INTERVIEW: Blóm | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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They’re the self-proclaimed “cute punx” playing “pure radge shit,” but Newcastle trio Blóm are so much more than that (although they are indeed pretty darn cute and radge as heck). Blóm are challenging the typically male-dominated alt. music scene to be a safer and more diverse environment, while encouraging conversations about gender, sexual identity and mental health. Blóm’s mission statement? Be kind.

Since forming in 2017, the three-piece have been tearing up stages with their ferocious live performances and have released the singles Powerfrau/Skank Witch and Toxic Dependency. They’re now ready to unleash their debut album Flower Violence: a succinct five-track firecracker of a record that fizzes with frantic energy. With its witches’ brew of genres it’s the perfect introduction to Blóm’s noise rock hybrid.

We’re each influenced by such a broad spectrum of music – our tastes are so varied and vast! I think we mainly crossover on weird noise stuff and pop music and we unintentionally bring all those influences into Blóm,” explains vocalist Helen Walkinshaw. “The writing and developing of these album tracks was pretty much ongoing from us forming. We all aimed from the start to piece together an album of sorts, with no other real intentions beyond that! We went in to record the tracks wide-eyed, but our pal Sam Grant at Blank Studios guided us through the process and we’re really pleased with how it’s turned out.”

The frenetic, nervous nature and shifting pace of Blóm’s sound lends itself well to improvisation, with their live sets often taking on a fluid quality with tracks merging into one. It all adds to the intensity of the Blóm experience, with the listener fully submerged in their soundscape.

do the best you can where you can, don’t make other people’s business your own and most importantly look after your sisters not just your cisters

In fact, Übermensch was approached in this way during recording, as bassist Erika Leaman explains. “We first wrote Übermensch alongside album track God after we first started gigging and needed to bulk our set up. It has been played live in various incarnations and originally had more of a hardcore D-beat feel to it. For the record we decided to break it down into a more minimal and droned out feel, which we briefly jammed once or twice. It was the last track we recorded and Liz [McDade, drummer] and I played live in separate rooms divided by a window, and just went for it! A lot of the timing for the intro was worked out by eye contact and working on each other’s body language, which is something we have always seemed to be in-tune with. I feel this gives a really tense and lurching atmosphere, especially considering the rest of the song. We managed to record the entire track in one take!”

At the forefront of each track are Helen’s incendiary vocals which act as the perfect conduit to deliver Blóm’s message. Just like her vocals, Helen’s lyrics pull no punches, exploring a vast range of themes from Twin Peaks to Christianity. Take the epic eight-minute-long Übermensch for example. “It’s a bit of a heavy one this,” muses Helen. “I read Crime & Punishment when I was at college and watched a lot of Woody Allen films around the same time (being a nerdy lit and film wanker!) Anyway, I was fascinated by how Allen interpreted Dostoevsky’s themes through some of his own work, justifying some of his own questionable choices – sort of hiding in plain sight and becoming this super-human auteur! I had all of this in the back of my mind when I was putting words to this; I initially wanted to write something about toxic masculinity and the idea of a ‘witch hunt’ and the social shaming of people who make the wrong ‘moral choices’ but I ended up going off on one about fate and revenge.

Then there’s empowering album closer Be Kind, which acts as a summary of Blóm’s mantra: “Stand together, try to be kind, speak the truth, speak your mind” yells Helen. “In short, it’s about just being kind, despite your differences,” she explains, “do the best you can where you can, don’t make other people’s business your own and most importantly look after your sisters not just your cisters.”

Subjects such as Dostoevsky, socio-economic challenges, gender identity and feminism may seem a little daunting to the casual listener, but Blóm are about inclusivity. “I think you can appreciate us without totally understanding. If people don’t fully understand the themes within our songs then that’s a step closer to them being a bit more educated on the subjects Helen shouts about,” says Liz.

I hope people can appreciate Blóm without knowing anything about the ‘themes’ we explore,” adds Helen. “Hopefully our live shows are providing a visceral experience and people don’t feel like they are getting lectured! These are just my experiences and our opinions, not everyone will agree. We don’t want the lyrics to be pummelled into people’s faces, but if they encourage conversations that’s amazing. We’d rather open a space for discussion, than expect people to blindly agree or be ignorant to these issues.” 

Blóm release Flower Violence via Box Records on 1st May

 

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