Just because you start in one genre that doesn’t mean you stay there. We’ve seen that with singers and bands who’ve found success in rock or pop, and the same applies to dance music, perhaps even more prominently.
Duo Billen Ted are one example of this.
Now promoting their latest track “24/7,” a collaboration with Northern Irish singer JC Stewart, members Tom Hollings and Sam Brennan started in heavy metal bands, playing and touring live for roughly a decade.
Meeting on tour led to them working together, and their career started building momentum with tracks “I Feel for You” and “Wellerman,” a reworking of a sea shanty done with 220 Kid that ended up topping the U.K. charts in early 2021.
Later, “When You’re Out,” a collaboration with Mae Muller, amassed over 10 million Spotify streams to date.
Within this arc, they’ve collaborated with Melanie C, MNEK, Sleepwalkrs, and Fleur East and remixed Liam Payne, Little Mix, Saweetie, Tom Grennan, and TELYKast.
Not stopping their trajectory, “Wellerman” is now up for a Brit Award nomination, and earned over half a billion streams in 2021 alone.
“24/7” continues this pop direction with an upbeat piano melody accompanied by JC Stewart’s vocals. We had a chance to speak with the duo about their rapidly rising career:
How did you two start working together?
We met on tour years ago, and we were always the ones on the bus or van with our laptops making beats and producing other bits.
It was about six years ago after being out at Tomorrowland doing some work for Carl Cox, I gave Sam a shout on the Eurostar back, feeling quite inspired, and we got together and started making some dance music!
Your sound gives off modern deep house meets pop vibes. How would you two describe the style of Billen Ted?
Yeah – bang on the money!
To be honest, our intention with the project was to make it much more in the dance lane than pop, but having an international hit with a sea shanty remix kind of diverted our sound to be a little bit more in the pop lane and embrace it.
But we’ve got a lot of dance/club records in the pipeline.
Both of you started touring with metal bands. How did you make the transition to dance and pop production?
I kind of mentioned it before but we’ve always been into dance music and always been doing it on the side even in the metal days!
And genuinely, the prospect of not having to load in, soundcheck, and take a huge touring party was an attractive alternative, hahaha.
From a more instrumental genre like heavy metal, what drew you to production?
We actually both learned to produce rock / metal first alongside playing instruments – it’s probably the most nerd-infused genre there is from a production viewpoint.
There’s a lot of parallels between that and dance production, same science and attention to detail, and so it definitely helped us in the long run!
Big ups Ed Sokolowski who used to record our metal bands back in the day and is now our mix engineer and an absolute wizard! And, shout out to John Mitchell, too, who taught me a lot.
How does your background in metal now fit into the tracks you create in the present?
Maybe not metal but rock is certainly coming back – we’ve been working with a few pop artists right now where it’s really helped having had that background with producing live bands and geeking out over guitar tones and drum sounds.
Tell us about your latest track “24/7”: What was your vision for or approach to creating the track?
“24/7” was sent to us from our friend Plested, who wrote it and it was a ballad originally – we heard it as an upbeat record and tried to speed it up and give it a completely different feel!
How did you end up working with vocalist JC Stewart?
We’ve known JC a while. He’s worked with our pal 220 Kid, and we were all out at ADE in Amsterdam in October and played him the demo. He loved it and we got him into the studio, as soon as we got back, and he sounded incredible on it.
As producers, you’ve worked with Mae Muller, Melanie C, MNEK, and Fleur East so far. Who else would you like to collaborate with?
There’s an endless list – Disclosure are up there, Diplo, Mark Ronson, to name but a few!
Are you planning any type of follow up, and if so, what should listeners expect?
Absolutely – lots in the pipeline! Both commercial records and dance bangers, so keep an ear out!