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Billie-Jo Porter Breaks Down Every Track On Self-Titled Debut Album

13 June 2023 | 11:27 am | Mallory Arbour

The album 'Billie-Jo Porter' is out now!

Billie-Jo Porter

Billie-Jo Porter (Image: Supplied)

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On the back of a bathroom stall in Canada, 2022 Toyota Star Maker Grand Finalist, Billie-Jo Porter found something that would change her life forever. 

“I remember seeing a poster for a Yoga festival,” explains the singer-songwriter. “When I saw that poster, I didn’t know why or how, I just knew that I was going to that festival. I hadn’t bought a ticket, and didn’t have the funds to get one, but I just knew I was going to go.” 

Attend the festival, she did - as a volunteer, with a sweet AAA pass. “I just had to do a couple of shifts in exchange for access to all the workshops,” she laughs. It was there that she realised her true path. “I remember attending one of the talks and having an epiphany where I finally got quiet enough to listen to the voice inside me that reminded me that music was my true calling, where I could do the most good.”

Since then, Billie-Jo has returned to Australia, played to big audiences on high-profile stages and released five charting singles, working alongside superstar producer Shane Nicholson

Her 12-track debut offering evokes strong feelings of joy and positivity yet is an intimate look into the mind of the artist. While many of the tracks convey uplifting messages, they’re also heavily introspective, encouraging listeners to evaluate their own lives and make positive changes.

We’re so delighted to bring you this exclusive track by track, as Billie-Jo Porter talks us through each individual track: the creation, sentiment, and everything in between.

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1. Feels Like Us

I was driving out to Nundle, NSW for a songwriter’s retreat and thought, it’s about time I wrote a song about my partner Kyle. Tucking that idea in the back of my mind, I met Andrew Blyth, and we sat down to write a song. Andrew had a list of titles, and we had a look through and saw Feels Like Us, I asked him what that title meant to him. We got to talking about our long term partners, love and what that looks like when you have been with someone for a while.

We wrote this song to celebrate the journey of love, starting at shiny and new then the transition to love being well worn in. The kind of love where you are past the honeymoon stage, you feel safe and loved and you are able to let it all hang out. Bad hair days, favourite holey tracksuit pants and big undies are all ok - hahaha.

All that really matters is living in the moment, no matter what changes, just love each other with all your heart.

2. Home

I met up with Pete and Sam Dyball to write a song and we were thinking about how during the lockdowns we were all called home to wait it out. It was a very challenging time for many people and forced us all to rethink and re-prioritize our lives.

I feel like this is a really hopeful song, that toys with the idea that we can all be resilient and adapt to our circumstances to survive. The key to moving forward is hope and belief that things will get better. Many times in our lives we will face challenges and need to remember that we will get through our ups and downs as long as we stay true to ourselves and keep on keeping on!

3. All We Need

I teamed up with Kerrie Garside to write this song. We were thinking about if you got everything you ever wanted, would that make you happy? What are the markers of success, and ‘making it’? What are the realities of chasing a dream? Do you do whatever it takes, whatever the cost? Is that kind of behaviour worth it?

I feel like many times in our lives we think having this thing, or that, or this experience, or that will make us happy. Seldom do we look around and realise we already have all we need.

4. Let It All Roll Out

Let It All Roll Out is an ode to the Tamworth Country Music Festival and was written with long-time friend and collaborator Rachael Kennedy on her family's front porch hanging with her mum just a few minutes’ drive from the heart of Tamworth during the festival.

TCMF is my favourite time of year in Tamworth. I have attended the festival for years as I grew up just down the road in Quirindi. Rachael and I had been gigging around Tamworth at pubs and busking for fun in our spare time for the entire festival. 

Although we had been running ourselves raggard the entire festival we made time to see our favourite bands including Kevin Bennett & The Flood. What a good time!

The morning after that show I was so inspired and suggested we write a song. Next thing you know we were recounting our experiences during the festival and all the memories and funny experiences and put those good times into the song.

This song takes us back to a moment in time, where we didn’t really know what the future held, what our next move was, or where the next paycheque was coming from. One thing we did know was we were having the time of our lives.

There is a line in the song that talks about Rach’s dad who was working on a car in the garage. He is no longer with us, but when I play the song, it's like we are back there at that moment and all the stuff that has happened since the song has been written falls away….

This song is a reminder to live in the moment, be right here and let it all roll out.

5. Like Bob Said

Sometimes when I write songs, it is like I am trying to process something that has happened. When I wrote Like Bob Said, I was thinking about how sometimes when we humans start feeling stuck and down, it’s easy to feel like everything gets too hard and sometimes it’s difficult to take ownership of a situation. It seems like sometimes it becomes easier to start blaming everyone or everything else for whatever's happening. That's a really hard rut to get out of.

Then I was also thinking about Bob Marley and the message in his song’s is ‘don’t worry, everything’s going to be alright’. Sometimes I need that reminder. I find when I need to pick me up, I play this song and it brings me back.

I had been playing around with this song for a while but felt like it needed something. Turned out it needed Kelly Brouhaha! It was when Kelly got involved in the writing process that the song gained new momentum and direction. 

We played it the night it was finished for a crowd of people at the Dag Sheep Station Songwriters Retreat, and it was so fun to sing this one with Kelly that I asked her to sing on the recorded track. So glad she was keen because her vocals take this song to the next level! 

6. Upside

When Kylie Gale and I teamed up on Zoom to write this jam, the world was in chaos, and everything felt like a giant mess. We were all up in the air! But hey, challenges make for the best tunes, right? Kylie coined the term ‘Upside in the Upside Down,’ and we started riffing on life's ups and downs. It's wild how even the smallest things can throw us for a loop!

For me, staying positive is key. I'm all about finding the silver lining and focusing on the good stuff, especially when things get rough. Life is all about managing expectations and shifting our focus when things don't go as planned. It's important to surround ourselves with good vibes and people who lift us up, so we can stay on our a-game.

Recognising patterns and taking control of our destiny is a must. Whether we're stuck in a dead-end job or dealing with toxic people, we have the power to change things up and live our best lives. At the end of the day, we're in charge of our own happiness, so let's make it count! Upside is one of those tunes that always gets people grooving, and it's become a fan favourite on my Facebook Live Streams.

7. Real World

I remember the moment the first few verses of this song came out, it was early in the morning, I was due to leave for work in 5 mins, and I dangerously picked up my guitar and started singing the lines. I could have stayed there all day, but already I was running late. I wrote down what I had and dashed out the door.

It wasn't till a little while later that I found these verses and took them along to a co-write with Kevin Bennett. I didn’t have chords or a melody but when KB asked if I had any ideas, I got this little slip of paper out. I gave him an idea of what I was thinking in terms of style of song. So, in a little hut on a sheep station Real World was born. 

I was thinking about how we put so many hand-me-down expectations on ourselves. Societal norms in a timeline like, go to uni, get a job, meet someone, get married, buy a house, have kids, then your kids start the cycle again. If you don’t fit into that mould, then you start feeling like a bit of an outsider and may feel like you get left behind.

This song is based on a couple of outlaws who decide that they are just going to live life on their own terms. It’s a reminder that we are all living in our own versions of the Real World.

When I was recording this song, I emailed KB to ask if he would be keen to sing on the track - the subject line of the email read: The Real Word needs you.

Thankfully he agreed and this is a very special song for me, because writing a song with KB was something I had dreamed of since I first saw The Flood play at The Tamworth Hotel back in the early 2000’s.

8. Play It Cool

Love - I think we all agree that love is such a game at the start. When I was writing this song, I was thinking about the single life and how back in the day when I would first meet a potential love interest, my default programming was to Play It Cool and act disinterested. Even though on the inside I was freaking out and really liked them. What was I thinking?! 

I guess I didn’t ever want to come on too strong and seem too keen. Probably some sort of protection mechanism if we dug right into it and I am pretty sure this approach didn’t work very well for me back in the day. This is a playful song that toys with the idea of new love and how we all play it cool to avoid coming on too strong and scaring someone off at the start.

9. Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open is a story about how being mindful and allowing ourselves to live fully in the present moment is one of the greatest and most magnificent gifts we ever can give to ourselves. No matter what happens along our life journey, I learned that I need to follow our own path and make decisions based on what feels right. 

Sometimes when faced with a situation where we don’t know what path to take, all we want is for someone to step in and tell us what we ‘should’ do - to give us all the answers.

I learned that although it is great to ask for advice and seek help when needed, ultimately, we need to ensure decisions we make are our own and they need to feel right.

I remember when I was very young getting my cards read at a school fete. The fortune teller pulled a card that had read ‘Travel’ with a picture of a hot air balloon. I was pretty excited when she told me I was going on a journey. Not sure if that experience prompted the several years spent traveling but the journey did teach me a lot about life and what is important.

Written from the perspective of hindsight, Eyes Wide Open is the advice I would have loved to have given myself growing up!

10. More Than Friends

Gretta Ziller and I co-wrote More Than Friends over a video call. It’s from the perspective of a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t have time for any more games - a courageous woman who isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade and is gloriously comfortable and confident!

More Than Friends was born out of that ‘Friend Zone’ space. Where two people are hanging out, one likes the other - then where does that lead? What if they both liked each other?

The idea for this song was pretty much taken from my life. I’d moved to Canada, met Kyle (my now partner) and we were hanging out as friends. It was kind of awkward as we both seemed to like each other but were not game enough to lay our cards on the table and admit it.

A lot of my inspiration comes from love - new, old, on or off. More Than Friends is a situation almost everyone has found themselves in one way or another. 

11. Las Vegas

We set off on what was supposed to be a two week road trip that ended up being more than 9 months. We travelled and camped our way down through the USA stopping in at all the amazing national parks and famous rock climbing sites like Yosemite, Red Rock and Joshua Tree. 

I remember rolling into Las Vegas and hitting up the laundromat, while we waited for our clothes, we struck up conversations with the locals asking them what they loved about Las Vegas. We met some interesting people, one lady who was about 80 years old, she used to work at the Tropicana casino, had three husbands who all died, and she told me she didn’t kill any of them - lol. One guy who had a heavy accent told me he liked the fact that when you walk out on the strip you can ‘be somebody’. I have never forgotten these conversations. 

I remember walking through the casinos and seeing people throwing money away on the ‘high roller’ tables and then seeing homeless people on the streets living at the opposite end of the scale. I woke up in the middle of the night in Las Vegas with this song. I had to get up and play it and record it - at around 2 am. Las Vegas explores the dark side of gambling and addiction.

12. Last Leaves of Autumn

This song was written with my mate Clint Wilson. Clint had the title idea of ‘Last Leaves of Autumn’. We wrote this one thinking about what it would be like to lose someone. It was around the time when I had a good friend who lost her battle with cancer. I was thinking a lot about grief and loss and imagining how her partner might feel now she was gone.


Keep up to date with Billie-Jo Porter, follow her on Facebook here.