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

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Bristol-based house duo Adam Englefield and Jacob Manson, aka Blonde, are just the right amount of bubbly and gleeful to be found on the sometimes hyperactively euphoric playlists of popular YouTube channel Eton Messy. Maybe that’s because Englefield happens to be one of the founders of the site. That also explains why of all the carbon-copy happy house groups that have emerged since the breakthrough of Disclosure, Blonde have managed to stand out from the crowd with a series of chart-bothering singles that often owe more to pop than traditional house. Don’t be surprised if the pair start vying for the Lawrence brothers’ crown soon…

Ahead of a live performance at Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Wednesday 28th October, we talked to Adam about Blonde’s latest single and balancing the band with other commitments.

Congratulations on the imminent release of Feel Good (It’s Alright)! What can we expect from the new single?
Thank you! Well for the next single we have decided to do something a bit different. Its heavily UK Garage influenced with a slightly moodier vibe overall. We can’t wait for people to hear it.

I know that Adam was originally running Eton Messy and Jacob was producing under the name Thieves, so how did the pair of you originally come together to start making music as Blonde? 
Well we actually met through Eton Messy as well. Jake sent me one of his tracks that he had produced for his project Thieves, which I loved. We ended up talking a lot over Facebook and got on really well. It was after about a month or so that I asked Jake to remix a track of mine that I had made under the name Beluga. The result was really great so we then decided to do a collaboration. What came of that was unlike any of our solo projects so for continuity’s sake we decided to put it out under a new name, which was Blonde. And we haven’t looked back since!

Your singles so far have charted really high in the past few months and you’ve been getting some great critical acclaim too – have you been at all surprised by how successful your crossover has been so far?
Initially we were surprised, as we never really set out to have commercial success. When record labels started wanting to meet up with us we couldn’t believe it, as we were just two guys making tracks in our bedrooms at the time. You still get that great feeling when you see total strangers singing along to your songs or tweeting about how much they love it. That’ll never wear off.

There’s a lot of really good house and dance acts coming out of the UK at the minute. What do you think sets you apart from the rest?
I think our attention to song craft sets us apart somewhat. We generally stick to conventional song structures with powerful lyrical messages. Thats what makes a song meaningful to the listener, when its relatable. Also the fact that we perform this songs live with a full band I think gives us a unique edge.

You’ve picked up on a lot of new, talented singers on your singles, including Melissa Steel and, on the new single, Karen Harding. How did you come across these vocalists and why did you want to work with them?
With both Melissa and Karen we had been big fans before working with them, so they were always on our wish list of artists to work with. When we write a track we always do so with a very particular vocal in mind, and the process of finding that singer can be very long and difficult. But we were very lucky with Melissa and Karen. We knew their vocals would work before even having heard them sing the songs.

If you could have someone provide guest vocals on one of your tracks, who would it be?
We’re big Usher fans. Also if Mariah Carey fancied jumping on one of our track I don’t think we would complain!

You’re known for your really high-energy DJ sets and you’ve got crowds everywhere from Glastonbury to Creamfields into the party spirit. How different is it to perform live as Blonde compared to putting together a DJ set?
Live shows and DJ sets are totally different kinds of shows. Live shows are where we showcase all our own music, whereas DJ sets we play some of our own stuff but alongside loads of classics and tracks we are enjoying at the time. Whilst both are high energy the live shows are usually the most mental!

What can we expect from you when you come to Newcastle’s O2 Academy?
A set full of all our hits and a handful of unreleased material you won’t be able to hear anywhere else. Also a few covers of house classics that we have put together especially for our live show, so expect to be dancing till your feet ache.

You’ve been continuing to work on your debut album; do you know when it might be coming out and what can we expect from it?
The album has been a working progress for a fair while now, but its looking like we’ll be releasing it mid 2016! We still have a few more tracks we want to put out before hand. But on the album we have tracks is many different styles, so not just house. From slow jams to garage, it’s a real mix up of influences.

Aside from working on new music as Blonde, Eton Messy has continued to be very active. Is it important to you to continue promoting the work of dance and house musicians while also working on your own music?
Participating in the scene will always be important, no matter how much success you have. Otherwise you run the risk of losing touch with whats going on. Also its a great way of supporting artists that we love.

Blonde play O2 Academy, Newcastle on Wednesday 28th October.


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