Blindness & Light Unveiling Their Emotional Debut: «The Sound Is Very Much An 80s and 90s Post-Punk»
Drawing inspiration from the iconic 80s post-punk movement, Blindness & Light beautifully bridges the gap between the past and the present. Their music emanates an electrifying fusion of cutting-edge production and technical brilliance, seamlessly intertwined with an emotionally charged and vulnerable musical style that tugs at the heartstrings.
Embarking on an 8-track journey, the debut album promises to be an enchanting experience for all listeners. Leading the way are two extraordinary lead singles - "The Old Skylight" and "The Ballad of Them And Us." "The Old Skylight," released on May 3rd, 2023, serves as a haunting reflection of the album's melancholic and ethereal soundscape. However, the allure of Blindness & Light's debut album extends far beyond the music itself. It weaves a tale of personal triumph and transformation. The band's relentless pursuit of their artistic vision is all the more remarkable, given the adversity they faced after a devastating hit and run. This life-altering event prompted Blindness & Light to reevaluate their purpose and direction, leading to a remarkable journey of self-discovery and creative growth.
Today Indie Boulevard will delve into the captivating universe of Blindness & Light, an enigmatic band that intertwines the past with the present, crafting a musical legacy that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the world of post-punk.
INDIE BOULEVARD: Hello Blindness & Light! Blending the spirit of the 80s post-punk movement with modern-day production techniques is no easy feat. Could you take us through the creative process behind this endeavor?
BLINDNESS & LIGHT: Hi! All tracks on the album were started on acoustic guitar. Lyrics and vocal melodies were created on top of this. The next stage is where the Blindness & Light sound is created. Many guitars and guitar parts are layered. The songs are written very organically. Once I have something I'm happy with I will record a demo in Ableton LIVE! which I send to Tony Denmade, the producer. Tony uses Studio One DAW software and creates a foundation to the song, drums bass synths etc. Ideas are passed back and forth between us, parts can be amended and changed, sounds changed tempo altered ‘til it feels right. At this stage we will go into the studio and record guitar and vocal parts. Modern recording/production methods enable this process to be very fluid, and dynamic, changes can be made right up to the point of mastering. The process from start to finish has developed into a very natural way of working.
IB: How did you capture the essence of the post-punk era while infusing it with contemporary elements? What specific production techniques and musical choices did you employ to ensure that your musical style remains unique and resonates with today's audience?
B&L: The tools available for music production are amazing, allowing us to create the sound we do. We incorporate virtual instruments equipment to try and capture the feel of the music we are moved by. Plugins (VST’s) that model classic mixing desks, synthesizers and rare outboard equipment, for instance we can emulate the vintage Abbey Rd mixing consoles, the Arp 2600 synth, 1176 compressors, equipment which is used in the recording process of some of our favorite songs. We have access to the tools used to create the songs that inspired us to make music, yet at the same time these modern versions of these tools allow us to work in new creative and ever evolving ways. I am sure the next album will see our workflow take new and unexpected directions.
IB: What themes or emotions does your debut album, "Blindness & Light," explore? Can you provide insights into the lyrical content and the overall message you aimed to convey through the album?
B&L: The themes that emerged through the making of this album are pretty much a surprise to me. There was no conscious intent to embed specific themes in the lyrics but I guess this is quite natural as the words come from who I am. There are two main themes; firstly one of people being liberated from repression and secondly a criticism of humanity and the urgent need for our species to evolve socially before we self-destruct. An example of this is Time For Something Drastic which uses a backdrop of cult film Apocalypse Now, and all things connected to it, and compares this to our modern world. It sometimes feels like we’re drifting into our own self-made “Heart Of Darkness”.
IB: How would you describe the overall sound and atmosphere of the album? Are there any specific musical influences or stylistic elements that have had a significant impact on you?
B&L: The sound is very much an 80s and 90s post-punk sound. I think this just naturally happened due to my massive respect for music of that era. Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Wild Swans and The Wedding Present are probably some of my main influences although I think these bands needed the Velvet Underground to help them exist in the first place. Radiohead have also made a big impact on my musical landscape, their creative progression and clever use of technology has always been something I’m in awe of.
IB: The album features two lead singles, "The Old Skylight" and "The Ballad of Them and Us." How do these songs represent the essence of the album as a whole, and what inspired their creation?
B&L: Even though I explore many dark themes throughout the album there’s quite often a positive that springs out from the negative. In The Old Skylight, love is found while hiding from rioting and destruction on the streets. The Ballad Of Them And Us is basically a rant at our corrupt leaders with the silver lining to the clouds being that they will have their comeuppance….. this seems to be happening for a list of them at the moment and long may it continue!
IB: "The Old Skylight" features contributions from your daughter, a friend playing trumpet, and another family friend providing backing vocals. How did their involvement enhance the emotional depth of the track?
B&L: It’s always great to do music with people you know and like. I find the whole concept of an informal collective to be really positive for me and for those involved. I was in a formal indie band for years which was fun in many ways but quite restrictive in terms of creativity. Also we never got to the point of having releasable material even after 12 years! Now I write and perform the songs with people coming and going as they please, which has resulted in the most musically productive year of my life. It is great to have my daughter, Elise, as part of this journey. Helen’s backing vocals gave a lovely contrast to my vocals and Helena’s trumpet made the track for me. The good thing is they’re all happy to contribute to future tunes too. I have to say it’s easier than even to release a track now, especially in the digital world. As a result it seems that everyone is doing it and therefore there’s more competition than ever for media attention.
IB: Could you tell us more about the Ynys Môn mix of "The Ballad of Them And Us" that was remixed by Henry Priestman? How does it differ from the original version and what inspired the remix?
B&L: Henry Priestman (Yachts, It’s Immaterial) is a genuine star of the Liverpool post-punk era having supported the Sex Pistols, been supported by early Joy Division band Warsaw and played keyboards for Echo and the Bunnymen. Henry plays additional harmonica and also melodica on The Ballad Of Them And Us and did a remix for the album. By chance we live in the same village on the Isle of Anglesey…… Ynys Môn in Welsh. I think Henry’s mix is more refined than the one that Tony and I did for the single. The harmonicas are a bit crazy on the single version but it does give it passion and energy. I like both, they bring out different colors and suit different moods.
IB: Your background in environmental biotechnology and your pursuit of a PhD undoubtedly shape your perspective and knowledge in a unique way. Can you delve deeper into how these academic pursuits influence your musical creativity and lyrical themes? How do concepts or ideas from the field of environmental biotechnology find their way into your music?
B&L: That’s a good question! The reason I do environment research and the things I write about in my music are definitely connected; I do actually care about these things. Doing a PhD and self-releasing an album have more in common than you’d expect. You have to have a creative mind full of ideas to do both and the patience to realize that multiple levels of improvement are needed to take an initial idea and make it into the finished product. I think the PhD gave me the confidence to spin loads of plates at once and take many shabby, half-baked ideas and keep improving them until I was happy with the final results. 10 years ago I never thought I’d pass a PhD but then again I had no idea I’d have a debut album out there either. I can’t change the world but I can change myself.
IB: With the digital release of your album on various platforms, as well as physical copies on CD and vinyl, how important is it for you to offer different formats to your listeners? What do you believe is the significance of physical media in today's digital age?
B&L: I think it’s important to give your audience a choice. Different people and different age groups connect with media in different ways. There’s something that’s hard to describe about the impact of a 12” circle of vinyl in the hands of a vinyl junky….it’s almost a religious experience. To put it on the turntable and read the sleeve notes and to simultaneously immerse yourself in the world of the cover art and the music, is a thing of beauty.
IB: And the last question. What can we expect from Blindness & Light in the future? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or musical directions you are excited to explore?
B&L: I’ve started recording the next album. This’ll take about a year to complete, I guess. It should be released at the back end of 2024. This will also have 8 tracks. I do this to keep the sound quality high when it’s pressed onto vinyl. More than 20min/side and the quality plumets. I will continue to release a single every 2 months between now and then. I can’t take my foot off the gas now that I’ve got this momentum. I have a side project called Radio Psychosis. This is a collaboration between two singer/song-writers ; myself and Mike Juvenile of Liverpool band KEEF. The debut single, Television, will be out on 4th August, 2023 on all streaming platforms. Back to Blindness & Light – there are so many ideas to explore, there aren’t enough hours in the day. I occasionally love to stack up samples in Ableton LIVE! and create dystopian sci-fi type sound tracks. One example of this was the December 2022 single The Tannhäuser Gate, there are more like this but they didn’t really fit in with the album. Also I’m exploring the beauty of dub reggae which lends itself perfectly to an emotive and introspective sound. There’ll be a couple of new collaborators on this track including my mates Rob G, Junior Dayvis and of course Henry again doing his best Augustus Pablo on melodica.