For Billy Mays III, music isnt a vanity project
While his father was known for his trademark blue button up shirt, a thick black beard and his high-energy pitches for products like OxiClean, the younger Billy Mays appears more serene.
Billy Mays III, or “Young Billy Mays” as he’s known on his personal Twitter account, is the son of the late infomercial pitchman Billy Mays. In 2007, the younger Mays moved to Florida, where he studied recording arts and entertainment business at Orlando’s Full Sail University.
His private recording area in his own apartment, where he records music under the pseudonym Infinite Third, is very neat and quiet. There is an area for him to think and clear his mind, and nestled in the corner of the room are enough instruments and equipment to support a small rock band.
Though professionally his father shined in his now legendary television infomercials, as well as his show “Pitchmen” on Discovery Channel, Mays seems to thrive artistically when he’s alone in this little studio in his apartment.
Mays sat down March 3 to talk about the sounds he produces as Infinite Third, formerly known as Soft Words Traverse, and had a lot to say about the turbulent year that included the passing of his father and the effect it had on his musical projects.
“Soft Words Traverse didn’t come until right before my dad’s death,” Mays said. “I was planning this new music, and it was very moody but whimsical, which all came from when my apartment caught on fire in February 2009.”
Mays’ apartment was completely destroyed in the fire, after only having moved there two weeks before the disaster. Nearly five months later, his father died in June, opening another new chapter for him musically.
“When my dad died, it was like, ‘Oh, double tragedy.’ So I was halfway between completely depressed and inspired,” Mays said. “So Soft Words Traverse represented everything before that to me, and I grew out of it. I didn’t feel soft or fragile anymore.”
May’s first album as Soft Words Traverse, “Gently,” offered calming ambient music that would slowly build to something a little more heavy along the lines of bands like Mogwai. His new project, Infinite Third, proved a little more sinister.
“Infinite Third is definitely a darker shade, which is kind of what I would always write anyways,” Mays said. “I read a quote recently, and I feel like that’s what I do. It was, ‘You live happily, and be whatever you want to be in the art.'”
Mays said the song “Fear, Terror, and the Fear of Terror” off the recently released Infinite Third EP “Stillness in Movement,” typifies that quote for him.
“This is my outlet for getting out fear. It’s definitely the darkest song on there, so it’s kind of like a downward slope,” Mays said. “Then, the next track is a little more up-tempo, and it’s like, that’s my life.”
Mays hasn’t limited himself to the confines of his home recording studio. He’s also produced tracks for Ohio hip-hop artist Cameron Grey, who recently opened for “Black and Yellow” artist Wiz Khalifa.
“I’ve produced his mixtapes, sometimes I do beats for him, but usually we’ll just go on video chat and we work through songs and he gives me producer credit,” Mays said. “I’ll also invest with him if he needs something. He calls me his producer, which I’m sure helps him, but he’s probably my best friend from Full Sail.”
Mays seems to have little against using his name recognition for other projects outside of his own, especially because his music was never meant to be heard in association with his father’s fame.
“You can’t try to piggy back on the name. I have my name and I use it, and my dad always told me, ‘That’s why you’re named that. It’s a reflection of me, and you’re my son,'” Mays said. “I have no problems using my name, especially when music is something that I’ve always done anyways.”
As for any expectations that come with producing music, Mays feels little pressure to deliver on that name.
“It’s for me, first of all, but when I release [the music] afterward, it is definitely to share it,” Mays said. “When I release it, that’s also my chance to get rid of it and move on. I like to start new projects immediately.”
Mays is working on a soundtrack to a five-minute documentary about a kayaker, and has flirted with the idea of looking for film soundtrack work. Many of the songs off “Gently,” which are currently available on iTunes, have been used on episodes of his father’s Discovery Channel show, “Pitchmen.”
His contributions to “Pitchmen” include tracks like “A Void Does Not Exist,” which was heavily featured on the touching memorial episode Discovery Channel produced following the elder Mays’ death.
Mays also discussed with a comic book artist the idea of turning a short poem he wrote in 2008 entitled “Man in Tree” into a graphic novel.
“I wrote a 12-page treatment based on it for [the graphic novel], and he took it like a year ago and I never heard from him. So I thought, ‘That’ll never happen,” Mays said. “Then, last week, he sent me the first few pages in black and white, and I thought it looked pretty cool.”
Mays plans to publish the graphic novel on websites like StumbleUpon once it’s finished, but he also hopes to eventually distribute a physical version independently. It could be made into an animated short film scored by Mays himself.
The idea is in line with one of Mays’ favorite film directors, Darren Aronofsky, who recently announced his intent to turn his upcoming graphic novel, “Noah,” into a feature film. Mays also sites frequent Aronofsky composer Clint Mansell as a musical inspiration, which can be felt in Infinite Third’s darker tracks.
As for live shows in the local Tampa Bay area, where Mays resides, he’s thought of performing with Tampa rock group I and I, which he also produces. Though Mays says he would mostly play “small shows at coffee shops,” he promises to keep the Infinite Third Facebook page and his own Twitter account updated with news on both of his musical projects.
Mays is involved with freelance film production work in the Tampa Bay area, including Sullivan Productions infomercials, though Mays plans to continue tending to his musical ambitions.
“I like this area. I love Clearwater, and I like Tampa and St. Pete, so I’ll stay here for a while,” he said. “The goal is to soon not do as much production work, and focus on music and soundtracks. With technology, I’ll pretty much be able to move anywhere and still be able to do all of this.”
Infinite Third EPs, “Stillness and Movement” and “Eternal Minor,” along with Mays’ previous releases as Soft Words Traverse, are available on his website at music.InfiniteThird.com.