Blondes on Blondes

Blondes on Blondes
It's been quite a rise for the Sam Haar and Zach Steinman project known as Blondes over the past couple years. Their visibility has exploded since signing to the influential RVNG Intl. for the release of their 2012 self-titled debut, which featured remixes by Andy Stott, John Roberts, and Laurel Halo. Striking while the iron is hot, they came back in 2013 with their eloquently produced sophomore album Swisher, released to mostly glowing reviews as their high rating at the criticism aggregate site Metacritic attests. Never too busy to share insights with their fans, the boys took two minutes to chat with Exclaim! about their process and vision.

What is your theoretical approach to performance, and how does that impact your recordings?
Oh, hey guys! How are you? Nice to meet y'all, and do an interview with you. We approach each performance as an opportunity to improvise and come up with new musical places and ride new musical waves. We use almost all the same equipment live as we do in the studio and that gives us a lot of flexibility. Our recording process is based on capturing performances, so most of our musical practice is based on playing music.

Why do you prefer hardware over software?
We have nothing against computers in music, we use them to record and edit, but we prefer the physicality of the gear in playing. For us music is about playing music, which is something you do with your body. But using hardware is also about the limitations — with computers you can do anything — as well as the sound. Some synths and pedals just sound good.

Do you find your music is more influenced by contemporary music (i.e. Simian Mobile Disco) or vintage electronic music (i.e. kosmiche musik)?
I'd say it's pretty all over the board. New artists are definitely doing some great things, which soaks in, but our approach really comes from an older perspective.

Do you feel you are a part of a scene?
Not in particular. We're definitely surrounded by some great people doing great things in New York, and there's definitely communication, but a "scene" makes it sound more uniform and congealed.

Much of your self-titled debut was teased out in singles beforehand. How did the approach to Swisher as an album differ from the debut?
Mostly just in that Swisher was made all at the same time. We literally finished all the tracks on the same day, so each track was seen as a piece of the whole work. It allowed us to delegate moods and vibes and to let each track do its thing.

How do you feel Swisher will stand the test of time?
Who knows? Music is so different these days. There's so much of it and everyone treats it all as disposable, and in some ways it is more disposable. We were trying to make a more timeless record, but I guess history will be the judge.

What do you want people to take away from Swisher?
Really we just want people to listen to it and experience listening to it, and to let their own experience define it for them.