Blue Collared Baby
Providing an intimate invitation through his lyrics and alt dream pop melodies, Bill Priss shares his own coming of age story. Touching upon his past relationships, growing pains and leaving his small town in Maine, he ultimately finds himself ruminating in the present. Bill created his completely independent and deeply personal project after teaching himself how to mix and produce tracks, write lyrics and lay down harmonies. From its start within his home studio in a Williamsburg basement, Blue Collared Baby is finally ready to be shared with the world on August 29th. As Bill sings on "Aries", he’s onto a new phase—entirely rejuvenated, and showing everyone that self-love will only bring good things to come.
Are you excited about the release?
Yea, I’m a bit nervous, but I’m definitely excited. I kind of just feel like I want it out of me. I feel like a pregnant woman...
It’s past due, actually it’s a couple of months past due. I just feel like I’m coming up from the phase that I wrote and made it in, and now, I just want to get it out in the world.
You had mentioned this album came from an anxiety-driven point in your life. Can you share what was going on then?
This time last summer, I started to really take a hold of my mental health like going to therapy, after having a really tumultuous summer. It was an accumulation of a ton of stuff I’d ignored over the year, including high school issues and college issues. After many panic attacks and calls home to mom, I needed to take care of myself, and I was like, "ok, how do I do that?" I also had to make the choice: do I want to make music? Do I actually want to do this? I had just graduated from NYU.
Were you studying music?
I was studying acting. I took singing lessons, but making and recording music is very different. While I was in school, I had to teach myself everything, making a beat, recording. Luckily, since I was a singer, I knew how to lay down harmonies, but in terms of actual production, I had to teach myself on the side. Now I have an acting degree, proof that I can pursue an acting career. But, psych, I’m going to do music instead. I said let me actually do it and set a schedule and get writing and come up with a project. So, it worked in tandem: creating actual songs that I felt proud of, and coming out of this place of healing and finding mental clarity. And just learning how to love yourself. A bit of a growing up point.
Do you find it scary to be so open and honest with your lyrics?
Not really. I’ve always been a pretty open person. I was more scared to sing. I’ve always been very comfortable with lyrics. I think if the lyrics aren't true to me then it feels weird. And the truer things are always the hardest ones to say, but then it ends up not being hard because it feels right to say. I was more worried about like, is this good?
How is it being a queer independent artist? Are you looking to get signed with a label eventually, or do you prefer having the creative freedom to do whatever you want?
I like the freedom. I’m an Aries, so I like being in charge. I like being able to do this beginning phase on my own, to almost prove to myself I could do it on my own. But it’s getting to a point where I’m finding it very overwhelming to be the writer and musician, but also my own manager, my own PR. I’m sending all the emails. Before, I used to say that I didn't want to be signed to a label. But now. I feel like it’s necessary to get to the next level. And if I do, it would always honor my freedom to be queer and talk about what I want to. And if people don’t understand that, then I don’t think they understand my music.
I think we’re finally at a point in our culture or society where there’s so much openness and acceptance of gender identities and sexual preferences. Do you feel comfortable expressing the things you want to say now, or have you always felt that way?
As soon as I realize something about myself, I want to express it. The hardest part is always grappling with certain issues about yourself. What does it mean to be you and move about the world? How do you be your true self? I think there’s always been points in my life, where I’ve thought, like about my gender, that it doesn’t align with what I’m supposed to be doing, but it’s how I feel. I guess it makes me gender non-conforming because I want to wear makeup, but I just want to wear makeup because it makes me feel pretty. Tell me a girl that doesn’t want to wear mascara. To speak in this moment where these differences are being honored is incredible, and if you’re smart, you'll realize that’s the future. We all love our love songs, but people want more. Sometimes you want to listen to something you hear yourself in.
Where does the title Blue Collared Baby come from?
I was trying to come up with what it meant to be in New York, but have this past and childhood that wasn’t really seen here. I wear a lot of denim. Often, I’ll be wearing denim on denim. I think it was after a conversation with my dad where I was trying to explain something to him that was happening in New York. There were a lot of times where I felt like I had to explain why things are a big deal, creatively, because he doesn’t understand. It was such a moment where, at the end of the day, yeah you went to college, yes you had a full-time job (he was the mayor of my town), yes, you’ve done all these great things in life, but at the end of the day, you are just a blue collared dude. I was also researching the term and found that the lapels of the people working those jobs were usually denim, so it was really perfect. Baby comes from the fact that I felt like a lot of the stuff I wrote about was about growing up and learning how to take care of myself as an adult. Also, in a way, I’ll always be a blue collar baby no matter what I do. It just felt very emblematic. I said it to my friend, and she was like, "that’s it, that’s the title."
Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?
I grew up catholic and had let go of that. I’m starting to get more into crystals and learning about the stars. I find horoscopes very interesting; I love to chat about it. If anything, I feel like it’s more of a spirituality with the world. I do think that everyone has a certain type of energy and the type of energy you put out is the energy you receive.
What do you do for stress relief?
I run a lot. I make lists. I don’t drink. I used to, but that stopped. I’ve been sober for 9 months now. I do smoke, but I’m not doing literally anything else, so I’m letting myself partake in this one thing. I like going for walks. Sunsets are a big thing; I find them very nice.
Bill Priss will be performing at Gold Sounds on September 20th.