An Everywhere Girl (elfslut) wrote in mossip,
An Everywhere Girl

Interview: Chris Blake

Chris Blake is an artist that mossip readers should be familiar with. The review of his full length album Waves was posted here and his latest EP Tetris was reviewed here. I was lucky enough to be able to submit a Q & A with him and here's what he had to say.

What made you get into music? Was there any defining moment that made you say "this is what I have to do?"

Not really. I was always drawn to music, but creatively, I was a late bloomer. I didn’t start writing songs or playing guitar until I was in college. That was around the time I was really into the Indigo Girls. I wanted to be Amy Ray.

The state of the music industry is pretty sad right now, how does that affect you getting your music to the listener?

It’s easier and harder at the same time. The Internet has shown there is no shortage of great music out there, so while it’s easier to get your music to the people, you’re competing with just about every other artist the world has to offer. Music has become commoditized. So, rising to the top isn’t just about the music. You really need to promote yourself as part of a more complete package in a unique way. Easier said than done. My strategy has been to just be myself, get in front of as many people as I can, really get to know my listeners, and hope I can turn a spark into a few fireworks.

What made you decide to do an EP now, rather than go for another full length disc?

You can’t go dark as an artist anymore. You need to keep pumping out the music, which is hard to do with the full-length CDs. They take more time to produce, and they’re expensive. I’ll probably keep putting out the EPs with a full-length here and there when the music warrants one. Suffice to say, I won’t be coming out with a double album anytime soon. Unless it’s a double EP. Now there’s an idea…

Tell us a bit about the song Tetris.

One day over the summer I was feeling kinda down, and I found myself playing Tetris. Over and over and over again. The only way I could justify the time was to write a song about it. I wanted to see if I could take the experience of playing a video game and really capture the poetry of the thing. Video games sometimes get a bad rap for removing us from reality, but they really do fill a human need. Sometimes at the end of a bad day, it's nice to actually win at something! I wasn't sure if the song was gonna work, and I still don't. But at least I can say that day I spent playing Tetris wasn't a total waste. :)

You mentioned on your myspace blog that some of the songs on the EP were outtakes from the Waves CD. How do you go about deciding which songs make the cut for an album? Does it bother you when a song gets left out?

There are always those tunes you’re initially really excited about, but you’re never able to find the right elixir for in the studio. Other times they just don’t seem right for a particular project. Your Parents’ Birthdays and All You Want were a mix of both. Not putting them on "Wave" didn't bother me at all, because music can be issued in so many different ways now. If I don't put them out there as part of an album, I can make them available as single song downloads, or in this case, an EP. My co-producer hates leaving songs on the cutting room floor, so at least for him it was good to get these songs heard. I on the other hand have a tendency to pull songs back if I think they're too clever, too honest or just plain bad. There's still a handful of songs we recorded that you'll never hear.

The last we heard you were working on a video for Winter Folk, when will the world get to see it and can you give us any clues of what to expect when we do?

Ugh. I came up with what I thought was a good idea, but it's been tough to execute. I’m still fiddling with that one. I'm also working on one for How Journey Saved My Life. My favorite video so far is the one I did for Lullaby. But it's wild how the one video that literally took a couple of hours to put together (“Someone Else” aka “Googling Web’s Biggest Regrets”) turned out to be the most popular. Simple is hard.

Is there any particular artist that has really made an impact on your songwriting?

I think overall I’ve got an Elvis Costello kinda sensibility with some melodrama borrowed from the Get Up Kids. Springsteen and Jackson Browne were huge influences. I love Jump Little Children's Jay Clifford. Sometimes I lean pretty heavily toward the Randy Newman satire. But it’s funny because a lot of people (including you) say I sound most like Toad the Wet Sprocket. But who do I listen to more than any band in the universe? Radiohead. Where that ends up in the final mix, I have no idea!

Now that the EP is out, what's next for you?

I don’t even feel like the EP’s out yet! I’ve barely begun promoting, though it was really meant to just feed the fan base. I want the next project to be stronger, more focused, innovative, and meaningful than anything I’ve ever done, but surprise, I’m not sure what that sounds like yet. When something does come together, I hope it’ll happen the way WAVE did. Half of those songs were written over a single weekend. Forcing myself to write like that brings about some really satisfying stuff, and because they're written one right after the other, it's easier to chase similar themes that tie them all together. I've always liked albums that do that.

One last question: Reviewers and listeners describe your music, tell us how you would describe it.

I always refer to it as alternative pop/rock with an 80s/90s bent. My lyrics tend to be imaginitive. I like to create simple but compelling scenes that listeners can get pulled into. I want to be able to insert the word tableaux here somewhere but can’t seem to make it work. I think I should still get credit for using it.
Tags: *elfslut, -review: interviews
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