After your last single, I was so excited to hear what you would release next and “Baby I Would Want You” definitely did not disappoint! How did this new track come to be and what was the songwriting process like?
Blake: Why, thanks! So this particular song came quickly––in just a couple of days in fact, as the quick ones usually do for me: melody first. Once I had those melodies and the form, the lyrics followed quickly too. It’s an “apocalyptic love song” as I’ve been explaining it. Essentially it says, “if the world were coming to an end right now, I’d want to be with you as it does.” It’s surprisingly light hearted, actually!
At what age did you get the so-called “music bug”? Were you hooked from the start and knew you wanted to make a career out of it or was it more progressive?
Blake: I’ve never wanted to do anything else, in truth. From the moment I started playing the piano at age four, I’ve never loved doing anything remotely as much as making music. I started out on a path to be a concert pianist, but then Rock ’n Roll took me by the throat and that was it for me. My first band gig was at CBGB’s down the street from where I grew up and I was just 13 (but looked like I was six, I was so small for my age) and the club wouldn’t let me in. So we smuggled me into the club inside our drummer’s bass drum case (we took the drum out first, thank goodness). Just as the show started, I jumped out and got up on stage. My career has really blossomed since then, if for no other reason than now when I arrive at the venue I’m performing at that night, I actually walk through the door on my own two feet. Progress.
If you could describe your music style to someone who’s never heard any of your discography before, what would you tell them?
Blake: I’d tell them that artists are what they eat, and I’ve eaten a lot of The Beatles, The Police, Punch Brothers, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Soundgarden, Bjork, and Chopin.
Can you tell us a bit about the independent global-music company you founded, ECR Music Group?
Blake: I started the record label on my laptop, and it’s grown in the years since to become a really cool, truly independent, global music company. You can go to https://www.ecrmusicgroup.com/about-ecr-music-group/ to read the full story, but after I’d fought my way out of my multi-album major-label record deal, I never wanted to go through that again––and I never wanted anyone I worked with to go through that at all––so I built a record label I’d want to be on. One where all the artists own their own masters, and the label invests time, energy, and money in winning an audience for those artists. We done just that, and during the most difficult years in music history to do so. We have a vibrant roster of artists, and another roster of imprints (smaller labels) that have their own artist rosters, for which we provide infrastructure, and a larger umbrella of resources than they’d normally not have. It’s exciting.
I love everything you have done for the music industry not only with your music, but with your activism as well. What inspired you to create the #IRespectMusic campaign? Can you tell us a bit about the independent global-music company you founded, ECR Music Group?
Blake: It was born from an editorial I wrote in The Huffington Post which had become their most-widely read music article that year. I ended the piece with the words “I respect music,” and it started to spread. I’d made headlines as an artist advocate by then already, but those three words really become iconic, quite to my surprise, and quite quickly. Soon after I launched a site (IRespectMusic.org) with a petition urging the United States Congress to support artist pay for radio play (the USA is the only democratic country in the world where artists don’t get paid for radio airplay, shocking but true), and we got nearly 15,000 signatures. Today, we have great news: a new Congressional bill, The American Music Fairness Act, has been introduced which would, if passed and signed by the President, close this ridiculous loophole and get artists paid when their work is on the radio. It’s a thrilling moment, but we have to keep up the pressure––if you want to help, go to the website and sign the petition to Congress, it really helps!
What can we expect from your new album “Violent Delights” dropping May 20, 2022? I’m genuinely so excited to hear the rest of what I know will be an amazing record :)
Blake: How lovely of you––I’m genuinely excited about it too, I confess. I feel strongly that it’s my best record to date, it’s certainly my favorite record I’ve made to date, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. When I was in the studio working on it, I knew I wanted it to evoke a time in music when big melodies and Rock ’n Roll poured out of the car stereo, with bite and optimism, combined. There’s a post-punk element to this record, a power-pop one too. It’s kind of like if The Police’s album ‘Ghost In The Machine’ and AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ had a kid, well that kid would be my new record. We’re in a dark time, one I hope we’re now emerging from. I think this new record will bring a welcome smile to people’s faces, and perhaps put a fist or two in the air as well. Yeah!
Interviewed By Sarah Curry