Billie & the Kids
Zagreb, Republic of Croatia, Europe
Jurica Stelma-double bass
Ozren Znidaric-tenor sax
Jerko Valdevit-tenor sax
Andrej Henigman-baritone sax
++385 95 1962 460
Merchandise purchase info:
How would you descirbe your style of music?
It is very easy to describe, we play vintage style Rhythm & Blues music. To be more specific, early New Orleans Rhythm & Blues, which involves jump blues as well as blues ballads. Just think of early Fats Domino or any of the early 1950's artists from Imperial or Specialty label.
How did you get into this style of music?
It kind of developed over time. We started playing Blues and Rhythm & Blues, even now we have some Ray Charles and other major hits on our repetoire. However, we slowly got into the New Orleans style Rhythm & Blues groove and added one more tenor saxophone to the section, the bass saxophone and that would make this sound even more fabulous.....
How did you come up with your band name?
It just popped up, basically it was meant to be a joke. We thought of the famous western gunman Billy the Kid, but also on Jazz diva Billie Holiday. So it is kind of a mixture of both, haha......
What is the background of your band members?
We are all professional musicians, have our jobs in various orchestras and music schools. Some of us played in Rockabilly bands, Jazz combos and all sorts of music. Berislav on the piano has finished the Paris Conservatory of Music as a saxophone player. All of the saxophonists in the band have finished Music academies and as for me, I even went to the UW School of Music in Seattle, Wa where I completed my Masters on Double Bass. However, that has little to do with what we play and enjoy playing in Billie & The Kids, jou just need to know the style and listen to a whole bunch of old records to be able to understand it.
Who are they as individuals?
We are all diverse in what we do in life. Ana is the youngest and prettiest, she just finished studying and started working in a kindergarten but she really wants to be a singer and make her living out of that. Berislav (piano) is teaching music in the school, and plays in many bands to get his paycheck to cover all the bills. He is still single and drinks a lot of domestic brandy. Branimir (drums) works for a radio station, also plays drums in some other bands that have nothing to to do with R&B or vintage music whatsoever. Ozren, Jerko and Andrej are working in the brass orchestra, have students and families, struggling with dates for touring with Billie & the Kids. We also have our great guitarist from Germany- Axel Praefcke, and Hungary-Sonny. They play with us regularly, depending on who is available. Both are truly unique, "right on the money" for our need. Axel has his own recording studio in Berlin, LRS and his own bands which are very popular-especially Cherry Casino & the Gamblers. Sonny plays regularly with his band Sonny & his Wild Cows and a few other acts. As for me, I have three little boys and my daily routine in the Opera orchestra, leading the double bass section for 12 years now. Also play with many bands to get some extra cash, since one has to do it over here to make a decent living.
Where can people purchase your music and or merchandise?
The easiest way is to visit our web page- www.billieandthekids.com or just by sending us an email to email@example.com. The CDs and one 45rpm single can be found on some internet stores and at the Rhythm Bomb Records web store.
How long has your band been together?
We started playing in 2010.
What do you like the most about the Rockabilly scene?
Oh well, we kinda don't fit into the Rockabilly scene. Most of the people don't know the style differences and don't care about the details. I don't blame them, we all just want to dance and enjoy ourselves. We always got the best feedback on the Blues festivals and in the Blues clubs, so that is where our aim is in the future. Hoping to play some bigger U.S. and EU Blues festivals. On the other hand, we love the complete Rockabilly scene, it's diversity in bands-from authentic to Neo Rockabilly. We like them all as long as they present great music.
**Editor's note, perhaps the R&B isn't main stream Rockabilly. However, the Rockabilly music style has this style of R&B deeply ingrained in the roots of our foundation. Without such great artists and sounds from the R&B and many others of that time, we wouldn't have quite the diversity that we have today. Authentic R&B such as Billie and the Kids definitely fit into our (East Coast Rockabilly Central's ) thoughts of the Rockin' scene. I for one definitely can appreciate this great music. **
Who are your music idols, who influences your music?
Oh well, mainly Ray Charles and Fats Domino, but we could talk and write about this for hours...the list is too long. I have to mention Ana's influences since she is the main figure as Billie in Billie & The Kids. She likes Etta James, Lulu Reed and early Tina Turner.
What future events do you have planned?
We focus on our U.S. visits in April of 2015. We got in contact with Steven Machat, he will help us in every way to find shows and book more festivals if possible. We are also planning to record the third album, songs are being written for that.
What type of work do they do?
Hopefully one day we won't work and can just tour with Billie & the Kids. I guess nowadays it is so hard to do it, not like half a century ago.....Music today is very different by means of performing in front of the larger crowds, and marketing is not like it used to be. Dreaming of the walk in record stores, buying the newly released 45 singles. And not having to download samples or trying to find some torrent or blog links.....
Do you or any of your band members collect records?
Only I collect records, have mostly 45 rpm singles and 78 rpm vinyls.
If so, what do you/they collect?
I used to buy and collect Rockabilly and 50's Hillbilly, but for years now I only collect and listen to 40's and 50's Rhythm and Blues and Jazz. These enormous stacks of records are sorted by labels, therefore I can say I have many major and odd lables R&B on my shelves. But, I don't have serious collector frenzy, nor have the money to buy $1000s worth of vinyls...
What is your most memorable experience at a concert?
It was a few months ago in Pordenone, Italy, a small town with a beautiful small square and stage where we weregreeted with enormous welcome and applause. People were ecstatic and cheering like back in the 50's, after the good solo break or the singing line. Afterwards, everyone bought at least one CD copy. Hundreds......
What was your funniest memory at a concert?
So many great and fun moments, but we had the funniest with our former guitarist who was slightly off in the head. He didn't want to go on stage unless he had a can of beer beside him. Often he almost missed on the opening song trying to get his "fuel". But, fun part is what follows after the shows......
Is there anything that you would like to add about yourself or your band?
Hope we will play this music for a long time, hope to visit many places all around the world and make people happy when they see and hear us. There is nothing that can compare to the feel when you touch somebody's feelings while listening to your performance, and that's what counts. We are not a show piece band, one that will jump from side to side and get on our knees and heads, we truly want to present the music itself, but don't get me wrong-it's a great show never the less, it's all in the spirit of the moment...
Last but not least, what makes this band tick?
It's the joint enthusiam, without it there wouldn't be a band. We are very good friends amongst each other and believe me, this larger size of a band is not easy to run and push forward. But we manage to do it, although we desperately need a professional manager and a PR person. So, if anyone who reads this interview knows someone or acutally IS the one for the job, feel free to contact us. Many thanks to all of our listeners, fans and friends!
Billie and the Kids is an 8 piece band that plays 1950's Rhythm & Blues, Jump Blues and 50's style New Orleans Rhythm & Blues. This is a very unique combo nowadays with their amazing 25 year old female singer, as well as a 3 saxaphone horn section that captures a vintage groove, like back in the Hayday of Fats Domino, Little Richard and Ruth Brown.
The band was founded 4 years ago by a group of good friends that shared the same passion for Rhythm & Blues music. The dreams to find a perfect sound for the 1950's Rhythm & Blues and the early New Orleans Rhythm & Blues.
With the first album release "Take One" in 2010 for Rhythm Bomb Records, things started to grow with live performances. At this point, the first girl singer left the band. All appeared to be lost in 2011 until the "new Billie" joined in. Back then, a 22 year old Ana fit like a glove into the whole story, sharing the enthusiasm, so the band started to make plans all over again this time for real.
The second album "Jukebox Daddy" was released in 2014 also on the Rhythm Bomb Record label. This one differs from the first album with plenty of original songs, all in the familiar Rhythm & Blues groove. The new album was immediately followed by some great reviews all over the world, giving the band's name their well deserved place among the best of the Rhythm & Blues acts on the scene.
Billie and the Kids play all across Europe. Including Germany, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, England, etc. in clubs and big festivals like the Rhythm Riot, Walldorf Rock 'n' Roll Weekender, Firebird festival, Rock That Swing festival, Rock 'n' Hurt, etc. In 2015 they will hit their dream land, USA for Viva Las Vegas followed by a small cout along the West Coast. Trying to find their place under the U.S. sun.
Billie and the Kids also found themselves featuring, "I Need You Tonight" as the opening number for the German screwball musical "The Last Lie" in 2011. They made several TV appearances as well as live radio shows.
They are currently working on their third album....writing songs, practicing and enjoying every second of it......
Billie and The Kids