Blake Hazard released her latest solo record The Eleanor Islands last month. Also known for her amazing talent in loved Los Angeles indie-pop group The Submarines, I couldn’t wait to ask Blake questions on her solo work, being in the band, favourite songs, and more.
AMBY: Hello Blake, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. What have you been up to lately?
Blake Hazard: Hallo there. I’ve just come back from some pretty epic travels — first Berlin and then Turkey, both of which were wonderful. I’ve mostly just traveled while on tour for the past 8 years, so it was great to be a real tourist and see things up close rather than in a pre-show flash. Now it’s back to work — writing for a tv show this week….
AMBY: You have just released your album The Eleanor Islands! Which songs are your favourite off the record?
Blake Hazard: Yes! It’s rather exciting! The first song, Padanaram, is probably my favorite, though I feel very connected to the whole record. Padanaram just seems to express something I had a hard time saying to myself for ages in a way that surprised me when I wrote it. I love the thrilling feeling of having a song just sort of occur to you, rather than it being a struggle, which most songs are for me in the writing process. Sam Cohen did a beautiful job with it, and I love the strings Todor Kobakov arranged. Your Door kind of snuck in at the last minute as a favorite, as well. We gave ourselves one day to record this tenth song and so I just played and sang it live and Sam layered some lovely sounds at the end. I think we spent most of the day waiting to borrow a keyboard from someone haha.
AMBY: What were your inspirations as you were writing and recording the album?
Blake Hazard: I was admittedly a bit obsessed with Veckatimest while writing, and (coincidentally) wrote most of it just across the bay from that tiny island. The Eleanor Islands is a reference to the Elizabeth Islands, of which Veckatimest is one. Once we got into recording, there were loads of different references tossed around, from Nico to the Tom Tom Club. Sam and I co-produced the album and I really liked the way our different sensibilities came together.
AMBY: The artwork for the album is beautiful. Does it symbolize anything for you, or pleasing to the eye?
Blake Hazard: Thanks! Matt Fleming did a wonderful job with it. I took the photo of the island and it had this strange multiplying effect on a mobile device when we first used the image as a website. Matt played with that rearrangement and came up with something totally different and interesting for the cover.
AMBY: What was the best moment you had while recording the video for Colonnade?
Blake Hazard: Simone is amazingly focused and positive on the set, and she’s a real artist — I loved that she didn’t even think the video was strange in the end! We were all totally into Simone’s vision of 60’s melodrama, and there was an ease and amusement with the costumes, dances, on set. Our miniature wrap party by the motel pool in the evening was pretty ace as well — the whole thing was so painless, I was actually a little surprised when we finished shooting.
AMBY: We’re big fans of The Submarines and are really enjoying your solo work. What are the main differences from being in a band and working on a solo project?
Blake Hazard: Thanks so much. I definitely missed the support and comeraderie of working with John. Making this record felt quite lonesome at times, making some big decisions on my own. I completely re-mixed the album after getting back to LA (it was mixed in New York right after we finished recording, and I felt it hadn’t really come together properly), and that was a huge decision for me — financially and artistically. When Thom Monahan did the first mix on this second round, though, it was immediately clear that it was the right thing. Even though this was a solo project, I really felt I had great co-conspirators throughout — from recording to mixing to mastering. Sam and I also kind of thrived on working through a deeply cold winter month in Brooklyn, and on the time limitations. There was something really special about the whole breakneck pace – a rawness which seems to suit these songs. That was a huge difference from working on Submarines records in our own studio where we’ve had a luxury of time.
AMBY: What are the top three live shows you’ve seen in your life?
Blake Hazard: This incredibly hard to answer!! : ) Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl and in Boston circa OK Computer, for sure. Bjork in Boston, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs opening, (maybe 10 years ago?) pretty much slayed me. And last year, Pavement and Sonic Youth at the Hollywood Bowl ruled — though I know there are countless shows that really killed me — Elliott Smith every time, Emmylou Harris at the New Yorker Festival in Brooklyn…… it goes on…..
AMBY: If you could create a law that everyone would have to follow, what would it be?
Blake Hazard: I’m a fan of “do unto others….”, mostly.
AMBY: Which bands or artists have you been listening to lately?
Blake Hazard: I’m very into the Rhye album, am always listening to Charlotte Gainsbourg, love Blake Mills, the XX, the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs….
AMBY: What’s the best song of 2013 so far?
Blake Hazard: BOY – Little Numbers, Rhye – Open, Bibio – A tout a l’heure, are all on repeat for me at the moment….
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Blake Hazard that nobody knows yet?
Blake Hazard: I’m not sure I could find an answer for that — I don’t keep my own secrets very well!
Thank you Blake, for giving us your answers!