I think vulnerability is a huge key to growth…me being vulnerable in my music helps me so much…it’s also helped me listening to other people…
Today, we talk with William “Billy” Ayers Jr, aka good bill, a Wisconsin native who writes about emotional relationships and mental health. He resides in La Crosse, WI, and often collaborates with a number of artists, we talk influences, the themes of his raps, recording & songwriting and what’s next for this musician.
Okay, my name is Billy Ayres. I go by the name Good Bill on my music. I am from Wisconsin. I was born in Waukesha and I now reside in La Crosse. And what got me into music was my dad. He got a guitar when I was around 10 years old. I was jealous. I wanted one too. And that’s essentially how I started playing. Got into music. Also I can credit my cousin, she introduced me to a bunch of emo bands when I was really young, like Fallout Boy, Paramore, My Chemical Romance, all that good stuff. And I really connected with that. And that’s what really inspired me to like, want to play guitar with my dad and get into music.
Brent Hanifl 01:56
Just listening to you earlier today, hearing you, you know, kind of call out Lake Wazee which is kind of not necessarily surprising. But it’s really exciting to hear local, I guess rappers or anything, whatever you’d call it, you know, kind of reference, local iconic, you know, I was instantly there. But you know, from the area, so it was kind of interesting, but who are some of your influences rap or otherwise?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 02:17
Yeah, well, when it comes to the rappers, I’d say my biggest influences are Mac Miller and Kanye West. I think Mac Miller is one of the greatest of all time, his music always really connected with me. He’s one of my base influences flow wise, style wise, things like that. Kanye, he’s just generational talent. When it comes to other influences, I’d say a lot of the emo scene really influenced me a lot. And it’s like Copeland, I really connect with. But probably my biggest influences my best friend Jack, he goes by the name Jack Afternoon. He’s another local artist here in La Crosse. And he inspires me every day, and encourages me to just continue creating. It’s tough. It’s tough being a small time creator. But having someone that backs you up and does that as well, is very encouraging.
Brent Hanifl 03:03
You’ve referenced here already with some of your influences, but you also referenced in writing on your Facebook page about emotional turbulence through relationships and mental health. And I can see it in your lyrics too, or hearing your lyrics. Why is that important to you?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 03:16
I think that’s key to everything. Think vulnerability is a huge key to growth. And I think that me being vulnerable in my music helps me so much in just my personal growth. And it’s also helped me listening to other people doing the same thing, like the emo scene, that’s essentially what they’re all about is just being vulnerable. And that’s what I connected with, I want to potentially make that connection for someone else. But then in the process it also really helping me grow through this like tough stuff that’s going on. I’ve struggled with mental health for quite my whole life. Music has helped me a ton through that listening to it, writing to it. Same thing with relationships, you know, everyone has toxic relationships or can be friendships, romantic partners, things, anything like that parents and having a way to process through that and grow out of that instead of letting that suck you down and continue to be like in that emotionally turbulent state. Getting out of that I think that that is key to everything just being vulnerable.
Brent Hanifl 04:16
So you’ve kind of you know, already kind of referenced there and in some ways how you put it down, but what is your process for songwriting? Is it instantaneous, or is it something that takes a while? Or is it just kind of pulling from life?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 04:28
Its so dependent on like, my own emotions, because I’m writing about how I feel like this past year. To be honest, I’ve struggled with creating, it was a lot easier when COVID just started, and I was like, finishing up college and I had a ton of crazy things going through me. And that’s why like I was just able to, it was a lot easier for me to create my process. In the past it was always I would write poetry first. And then I’d apply that to the instrumentals after whether I’d make them or I’d get them from other artists that I work with. But I mean, at this point now I’m just I’m doing whatever. I like I will pull, like from poems that I wrote back in high school, I’ll pull stuff from there, or I will like make a beat, and then start writing to that, just from that I never really did before. That’s why I’ve been doing a lot more lately. But yeah, my process is all over the place.
Brent Hanifl 05:19
About a year ago, you had an album come out, if you tell us about that a little bit, but also like, what was it like recording? Like, how do you put that together as somebody who’s passed back and forth online?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 05:29
So when it came to Bummer, so I had an album come out in April of 2020. It’s called Bummer. You can listen to it exclusively on SoundCloud. How that all worked, was I was creating it in my apartment and La Crosse with my close friend Jack who I already spoke about and my other close friend, Grant Phils on. He’s another local personality here in La Crosse. We’re working on it together in my apartment, just recording, we’ll just put up some pillows around a microphone, like doing whatever we can to just make the best quality possible. And then I’d send it over to my buddy in LA, his name is James Fleurons. He actually went to UWL, he’s from Milwaukee, now he’s out in LA, an audio engineer. He’s a phenomenal artist too, you should go look him up as well. But I’d send it off to him. And then he makes it all sound beautiful. And that’s how that process worked. But what was awesome is, I mean, it sucked. But when COVID first hit, I still had a lot left to do with album like a lot. But I had to move back home here in Mukwonago. And I didn’t have a job, I got furloughed from my job. I didn’t have anything to do. So I was forced every day to just work on music. That was the only thing that I could do. And that just like streamline the process so quick, like I I finished so much just because it was all there was to do. So that was the one positive of COVID. But since then, I’ve had a really, really tough time in making music.
Brent Hanifl 06:51
Off that album is there any particular song that you’re particularly proud of? Or are they all your babies in some sense?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 06:57
I mean, they’re all my babies. But it’s my first project, a lot of the songs I’ve been working on for years and years. But my absolute favorite is Hoping. Hoping is a track with my buddy Jack, my buddy Grant, and it’s one that we all put together. I’m a big competitor. Go bucks, bucks in six, pulled it out. I love sports, love team sports. And it was just such a team effort, to write that song together. And it’s the song that I’m most proud of. That one is on Spotify, Apple Music anywhere you stream music, highly recommend everyone go check that song out. It is a spectacular song.
Brent Hanifl 07:51
So I mean, you kind of already referenced the effect of COVID creativity kind of in the beginning of something that allowed you to push out that album. And hopefully things get better for you here and since things have opened up, but what’s next for you? What are you excited about?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 08:05
Yeah, so I’ve been working on a project. I don’t want to give out too much away. I hate deadlines. Just gonna stress me out. So I don’t have a deadline yet. But my goal is by the end of this year. I’ve been working on a project. The whole concept is this guy I’ve come up with with my friend Toris; cloak character, same as Half Bird. And what he’s all about is he’s the person that you become when you don’t want to be yourself. He carries all your baggage, all the stuff you don’t want to deal with when you just want to forget it all. You know whether you’re going out for a night drinking, or you’re just trying to get away. And that’s what all the songs are about. I’m really excited about it. It’s really cool. So yeah, look out Half Bird is coming.
Brent Hanifl 08:47
So if people want to follow along, you know, maybe check in on your process, what’s the best venues to send them to?
William Billy Ayres Jr. 08:54
I’d say when it comes to my music, follow me on Instagram and Facebook. My Instagram is goodxbell. My Facebook is just Sneaking Astronomy Good Bill. If you want to see more of my personal side that you don’t get in the music, just my like thoughts and stuff that no one really should care about you can follow me on Twitter. It’s good expo. So a lot of BS on there. Well when it comes to music, like definitely keep up with the SoundCloud that’s what I’m going to post a lot more of like just demo stuff that I haven’t mastered. And then my more polished pieces of art you’re going to be seen on my Spotify, Apple Music. You can just look me up good bill two words, all lowercase.
Amy Gabay 09:34
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com, and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.
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About La Crosse Local
La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.
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