Interview: Nu-Disco Maestro Blende Talks New Music, Changing Tastes & Concept Of Success - Magnetic Magazine
The master of nu-disco is back!

Blende is one talented producer. Blende is also his own biggest critic. Don't believe him when he says nobody is listening, his wicked synth-pop releases have a level of emotionality that keep the 300th listen as poignant and fresh as the first. Over a more than a decade, his discography has grown in fits and starts, vexing the masses of nu-disco lovers who consider him their maestro. Recently, he's returned from a hefty hiatus with new material so we simply had to track him down.

What's behind the long radio silence? The simple fact of the matter is that Blende is an artist who is purely interested in whats on the forefront of his mind. The consistency with which he wows his fans is only paralleled by the drive to push his sound into uncharted territories. Although he confesses that he often can't stand to listen to his old material, his sarcastic self-criticism cannot be seen as anything other than the purest form of creative course-correction. The fruitless pursuit of perfection is nothing else but exhausting, however, so he took some well-deserved time to rediscover the sounds that inspire him. 

Nu-disco lovers rejoice, Blende has returned baring gifts! Enjoy the exclusive mix, learn a little more about him, and check out his latest release "Back to Summertime", linked below and available now on Eskimo Recordings. 

MM: So, what have the last couple of weeks looked like for you?

Blende: Since my latest single came out, I've not done a lot to be honest. I've been trying to catch up on a side project with a friend of mine. I've had to start thinking about what's coming next because I've signed away a couple of singles to Eskimo, the record label. So it's just a matter of finalizing all the other songs, see what we're going to release next and when that's coming out. I can't really do that much myself other than just try and get it done and then obviously, you just have to leave it to them. It's not glamorous.

MM: How did you get your start making music?

Blende: It was drive, I was hell bent on making music. I didn't even realize that I could do it because I've never been a very good instrumentalist. I play a little but of the second rate piano and guitar, which I taught myself, but I always thought there was no way I could do music professionally. Then I found house music and realized you don’t actually need to be a good musician to get paid for it. So I thought, "Why not give this a go?” You get better at your craft over time, so, although I'm still pretty rubbish, I can string a few chords together and press a button on the computer to make everything sound brilliant. Obviously a bit more work than that, but you get it. I come up with the best stuff when I'm doing things randomly. You make mistakes and that's how you create new sounds.

MM: Was there a moment where you realized that people would listen?

Blende: No. Not really. I'm still amazed that anyone has ever listened at all, to be honest. I think it was more about that whole “making it” thing. I know it's a bit cliché and stuff, but it was always chasing a record deal. That was always the only thing that mattered. Once you got a record deal, you'd never have to work again. It was incredibly naïve thinking that it would solve everything. But about twelve years ago I signed my first deal with a record label in Germany and we released a couple things on vinyl. Some of it sold quite a few copies so if not instant success, it was a good indicator that people were actually listening.

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MM: I hear you're a pretty big fan of eating fish. When are we going to get a Blende song about fish, or does one exist?

Blende: Yeah. I don't know. I hadn't planned to do one yet. But I'll have to try and think of something. It's just not very sexy to write about fish.

MM: Maybe you're just not thinking about it right.

Blende: I think you're right about that. Like a fish woman. Half fish, half woman. Like a mermaid, I suppose. Yeah. I should write something about mermaids.

MM: Or, maybe you write it about an upside-down mermaid and it's lost in the world because its top half is fish and its bottom half is woman.

Blende: Like a fish head? I don't know. I wonder which one I would prefer, actually… I'm going with the mermaid. It'd be hard not to eat the fish head. It’s a delicacy. The fish eyes are the best bit.

MM: How often are you DJing now?

Blende: At the moment, not at all. I think I got a couple of gigs coming up but I took an active choice to let DJ-ing take a backseat. It was the old thing about not being 100% happy with how everything was sounding so I thought I better really try and work out a new sound that I could be happy with. Then obviously, that's never going to happen because in the end, I always end up throwing it out. I felt that I needed to create a bit of a catalogue because one thing I always did wrong in the past was to release a single once a year and that was it. I thought, if I'm not feeling the sound and I don't have enough material, I need to do something about it. I need to lock myself in the studio and try and get as much as possible done and then see where it takes me. Obviously, it took a bit longer than I thought to get to a stage where I felt relatively happy about it.

MM: What does the next year look like for you?

Blende: Hopefully, we'll have a date soon for the next single. There will be at least one more single this year, possibly two. I've got a couple of remixes coming up and then just a few local gigs across Europe. 

MM: Are you constantly producing songs?

Blende: I'd say it’s more of an ebb and flow. I'm like everyone else, I've got weeks when it's just not working at all, like writer's block can happen every now and then. I’ve recently realized how useful it is to work with other people. Collaborating is quite liberating in the sense that you start focusing on something that you wouldn't necessarily do when you were producing it by yourself. Also, I think it's easier to be a bit less critical of what you're doing if you're doing it together with someone because you can open up a bit more. You're a bit more open to suggestions. I think that's always been my issue. If I look back at all the stuff I've released, you'd struggle to find someone who's less of a fan of myself.

MM: I know there are some directors who refuse to watch their own movies.

Blende: Yeah. Oh absolutely. I think the critical eye is the only way to develop your craft, in a sense. Otherwise, if you really, truly think you are the best, then truth is that you're probably quite shit, really. That's the thing though. You can release something and then five years later, for you, it can feel like it's the worst thing in the world. But then at the time, you liked it. So, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad, it's just that it's difficult for me to hear it the way other people might hear it.

MM: Who is “Rikki”? (song linked above)

Blende: Originally, "Rikki" was about a male robot trying to find it's way in the world. The lead singer of the band X Ambassadors wrote the song and was meant to sing on it. But there was a conflict, and we decided on a female vocalist, so we had to go back and change a few lines to reflect the new perspective.

MM: What do you do when looking for collaborators?

Blende: I’d say it's the connection with the artist themselves. I’ve tried working with people in the past where it was set up. But in those cases, where you don’t know the person, it becomes tough if they come up with something and it's not quite what you are looking for. They're taking their valuable time to do it, and it’s hard to talk around that. So I prefer if I can choose to work with people that I know.

MM: What does success look like to you?

Blende: That's funny. I had a conversation about this the other day. I don't think I know anymore. I used to know. In this day and age, I don't know. I really don't. Because at least back in the day, you could have some sort of numbers. Like, if you sold gold, for example, that was success. I mean, you don't do that now do you? You can't. Can you stream gold? I don't think so. My truthful answer to that question is, I have no idea anymore.

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