Hamilton

I had always found musical theater to be annoying. Indie rock, trained composerly pretenses aside, I'm really just a pop-rock guy, The singing style of actors always seemed too "fabulous" for me. Too much vibrato and melodrama. At some point I realized that many musicals' core songs could be very good, if just sung in a different style.
Alexander Hamilton
That led me to actually make my own rock and roll musical, In Dog's Country. I have since been told that it's not a "proper" musical because the songs don't "advance the story". While I'd argue that a few of them do, I admit that several regular songs were just stuck between dialogue.
As you've probably heard, Hamilton gets it right. The cast sings more in the style of hip hop and soul, so that appeases my resistance to the traditional theatrical fabulousness. The songs advance the story, in a big way.
And everyone loves it! Its newsworthiness began with the casting of people of color for most of the major characters. As you may recall, the Founding Fathers were predominantly white men. A black George Washington turns heads. ("Here comes the general!") But it makes sense as a modern interpretation of the American experience, especially Hamiton himself: Hungry immigrant seeks to better himself in a new land, changes the world. Many recurring and memorable musical themes parallel the conceptual themes throughout. Hey, were it not for Innocent Sin, I would declare the Hamilton sountrack the best album of 2015.
This music hits me really hard, really fast. A minute into the first song, I'm weepily heaving with emotion. And it's not even a sad song! This happens to a lot of people. So my first question is:

What is it that evokes such strong feelings?

Most music does not have this effect on me, or other people, to such a degree. Most answer that it's just good music. Well, no duh. But what specifically about it pushes my buttons? I understand I'm a history buff, so that may make me more susceptible. I read Chernow's book that inspired Miranda to write the play. But it can't just be that. Does it just tap into our American identity so strongly that we all can't help but swell with emotion? That leads me to my second question:

Do non-Americans love Hamilton as much as we do?

If its power rests in recasting our trials and tribulations into a modern context, do people from other lands feel it like we do? It could be yes, because it's such a strong immigrant tale, and everyone in the world has the potential to be a stranger in  this strange land. And/or the music is just that strong. Or, maybe the rest of the world can't relate, because they haven't lived here. So you tell me.



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Billy D TV
Billy's music videos and performances. A playlist.
The Bill & Frantz Show

A casual talk show, with frequent deviations into informal creativity. Featured guests, live music, madness.

Shattered

Frantz wrote a script called "Shattered", starring me as a crazy man who likes to yell at his wife, Helen. On The Bill & Frantz Show (episode 406), he interviews me as self-satisfied French actor, Guillaume Dechand.

Reviews

Here are a few reviews around the web....

Innocent Sin - Billy Dechand
Innocent Sin"Billy Dechand has a mind full of ideas, concepts, lyrics and melodies. Not a single song is wasted – no filler, nothing that disappoints. On top of this, he has the kind of voice that is instantly likable; he’s creative, he seems fun, thoughtful, trustworthy, and generally quite interesting. That’s pretty much everything you want from a musical artist."
-- from Stereo Stickman

Innocent Sin - Billy Dechand
"Overall, this is a very good album that showcases Billy’s musical and emotional range as a songwriter. All sides of life are here, from the poignant to the humorous, from the personal to societal concerns. He has a strong sense of craftsmanship and a gift for consistently memorable melodies and hooks. He has melded his influences into a style very much his own. Highly recommend for fans of left field pop/rock."
-- from The Faulkner Review

Innocent Sin - Billy Dechand
"a wonderfully personable experience with some excellent songwriting"
-- from Tilting Window

Hold OnHold On - Billy Dechand
"Singer-songwriter Billy Dechand recorded these sessions in Chapel Hill N.C., and New York City. Given that, he’s difficult to pigeonhole. Dechand’s impish vocals and crunchy, electric guitar licks accelerate various grooves that contain moments of dissonance or sweet melodies. The various musicians coalesce for a sound that sometimes transmits notions of a well-rehearsed garage band, via a diverse track mix. Dechand writes about refuse, love, and other topics via a quirky musical demeanor. He’s an interesting voice amid the sometimes uninteresting East Coast nouveau rock scene."
-- from All About Jazz

Hold On - Billy Dechand
"Every so often, a musician comes along whom you swear that in an alternate reality is already A Big Name and that this reality is impoverished for not knowing him or her. Billy Dechand is such a name, and it's high time that people get with the program."
-- from Ear Candy

Hold On - Billy Dechand
"This is one of those wonderful discs which simply defy classification. On the mellow side, the songs are complex, well written, and well performed. Gentle melodies glide you through this disc, weaving seamlessly from song to song. This is a really great disc.
-- from Impact Press

World Famous In Chapel Hill - The Billy Dechand Band
"The group's approach is miles ahead of a large portion of the rubbish on present-day rock radio."
-- from All About Jazz

REPRODUCE Video

Here's another video from the Innocent Sin album, "Reproduce". It's a play on a classic Journey video, with a few twists.


The cast is Susan Kopp, Amy Jordan, Kate Lovelady, and Billy D.
The musicians are Billy D, Dan Ingenthron, Ken Moore, plus singers Kate Lovelady, Susan Kopp, David Taylor, and Joe Koepke.
Available at CD Baby, iTunes, and other outlets.