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Escape Velocity

Beleaguered Balearic: Getting Steamed Up With Blondes
Kev Kharas , November 19th, 2009 02:47

The music Blondes make seems to be about choices and, equally, about the lack of them. Tracks like ‘Spanish Fly’ and ‘Moondance’ don’t begin with choices – they start out on the straight and narrow, drum following drum, linear, lean and driven, and, once in gear, cautiously feel their way forwards, vacillating synth shimmer and percussive peer pressure creating the illusion that there is real motion here and that that motion’s happening at a reasonable pace. But then both hit, or are hit by, those choices – in the form of odd bleep, clattering and disruptive rhythm, synthetic steam – and the choices land like a glow in the gut or a kick in the teeth, to dazzle and beleaguer. In ‘Spanish Fly’ this occurs at 2:52 and in ‘Moondance’ at 3:29 – all routes out of now collide together at once, shattering crystallised moments into flung shards.

Legion, shivering prismatic futures fall before you and dilemma sets in as a dull throb in the frontal lobe. Which to snatch from the air? Are you a kick drum man, or someone who carries a torch for synths (the amorous dancer’s leg and breast)?

Don’t worry. It’s not all pretentious drivel and man-talk. There are drugs here, and women, and Tiësto, too.

Blondes are Zach Steinman and Sam Haar. They graduated from Ohio’s Oberlin College the same year house- and kraut-adoring comrades Teengirl Fantasy arrived. They make imaginary, White Isle club music that at once captures and insidiously rewrites the rare moments in life that feel really, really real.

Where does a track like ‘Spanish Fly’ begin? Is it built from the ground up, or is it an attempt to communicate something that's already there, fully-formed in your mind? I'm getting big time-of-my-life-holiday vibes...

Well, most of our music comes from improvising with samples or loops that we start with as a sketch. For ‘Spanish Fly’ we basically built a track around those vocal samples and from there we improvised the whole thing with synths, drum machines and more samples. Also, none of our songs have a definite structure, or key changes or anything. It's basically just feeling out a vibe. No rules!

Have you ever ingested spanish fly? Having read up on the effects it sounds a lot like a medieval crystal meth…

No, we have never taken spanish fly, how do we get our hands on that shit? I bet it’s better than sex.

Why ‘Blondes’? How old are you? Don't you go to Oberlin College any more?

Well, aside from liking the sound of the word, it generally makes us think about hot girls in LA riding in their boyfriend’s convertible who are wearing some Ed Hardy kind of thing... It's also strangely feminine, but more importantly just one word with a load of strangely sexy or trashy signifiers. Someone told us it sounds perverted and that our music is perverted. Maybe we're just perverted. I don't know. We both have brown hair.

We both graduated from Oberlin two years ago, too. Sam is 25 and Zach 24.

What do you do with your lives aside from Blondes?

Sam is a sound artist, and has been making some compositions for dance performances recently. He also does freelance art and sound work. I [Zach] make sculptures and installations (which Sam often helps with electronics for) and paintings, and I also work as an artist assistant to Wade Guyton.

Please describe the exact circumstances in which you met, as well as the best nights of your respective lives.

We met while Zach was smoking a tobacco pipe on a porch in Oberlin, freshman year of college. Throughout college we played in various bands together – always really loose jammy, noise bands, with the exception of ‘Mara and the Poliaks’, which was a sort of Siouxsie and the Banshees band with our friends Phil Logan and Mara Poliak.

The best night of our lives… Sam says it's the time he saw the northern lights. For me it's the time I smoked a whole bunch of northern lights.

Are Teengirl Fantasy good friends of yours? Kind of amazing that two duos so in love with house and kraut and imaginary club music should emerge from the same place at around the same time... does Oberlin do that to you? Or is it just chance?

Nick and Logan are our friends! They're totally awesome! We're planning on collaborating with them on a 12" for Merok, ‘Blonde Fantasy’, which we're really excited about. We didn't go to Oberlin at the same time, they came in the year we left, but we eventually became friends with them through mutual friends. We think it's pretty sweet having friends on a similar tip.

Also, Oberlin itself was just a really good place to experiment, and play with a lot of your friends. It has a music conservatory, which draws a lot of musicians, whether they are a part of the conservatory or not. Everyone was really into improvising, and we did so much valuable jamming there! Everyone just starts bands to play parties in living rooms and basements, which was insanely fun. I mean it's in the middle of Ohio, what else are you gonna do?! But I think Teengirl and Skeletons are the only bands we know to really go outside of Oberlin while studying there. Maybe Liz Phair did a lot of touring while she was there... I don't know.

Who are the people in the photos on your MySpace page? Specifically the girl running naked in the snow, the boy with his tackle out?

The answer to the next question...



We think we're playing a show at Art Basel Miami Beach, we have a John Talabot remix we just finished, Merok EP, Hivern Discs 12", and a spring European tour... opening for Tiësto in a football stadium hahahah!

Find the fantastic, ecstatic 'Purple Glazed' mix Blondes did for Vice here

Find 'Spanish Fly' here

Find 'Moondance' here