Danish art pop band Blaue Blume’s lead vocalist Jonas Smith and pianist and drummer Søren Buhl Lassen discuss the making of their latest LP, Bell of Wool, mental health struggles and getting back to the basics when it comes to their sound. The band released Bell of Wool earlier this month on November 8.
Bizzarre: What has the band been up to since the release of the debut album in 2015?
Søren: On an artistic level, I think we’ve been searching for new creative grounds. We’ve always been a band that was staying a lot in the rehearsal space with our instruments in hand and playing together and being a rock band in a very old school, and maybe a bit conservative, way, but since 2015 we’ve definitely tried to expand on that both in the ways that we make the music and the way it should sound, trying to challenge what our instruments should be.
B: What the biggest creative risk taken with this album?
Jonas: I think the whole album is one big risk for us. I think both in terms of process and also in terms of emotions, in terms of arrangement.
Søren: We really tried to approach this record in a total new way and you can hear that change very clear. Early on, we definitely had the idea that every song should do everything. [We thought] every song should have an intro thing and something that was quiet because then it could have something exploding and it could have something that you could almost listen to on the dancefloor and something that was very much for your nighttime bike ride. [In the past], we really tried to push everything into every song and for this record we really tried not to do that and to just see if every song could do one simple but strong thing. That actually turned out to be very hard. I think we managed to do it in a lot of ways but that really felt like doing it really felt like a big risk
B: Over the past year, Jonas experienced some struggles with depression and anxiety. How did those struggles affect the music and production of the album?
Jonas: That's the funny thing because it actually didn’t really. While writing these lyrics and the songs, I wasn’t really aware that I felt this way and of course, looking at it now, I should have seen these pictures that I painted throughout the lyrics very clearly and I should’ve stopped and looked at it but I didn't and I carelessly just moved on and finished that record. It was only until when the last vocal takes were delivered that I actually fell into that exact same hole that I had been describing throughout the songs/
Søren: Even though it's a record that, especially lyrically, touches upon a lot of imagery that can be directly related to states of anxiety and states of depression, they’re not written from that place. They’re not written from a place of endless darkness, they're actually written from a place of a lot of creative energy. These songs are not this broken man trying to make his way out of it, it's actually just before he breaks so it's just everyday life but with something lurking in the back of your mind in a way.
B: How did the band manage to create a sound that matched Jonas’ lyrics throughout the album, which came from a very personal and individual struggle with anxiety and depression?
Jonas: It’s built on intuition, especially when working together in a collective creative process because everyone in the band has to be aware of that intimacy and we have become really good at finding it and agreeing with each other artistically or aesthetically. I think that dealing with art in general, it is a balance between not tilting in towards being too sentimental and still keeping the music, both in sonic expression and lyrical, keeping the music open.
Søren: Even though the lyrics are a very personal statement from Jonas as a person, I think that they are universal in some ways and they definitely are universal in the small universe that is this band. We can relate to it among each other and even though it's not said in words, I think that, for instance, some of Robert’s guitar parts, like the intro that he’s playing on the song “Bombard”, I think that [intro] can say some of the same things that Jonas is saying with his words but it's just being said with the guitar playing. I don't think that it's only Jonas’ story and then we’re backing it up. I mean there’s definitely the centerpiece of a story but it's also just four stories that are so closely knit together through our friendship that they make sense to tell at the same time.
B: What are your favorite songs from the album?
Jonas: At the moment, I think the last song on the record which is called “New Navel” always surprises me in some way listening back to it. It’s so spontaneous and it's really, in many ways, a non-song and the structure of it is intriguing every time I listen to it.
Søren: The thing that I really enjoy about that song, “New Navel”, is that throughout this record [we were] testing what our instruments can do and manipulating everything into oblivion and trying to really make all these crazy sounds, but then [the record ends] on just four guys in the rehearsal space. It's just drums, bass and guitar and nothing else. There’s no manipulating, there’s no weirdness, there’s no effects covering up just the rawness of an old school rock band just jamming in the rehearsal space. I think that’s a cool way to close a record that is trying to do so much sonically, that it just goes out on this simple note. I think that’s pretty, mighty pretty.
Blaue Blume - Bombard
Bell of Wool
Bell of Wool is out now via Bandcamp.