Overlooked Stories: An Album of the stories we look past.
Tell us about yourself and your music
My name is Billy Miller, I go by “Claytonisokay,” and I’m a 19 year old from Manhattan. I grew up in downtown Manhattan, in between LES and Greenwich Village. I started writing lyrics and poems when I was 16 so my original music-making started there. But, I was classically trained in the violin and took lessons since I was 5 years old, so I knew some music theory, and had a sense of rhythm and melody. Then two years ago, I began to teach myself guitar and started to write songs with them, learning more theory and how to write songs. I first put songs out on SoundCloud, then moving to all platforms in the summer of 2018. My music is very lyrically inclined, I love to tell stories. Growing up, I was lucky to be privileged enough to grow up without worrying about food, while having loving parents and a roof over my head. But being raised in the city and going to public school in NYC, especially at the schools I went to, you see things. You see the poverty surrounding, you see how people don’t help each other. After I was asked to leave my first high school, I was not in a great place and was a terrible student cutting school and whatnot, I went to a school filled with kids who were not as lucky as I was growing up. Kids who got the bad end of the system, growing up in poverty and violence. Then I look at the people who are the wealthy of New York, not helping and being in their world. I sit in between these two worlds.
Talk to us more about your latest release
This where the idea for Overlooked Stories came from. To make an album about themes that are not talked about as much in music. Themes of poverty, greed, love-lost, loneliness, growing up, etc. I wanted to tell stories that are “overlooked.” The album is 11 songs, including the three songs I put out as singles prior, Follows, Planet Prison, and Priorities. The album starts with “Christmas Eve,” a story of a man seeing a homeless person across the street, and inciting his inner conflict with two voices. Then goes to a song Nostalgia, a song about a man reminiscing of his life mixed with boom-bap and my thoughts about going up in rap and wanting to be heard, and so on. These two songs plus the third song, Lately, give a jazzy boom-bap feel. The fourth song “Thoughts” Is my anger being transferred into a song. The anger of growing up, anxiety, and so on. Then “Priorities”, a song of love lost from money being distracting greed, followed by “Metronome,” an eery singing interlude about a man who lost his woman. The next three songs, Slumberland, Orchestra, and Follows are all about environmental/societal problems. Atmospheric songs about socioeconomic problems, Slumberland being more psychedelic and self-involved. The last two songs, Planet Prison and Admissions are both kind of singing rap, Planet Prison about how the world can feel like a jail, and Admissions, about growing up.
A big part of the album is all of it is being donated towards the fight against Lyme disease to spread awareness. Lyme disease is an overlooked story in America as it gets little funding and is way more harmful and widespread than people know.
What inspired you to write this release?
My music is very lyrically inclined, I love to tell stories. Growing up, I was lucky to be privileged enough to grow up without worrying about food, while having loving parents and a roof over my head. But being raised in the city and going to public school in NYC, especially at the schools I went to, you see things. You see the poverty surrounding, you see how people don’t help each other. After I was asked to leave my first high school, I was not in a great place and was a terrible student cutting school and whatnot, I went to a school filled with kids who were not as lucky as I was growing up. Kids who got the bad end of the system, growing up in poverty and violence. Then I look at the people who are the wealthy of New York, not helping and being in their world. I sit in between these two worlds. I also wanted to make an album, that is being donated to support the fight against Chronic and Non-Chronic Lyme Disease. I have a post about it where I go into much depth about Lyme Disease and how it affects us, Lyme disease is an overlooked story in America as it gets little funding and is way more harmful and widespread than people know. I was effected as my father has been suffering for a little under ten years and it was and is a huge pain for all of us.
Describe the writing and recording process
All the songs were written on paper to specific instrumentals that were free to use for non-profit purposes. Since the album itself was supposed to be non-profit from the jump this worked, and I had a specific sound I was looking for, for each song. The songs are very lyrically inclined, while they are songs that mostly create a mood and you can just listen to without paying attention to every word, they were written so every line has a purpose. They are all mostly stories. In terms of the instrumentals I worked with my friend and collaborator @shutupzuko on the beats, as well as he mixed almost all of the songs. All the songs were recorded at my house with just an interface and a mic on Garageband. @shutupzuko than mixed and mastered them on Logic Pro X.
Any plans to release a video?
Any plans to hit the road?
Currently, with this pandemic, I am not performing in a month or so, but I am looking to as soon as I can. I am independent as an artist but am looking for a manager, and if the deal was right, a label to set up promotion and tour dates, as it a very hard process doing all my marketing and promotion with the little funds I have as a 19-year-old college student.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I brand myself as a socially conscious artist, who likes to tell stories, and is not limited to one genre. I even have a whole album that is all psychedelic/indie rock. People who like lyrical rap, but also just music that is not generic and mainstream repetitiveness will like my music. Music that has meaning.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I listen to a lot of Mac Miller and the Beatles. Recently I have gotten very into Asap Rocky again recently, relistening to his first album. I also listen to the Stones, The Doors, Earl Sweatshirt, Eminem, Joey Badass, Lil Tjay, etc. My music taste is very varied.
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are probably the Beatles as well as all their solo albums. This seems like a generic choice but I have listened to every Beatles song that is out, and I am one of their biggest fans. I grew up on them and their varied/genre-bending songs shape who I am as an artist and how I write the lyrics to my songs. They are storytellers. My other biggest influence is Mac Miller, I only knew around five songs before he died, but after he passed I listened to all of his albums on Spotify and just fell in love. He is an incredible rapper who is also so versatile. Other influences include Joey Badass, Eminem, Earl Sweatshirt, Asap Rocky, Asap Mob as a whole, Big L, A tribe called Quest, The Doors, The traveling Wilbury’s, The Rolling Stones, etc.
Tell us about your passions
Besides music, I am studying acting at the NYU Tisch School of the arts. I can luckily afford it because my dad is a media studies professor there. I am very interested in acting as well as filmmaking, which is my minor. As an all-around artist, I am very interested in many things, some of my favorite film directors include Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Paul Thomas Anderson. My favorite actors are Christian Bale, Robert De Niro, and Marlon Brando. I am proud to sit Deniro and Brando studied at the Stella Adler Studio, which I got into at NYU, and studied there as a teen in their teen program.
What else is happening next in your world?
I am going to keep spreading awareness about Lyme disease and other of the world’s hardships. I will keep telling stories and keep trying to make genre-bending music.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Claytonisokay
Connect with Claytonisokay
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/claytonisokay/?hl=enTwitter: https://twitter.com/claytonisokay1Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxZ-pDQNJU7u-LAQCaJAxgwSoundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/claytonisokay-211125424
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