Monday, March 10, 2014

SOUND CHECK: Blouse INTERVIEW


Fake Plastic shoots the breeze with Charlie Hilton of Blouse about the Spanish Baroque period, life on the road, worlds without live music,and their new album Imperium.


FPT: The new album, Imperium, felt stripped-back from the electronic approach and more guitar-driven. Can you talk about what inspired that direction?
  
CH: Initially our producer Jake wanted to play more guitar in the band and it was a very practical decision. He wanted to try something new and when he brought up the idea, it seemed like an appropriate challenge. Part of that was wanting to do something fresh for the second record, to carve a new path and play some other influences out.


FPT: Can you talk about the meaning of the word “imperium” and how it reflects Blouse in this new album?

CH: The title track "Imperium" is about the invasion of the new world during the Baroque period. I was taking an Art History class while we were making the record and it was focusing on the Spanish Baroque period and so I was literally learning about Imperium and Imperialism and what it meant and what it did to people. I got obsessed with it. As it relates to the record as a whole, we felt that we weren’t really celebrating the imperium concept, but deconstructing it would be pretty cool. The record itself sonically feels both strong and fragile at the same time.


FPT: Do you have a favorite song from the Imperium recording sessions?
 
CH: I loved recording “Trust Me”. It was the last song we finished and it’s the last song on the record. There’s this one part where I speak and I’m just laying down with this little microphone in my hand- we were so exhausted and just the fulfillment of finishing that song and finishing the record in this vulnerable state, it was really nice. I’ll never forget it.


FPT: You’re about to start touring with the Dum Dum Girls. How do you guys prepare for hitting the road?

CH: For this tour specifically, we try to be really organized with nerdy spreadsheets because we can’t afford a tour manager. On a less serious note, just thinking about comedians we can listen to on the road and where all the Whole Foods are so we can stop and get decent food. Things that feel luxorious like hot water make a big difference.


FPT: Do you find yourself more artistically inspired when you’re on tour or in the studio?

CH: I think both- but they’re so different because in the studio, you’re creating things. But when you’re on tour, you’re just soaking things up all the time, so I feel like I’m always getting ideas but you’re never alone, so you can never do anything with them. In the studio, you're almost inspired by your own creations as you’re making them which I think is probably one of the most fulfilling things you can do.
 

FPT: Do you have a favorite place to perform when you’re on tour?

CH: I love playing in Montreal. It’s all very European. But I also love the south- especially performing at the Bottletree. I was just telling a friend about Birmingham, how they have massage chairs in the green room, it’s so nice.


FPT: As an artist, does music criticism have any effect on you and do you ever read reviews of your work?  

CH: Definitely. It’s hard not to but I also think it’s important to have the right mix so you can’t get into a feedback loop. It’s the same at live shows- it’s easy to look out into the audience for their approval, their reaction, and base what you’re doing on that. It’s a thing to get caught up in, so I’m constantly trying to keep myself in check and think about what I’m doing. Someone once told me, “If you believe all the good things people say about you then you have to believe all the bad things too.”


FPT: As the music industry continues to evolve almost daily, where do you see things headed in the next ten years? What will it mean to release an album in 2024?

CH: I can’t even imagine. I always get really scared when I have to look into the future. I feel like what’s happening most of all is that people are forgetting about things really quickly. It’s so easy to hear music now and people just want to move on to the next thing more and more, even with things that aren’t music. It’s hard to imagine people sitting through an album in 2024 but I’m imagining they will. Even though the format of music has been changing, the way people buy it and hold onto it, the record itself seems to stay the same length. The length and concept of the record hasn’t changed much, so hopefully that will stay the same.


FPT: Hypothetical scenario- if we suddenly lived in a world where there was no live music allowed, how would this change your approach to songwriting? Or would it?

CH:That’s interesting because I find the art forms of recording and performing music to be two very different things. In the past, I’ve wondered if I even had a passion for life performance because I’m shy- it seemed that maybe it was just something I had to do in conjunction with recording music to fulfill the whole package. But I’ve actually found myself really enjoying getting to perform and I think it would be sad not to see faces and talk to people and make music physical. If you could only read reviews from critics, that would be so lonely and depressing. I feel it’s so important to be in a room with real people and play the music. It’s such a reciprocal thing, it would be really sad to lose that.


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