Naturally, being granted an audience with Dean Blunt is unlike interviewing any other musician.
Rendezvousing in the affectless sphere of communication that is Skype’s instant messenger service, and instructed by Blunt’s people not to ask any questions pertaining to what – or who – might have inspired his anomalous album The Redeemer, the resulting back-and-forth puts the interviewer (that is, me) in a terrifying position. The balance of power shifts subtly towards the unseen subject who, hidden from the inquisitor’s gaze, is able to pause and reflect before answering, to brush off unwanted questions with a blank screen or leave non-sequitur replies hanging limply in the ether. Maintaining the appropriately deadpan composure is likewise unnecessary for the invisible interviewee.
As a result, the conversation slips from the serious (the shadow of his former collaborator) to the irreverent (Danny Dyer’s arrival on Eastenders), and every ‘sensible’ question on my list suddenly seems as facile as it does futile. Ultimately, it’s Blunt’s show, and I’m merely the messenger – a situation that few, if any, other musicians are able to orchestrate so successfully (even that great media manipulator, Kanye West).
Blunt’s impenetrable veneer has been in place since he first sloped into view as one half of engagingly weird duo Hype Williams, whose steady trickle of lo-fi, sample-heavy and deeply unsettling loops and collages finally petered out this year as the pair announced their split. The album that Blunt delivered this spring, The Redeemer, along with its low-profile companion piece Stone Island, which slipped out quietly via a Russian website this summer, presented a drastic about-face for the producer and singer. Driven by deeply personal (though perhaps questionably sincere) lyrics and constructed from pop music’s most familiar gestures of heartbreak and despair (weepy strings, gently fingerpicked guitars), Blunt’s new material is above all guided by his own voice.
His transition from art provocateur to doleful troubadour is both awkward and fascinating; a recent show at The 100 Club in London offered the unexpectedly weird experience of seeing Blunt simply perform, standing centre stage and singing the intimate details of his messy break-up (albeit with an interlude devoted to an aural onslaught of sub-bass). It’s hard not to assume this rupture has something to do with the disappearance of his former Hype Williams accomplice, of course, and though questions of this nature were decisively banned from our conversation, Blunt himself lets slip the occasional fragment that hints at his unhealed wounds, and what could be the title of his next release (A Bullet In Yr Eye, Throwin Money Tha Sky). Frankly, it feels like the closest we’re going to get to the artist in his current incarnation.
Apparently located in Atlanta, Georgia, for the duration of FACT’s interview, Blunt will soon return to Europe to tour his live show across Portugal, Germany, Holland, France and the UK before the end of the year, beginning with a performance at Unsound Festival in Krakow, Poland, on November 18. Catch him if you can.
Dean Blunt: da,hi
Hello. Where are you today?
Really? What brings you there?
teaching kids about agency
What kind of agency?
just making them aware of the wide palette
i don’t like kids
so its not one of those
I’m teaching them so hopefully i’ll like kids in the future
college park waterbwoys
Are you making music with them?
i couldn’t teach them anything in regards to that
Okay. Well let’s talk about music anyway then.
do we have to?
It’s vital that we do. You played at The 100 Club recently, and for once you were the visible ‘star’ of the show. How did it feel to be at the front of the stage, exposed? With Hype Williams gigs you were often hidden in darkness.
yeah i get paid more now
Who was with you?
joanne and dave
rosie and jim
tia and tamera
You had a security guy on stage with you too. Is that to protect you from rabid fans?
few reasons.always need a brother by my side
Tell me about the support act you chose.
he can do the whole maxwell mtv unplugged in acapella
working on the lauryn hill one
minus the breakdown
or maybe including it
j star valentine is his name
he believes in himself
The show included a section of heavy strobing and sub-bass – was that music that you had made especially for the show?
It’s not the first time you’ve created an extreme, visceral experience as part of the live performance. I saw the Hype Williams show at The Dome last year – it was pitch-black and I remember feeling like I was being physically attacked by bass. It was very disorientating – I couldn’t even work out where the stage was after a while.
On one hand it seems like a mode of performance art – bludgeoning your audience with volume, making them uncomfortable? Or is there a link with dub music too, maybe?
the dome is shaka country . don’t think I’ve ever intentionally made dub
I’m from here,so certain sounds enter your language
so can’t articulate beyond that
its a noisy city
But you enjoy forcing that intense experience on your audience, I guess?
people not from london obsess over london sounds
way more than actual londoners
they try too hard
so most ‘dub/uk/bass nonsense is usually swag
when its made by tom from bath
justin timberlake aint a good dancer..he counts his steps like raatid mathematician
it isn’t natural to him
and it translates
or whatever he is called
can’t ever nail what he’s trying
because its assimilated
dub…not thinking about it
or at all
Stone Island seems like a companion piece to The Redeemer, it seems to share the same musical DNA, if you like.
And you gave it away as a free download – was that a way of drawing a line under this particular phase, so that the next record will be quite different?
i gave it to the russians because they always have to rip things from us,no one wants to give them anything
didn’t want it to leave russia
Unfortunately that’s what happens when things appear on the internet. So will you be drinking the same champagne in a different hotel soon, or are you onto a different drink entirely now?
she chooses i drink
she rolls i smoke
That’s a bum deal. Let’s talk a bit about actually making music. How long do you spend on composition, or does writing happen almost at the same time as recording?
the answers to all these things can come in a less direct form.
its not important how long i spend
or what happens in that space
Let me try to be less direct, then. Why do you think some people might find your music “difficult”?
never thought about what people think
inga was the only opinion that mattered
and i can’t answer ..as its not difficult to me
why would someone make something purposefully difficult
i understand it
but aint nobody here got time for that
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