BILYEN OPENS UP ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND NEW SONG “SKELETONS” [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
BY BRENESSA ROACH | OCTOBER 27, 2023
Meet BILYEN, a Chinese-Canadian singer-songwriter from Toronto, Canada. He debuted on February 7th, 2019 with the single “Promises”. Followed by that release, he came out with the single “Black Heart” on September 15th, 2023.
At midnight, BILYEN unveiled his third single “Skeletons”. Behind The Beat had the opportunity to talk to BILYEN to discuss the inspiration behind this song, his mental health and the production process of the song.
Can you introduce yourself and what you do?
BILYEN: Hey! I go by BILYEN, I am a Chinese Canadian artist born in Scarborough. My sound is a blend of Pop and Alternative R&B. Influenced by artists like Bazzi, Keshi, Kid Laroi and Blackbear.
What is your musical journey story?
BILYEN: In 2017, I was homeless at the time crashing at a friend’s place. I was doing an odd job posting posters for some marketing agency and the driver who picked us up was a producer. At the time I knew nothing about music, how to count a beat let alone think I could rap or sing. On our last day of the work term I asked him to listen to one of his beats. I was shook cause I didn’t know anything about music but I immediately recognized that he didn’t learn that over night. When I went back to my friend’s place that night I kept thinking to myself, “I need to hang around people like this more.” So I asked him if I could chill with him and see how he makes music, emptying the rest of my bank account on a bottle of whiskey as “hand mail” (Chinese tradition to bring a small gift when visiting someone’s home). We drank, he ended up showing me some stuff and recorded me, worked some engineering magic. I was blown away how he made me sound like a Lil rapper! I was like, “yo what I just need practice and it’ll sound better next time!”. Eventually I bought my own interface, dropped out of school and put my OSAP into a $1600 microphone. We worked together on a few songs and I released “Promises” which got featured on “Made In Toronto” on FLOW 93.5 at the time. I didn’t love my sound as I was just learning how to rap and sing, so I wanted to really dial in my sound. 6 years of mixing and mastering later here I am releasing music with an entire new me!
MENTAL HEALTH AND THE RELEASE OF “Skeletons”
Congratulations on the release of your new single “Skeletons”! With this release, you really wanted to share your personal mental health story, can you please share that now?
BILYEN: Thank you and of course! For the longest time in my life I felt a lot of shame. At one point I even felt ashamed to be alive with all the sins I committed and just couldn’t find myself to be satisfied with just being me. So I ended up going down this path of deceit where I tried to show off or tell people I know things I don’t. Say things to say something even though I can’t back it up if people were to check me. It left me empty because what I realized was that this entire time. I was living by feedback from the world and others instead of living by faith in myself, faith in the world and faith for others.
I was always so concerned how I will be received instead of trusting that I already am received the moment I present myself. It’s crazy that I said that because the only time we really present ourselves is when we are PRESENT and not worried about the future (how we will be perceived). It was a little hard to wrap my head around at first but I’m learning every day. So if you’re reading this and wondering what are actionable steps?
If you can answer these 4 questions in any situation presented to you. You will be blessed:
- Does this make me happy?
- Does this serve me?
- Does this serve my community?
- Does this serve God?
No one can answer these four questions as honestly as you do and between you and God, there are only 2 witnesses to what your answers are.
What is the meaning of “Skeletons”?
BILYEN: The meaning behind my song ‘Skeletons’ is that we need to be able and willing to confess what we are ashamed of. When we meet someone where we want to share our life with we usually feel the need to tell them about our past. It’s important we do so to build and maintain trust. For a long time I didn’t trust myself so this song was made to remind myself to stop trippin and allow not only others but more importantly, myself to allow myself to learn through confessing and owning who I used to be.
What was the production process for “Skeletons”?
BILYEN: I was browsing beats at home in my bedroom studio and I had this idea of skeletons in my closet already and after going over like 6 beats or so I found this piano ballad type and the lyrics just spilled out of me. When I wrote “I’m not proud of what I’ve done, I’m not proud of who I was” I started tearing up. There’s one bar that I hid a little gem in so I’m gonna say it here.
“Random knots in my shoes” may seem random but it exists as a metaphor. Knots representing our intention and shoes represents our mental well being. When we lack intention we’ll end up all tangled up in random situations, then we start stressing and tripping without ever being able to figure out why. So learn how to tie your shoes!
What do you have planned for the rest of the year and early next year?
BILYEN: I have 2 more singles coming for the end of this year. They both lean towards Alternative R&B. I spent a lot of time in the studio personally crafting those ones to be sonically captivating. Can’t wait to show you all what’s been in my vault for these past few years! 2024 is going to be focused on my existing and any new fans joining us for the ride. I will be focused on building my community!
Special thanks to BILYEN for taking the time to do this interview with us!
Listen to “Skeletons” by BILYEN on Spotify: