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Billy Nomates

As Billy Nomates, singer/songwriter Tor Maries makes music brimming with justified anger, cathartic humor, and the honesty that comes with having nothing to lose. Unlike many of her detached and abstract contemporaries in the U.K. post-punk scene, her refreshingly direct songwriting feels shaped by lived experience. She telegraphed the years spent frustrated and creatively unfulfilled on singles like "No" and on 2020's spartan debut album Billy Nomates, which showcased her matter-of-fact sprechgesang and sweet, surprisingly twangy harmonies as she connected the dots between Thatcher, Brexit, classism, and sexism. Nomates expanded her sound on 2021's Emergency Telephone, adding more melody and atmosphere. With 2023's Cacti, she leaned into her pop and Americana influences, proving the only rulebook Billy Nomates follows is her own. Born in Leicester, Maries fell in love with music through her father, a music teacher who introduced her to artists ranging from the Stranglers to John Denver. She sang in the school choir and played with various bands, eventually moving to Bristol at age 16 to continue playing with an arty alternative folk group. When that act ultimately disbanded, Maries -- then in her mid-twenties -- swore off music and relocated to Bournemouth. For years, she didn't even attend concerts, but when a breakup and a string of dead-end jobs led to her sleeping on her sister's couch in 2019, Maries started writing songs about her frustration, recording them on a laptop she bought by selling an old guitar amp. Her stage name presented itself when she attended a Sleaford Mods gig on her own and another audience member heckled her, calling her Billy Nomates. By the end of 2019, Maries was performing shows of her own; after she sent her demos to Sleaford Mods, the duo connected her with Geoff Barrow, who signed her to his Invada label. Barrow helped her add some finishing touches to the songs, which she'd recorded in her sister's kitchen with instruments borrowed from her brother-in-law and friends. Early in 2020, Billy Nomates released her debut single "No," a fierce rejection of the status quo she followed with that June's "FNP." Both singles received heavy airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music, but the COVID-19 global pandemic delayed the release of Maries' self-titled debut album. When Billy Nomates appeared in August 2020, it earned acclaim for its unflinching songwriting and made fans out of artists including Steve Albini, Iggy Pop, and Florence Welch. Since she couldn't tour during lockdowns, Maries continued to write and record while living with her father on the Isle of Wight. The songs she improvised during her stay became April 2021's Emergency Telephone EP, which revealed a more impressionistic and melodic side to her music. Around that time, Maries toured with Sleaford Mods and also appeared on their album Spare Ribs. She further expanded Billy Nomates' music on January 2023's Cacti. Written over the better part of a year and recorded at her home as well as Invada Studios, the album touched on heartache, trauma, and survival while adding pop and folk elements to Maries' repertoire.
© Heather Phares & Liam Martin /TiVo
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12 album(s) • Sorted by Bestseller

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