Things in D.C. didn’t work out for singer Billy Winn quite how he planned.
The Pittsburgh native came here in 2009 to study English at Georgetown University. And while he loved it, he says gradual realizations that he “didn’t want to be a teacher” and a growing itch to pursue music eventually led him to abandon his academic plans.
The out singer, who specializes in EDM and pop/R&B, says things have gradually started clicking for him through sheer persistence. A key turning point, he says, was deciding to be out.
“When I first started making records in D.C., I really still felt at the time a certain amount of pressure to keep my sexuality sort of a non-subject because of the kind of music I was making and the audience,” he says. “But the music suffered in a way. It wasn’t as genuine as I would have liked for it to be. So I eventually started working with some producers I really liked who really just kind of got me on an artistic level. We started playing around with some dance records and everything then pretty much clicked.”
He had a modest hit last summer with “Future X Boyfriend,” which reached No. 22 on Billboard’s Dance/Club Songs chart. In February, he released two new cuts, “Cruel Intentions” and “He Won’t Do,” a suggestive, up-tempo track that finds him hooking up with an ex, an experience he says is based on a true story. He’s signed with the Los Angeles-based Kaleidosphere Records, a new label that specializes in dance.
“I always try to say something provocative and write from a real place, either a situation I’ve been in or someone I know has been in,” he says. “I had a relationship with an ex that was really tumultuous. The only way we really connected was sexually. It was one of those things where we could barely stand to be in the same room together unless sex was involved. … It’s a little scandalous but as I was writing it I thought, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to do it anyway.”
Winn, who’s performed at Capital Pride a few times and will return this year, makes his debut at Town Danceboutique Friday night (actually Saturday morning) with a 15-minute set on the upstairs stage.
“It’s the most intense 15 minutes I’ve ever put together,” he says. “I definitely want to give people something that’s synonymous with Billy Winn.”
Winn is single and lives in NOMA. He says he’s open to dating in Washington but his career, which he works at full time, has made it hard.
“Not everyone understands that,” he says. “It’s like starting a business, any business. You spend crazy hours working and just letting people know you exist and sometimes those are hours a boyfriend or significant other might feel is time they deserve.”