While many of you may know of British duo Blonde as perhaps the latest in the pipeline of UK deep house/future garage producers which has seen the likes of Disclosure and Bondax come through, you might not realize that Blonde has also had their own hand in helping these other producers establish themselves as integral members of the Eton Messy YouTube Channel.
Consisting of two Bristolians Adam Englefield (a founding member of Eton Messy) and Jacob Manson, the two of them actually met in the most 21st century way possible – through the internet via Eton Messy of course.
Fresh off the conclusion of their debut North American tour, I took some time to sit down with them and discuss the tour, their latest single, and what they had planned moving forward.
So this (Toronto) is the last stop on your debut North American tour, how has the tour been overall?
Adam: Just crazy. I mean when you come to another country let alone another continent you don’t really how you’re going to be received if people are going to be into you or your music. It’s just been crazy getting here and seeing people go off to our songs – which we weren’t expecting really.
You guys made your North American festival debut at CRSSD, how was that?
Jacob: Well we played pretty early actually in the day right so we weren’t quite sure what to expect but we actually had a really, really good turnout. These guys before us had some technical difficulties, the music actually cut out for 10 minutes or so right before we were playing so everybody wandered off and we basically started out with nobody there. About halfway through the set though it had become really busy even all the way to the back and that was really cool to see, people coming out that early just to see dance music. It was also super-hot as well, just super sweaty and they were really just getting into it.
If you guys had to pick only one, what are your favorite ever Eton Messy submissions?
Adam: We were actually just talking about this with Aseem (from Hotel Garuda) the other day. Maybe that Boean record, from the days when Karma Kid and those guys were coming through?
Adam: Actually I’ll probably go with that, Aaron Lipsett & Fion. – Cognac.
Eton Messy has definitely had a huge hand in bringing up artists in the UK scene with artists like Bondax & Disclosure all featured in the channel as early as 2011/12. Do you guys take in pride in helping establish a lot of these different artists?
Adam: Massively! Just being part of that whole scene as well was just so special especially at that time when everybody was bedroom DJs and it was just a big Soundcloud community with all of us chatting on Facebook. There was such a buzz around it because at the time nobody was having chart success or any of this stuff and it was just all so exciting and new, so just to be a part of makes me feel really proud and seeing all these guys doing so well right now is just awesome. It was really great to be a part of their stories.
From a North American perspective, it just seems that the European community is just so much closer, can you talk about that perception?
Jacob: For sure it started out as a very tight-knit community, but it’s drifted apart a little now and I’m not necessarily sure there’s still one now. The kind of music we were making in that whole scene when we started out was, that was definitely a very close knit community. There was a point where you pretty much knew everybody, you’d be playing the same shows at the same small clubs spending a lot of time with each other. Now, there’s a lot of people we don’t know coming out with tracks that sound like some of the people who’ve experienced massive chart success and suddenly you’re meeting new people at shows who are from a completely different world. Maybe they were producing pop records and they just jumped on the bandwagon, so when you meet those guys there’s kind of a different vibe – they’re not that interested in the community or helping everybody else out.
Adam: Back in the early Messy days about two years ago it was massively like that. Everybody was willing each other to succeed, it’s still like that to an extent, but everybody was just collaborating and helping each other.
Who are some of your favorite North American producers?
Adam: You gotta give it to Diplo as an obvious answer here. He had like 2-3 really great tracks in the UK Top 10 a few months back and not just pop tracks but really strong tracks that I really love.
Jacob: If we’re going underground you’ve got guys like AMTRAC, Lane 8, Kaytranada, Moon Boots. There’s tons of people who are doing great stuff.
So you guys just dropped a new single two months ago, “Feel Good (It’s Alright)” with Karen Harding, go into the creative process of making that record.
Adam: So the original hook “you made me feel good” is actually from a really early Italo-House record called “You Make Me Feel Good” by JK. We got that hook and we wrote some drums and a bass-line around it so we had those three elements but we weren’t sure about the verse from the original. We took the project into a session with MNEK and he gave us some wicked ideas for the verse and so the next step was finding a vocalist. We had this whole big process were we went through loads of vocalists trying to find the right one because we had a very particular one in mind. We always wanted to work with Karen Harding who thankfully also wanted a go at it, so she sent us a demo which was spot on and within a few weeks it was all wrapped up.
Speaking of vocalists, I notice that you guys actually have used a different vocalist for every single, is there a reason for that?
Jacob: It’s always fun working with different vocalists because we feel like that’s a part of the process. Hunting for different vocalists is the icing on the cake – you have that song and now you’re looking for somebody to just own it. It’s also really fun working with different emerging artists because you get to be a part of their journey as well. Obviously we’re still really close with our old vocalists, Ryan Ashley for example. He came out to a bunch of shows on his own and performed “Foolish” live a bunch of times that was super cool. It was wicked building this kind of a network of artists and now Ryan’s now the lead singer of Shy Luv which is Armeria & Karma Kid’s project. Another part is that there are just so many awesome, distinctive vocalists out there that we can never tie ourselves to just one. There’s definitely people who we’ll work with again like Cass Lowe who’s a UK-based songwriter, we’ve done a bunch of tracks with him for example.
Did you guys feel any pressure at all making a follow-up record to “All Cried Out” which was a massive success?
Adam: Yes. I think you always do and I think if you say you don’t you’re probably lying to yourself. Everybody judges you on your past records and that one did so much for us, it was literally everywhere. I have relatives in Australia who called me up and told me that I was on the radio over there! We were feeling a lot of pressure but we got a point where we were like “look, we did this great single and we had great success. Let’s have a moment where we step back and focus on the album and making that as strong as possible.” We tried our hardest to not get bogged down by that kind of success basically.
Is there a release date currently slated for the album?
Jacob: Hopefully early next year but it really depends on the label because from a creative perspective we have enough tracks. With our live shows we actually play 45 minutes to an hour of entirely our material, most of which are unreleased songs so it’s just “ID on IDs”! That highlights the amount of material we’ve written in the past two years plus all the remixes and bootlegs, and we’re always doing little edits to our live sets as well. We’ve made an absolute ton of music and we’re just gonna keep on writing because we can just section off some for the first album and then keep moving on to album two. I think with us adding a live band as well we’ll be moving to incorporate more musical instruments and live musical aspects.
So you guys are planning to play with a live band, what’s that going to look like?
Adam: Yeah! Actually on the day we get back from here we’re going to do two days of rehearsals with a live band and then straight onto a tour with 11 dates across the UK. There’s going to be six of us: a drummer, keyboardist, two singers, then me and Jake splitting the guitars, bass guitars, some keys, and also the samples so it’s really cool. It’s as live as you’re gonna get!
Speaking of festivals, if you could headline any festival which one would you pick and why?
Jacob: Coachella maybe?!
Adam: I was thinking Glastonbury. Being from the UK in my mind Glastonbury is the pinnacle of festivals and from what I’ve heard it’s not going to be going on for much longer so we’ve only got a few years to get that headline slot!
Do you guys have any kind of ritual or anything you guys do before you play a live set?
Jacob: Not really, but the other day I played FIFA till about three minutes until I was supposed to get on stage so I was pretty much fully zoned out for the first song and a half and totally sucked. Don’t play FIFA till the last minute!
Adam: A lot of baths in the hotel room…using the facilities to their fullest. You gotta use everything there, watch the news while you’re in the bath, make a cup of tea, use the iron even!
If you’re diggin’ the Blonde UK house vibes you can put up a copy of their latest single on iTunes here.
Featured Image Source: Erockk Exo