Lots of hidden gems in Detroit. Both in people and music. When I think of Billy Love I think of a time capsule moving forward at warp speed in all directions of time. His stories, when told, roll forward like a film reel.
With roots in Detroit’s East and West sides, it seemed like Love was everywhere all at once. In alleys, clubs, neighborhoods, basements, backyards, school, sports, and of course, making music.
In some houses, music isn’t something you go out to do. It’s something you born into, in your home. Such was the case for Love, who with his brother, was forced to learn the full routine of “Ball of Confusion’ by the Temptations by their dad, (both song and dance) to perform at family reunions.
“My family was full of musicians and magicians,” he laughed.
His parents were 14 and 15 when they had him. His father, a DJ himself, was kind of a town badass. A Vietnam vet who ended up in Nam in order to escape The Big Four, a racist cop squad who walked the streets “stopping crime” in the mid-60’s.
To make ends meet, Billy started working at age 12, as a paperboy, then lifeguard, an exotic dancer, a quick stint as a dealer that eventually made him flee to New York. And today a lumberjack, free climbing 100’ trees in order to take them down through his company the Eager Beaver Tree Service.
Music started early, “most of my songs were written in my childhood home.” A house he currently maintains for his mother.
He’s since seen some amazing amounts of collaborations and background gigs with artist such as Theo Parrish, Jeff Mills, Derek May, Amp Fiddler, Mike Clark, Detroit West Side Kings. “Bill is a natural at what he does and can captivate an audience at a moments notice. He got that from his dad,” said fellow musician and collaborator Mike Clark.
Here’s a quick timeline for background vocals and songs:
Members of the House: “Reach out for the Love,”; “These are my people” by UR/Shockwave/KMS/Sony UK; “Party of the Year” UR/KMS /Sony UK.
Melloghettomental: Sound Signature and Rotating Assembly both with Theo Parrish; 3 Chairs as Billy Love; “Back to Basics” as Bill Beaver; “Where Would I Be” with Eddie Fowlkes as Tre. B. L.
“The Answer” on Ron Trent’s Prescription Records; “On The Other Side” Chazz, background vocals; Inner City: “Pennies from Heaven” background vocals as Tre. B. L; “Feel The Fire” on Carl Craig’s Planet E Records with Naomi Daniels.
And a new album written and produced with his son and two daughters titled TRONIX MODE, UFM recordings for Brown Beaver music, BMI.
His sounds are truly diverse, spanning genres, in his words, “cosmic funk, dance, new wave, R&B, jazz and last, EDM.” Work that can be found under any one of his many pseudonyms (Billy Love Detroit, Bill Beaver, Tre. B. L) on traxsource, discography, YouTube.
His House music education started in Chicago with his introduction to Frankie Knuckles. And then in New York, he lived around the corner from Biggie Smalls and Ron Trent. In between, fathering three children and getting married and divorced once.
Favorite times were with Members of the House in London playing 56 gigs in one month and travelling the world with Kiara.
“Back then you only heard electronic music in the hood, the suburbs were all Goth. The backyard party was where the house music was at. You couldn’t get the stuff on the radio back then. Today there’s a larger audience, bigger crowds and more layers. But back then you just had a bunch of people who loved hearing each other’s stuff.”
Aside from contributing musically, personally and professionally to the very fabric of Detroit, he’s also been recording it. With over 800 hours, yes 800 HOURS of film he’s been shooting over the past 30 years.
“I’d just wake up and start shooting,” he said. First on 3mm, then VHS then Super 8 and then hi 8.
“It seemed like we were everywhere, so many days wrapped up in one. So many memories. The West Side was like Beverly Hills to us. But the East Side is where I felt most alive. People are gonna say shit, that’s me?”
Pretty epic. He’s compiling a retrospective to be released with his own indie publication, Glimpse, at some point soon.
So now, between working, playing music and fathering his two beloved artistic daughters, he’s editing the film. Like some of the messages in his music and songs, he keeps moving forward and, in his own words, “the best is yet come.”
We look forward to it, Billy Love Detroit.
Written by: Honey