of positive energy they found the perfect way to fascinate people all over the globe promising to become something really big! We had the luck to meet the guys before their live show in Berlin and spent some really nice hours with them where they answered us to some questions about their work in general and the collaboration with Billie Ray Martin.

KALTBLUT: You are the new discovery of DJ Hell, how did that came about?

Hard Ton: Through Abe Duque. We gave him some demos and he opened the gates to Hell!

KALTBLUT: How you two did meet each other and who “gave birth” to this new project (Hard Ton)?

Hard Ton: We met through a chat-room. It soon became obvious that we had opposite musical backgrounds but also felt the same need of coming up with something new, camp and fun.

KALTBLUT: You spent about 15 years as a heavy metal singer and you are actually still singing in 2 heavy metal bands. Now you are also the biggest disco queen of the XXI century! How did that big change happened?

Hard Ton: It was simply a matter of changing wardrobe.

KALTBLUT: And what is that, that heavy metal music gives to you that Disco doesn’t? Or the other way round, what does being a Disco queen offers to you as an artist that heavy metal doesn’t?

Hard Ton: Heavy metal means machism, being a disco queen means queerness. I’m bipolar..

KALTBLUT: Who is responsible for this new collaboration with Billie Ray Martin? Tell us everything about it! Who wrote the songs? Where was the recording made? And when is the EP coming out?

Hard Ton: Billie got in touch with us via mail, looking for underground producers. We met in Bologna, where Mauro lives and where our recording studio is. It has been an interesting challenge working with such a unique voice, also so different from mine. We’ve recorded 4 tracks, two for her and two for us. The E.P. is due out in March, also featuring a remix by Snuff Crew, our favourite jacking house act.

KALTBLUT: What brings the near future for Hard Ton? Are you planning something now?

Hard Ton: We are working on several new tracks for the album. We also had plenty of featuring requests from other artists. So expect tons of Hard (T)on’s. And a cover of Vogue soon.

KALTBLUT:  What have you being up too the last years? Tell us something about the new projects you are running at the moment.

Billie R. Martin: I had come collaborations out with DJ Hell and various other people and I did some touring and Dj’ing around the world. But in terms of releases 2011 will definitely be my year. As to my current projects: my new single ‘sweet suburban disco’ is out now and it’s beginning to do really well. Radio is picking up on it and all the tastemaker Dj’s have embraced it. So let’s see. It’s an exciting time. Next in line is my collaboration with Hard Ton which comes out on the 26th April and after that the full length album by a project called “The opiates”. The opiates are me and musician Robert Solheim. We already played a gig at rough trade and released an EP and have become a minor cult band in the UK already. Next in line is the much awaited album, which our fans have been driving us crazy about. Wolfgang Tillmanns has provided 8 unseen and unpublished images for this CD so this is exciting on the musical level as well as on the art level, with Wolfgang involved.

KALTBLUT: You are also Dj´ing around the world with growing success. How did that come about and where are you Dj´ing in the near future?

Billie R. Martin: I have been Dj’ing a lot in Italy, south America, all over really. It’s been fun as it allows me to travel to a lot of places I’ve not been before and also allows people who have never seen me before to hear me sing as well as hear me Dj. Most of the shows are Dj sets with a live show on the same night, so everyone gets the best of both worlds… and I get exhausted.

KALTBLUT: Why you choose Hard Ton for this collaboration?

Billie R. Martin: I think what connects us is the love for old school house and techno and we both continuously explore new ways to explore that. I really liked their EP on gigolo and played it in my sets so I had the idea to contact them. And they were as excited as I was. I think they are great songwriters, above and beyond everything else and because my approach is also to write real songs, I knew it would work. I also am featuring on two songs for their forthcoming album.

KALTBLUT: This project with Hard Ton is for you a return to your classic house beginnings. What led you to this decision?

Billie R. Martin: It’s been on my ‘list’ of things to do next. I did a lot of electro and electro-disco in recent years but I feel that real house with it’s warmth and space allows the real voice of mine to shine through. When I heard ramadanman’s mix of Jamie Woon’s ‘Night Air’ I made the decision that this was going to be it (again). So I’m just writing and recording songs like this now.

KALTBLUT:  What brings the near future for you? Are you planning something new now?

Billie R. Martin: Yes I guess I already mentioned above what comes next. The next two years are definitely going be spent releasing material and touring and promoting it. Because I run my own label it’s hard work on every level so I’m going to be busier than ever.

Hard Ton  @  www.myspace.com/hardtondiscoqueen


Billie R. Martin @   www.billieraymartin.com 



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