Billy Childish:I am sometimes an artist and sometimes a musician, and sometimes known as Billy Childish.When I was very little, I had records by Dusty Springfield, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. I found it very depressing. Then when I was four, I heard ‘She loves you,’ by the Beatles, and I thought, ‘This is good fun!’ And then I found out they mimed, and I thought, ‘There might be a chance for me.’ And my chance came in 1977 with punk rock.I’ve always painted since I was a little boy, and I’ve painted thousands of paintings, made hundreds of woodcuts and thousands of drawings. Interviewer:Are there any similarities in your approach to making art, and the way that I make music?Billy:Approach is the same, and the same when I write, actually. I’m interested in the elemental, not impressing others and not impressing myself. I fail. I often impress myself, and I have sometimes impressed others.Interviewer:You’re perceived as being anti-conceptual art. How would you describe your working process?Billy:I don’t have a problem with conceptual art per se. I have a problem with what I term as Banker’s Dada, and that would be conceptual art done specifically to meet a market demand. And I’d a problem with that if it was painting, also, because for me, creativity has been more sacred. Interviewer:Is economy important in the making of music and art?Billy:Yeah, I suppose economy would be a good way of describing it. I think economy is very important. It’s moderation really. Limits. Create your own limits, so other people won’t do it to you. That’s how you avoid fascism.Interviewer:Why have you not been to see a live gig since the Seventies?Billy:It’s not quite true that I haven’t. It’s just that I’m generally not interested, and accidentally occasionally I’ve seen things. But I’m interested in making music, not interested in music. [Laughter] It sounds smart saying that, but it’s true, you know.Interviewer:Have any contemporary musicians been influenced by your music?Billy:I understand so. I occasionally get cited by people, but usually prior to being slated by them!Interviewer:Why do you think your work has influenced them?Billy:They maybe mistakenly feel that there is some sort of integrity to what I do!Interviewer:Would you say there isn’t integrity in what you do?Billy:Accidentally there might be integrity to the things I do, but I don’t aim to specifically have integrity. It’s just that the way God made me, means that I end up having some by accident.Interviewer:Can you tell me what artists and movements have influenced the way you approach your own art?Billy:My mother read me Lust for Life, the story of Van Gogh, when I was nine or ten years old. That would be a very important influence on my ideas about being an artist, and I like the later work of Monk, the least symbolic work. But probably my key painters and artists I like are Kurt Schwitters, Van Gogh, and Monk.Interviewer:And why do you not like Monk more famous and more known symbolic painting?Billy:It looks at one aspect too strongly, which is the problem with most modernism, but it’s like looking at the world through the wrong end of a telescope, modernism, usually. It doesn’t have enough life in it. And this can be very fascinating, looking through microscopes or telescopes the wrong way round, but it ultimately doesn’t fulfil your need for beauty and completeness.Funny asking about that symbolic nature of Monk with sitting in front of a painting which looks so loaded with symbolism, you know. It totally contradicts everything that I’ve said, and I’m glad you’re filming, because you should put that in!Interviewer:Is beauty something you try to create in your own painting?Billy:No. I don’t really try to do anything in my paintings if I can help it. I try not to try. Interviewer:Does music affect the way you make art?Billy:It did in the early Eighties. I listened – all of my paintings done through to about 1986 were done listening to John Leigh Hooker repeatedly, and occasionally Howlin’ Wolf, and maybe Lead Belly thrown in.Interview:Does visual art have an influence on your music?Billy:No. Do I have an influence on you?No, I don’t think so.