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Interview: Jerome Blazé Chats About His Latest Single, ‘Colour Of Water’

Sydney songwriter/ producer Jerome Blazé (pronounced blahzay) has recently made his singing debut on ‘Colour of the Water’ – the first of new music from the Sydney based artist for 2021. We sat down with the uber talented artist to find out more about his sound, inspirations behind the track and much more!

What were you listening to at the time of making Colour of the Water?

I was listening to a lot of Sylvan Esso, and was particularly obsessed their cover of a song called ‘Funeral Singers’. I loved the extreme simplicity of the production – it really frames her vocal beautifully and gives focus to the development of the melody that begins intimate and seamlessly ends up soaring. The production also a beautiful middle line between electronic and acoustic, which I’m a sucker for. Similarly, the sound of Big Red Machine (Bon Ever and Arron Dessner’s side project) is this awesome blend of very raw acoustic elements and then heavily synthetic stuff. I was super into that at the time. I find their crazy drum sounds very inspiring and also those high, string-like textures they use a lot which I did a version of in Colour of the Water.

What was the initial inspiration for the song/ how did you start it?

Because of COVID, I was living in the country at the time of writing Colour of the Water. My Mum often has the radio on in the background, and for whatever reason the chords/ baseline of a song called ‘Closer’ by Alana Wilkinson that came on ABC Radio caught my attention. I quickly went to my room and recorded a similar vibe with this weird organ sound from a synth called the Korg MS2000B. You can hear that sound playing the baseline and also the organy chord thing at the start of the song. From there I quickly chopped a bunch of samples to create a weird hybrid drum sound. The weird wood-y snare that you can hear throughout is actually my friend Pete dropping and/or picking up his drum sticks BEFORE we recorded – I thought that was kinda funny. That beat with those chords brought out a melody from me which I remember being quite a rush. That melody ended up being the first verse and chorus and I basically had the bones of the song then and there in that first 30 minutes!

Considering this is the first time we’ve heard your voice in a song, how was the creative process including your voice in the music different to your past, more instrumental music?
In the situation of Colour of the Water it was sort of similar to how I might often start a song – on the computer (‘in the box’ as the kids say) – I guess because that was one of the earlier ones. For a lot of the other songs after that though I’d start on piano, or even with some lyrics and then go to the box and start building it up once the core song was fleshed out. Starting with lyrics was especially different for me. That being said, it’s not unheard of for me to start my previous instrumental stuff on piano – ‘UP’ from my last EP is a good example. In hindsight it’s surprising how seamless it was to start including my voice in things – it just sort of fit in, almost like it was the missing element the whole time.

This is the first cut from your upcoming debut album – how was the process writing an album and how do you feel about the full project as a whole?
I’m bloody stoked! I don’t want to give too much away, but the album is definitely my proudest and most genuine work so far. I wrote it all last year, half while I was living back in the country for lockdown and half back up in Sydney. I actually thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and submit it for my final year honours project at the Sydney Conservatorium. That really helped kick me into gear and make decisions quickly – nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing! That being said there’s at least like 15 demos that didn’t make it. I’m so grateful for the time I got in lockdown to really just explore and figure out where I wanted to go musically – I think that gave way to a really genuine body of work.

You’ve recently been playing some live shows. Tell us about your unique stage setup.
So my band consists of a clarinetist, alto saxophonist and bass clarinetist along with my friend Ivy on backing vocals and me on piano, synths and vocals. Going to the Conservatorium I’m so lucky to have access to TONS of incredible musicians, and I’ve always thought why not take advantage of that! There’s heaps of those instruments on the album, so it’s not a far cry to also include them in the live show. At the same time, I sort of want it to be like a Jerome Blazé cover band – I’ve written unique arrangements/ parts just for the live show, both to make it work with that ensemble and create a unique, live-only experience. I’ve got plans to expand the setup even further – keen to get some drums and maybe a bassist to fill out a bit more of the songs – I just need a big enough stage! Hahaha…

After months locked away, what has it been like for you getting back in music venues performing to a live audience?
It’s been awesome – this year is actually the first time I’ve taken my own music to the stage, but pre-covid I played with a few different non-me bands which was always such a fun creative release. It’s therefor doubly as gratifying to play my own music live because I’ve been dreaming about it for so long! Initially the Lola Scott shows I supported were still seated, which actually suited the vibe of my setup really well, but I was surprised to see standing up shows were just as comfortable when I supported Nick Ward. A lot of healthy swaying!

What are your thoughts on the current landscape of indie music in Aus?

There’s sososososososoSO much good music floating just beneath the surface (see below…), but I’m not sure it’s all getting the audience it deserves. I think the fact Australia

has a smaller population makes it harder to break through, so the more left of field stuff can fall by the wayside, but I’m not sure if that could also be a cultural thing in terms of what the general public are open to, or even how much music they consume day to day. Don’t want to rag on Australia too much, because of course there are so many avid pockets of music lovers and musicians alike – it just feels like there’s not heaps of capacity for those niche scenes to grow in themselves without just becoming the mainstream. Of course the struggle to break through is definitely related to the more global thing of music making and consuming getting exponentially easier, as well as people’s attention spans getting shorter and shorter. Even I can’t stay on top of all the music that comes out week to week, and I’m always listening to something! There’s an argument to be made for the more music the better, but on the flip side it means we may not be listening as deeply as we used to. I don’t know which one’s better, but the landscape is definitely changing.

Who are some other emerging Aus artists we should keep an eye on?

Absolutely! My friend Ivy-Jane Browne (who sung on COTW) is one of the best songwriters and creatives I know. She’s got music coming out soon that I produced and it’s some of my proudest work I’ve done – mostly because you can’t really go wrong when Ivy writes such beautiful songs and has such an unwavering creative direction. Nick Ward and Chris Lanzon are definitely two amazing songwriters/ producers/ people. Both of them also have heaps of music in the pipeline which is honestly so top notch and cutting edge in their respective styles. I also just really admire and aspire to how much vision they have for their artistic image as a whole. Other than that my friends Jofi (like Ariana crossed with FKA Twigs on steroids), Michael Ackroyd (Thom Yorke-esque experimental electronic cross singer-songwriting with gut wrenching writing and vocals) Indira Elias (dreamy folky stream-of-thought stunning-voice French-countryside anthems), Jordan Kenny (Matt Corby on steroids, mental songwriting with the biggest folkstar charisma behind it all), Pat Carroll

(mind bending electronica like no other – the deepest textures coming out of Australia atm) Lola Scott (Biggest pop bangers you’ll ever hear nothing more to say), Beso Palma (Kaytranada meets Keifer meets extreme soul and groove) Voidhood (Pounding and cutting edge thriller-pop/hop) and Brewer (last but not least punchy alt-pop with soaring melodies and some of the most heartfelt pop songwriting out). There’s defs many more but this should give you a start!

Colour Of Water is available now, everywhere.

Written by John Zebra