YNY Artist Spotlight: House of Blondes


Members: John Blonde, Chris Pace and Brian McNamara

Hometown: New York, NY

Genre: Electronic/Pop/Ambient

Album: Clean Cuts

Short bio: House of Blondes is an up and coming electronic trio comprised of John Blonde, Chris Pace and Brian McNamara, based in New York City. Their vibe is electro synth, and their sound is akin to the likes of Suicide, LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. The group relies heavily on improvisation in the studio for their creative process. In fact, their current album began as 20 minutes of ambient riffing, and is inspired by GAS, an ambient techno project by Wolfgang Voight. Some of House of Blondes’ past singles include “Shadows” and “Do it Yourself (Landscape)”, both of which will be featured on their debut album, titled Clean Cuts, available on February 28th through Glowmatic Records.

Q&A w/ John Blonde:

In three words describe your debut album…

New York Electronics.

What was the creative process behind Clean Cuts?

I went to Chris with an idea for a track along the lines of GAS, Wolfgang Voigt’s amazing project. This was in the spring of ’08 and the song was “Anhedonia”. We captured 20 minutes of useable music which he edited like a movie – it was important that the track contain more than just cool sounds, it needed an arc and he found it easily and naturally. That was the true start, I think, of House of Blondes. The whole album, the whole band, was built around the pulse of that song and it’s how we approach almost all our material now.

Every session, whether it’s for rehearsing or recording or drinking, we’re recording. That’s the only way to capture what we’re excited by before it becomes a planned performance. Most of what’s on Clean Cuts are first or second takes. We still arrange and edit and think things through and come prepared with ideas. But we won’t belabor a synth sound or a guitar take – it just drains everyone’s enthusiasm when you work like that. We’ve learned to move on if it’s not working and scrap whole songs. We probably recorded about 50 songs in order to come up with the nine that made it on to the album.

Our approach to songs is mostly based on sounds, a sound will dictate where a performance and track go, it doesn’t matter who’s playing it. It’s an open studio where anybody can drop by which is why there are other players besides us on the album. There are moments where we may want a specific instrument, like the live drums on “Do It Yourself (Landscape)”, and ask one of our talented friends to come by for an afternoon.

It’s not free jazz or anything but at heart that is definitely the approach I like, personally. The performances are improvised but there’s an enormous amount of preparation leading to that free moment. This approach is still new to us so who knows what we’ll become as we start to play these live shows.

What is it like seeing your music come to life through video?

It’s been enjoyable!

I had been a fan of Luke Smalley, a photographer, for awhile and was inspired enough to get our friends together to make a tribute to him using “Do It Yourself (Landscape)” as the soundtrack. That’s how I think of it, I guess, more like a scene from a movie with our song playing over it. I like that the video for “Come Running” is a little comedic, we’re not always such serious men.

We’re making a video next month for “Slow Motion Tourist”, working with Jeffrey W. Hagerman again, who is the fantastic cameraman who helped us out with “Come Running”. He’s worked with Michel Gondry and shot some things with Genesis P-Orridge, who is a big influence on House of Blondes.

Any upcoming events?

We’re looking forward to a live gig at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn on March 3rd! We go on at 8:00pm.

House of Blondes Links:

Website: http://www.houseofblondes.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/houseofblondes

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