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In conversation with Blondes.

Sophie Norton catches Nottingham based band 'Blondes' in the back of a van.

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Image Credit: Cole Bleu

I caught Blondes before their performance at Rock City in Nottingham on November 17th. Speaking to Will (singer) and Alex (songwriter and guitarist) in the back of their rental van outside the venue, they spilled the beans on what it’s like to go from student band to playing Reading & Leeds festival in only a matter of years.

Opening the Festival Republic stage at R&L fest is a big deal, and the boys made the most of their artist passes, camping in the guest area and using their spare time to enjoy a free festival experience. "It was our first Reading & Leeds festival that we played, so we thought we’d just go to the festival as well." Other festival-goers were surprised to see them staying with the big crowds. Apparently the guest area isn’t as glamorous as you’d expect. "The guest areas are mainly full of staff who are working on food stalls or like work crew or family and friends of artists. There is an artist backstage area with a bar and catering", which is where they bumped into Holly Humberstone, Yungblud, and ate their dinner next to Blossoms.

Aside from playing at R&L festival weekend, Blondes have something else in common with the English indie-pop-band Blossoms: collaborating with director James Slater on their music videos. "He really likes the sort of slightly surreal tongue-in-cheek kind of stuff." Slater is well-known for his work on ‘Zombies’ with Jamie T, and ‘Your Girlfriend’ with Blossoms, and has recently directed Blondes’ music video for ‘Out The Neighbourhood’, the title song for their first EP. "There's a scene where we're running away behind Will singing and we're all absolutely booking it across a football field. We did that about six times and by the last take we were just like 'James please, I really need a moment'." The band had only positive things to say about the experience, hoping to work with Slater again. "Sometimes he has us doing weird stuff but we do it because we know that this is gonna look great. He now knows what we're best at."

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Blondes caught their big break through their single ‘Coming of Age’ going viral on Tiktok. They assured me that despite having over 7 million streams and 225k videos using their song, they can still listen to it without rolling their eyes. The main lyric in the chorus is “something really could happen”, and that song was about us, trying to make it as musicians and artists. It was funny then that [‘Coming of Age’] ended up being the song that gave us our break, because it was about that itself. It was a very surreal, slightly meta thing, where the song became a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Having recently graduated from university, the band enjoy living and working together more than ever. "There isn't really band time and chill time. It's sort of just part of living, together, you just kind of do it all the time." Their creative process begins with an idea that is built upon - which isn’t necessarily musical. Alex tells me about a recent process of writing a demo. "I gave Will a book of poetry and [told him to] just read and start singing lines. It was an Allen Ginsberg book, and he uses some incredible language to talk about everyday life." The band aren’t restricted by music as a sole genre for inspiration. "Language or visuals can put you in a new headspace where you think about how to depict something in a way that you haven't before. I wrote our song ‘Honey’ after watching ‘Submarine’, the Richard Ayoade film with Alex Turner’s soundtrack." The band describe their sound as “Euphoric Indie Pop”, and are still discovering their message. "We're not really a political band, but there are times where [we] just write about [our] experience, and being a young person in the world. That now is intimately involved with certain political things."

"Euphoric Indie Pop"

It was a while since the explosion of ‘Coming of Age’ before they released their ‘Out The Neighbourhood’ EP, because of the impact of covid-19 on the music industry. "It feels less like a traditional release this time I think, because of the fact that we were releasing stuff throughout lockdown when you can't just throw material out because you can't play in support of that material." But the future of live music is looking good for Blondes, who are set to play their first headline show in London at the end of November, following a series of gigs across the country this year.

They seem to have come full circle, performing in Rock City, where they used to frequently go as students at the University of Nottingham. "We have spent a lot of time in this room, just not on this side of the stage. It’s surreal because it's the first time we’ve played in Nottingham since everything began, and so it’s like a kind of homecoming show for us." Their musical career is on an upward trajectory, and the band themselves almost don’t seem to believe it. "It's almost impossible to think about what we want the future to be because we're just so stunned that we're here in the first place. We played with Stereophonics, and couldn't really ask for much more than what's going on right now."

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