Interview: Billy T. Cooper and ‘Sno’ Drake of The Designs

The Designs are an electro groove metal project with cabaret and goth influences created by Billy T. Cooper of JTR Sickert and ‘Sno’ Drake of Snovonne. Billy and Sno are based out of Modena, Italy, have toured Europe extensively with their previous projects, and will be touring the USA later on this year as The Designs. To get a real good feel for The Designs intriguing sound watch the short studio update video after the interview. And one side note – Snovonne was very recently named “Female Visual Artist of 2019” by the American Horrors Channel.

How do you foresee The Designs being different from your previous projects?

Sno: The Designs is like a fusion and exaggeration of mine and Billy’s other projects. It has the heavy atmosphere and expressive visuals of Snovonne, and aggression and decadence of Sickert. It’s dynamic, emotional. The concepts are rooted in psychology, inspired by our duality, passion for open mind, freedom, melancholy.

Will you be bringing any songs from those projects into The Designs? And how will you update them if so?

Billy: Not sure yet, we are mainly trying to create something new for ourselves, but maybe we’ll incorporate some of the other songs into the live set.

How many languages do you speak and what is your favorite to sing in?

Sno: We both always preferred English for singing and writing. I was born in Slovakia, but I’ve spent a lot of my childhood years as well as adult years in USA and England, so English is the closest to me and also comes more naturally. I speak Slovak too obviously. I used to be good in Spanish and German, but kind of lost it since I didn’t speak any of those for a long time. And I’m learning Italian now that I live in Italy.

Billy: I’m Italian, so I speak with my hands and I’m fluent in prosciutto 🙂 I also speak English.

How is the writing for your debut album going?

Sno: It’s going great, we are done writing, and almost done recording.. should be finished within the next couple of months.

What can you tell us about what the finished sound of the album will be like?

Billy: It’s a mixture of electronic and metal elements. We’re going for something straightforward, yet chaotic. Disturbing but polished.

Are you working with any producers or will it be self-produced?

Sno: We are working with Eddy Cavazza, here in Italy. Eddy’s done some great stuff with local and international bands. He’s also worked with Paramore, Logan Mader (Machine Head), Anthony Phillips (Genesis) and John Wetton (King Crimson). We’re definitely proud to have him with us on this project.

What variety of instrumentation will be used on the album?

Billy: Well, it’s electronic and metal, so it’s mainly about the big contrasts – heavy guitars versus atmospheric synth parts.. electronic beats versus rock/metal drums, etc. Different colors of distortion and glitches. Obviously two contrasting voices – mine and Sno’s. And always lots of melody!

Performance wise how do you see your ultimate stage setup and what will a fully formed Designs show look and sound like?

Sno: Well, we have a lot of ideas but it’s gonna depend on how much we’re able to pull off technically. We want it cinematic and a bit theatrical, so we’ll be working a lot with lights and projection. The core will be the live band of course. We’d love to bring in some extra guests and characters but we shall see. There’s still a lot of scripting and planning ahead of us.

You have toured Europe extensively in your careers. How do you think the crowds will react to The Designs? What were some of the hottest cities for your previous bands?

Billy: Well, so far people seem to be excited about the Sno & Billy combination. We’re merging both of our characters and styles so hopefully crowds will find it entertaining and inspiring. We’d like to move people – mentally and physically. Some of our best shows were in Budapest, Prague, Istanbul.. Tallinn has always been great too.

Sno: Some of my best shows happened in Tampere, Riga, Bratislava.. Some places in Germany were great too.

When you tour the states how will you tailor your performance to the US crowds?

Sno: Well, to be honest I hope we don’t have to tailor anything to any particular country. The whole point is to bring people something unique and the only way to do that is to be ourselves, regardless of where we are.

On personal tastes what are some bands and musicians you enjoy that people might not expect?

Sno: I’ve always been a big fan of soul singers… Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige.. and a lot of the 90’s R&B stuff.. Aaliyah and a lot of the Timbaland and Missy Elliot productions back then. But we both love a wide variety of music.

Billy: Always a wide variety of music. Not sure it’s surprising but I love classical music and soundtracks.

What hobbies and activities do you partake in outside of music?

Sno: Well apart from working in video production and graphic design, I love to paint, sew, build things, read.. Criminology is a big passion for both of us. Also love walking around cities or nature, biking, some working out .. and I love to cook.

Billy: Sports.. biking, boxing, snowboarding.. Reading. Yes, criminology is both a passion and a profession for me, as I’m also a criminal lawyer.

What is the best part about being a performer and musician?

Sno: I guess the fact that you get to share your feelings and energy with the outside world. The switch from introvert to extrovert is a bit of an adrenaline rush. I love spilling my mind onto paper and into music, it’s a way of coping, it’s therapy. And the result is something empowering, and that I think is amazing.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thank you everyone, for your time and support! This is a brand new project, so it’s awesome to have people with us from the beginning. For those interested check out www.designsmusic.com, and follow THE DESIGNS on FB (@thedesignsmusic) Instagram (@the_designs_music) and Twitter (@thedesigns3).

The Designs Studio Update: