The Dirty Dancing interview - Blond:ish
Originally hatched in Montreal, but currently based in London, DJ's Anstascia and Vivie-Ann aka Blond:ish are among the new breed of electro artists for whom genre is just a word. Combining a sharp, street-level understanding of the latest sounds, while respecting and acknowledging music's deep history, Blond:ish have charmed their way into the offices of some of the most respected labels around.
Their recent, psychedelic influenced ‘Lovers In Limbo’ EP (Kompakt) pulled a trippy 1960s vibe, paving the way for upcoming releases via Noir Music, NM2 and Get Physical.
We caught up with the duo as they were about to embark on a collaborative project with mobile phone manufacturer HTC that would see them engage directly with fans and listeners as they bounce from studio to studio, gig to gig.
What are your earliest musical memories?
Vivie-Ann: Breaking my Dad’s needles from manually turning the vinyl around the record player, and tangling up the reel.
Anstascia: My parents playing The Beatles, Doors and Diana Ross on our record player. There must have been some Gypsy Kings and Bee Gees thrown in there too! I definitely wasn’t exposed to an eclectic collection early on. My Mum also made me learn classical piano when I was 5. I really hated music theory but it helped me develop a musical ear early on, so thanks Mum!
'Lovers In Limbo' has been well received within the House community. Do you see yourselves continuing to pursue similar sounds or is your music and mixes something that will evolve over time?
The looseness and psychedelic nature of this EP is definitely where our heart is. Originally we had this project idea for an album, but then made three tracks and they sounded like they belonged together for life, like conjoined triplets, so we just went with it.
The natural progression to build on the 'Lover’s in Limbo' EP is to keep experimenting with guitar effect techniques, get a bit weirder with the sounds, and dig even deeper into your goosebump receptors. We’ll definitely document some of our studio sessions on the HTC One X we've been given - the handset comes with Beats Audio integration so the sound it lets us share with fans during the process is as close as we can get without bringing them to the studio! It’s a great way for us to test out new ideas and possibly learn something from them in the process.
What pulled you from Montreal to London?
A fortune teller! Anstascia saw one when she was 17, and she told her there would be something pulling her to London, and she would move there eventually - so we did! We moved to the centre of our galaxy for music.
Moving to London was by far the best decision we have ever made. Music-wise it goes without mentioning how much talent oozes out of this city, not to mention the fact that London has about six airports, so it makes it extremely convenient to travel to almost anywhere in the world on a direct flight!
We really miss Montreal, but our work with HTC as part of their Urban Ambassador programme has made us realise that the world isn’t such a big place – we can share our worldly experiences with friends and fans wherever we are. The photos and video we capture can make them feel like they’re right there with us.
Blond:ish ft Thomas Gandey - Strange Attractions EP [GET PHYSICAL 2012.08.13] *PREVIEW* by BLOND:ISH
Many of the people who visit our column are aspiring DJs or producers. From a point of view of artists who have already achieved a degree of success within the industry, what advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Do everything it takes to learn how to produce music. You need to find that sound that makes people instantly know it’s you.
Once you have that, labels will take notice. Everyone gets ignored and turned down by labels many, many times, but you can’t let that discourage you. If you really believe in yourself, someone out there will too. It’s probably the universe testing your perseverance, so stay positive and focused. You’ll need to learn to take criticism constructively and turn it into motivation to keep on working hard at your craft.
Really researching on what labels you think your tracks will fit on and focusing on how you will get it to them is also really important. Remember - they get a million new records a day, so think of a way to stand out!
There's been quite a firestorm online in recent weeks about celebrity DJs and the supposed demise of core deck and mixing skills. What are your thoughts about new technology and the way the scene has gone?
Yes, in general we definitely embrace technology, but we also love using some classic gear in the studio and playing vinyl at after parties. We're definitely not purists though. You can be the best DJ in the world with an old school mentality, but if you play music the crowd doesn’t connect to you’ll get lost in the crowd. A mix of talent and musical programming wins in the long run and adaptation is key.
We doubt that 20 years ago anyone predicted that you can use an app like Shazam installed on your smartphone, and hold it up to a speaker to get the name and artist of a song you’re hearing at a party. We do this with our new phone all the time - being able to purchase it in the blink of an eye is awesome! It’s pretty unreal, so we’re really excited for what technology holds for us in the future! Even capturing photos is already so much easier. With the HTC One X we can get great photos at our gigs in low light, as well as some brilliant action shots with burst mode. Slow motion video is really cool too. It really captures the reaction from our fans during the sets and makes for some great memories for us and our Facebook followers when we post the footage.
With regard to celebs... if you’re referring to something like Paris Hilton’s stint as a DJ we think it's hilarious. It's entertainment for us and all the music heads, but at the same time we're shaking our heads in disappointment. Anyone in their right mind won't take her and the other celebs in the same boat seriously!
Are there tracks or albums that you keep returning to year after year? What would be on your desert island playlist?
We love Sunday lovin’ tracks like:
Terranova – Paris is for lovers
Chaim – Love Rehab
Seuil – Ultravison
Nhar – Moonhole
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit
Mano le Tough – Mountains
Blond:ish are currently using the HTC One X to capture their journey as Urban Adventurers. Follow their journey at #MyHTCUrbanAdventure