Track By Track: Billy Cullum Breaks Down Debut LP ‘Lonely Hearts Club’

Ever since we premiered the wonderfully flirthy synth-bop YLMW, we just can’t get enough of the multi-talented wunderkind that is Billy Cullum. Now with a full LP under his belt, we’re pretty certain that you won’t either.

Having already conquered projects including choreography for the likes of Perfume Genius and MS MR, alongside a leading role in RENT, Cullum’s step into the pop world is as infectious and engaging as we’d hope. With debut record Lonely Hearts Club now let loose onto the world, we get an exclusive run-through of each track courtesy of the artist themselves.

Soundtrack a spin of the (really great) album with a read of Billy Cullum’s track-by-track guide below:


Lonely Hearts Club

This was the first song I wrote for the album and with my producer Alex Bakker. It’s a pop bop describing a relationship ending and me becoming single for the first time after a long relationship. I’d never experienced real heartbreak before and this was me joining the millions of people who have. I feel this song really sets the tone for the album. The production is unashamed pop, it talks of heartbreak, love, loss and has the subtle dreamy 80’s sounds that run throughout most of the album.

Lost In You

It’s essentially about our natural curiosity as humans. It’s about being in a relationship and getting side-tracked by someone. It’s a push and pull song of the mind whether to act on impulse or for it to remain a fantasy. I wanted that mad post-chorus to feel a bit wired and delirious with all the vocal chops to capture that whimsical state of mind. This was the first song that we started to explore a slightly different production style along with YLMW and Hands Are Gonna Fall.

Friends

This song was triggered by a friend of mine passing away. Its an anthem celebrating the universal theme of friendship and the essential need for those people dear in your life. You have your ups and downs but those people never ever leave you. This was really emotional to write and record but I’m so glad with the power it has in the production, melody and lyrics.

YLMW

This song musically has a real flirty edge to it. I was coming out of quite a low place when I wrote this song. It’s me finding love from being in a dark place. The person I met just woke me up from the life I was living. I was completely swept away. The song is essentially that complete desire for someone. It was otherworldly and something I’d never experience before. It’s when that person becomes your universe, your wish has come true and life becomes almost poetic because of love and you just can’t stop kissing them.

Cyanide

This is probably my favourite track on the album. I had just been to visit my Dadcu (Welsh Grandad) in Aberystwyth and his health had really deteriorated. It took me by surprise. As I lived so far away I left with this heavy guilt that I wasn’t seeing him enough. He was such a big part of who I am today introducing me to films and music which has shaped my life. He worked for the army which is why there are references such as “frontline.” His health suffered drastically when he had a terrible fall that blinded him, “I never heard when you hit the ground, sirens calling another man down.” The song is essentially a love song from a Grandson to his Grandfather. It’s me saying no matter how far apart we are I am always here as I know he is there for me. I am so lucky I got to play him this track before he passed away.

Hands Are Gonna Fall

It’s a really intimate song filled with suspense and magnetic power. It’s about that first time you touch someone. The first skin on skin contact that sends a unique shiver through your body. It’s filled with everything; sex, sensuality, curiosity, longing, temptation. I wanted the song to feel like night time under the bed sheets. I wanted the sporadic beats to create this deeply seductive feel when it plays with the melody.

Tell Me How

Tell Me How is literally me questioning how could I be so in love with someone. I was in a relationship when I wrote this song and I was head over heels in love. Everything was exciting. I was scared to lose this person because the feeling was so euphoric. The way we met was just insane, it’s like it was meant to be. I wasn’t ready to get into a new relationship but it just took over like wildfire. It’s so strange though listening back to this song as that person is really not a part of my life anymore. It’s bizarre how someone can become your entire world and then they don’t exist in it anymore. Musically you can hear that I was deeply into Haim at the time I was writing this. It’s got that uplifting vibe that makes you want to dance like nobody’s watching.

Promises

Promises is about a particular relationship I had. We used to have conversations about how we were going to get married, where we would live and our children’s names. A few months later remarks such as “if we ever get to that point” or “well we don’t know if we’ll be together in the future” were said which really confused me. This person promised me the world and would throw it back in my face with one immature remark that would hurt me in a deep way. It all came from their insecurity, not being able to deal with their sexuality, keeping me a secret and not being mature enough to enter into a relationship. I had to step away from the relationship as it became too damaging. I realised I could do so much better…and I have.

Violets

I started writing this song on a piano in a bookshop in Paris. I was in this beautiful romantic city and I started to reminisce about my first love. I remember the night we first kissed and there were violets planted in the garden. It was such an incredible relationship which has made me who I am today. I will always love this person deeply.

Walk On

This was my first experience of a breakup. Walk On talks about the tragedy of the experience and how we both had to move on as it was not right us being together. We kept clinging onto something that inevitably was not the right thing for either of us. I didn’t want this person to wait for me. There was so much love between us but I learnt it was a different kind of love.

Bad Habits

It’s quite a dark song. Its me holding a mirror up to myself. It’s about me coming to terms with who I am. I was using ways to create highs to distract myself from how I was really feeling. I became addicted to not being true to myself. We tried so many different production styles for this track, different tempos and then somehow fused all our ideas to create an explosive pop track out of it.

Born To Make You Happy

This is one of my favourite Britney Spears songs. She was such a big part of music for me growing up. That pure unashamed pop is what I love. She’s the ultimate pop princess. Her songs are iconic and her visuals elevate each song to another level. I don’t think the song gets enough recognition. It’s full of heart ache and desire which is something I love about pop music. I want people to remember how incredible the song is. I want it to feel nostalgic but inject my style into it. It’s a rework I’m really proud of because it pays homage to Britney’s original whilst adding a really current twist.

Billy Cullum’s debut album Lonely Hearts Club is out today. Take a listen below:

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