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

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Image: Daemon T.V

Du Blonde’s third record, Homecoming, is a flab-free, hyper-melodic dose of serotonin, and when I speak to Beth about the record she is brimming with enthusiasm. Her first self-release through her own Daemon T.V label, she details a liberating process that has allowed her to take complete ownership of her work.

The record is a short, sharp tour de force; Ducky Daffy covers sexual tension and modern ennui in under 80 seconds; recent single I’m Glad That We Broke Up uses glam and garage influences to scintillating effect, culminating in a sugary pill of pop serotonin; Pull The Plug is Hole at 45 rpm instead of 33, and – like the record as a whole – is some of Beth’s most direct, impactful songwriting offering a liberating counterblast to gaslighting.

Originally I was trying to make super simple garage records and wanted to go down the self-release route but a lot of my writing was leaning towards pop. When I’m writing I’ve always tended to go down a pop direction but have tried to avoid it, I’ve tried to make things more awkward, but I’ve been able to let that go this time and go with my impulses. Given the wider global and societal circumstances at present, I was surprised how jovial this record is – it’s turned out to be a bit of a party record with sad moments.”

Beth’s demeanour is as relaxed and pleasantly stoic as much of the record; which she started writing in January 2020. “I started writing it when we knew about COVID but it hadn’t yet reached Europe. I was in LA in early January 2020 and I got back from LA just before they closed the borders, continued writing in London and came up to Newcastle when the lockdown was enforced. I ended up recording some of the vocals in my childhood bedroom. I like how the three places that have meant the most to me – LA, London and Newcastle – have their imprint on this record. This was more out of necessity than planning, really!”

Homecoming has been a completely DIY process for Beth, from recording and engineering, to creating the apparatus around promoting a record, to animating and producing her own music videos. “I produced the last record but I’ve never engineered my own stuff; it’s good to be forced to do the scary stuff. It’s an exciting process for me because I’m really interested in how business works and how to make a functional website – I like being self-sufficient. I was worried that there was some secret power that record labels have to help you sell all of your records but this isn’t true. I was always told that self-releasing was really difficult and it took loads of work – it is a lot of work but I’ve had loads and loads of fun with it.”

Given the wider global and societal circumstances at present, I was surprised how jovial this record is – it’s turned out to be a bit of a party record with sad moments

Beth has been outspoken about how working with labels over the course of her career has resulted in her mental health deteriorating, and it’s clear the process she’s taken with Homecoming has been a liberating one. “That’s not to say they aren’t good people at record labels and we should all stop using them, but it’s not the only way to legitimise yourself as an artist. I think there will always be a place for record labels but at some point they are going to have to re-evaluate how they treat artists given that there are so many other doorways to self-expression.”

Taking control of the way she works has opened Beth’s practice up to a more collaborative spirit, and the record features guest appearances from the likes of art rock icon Ezra Furman, Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, folk band Tunng and indie popsters Girl Ray among others. “I was thinking ‘Why have I never collaborated with people in the past?’ With labels I was so protective of my material because they were so controlling. This time I wasn’t feeling protective at all and because of the pandemic I was feeling more like I wanted to email my friends and ask them to play whatever they want! I could work with people who sexually harass me who are desperate for me to get to number one and be miserable and in debt, or I could spend some of my own money to do things the way I want to do them. I already feel more successful in the last two months than I have done for a while; if I can work creatively – which in my case is animation and music – and I can pay my rent, then I’ll be happy.”

This process of liberation through taking control of her creative process has permeated through to Beth’s general life philosophy and sense of ease with herself. “I went on such a journey with my mental health! It’s really hard when someone I care about can make me feel like I’m crazy; before I would have really internalised that. Now I can be more self-accepting. I had a really bad experience touring with my mental health. The pandemic has made me realise how much I’ve missed touring. It was so hard for a while, I had a nervous breakdown in Zurich on tour, and touring didn’t feel safe for a while; it’s taken until touring with Garbage that it’s become fun again. I haven’t gone to many live shows for a while because of anxiety, so I can’t wait to do that again.”

Beth projects a reinvigorated love for the creative process. “Daemon T.V is the label – and I just want to tell anyone reading that they can make a record label, all you need to do is come up with a name and burn some CDs. I would love to see some 15 year olds make a label with their friends – I wanna see more DIY stuff! I think people just still really appreciate physical objects from artists. I want to see kids doing stuff, making stuff! If kids wanted to do that off the back of this record – that would be a success for me.”

Du Blonde releases Homecoming via Daemon T.V on 2nd April

 

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