Bill Filipiak aka Billium
- Americana |
- Blues |
- Country |
- Folk |
Release Date: May 12, 2023
Label: Pine Grove
As a follow up to his 2021 release Medicine I Need, Americana / blues artist Bill Filipiak shares his fourth full length album featuring a rich blend of original Americana, blues, folk and country.
“Bill Filipiak’s ‘She Still Wants To Kiss Me,’ embodies the tender singer-songwriter spirit that he witnesses day in and day out while working among musical greats in the music capital of the world. His music has been characterized by Billboard as a “country-blues musical affair” which recognizes the “ups and downs of humanity.” His romantic and loving recent release reflects this lyrical lens, as it is a testament to a faithful and true love.” – Music Mecca
Meanwhile, Radio Caster had this to say, "A beautiful grainy voice just right, guitar slides and a loud sounding Wurlitzer, the ballad 'Sweet William' is one of those tales from the great west that deserves a movie all by itself."
Bill Filipiak has spent a lifetime working alongside other artists and songwriters, including now as a producer with the famed Grand Ole Opry. Each experience has provided him with renewed inspiration and influence. With his latest and most fully realized record to date, Filipiak taps that inspiration and wisdom, honing his lifelong passion for music and songwriting into a diverse yet cohesive thread of musical ambitions, the aptly titled aka Billium. “I love being around songwriters and artists on a daily basis,” Filipiak says, “their stories are each so unique and their styles equally diverse. It is a constant reminder of why I love music, telling stories and finding new ways to communicate an emotion.”
And that’s exactly what Filipiak has done with aka Billium. The album, like his previous three, features a diverse palette that runs the gamut from hard core blues to folk, country and even some surf rock. Filipiak, who recorded, engineered, produced, and played every sound you hear on this record, somehow manages to blend these different flavors into one cohesive menu that carries the listener on a musical ride of emotional ups and downs.
“As I’ve said before, I'm a rhythm guitarist first and foremost,” Filipiak says. “I’m a sucker for a great groove and a simple rhythmic focal point that makes your head bob. I’m a true believer in the less is more theory and have often removed elements from a mix that I felt were getting in the way of the simplistic beauty of a particular track.”
Recorded during a time that has found the country and world remarkably divided, it was only natural that some of the songs on aka Billium would reflect a response to the nation’s frustration and anger. “I’ve always admired music that reflected the current state of our society,” Filipiak says. “Tracks like ‘Knock Me Down’ and ‘Love on Each Other’ were my attempt to write from the perspective of someone who feels looked down upon or ostracized for the sole reason that they’re different. Those themes have been on every front page the last few years and only seem to be getting more prevalent. I think it was only natural that being inundated with stories of personal conflict on a daily basis would eventually find its way into my music.”
For Filipiak, each album has been a blend of emotion and musical styles and aka Billium is no exception. He wrote the sweet, heartfelt jazz infused country ballad “She Still Wants to Kiss Me” as a tribute to a loyal love that has found the strength to endure immense hardship, and the more introspective “Learning to Live” about coming to terms with mortality. “Life and the emotions we feel are so diverse,” Filipiak says, “I’m continually blown away at what the human spirit is capable of feeling. Whether we’re discovering an inner strength as referenced in ‘Find My Way Through’ coping with the struggles of parenthood as addressed ‘Willow’ or yearning for a love that can’t find its way like the gentleman in the more traditional blues based ‘Please Call Me,’ we’re constantly learning how to adjust to adversity and what life throws at us on a daily basis.”
Throughout his journey, music has always been a constant for Filipiak. As a kid, he was obsessed with the eclectic set of 45-rpm vinyl singles he inherited from his older sisters - records by the Stones and Small Faces, Bubble Puppy and the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, and so many others. A natural, young Bill learned the piano by ear at age three and went on to play keys and guitar in bands throughout high school and college. “As long as I can remember, I was just enamored with music,” he says. “My sister was playing the Doors’ ‘Hello, I Love You,’ I heard it and that was my first word – ‘hello.’ Most kids sleep with their stuffed animals, I slept with my records. I promise I’m not making that up. I still have them to this day.”
When he finally struck out on his own, Bill ended up working in radio, including a stint recreating popular tracks piece-by-piece for on-air parodies, an excellent musical education. Years down the road, as his career in the industry took off, he began producing music videos for Americana artists. It put him on the path to his current gig at the Opry, and to the music he’s been making as a solo artist since the laidback blues-folk of his 2016 debut, Put the Top Down, or 2020’s roots-centric Brand New Me, and 2021’s blues-injected Medicine I Need. Now Filipiak, at 57, continues his creative journey in earnest with his new release aka Billium.
“The album’s title reflects an honest truth,” Filipiak says. “Like most of us I’m known as a lot of things. And I’m always trying to evolve and learn new things. I’ve watched my own kids grow and push themselves outside their comfort zones, so it’s only natural that I would do the same. For example, I play drums on three of the tracks and an actual bass guitar on another; something I’d never done before. It’s what makes it fun. I think it’s important to continually challenge ourselves. As I like to say, if we don’t evolve, we die; and personally, I’d prefer to keep going.”