This past year, Chris wrote about two of Billy Carter’s incredible accomplishments: releasing their full-length album Don’t Push Me, and participating in the We, Do It Together collaborative album. These ended up making a pretty big impact for us here on the site, and when the band agreed to an interview we were all excited to say the least.
The band has been extremely active politically and musically this past year, and I felt it was important to give them an opportunity to talk about their opinions, goals, and overall message for their audience (and ours).
For starters, can you introduce the band?
Hi, we’re Billy Carter from Seoul, S. Korea. Nice to meet you.
Let’s start off with something a little broad. How would you define your sound? Are there specific artists that have inspired you along the way?
Jiwon: I make music out of the words and lyrics. The sound is like a bowl which contains the message for Billy Carter. My inspiration is mostly from Patti Smith and The Clash.
Jina: I’d like to say my guitar sounds blue and rough. I got inspired mostly by Son House, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page.
Don’t Push Me was a departure from your usual sound, leaning more towards a more direct and even aggressive form of rock. Is there any specific reason (or reasons) you decided to take a different approach with this release?
We enjoy making psychedelic sounds and poetic lyrics using metaphors but for this album, we really wanted to make ourselves clear about what we’re fighting for.
Multiple interpretations were not needed for the topics we’re talking about in this album so we wrote the words more directly and made the sound and composition of the songs simpler.
Here’s one that’s based in my own curiosity. Do you have a favorite song off of Don’t Push Me? Or one that you want people to listen to more closely than others?
Jina: “My Body My Choice”
Jiwon: “I See You”
This question is a little bit more technical than philosophical. What does the creative process look like for Billy Carter?
Usually one of us (Jina or Jiwon) brings any motives or sketch version of songs, we talk about the issues or ideas time after time. Then we arrange and complete the songs with crew members during the band practices.
On social media and in your lyrics you’ve all been very outspoken about a number of societal issues. Do you view your music as an extension of your activism? What or how big a role does your art play in your activism?
Yes, of course. We’re musicians so making and playing music is the most natural way to express not only emotions but also our opinions and thoughts. We hope we can help, at least a bit, change the world for a better way with our music.
Your music is often about adversity you’ve faced, or see others around you facing. What keeps you going when things get hard?
There are so many great music, books, films and paintings which cheer us up and talking to good friends and people who understand us give us positive energy as well. And having a good rest is also important.
This past year you participated in We, Do It Together, which was a compilation album of female artists. Why, personally, do you think it’s important to highlight women in music in this way? What do you think it can help to achieve for women?
Patriarchy interlocked with deep-rooted Confucian ideology empowered only men in homosocial society that women in almost all kinds of professional fields including music scene in Korea have been excluded in lots of situations.
That’s why female artists need more opportunities. The album is one of them, and it also has a meaning of solidarity and connection.
Obviously in 2020 you released Don’t Push Me, which I would classify as a pretty major event. So this is a two-parter: What were you most proud of accomplishing in 2020? And what are you most looking forward to doing as a group in 2021?
Yes, releasing Don’t Push Me and single “Hell” (We, Do It Together) were the achievements in 2020. Now we’re making online concerts every month, but we really want to play at live venues and festivals with the audience people again.
Let’s talk about future plans. First off, I know you’re currently planning a video for Women’s Day. Is there anything you’d like to tell the readers about that project in particular?
March 8th is International Women’s Day but it’s not quite popular in Korea. We made an event to make people participate and spread the “My Body My Choice” idea to celebrate the day. We’re making kind of a collage video with participates videos and pictures.
Building off of that, what would you say is your biggest goal as a band? What’s the dream?
Our dream and the goal as a band are the same. We want to make an environment that we can make and play our music as long as we want.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
We need anti-discrimination law.