By: Daniel Villamil
We spoke to St.Peterburg based musician Billy Mays III who plays under the name Infinite Third about the album Channel(s), live performances and more.
You release your music under the name Infinite Third. Where does the name come from?
I’ll always remember where I was when I committed to the moniker; sitting on a particular bench near a lake in the middle of a long and insightful walk through Dunedin, FL. Infinite Third is meant to represent the duality of feeling like a limitless creative (infinite) being while simultaneously feeling like an insignificant human (Billy Mays the Third). I think it’s also a fitting name because I seek a certain level of paradox in everything I create and I feel like my music is both intense and relaxing, focused yet wandering, dreamlike yet grounded in reality. So, if it sounds like it doesn’t make complete logical sense, that’s intentional.
You recently released a new album, Channel(s). How has the release been so far?
I’ve gotten some really great feedback so far and I can already tell that people are “getting” it. I definitely feel like I made the album I’ve been wanting to make for a really long time. Even with a runtime of a succinct 40 minutes, it seems like it manages to capture all the different emotions I like to explore with this project. The finished album is really special to me but I can already feel the urge to make the next one, mainly because I know it will be another huge step in my career and will represent my own personal growth as a creator and as a human.
What was the writing process for Channel(s) like?
It was mostly a matter of ideas bubbling to the surface over 3 years or so. Many of the riffs and elements were improvised at some point and would come back up every now and then. Earlier this year, I became more vigilant about developing the ideas further and began to sequence everything more seriously. Honestly, a lot of the breakthroughs in song structure came from the time right before falling asleep, running through the album in my head. It was pretty much an internal nightly ritual.
What song off the album did you have the most difficult time writing?
Well, I think the title track “Channel(s)” was the one with which I felt the most pressure. To me, it’s the culmination of the whole journey and yet it’s the earliest piece of music that really started to solidify over the past 3 years in my live sets. The guitar parts in the first half of that song are something that I play differently every single time. You literally will not hear it the same exact way twice at my shows. It helps keep my relationship to it fresh so that I may continue appreciating its aliveness.
What is your favorite song of the new album?
Like I said above, I’m partial to “Channel(s)” but each track has a special place in my personal mythology. Some parts of songs such as “Sentence(s)” and “Dream(s)” have existed in other forms for quite some time but I realized that they could be anchor points of this album and help things flow. So, I saw them through to completion and sort of allowed those ideas to take their final forms. Also, the song “Open(ing)” is special because it’s the most stripped down with mostly just live guitar strumming and some effects. It was also the final song to be “channeled” for this collection. My wife cried the first time I played the chord progression in our home and a few other people have told me that it has made them tear up as well.
You were touring this past Summer. What was that like?
Yes, this was by far my most successful tour yet. It’s very DIY right now and I do most, if not all, of the booking myself. I travel with my wife so it kinda just becomes our lifestyle rather than a road trip. I got to play a really diverse lineup of events from house shows to yoga classes to warehouse parties, starting in Florida and up through the east coast into New England.
Can you explain your live performances?
I would say there are 2 different versions of my live set. One is where I play material from my albums, which allows me to get heavier and louder and use more beats and backing tracks. This one is more for “band” shows and festivals and bigger stages. The other set is a more chill improvised session, sometimes I call it an “ambient installation,” in which I’ll play for an extended period of time. With these, I’ll sort of be the background music to an audience of artists, writers, yogis, meditators, or even just passers by, all working on their crafts or simply enjoying the sounds. I love both styles equally and sometimes I’ll even combine aspects of the two depending on the situation.
What equipment do you use for them?
For both iterations, I use an electric guitar setup that runs through a pretty big pedal board and into tube amp but the signal also splits to an external live looping machine. This allows me to sync my live beat-boxing with synced guitar layers and that same looper also contains my pre-recorded beats, bass lines, and samples. All of this is on the ground so I’m usually either on my knees or sitting cross-legged.
What are your plans for next year?
We’re planning two tours for 2018; the first one will be for a month up the east coast and into the midwest again and the second one will be for two months spanning to the west coast and up into the northwest. On top of that, I plan to evolve my live streaming setup so I can stream my improvised sessions more and more from different locations via Facebook and possibly even YouTube or Twitch. I am also going to begin work on my next record but I’m definitely going to allow this one to grow at its own pace, just like “Channel(s)” did. In the meantime, my wife and I will be further developing the plans for our collective/label called Remember You Are Dreaming. (RememberYouAreDreaming.com)
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to thank anyone who has ever given my music their time and attention. It’s humbling when people resonate with my art and it’s an honor to share it publicly all over the country and (hopefully) soon with the rest of the world.