Billy Mays III on His Creative Process [Interview + Live Performance]

Billy Mays III is something of a creative powerhouse. Recording under the name Infinite Third, the experimental guitarist and 2006 Recording Arts and Entertainment Business grad uses a series of looping and effects pedals to craft ambient music that conducts emotion like a live wire. Over the last six years, he’s released nearly 30 albums. But for someone so prolific, his creative process is surprisingly organic.

Working with a minimal recording set up to limit distractions, Billy describes his composition methods as “fluid and free form.” He doesn’t approach a writing session with any particular structure in mind, instead relying on improvisation and feeling to dictate how a song evolves. Each album is different, and serves as a record of the artist’s state of mind at the time of its creation.

“A lot of times, I don’t know where an idea is going, and it kind of surprises me as it unfolds,” he says. “My biggest challenge is to not get so far out there that [the music] is incoherent, but also not to be too rigid to any plan, because you never know what something is going to turn into.”

In addition to his recorded work, Billy’s live performances offer fans a different experience than the albums, and together they serve as two sides of a coin that encompasses both technical skill and spontaneous ideation.

“The live show is more of a living thing that changes every time. It’s definitely more primal and wild than the recorded stuff. I would say that’s my biggest goal right now, trying to translate the live experience to my more polished recorded work.”

Billy Mays III (Infinite Third) performs “Spectral Harmony” 

Billy also takes a creative approach when it comes to releasing his music. From May 2012 to May 2013, he released a song a day via Soundcloud. It was a project he conceived of as a way to push his own creative boundaries, but he credits that time as essential in helping him establish his aesthetic and build a fan base. Now, rather than working through a traditional label, he offers his discography online, where users can stream entire albums or download them for a few dollars each. It’s a distribution model that allows people to truly engage with the music before they buy it.

“None of my albums represent all of my work, they’re all different facets of it,” he says. “I’ve always been about putting them all out there and seeing who connects with what.”

To find an album you connect with, head over to the Infinite Third website. And to learn more about his creative process, check out this exclusive interview.