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A Chat With Blonde...Two Bristolians Behind Some Devilishly Handsome Music

A Chat With Blonde...Two Bristolians Behind Some Devilishly Handsome Music

There's music that makes you wanna move and then there is music that makes you feel moved. I came across "I Loved You" from Blonde about a month ago courtesy of Eton Messy's Soundcloud and felt I had found a song that does both. "I Loved You" not only made my blood tingle and my head bob, but it made me feel things. Happy things. Sexy things. Empowerment. After riding out my emotional glow, I decided I wanted more Blonde…and to my excitement, I struck gold. I had the pleasure of a bit of dialog with Blonde and got to know a bit more about the masterminds creating this mood changing music.

Behind the Blonde name are two fun loving, down to earth boys, Adam Englefield and Jacob Manson. From creating their own unique upbeat music to making memories on the dancefloor, it's pretty safe to say that these two eat, breath and just all around love everything about music. I couldn't help but feel like they weren't just artists from overseas, but friends I could talk to about life. While they wanted to keep their upcoming releases a surprise for their fans, you can find a hidden gem on Eton Messy's Mix #9. They did share with me, however, that they will be putting out a free download of a remix they did of Applebottom's "Let You" via Eton Messy Music soon. Cheers.

Every experience is improved with the correct musical accompaniment. With the right music you can turn a mundane chore into something amazing!

What's moving you right now, any particular tracks stuck in your head?

Adam: Tyro’s track "Sophie's Apology" has been on repeat recently…Those chords just get me every time.
Jacob: Celcius "Thought As Much." It’s just got so much bounce and groove throughout and those string stabs are sexy as hell. Oh and the Waze & Odyssey remix of "Bump N Grind," that’s huge.

Where are you from? Do you think this has influenced your music style or choice of music?

Adam: I have always been a bit of a Nomad and lived between several places, but a few years back I settled in Bristol, which has made my taste in music what it is today. Bristol’s a real hub for innovative electronic music and in my opinion is second to London in the UK for it.
Jacob: I grew up in Bristol and was immersed in the music scene from an early age playing in a lot of bands. There’s an incredible atmosphere in that city with large networks of musicians spanning a vast array of different genres. Knowing that these incredible artists like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead came from your city is pretty inspiring. They each have their own very individual sound but there are still those familiar dark grooves and melancholy undertones suffused throughout the music. I’m living in Leeds right now, which is pretty renowned for its club scene. Nights like Mono Cult and Louche bring some incredible artists in to the city and their shows have definitely been very influential.

I’m an absolutely massive foodie and love cooking for other people.

What life activities are made better when listening to music? Talk about the last time you enjoyed one and the other. What were you doing, what were you listening to?

Adam: Every experience is improved with the correct musical accompaniment. With the right music you can turn a mundane chore into something amazing! The last example I can remember of this was on Boxing day evening I went for a walk through the countryside to get to the shop (back at my family home), so I plugged in my headphones and put on White Hinterland's "Icarus," which is a pretty euphoric song. Made the whole journey pretty special because it just felt like the mood fitted the scenery so perfectly. Music can be powerful like that!
Jacob: I always run and work out to music; it gives me a good opportunity to listen to new mixes whilst doing something productive and provides the best source of motivation. Back when I lived in Bristol I used to go running pretty regularly with one of my oldest friends. We’d always go for quite a few hours and used to spend ages before each run putting together the perfect playlists and syncing them up on our iPods so we’d be sharing the same soundtrack. Bristol is a beautiful city and there are lots of incredible green spaces to explore and with the right music it all felt very cinematic.

What do you like to do in your free time when you aren’t traveling or making music?

Adam: This is a tricky one because music takes up such a large chunk of my life! But when I do get that free time I'm either relaxing or socialising with mates. Being originally from the countryside I do enjoy just being out in the elements, even if just to go for a run! I also still play the guitar a lot.
Jacob: I try to stay as active as possible; I like running, the gym and rock-climbing, anything that tires me out as I generally have a lot of energy. I’m also an absolutely massive foodie and love cooking for other people.

Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song or album.

Adam: James Blake's debut album instantly takes me right back. I still regularly listen to it from start to finish. It’s got so much depth to it that each song takes me back to different memories I guess... everything from break ups to summer festivals in 11 tracks.
Jacob: For about a year and a half I would always listen to Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 whilst cooking with one of my flatmates. It became a bit of a ritual; "Lolo" would preface the initial vegetable preparation phase. By the time "Big Egos" came on things would generally be on to simmer and then depending on what we were making we’d probably eat somewhere between "Ed-Ucation" and "Ackrite" although a big stew could take you all the way through to "The Message." E-Heavy’s "Tribute to Nate Dogg" mix from the Soul Clap podcast series is a big feature in the kitchen right now.

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If your lives were measured in BPMs, what would they be?

Adam: I'd like to think it's running at a cool and calm 120 BPM, but sometimes it feels more like a 170!
Jacob: In my late teens I was definitely a 140 kid but I think I’ve mellowed down to somewhere around 110. All the '80s disco records are sitting well with me at the moment, Donna Allen, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, Luther Vandross, that kind of thing. Something chilled and sexy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and still has that party vibe to it.

I did find my preconceptions of electronic music being blown out of the water once I had experienced it in a club for the first time.

Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights and colored gels? Please explain.

Adam: Smoky low-lit club generally… however it all depends on the people who you are playing to. Some of my most memorable sets have been in the smaller less impressive venues, but that has been purely down to the enthusiasm of the people there.
Jacob: I think the relative fullness of the room is more important than the room size. If you can pack out a tiny room two with 60-70 people that’s always more fun than playing to 200 in a 600 capacity club. I don’t really mind where I am playing though as long as people are enjoying themselves. Mint club in Leeds is a great club as it’s kind of in-between the two. It’s small enough to feel intimate but it’s fully kitted out with a Funktion1 sound-system and a massive LED panel on the ceiling, which I think is based on the Watergate club in Berlin.

Do you discuss or exchange ideas with other producers?

Adam: We are good friends with a lot of other producers from whom we draw inspiration. We’ll often exchange tracks we are working on for feedback with other producers. It’s really great getting an outsiders perspective.
Jacob: I was quite a latecomer to production, I had been in studios with bands before and was always fascinated by what the engineer was doing. I had a basic knowledge of compression and EQ from experimenting with guitar pedals and graphic EQs on amps but didn’t have much technical knowledge regarding programming beats, sampling, synthesis, etc. A lot of my friends had studied music technology or been making music with computers for a long time and they were completely responsible for my progress in those early days. The music we make these days is completely different in style but producers like Boofy, Carlos and OH91 gave me insights that totally transformed the way I work on engineering tracks and they’re still some of the first people I go to for advice today.

Sometimes it’s an Otis Redding moment and sometimes all I want to listen to is Randomer.

Discuss a musician or an era which has influenced you. When and how did you come upon what moved you?

Adam: I guess a lot of different artists throughout time have inspired me. My mum is a big music lover and she opened my eyes to Northern soul, rock and ska. As far as electronic music is concerned though it was when I discovered house music after moving to Bristol. The house I listened to then was more fidget and electro, but I did find my preconceptions of electronic music being blown out of the water once I had experienced it in a club for the first time.
Jacob: It’s hard to define one era in particular as I’ve fallen in love with most genres at some point. I grew up on a hybrid of my parents’ taste, which was pretty eclectic. I had a little Sony Walkman that played cassette tapes and used to listen to anything from Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell to Pink Floyd and Talking Heads. I’ve always been a sucker for Nina Simone as well. Joni is still one of my favourite songwriters of all time and I love the way that Nina can take someone else’s song and really make it her own. As soon as I started having enough money to buy my own records (aged 10 or 11), I was completely into hip-hop and that was pretty much all I’d listen to, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, the first two Eminem albums. Then one of my best mates introduced me to The Pixies, Cymande, Toots and the Maytals and Sublime and my whole musical perspective just got blown wide open again. I still listen to a bit of everything really or at least a select few artists in each genre. I think different artists conjure up different aesthetics that can be enjoyed more or less depending on the situation. Sometimes it’s an Otis Redding moment and sometimes all I want to listen to is Randomer.

Since both your parents have had a huge influence on your musical tastes, what do they think about your music? Do they offer input or suggestions?

Adam: My parents are hugely supportive of the music I do and have been from day one. However, my parents were young in the '70s, before the rise of electronic music so they don't have much experience with things like house music. I'm slowly converting them though!
Jacob: Both of my parents are pretty musical, my mum used to play in bands around Bristol and enrolled me in basic music classes when I was a toddler. I had piano and violin lessons from an early age but they never really captivated me. It was only when I was about 10 and my dad gave me an old bass guitar that I started getting excited about playing an instrument. My first bands used to practice in my mums house and use my dad’s recording gear to lay down these really basic demos and both of my parents were always really supportive. My mum’s actually got all of the finished Blonde tunes on her iPod.

I read you guys are working separately on different projects. What are they and what does that mean for the future of Blonde?

Adam: Well I have my blog Eton Messy that takes a fair bit of focus, but really the two projects rarely clash. If anything they compliment each other perfectly. I also produce under the name Beluga, which is more future garage/moody than the Blonde stuff. I like having this second alias because it gives me an opportunity to explore those other kind of vibes that may not fit Blonde's sound but I still enjoy making. Production-wise, however, Blonde is my main focus right now and we are currently working real hard on new material. So nothing is going to get in the way of our aspirations for this project.
Jacob: I produce under Thieves and that’s really how I met Adam, submitting my earliest tracks to Eton Messy and eventually remixing one of his Beluga tunes—that’s how Blonde started. As Adam said it’s good to have another creative output as it allows you to channel all of those things that don’t quite fit the Blonde aesthetic into another project. Instead of sitting down to write a Blonde track I’ll sit down to write, if it fits Blonde then it fits, if it doesn’t I don’t feel compelled to force it and it can always work under the Thieves alias. Blonde is definitely the main focus though for me, I’m really excited about getting more tracks out there.

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