On her remarkable new record, Look At Me, I’m Fine (Lost Records), singer/songwriter/producer Billy Pettinger opens her heart and lets you in across 10 tracks of reflection and hope.
Beautiful in their fragility, the poignant pen letters see Billy articulate her anger and address her anxieties, emerging on the other side with some sense of peace.
“Every time I looked at the news, it was just story after story of all the terrible things that human beings do to each other,” reflects Billy. “I know it’s easier to just not care, it’s hard work to care, now more than ever… Racism and sexism still exists like I’d never thought possible in this day and age and I started thinking about how exhausting it is to just keep up with all the terrible things out there.
“But, I do care… Too much, perhaps. I’ve vowed to hold onto this at times damaging belief that I must continue to fight against the darkness, because if not me, then who?”
Look At Me, I’m Fine is the result of five years hard work that has seen the Vancouver-born artist relocate to the creative quiet of Alabama. Back in 2014, after a stream of independent releases, namely The Lost Cause (2008), Ours (2010) and Stars, Exploding (2012), Billy signed to Xtra Mile after a chance encounter with English troubadour Frank Turner. The result was the compelling Horseshoes & Hand Grenades album and subsequent live shows saw Billy tour with the likes of Chuck Ragan, Billy Bragg and Against Me!
After moving to the US in 2016, Billy made the decision to return to her DIY roots, independently recording and releasing 40 songs across three titles: I Have To Do This, You Can Have It All, and Pick Up Your Tiny Burden.
Whilst building a career teaching music to the next generation of singer-songwriters, Billy was inspired to record Look At Me, I’m Fine. Billy said: “In the past year I kept coming across album titles from friends and strangers alike that kept making me kind of shake my head. They would come with a story, usually about going through some kind of a trauma, a struggle, a transition, a realization that they were flawed and had to make some kind of change.
“For some it was the realization that they had to address their depression or anxiety. For some it was releasing themselves from a damaging relationship or work environment. Some of them straight out admitted that they maybe had not been great people in the past, but they were all better now.
“But, you don’t get to the other side of depression. You don’t get to the other side of a damaging relationship and just totally recover like it never happened. You don’t get to wake up one day and shout: ‘OK I see now that I was a terrible, terrible person… But I’m better now!’ All that stuff sticks with you.
“It’s important to understand when you have a medical diagnosis of something as debilitating as depression, you don’t just ‘get better’. You just learn how to live with it better, and some days it feels like it’s never going to end.
“I admire the admitting part, but I see the rippling damage in the ‘I got help and now I’m all better’ PR campaign. I respect getting away from a toxic person or environment, but it doesn’t absolve the guilty party, nor does it erase the trauma caused. You might make a public statement that you’re on a mission to be a better person, but that doesn’t take back all the hurt you caused.
“So this idea of ‘Look At Me, I’m Fine!’ kept coming back to me. You’re not fine… And neither am I. And that’s ok.”
- 2019: Look At Me, I’m Fine
- 2016: Pick Up Your Tiny Burden
- 2016: You Can Have It All
- 2016: I Have to Do This
Billy the Kid
- 2008: The Lost Cause
- 2010: Live at the Verge
- 2011: Demo-Lish
- 2011: Ours – Acoustic
- 2012: Stars, Exploding
- 2013: Perspective
- 2014: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Billy the Kid & The Southside Boys
- 2011: Ours
Billy the Kid and the Lost Boys
- 2002: Strong Like Prawn
- 2004: Breaking Down the Barriers That Break Down Your Music
- 2005: Breaking Down the Barriers That Break Down Your Music Remastered
- 2006: Yet Why Not Say What Happened?
- 2008: Off The Map
“I have a feeling this kid doesn’t know what “impossible” means.” – Alan Cross, The Ongoing History of Music
“Billy the Kid is an amazing talent.” – Patrick Zulinov, Shore FM
“Her music is the perfect combination of edgy sweetness that ventures into the grittiness of the life in the city.” – Tamara Stanners, The Peak FM
“Precociously gifted.” – The Georgia Straight
“One of Canada’s rising stars.” – See Magazine
“Prolific and incredibly talented.” – The Leader-Post
“Billy is a DIY poster girl.” – Vue Weekly
‘Lost – a phenomenon, not a trend.” – The Cambridge Voice
“It’s not enough to say that Billy The Kid is a talented artist. It isn’t enough to say she’s successful. It isn’t even enough to say that Billy and her band of Lost Boys have a stage–presence worth seeing over and over again. Billy the Kid exemplifies the essence of the independent spirit, charisma and inspiration for artists on the rise or for those hoping for the chance to make it that far. “ – Echo Weekly
“Always stood apart from the pack with true street-level integrity, an almost Mennonitish indie-rock work ethic and outstanding musicianship.” – Nerve Magazine
“With her popularity spreading and in no sign of waning, her many musical endeavours are beginning to pay off and no one deserves it more. After a chat with this winsome pixie, it would be difficult to dislike her.” – The Gauntlet Magazine
“I bought her independently produced CD on the spot and have been trying to find out as much as I can about her because I know she is going to be huge one day soon.“ – Canoe Live
“One of the best female guitarists I’ve ever met.” – The Daily Nar
“(Billy)’s the kind of thorough, do-it-yourself poster girl that will go to hell and back in order to put out a good record.” – Beatroute Magazine
“Bespectacled singer/songwriter and D.I.Y. poster girl Billy the Kid possesses an impressive arsenal, including an enchanting voice, strong musicianship, and well-crafted tunes. Expect Billy to wear her heart on her (tattooed) sleeves.” – A Lawyer
“If you need any inspiration to keep your New Year’s Resolution “I shall cast off the shackles of procrastination and actually do something with myself…” look no further than a young lady who goes by the name of Billy the Kid.” – Chartattack