Published Apr 29, 2013James Blake was caught between a rock and a hard place on his new record, the much-anticipated (and beautiful) Overgrown. He's found success in the music industry, but he does worry about the sacrifices he has to make to be able to survive in the music industry.
"I was probably right in the first place," Blake tells Exclaim! of his preconception a few years ago that the music industry "just want[s] to sell records as if they're biscuits." He's realized that unless he's "brutally uncompromising," he'll have to submit to industry expectations like he did in writing bonus tracks for Overgrown.
"I did a certain amount of tracks, and then about three months before we'd finished, when I'd written the album — in the latter stages, really late — I was told that we needed five bonus tracks that we'd give to iTunes, Amazon, loads of different outlets," Blake explains.
"We were told that one place in France wouldn't sell my album unless they had a bonus track; an exclusive bonus track, for that matter. My first thought was, 'Why can't I just write 10 tracks and have that be the album? Why do we need bonus tracks, a track at the end that completely ruins the mood because it didn't make the album in the first place?' My second thought was 'Why the hell am I only finding this out now?' Writing 10 tunes that really take it out of you, and then being told, 'Oh, by the way, you need to write another half-album's worth.' That's the kind of shit that I'm talking about."
He concludes, "If I had my way, I wouldn't have let things get out of hand that way. Next time around, it will be the case that I do the record and it just lands on their desk, and that's it. I've learned a lot doing this record. The next time around, I'm absolutely positive I won't let anyone else do anything. It really was a big lesson."
Overgrown is out now via Atlas/Republic. Catch him on one of his spring tour dates, visible here.
You can also read Exclaim!'s newly published James Blake feature here.