Sometimes Reyka vodka is good not just for drinking and for setting fire to random objects. It can sometimes be used to bring new and unknown artists to our collective consciousness. And as one of the winners of their “Breakthrough At Iceland Airwaves” contest, Blouse are such an group worthy of our attention.
Blouse are a trio of Charlie Hilton, Patrick Adams, and Jacob Portrait (Who also plays with Portland psych-poppers Unknown Mortal Orchestra). They make music that hints at silky ennui and the fraying of musical pasts. It’s the sound of stretched VHS tapes, Ice-burned new wave bands and soft, levelled vocals that you’d associate with the likes of Trish Keenan or Alison Statton. After making some warehouse demos, they captured the attention of the Sub Pop label before signing to the New York label Captured Tracks. Their self titled début album was released in 2011 and are currently working on their second album.
We had a quick chat with Patrick Adams about the bands fast rise, and what’s it like coming from the lovely city of Portland.
Hello there Blouse! Where are you and what are you up to right now? How is the weather where you are?
We are in Portland, Oregon enjoying the last days of sunshine. We’ve been writing the new record, walking through the forest and drinking sour grape juice.
Can you tell us a little about how Blouse as an act came to be formed? I take it you were all at art school, correct? If so, what was the environment like at your local art school for music?
Yes, Charlie and I met in design school at Portland State University. There is tons of music all over this city, so naturally it happens everywhere. Everyone in Portland is in about five bands.
What were the early days of the band like? Did you have much of a plan or idea on what your sound was going to entail? Were there any musical or cultural reference points that you hooked up to for inspiration?
We made a lot of different versions of songs. Spent a lot of time in the warehouse (where we recorded our first record). We really didn’t have a plan other than making music together, then Captured Tracks approached us and we got a little more serious about making a cohesive record.
In a very short space of time you’ve gone from a few demos to being courted by Sub Pop and getting signed to Übercool music label Captured Tracks. Has the speed this has all happened fazed you at all? Or is it a case of enjoying it all in the here-and-now?
As far as the label goes, we just wanted to make sure we were on a label we would be able to grow with. Captured Tracks approached us, and they have been great for that. Having everything happen so fast meant we were forced to get the live band together quickly as well. At times it all felt a little rushed, but I don’t think we would take it back. We learned a lot over the last year touring and putting out a record.
You were booked on this year’s line up by winning Reyka Vodka’s “Breakthrough at Iceland Airwaves” contest. How did you get involved with the competition? What was the feeling in the band when you found out you’d won the gig?
Our booking agent actually forwarded us the application. It was really a no-brainer. We had heard that Iceland Airwaves Festival was one of the best around, and none of us had been to Iceland before. It all looks unreal. We had kind of forgotten that we even entered, but when we got notice we won, we were all really excited to check it out.
You’re from Portland, Oregon. We’re ashamed to say that we’ve never been there and the only knowledge we have comes from the TV show ‘Portlandia.’ How true a representation is the show of the city? Do you see any of yourselves or your peers in the program at all?
It’s a gross exaggeration… but for the most part it nails the basis of Portland culture. Almost every episode I see someone I know on the show, but we’ve never been on it yet. We’re Still waiting for that dream-pop band parody sketch.
It’s only a matter of time. You’re almost certain to be playing alongside several bands at the same time. What is the best way to describe a Blouse live performance for those who may be undecided?
We don’t want to twist anyone’s arm. Maybe flip a coin?
(Flips a coin…) People you should go and see these guys. Now while you’re here in Iceland, is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to seeing or doing, whether it’s a particular band playing at the festival, or anything Icelandic in particular? (We recommend the hot dogs personally).
Definitely The Blue Lagoon, seeing a bunch of Icelandic bands we’ve never heard before, hanging with DIIV and Doldrums in another country, Reyka Vodka, and Icelandic hot dogs.
What’s in your pockets right now?
A guitar pick, 52 cents, and a tiny plastic baby.
Are there special words that can describe Blouse? Can you make one up?
Blouse are performing Friday 2nd November, 2220, at Þýski Barsinn/German Bar.