Blonde are a DJ/production duo hailing from Bristol. Comprised of friends Jacob Mansen and Eton Messy founder Adam Englefield, their upbeat, sunny style of pop-house has seen them rocket in popularity this past year. They've had widespread support on Radio 1 and have had an incredible summer playing clubs and festivals across Europe. We were lucky enough to catch up with them in a cute coffee shop in Shoreditch following their recent move to East London.
Thank you so much for talking to us, I imagine you must be quite busy at the moment with quite a few gigs and your forthcoming album.
Adam: We have been yeah, especially in the wake of the campaign for our current single (I Loved You). There’s been loads of people who wanted to know more about us, so it's been really busy at the moment, which we absolutely love.
For those of us who haven't been lucky enough to see you play live, how would you describe your sets? Your sound is generally very upbeat and sunny, but do you take it deeper and darker?
Adam: We judge it case by case really. When we played at Watergate in Berlin we were on from 4 til 6am, so you can’t really get away with summery, piano, house records - different shows mean different sets every time.
Jake: It's good fun as well because we’re both into a really broad range of music so we have an opportunity to showcase some stuff that we’re really into but isn’t necessarily what people are expecting from us.
So how was Blonde born?
Adam: Well I run a Youtube channel called Eton Messy, and Jake sent me some tracks that he’d been making under a different alias, Thieves. I really loved them supported him on the channel, and then we got chatting on Facebook and we just hit it off really. I started sending him some stuff I’d been producing and he did a remix. That remix went down a treat so we decided to do a collab project. The track that came out of it was unlike any of our other projects, and the response was fantastic – that's how Blonde began really. We haven't looked back since.
If it works it works!
Adam: Yeah exactly, considering we’d only done one track together and it had gone down better than anything else before we were just like yeah… let’s keep going!
Jake: Yeah, we made a 4 track EP before we’d even met! I was in Leeds and Adam was in Bristol.
Did you feel really tense when you went to meet each other? Like a tinder date….?
Jake: It was a bit weird yeah!
Adam: I was like “I’ll be the one wearing the red carnation” haha. We actually ended up meeting in a pub in Bristol where I was living, and where Jake is from – it was his local from when he was 16. Even though we were miles apart we kind of met through the same city.
So cute! Are you both based in Bristol now?
Adam: No, we moved to London about 2 weeks ago. We were working with so many artists in London that it made sense to be here. It's an incredible city – I've always wanted to live here at some point.
How does the London music scene compare to Bristol?
Adam: Well obviously Bristol’s a lot smaller and more concentrated - if someone’s making a similar type of music to you, you’ll know them. There's a good community in Bristol and the city really nurtures its talents. It's like London, just on a way smaller scale.
Jake: It's all interconnected - there’s stuff like Crack magazine as well, who've done some brilliant things for Bristol by drawing a lot of attention to art and music around the city.
Adam: We do miss like how chilled it is in Bristol - you can literally just waste the day and not feel any need to go out, you can just go for a nice walk or run around the downs and that’s really nice - in London you can’t really go running in public! But the good thing about London is that most of our friends are already here - it was actually getting a bit quiet down there!
You spoke about a wide range of influences – who do you look up to?
Jake: I’d say old American neo-soul period - people like Erykah Badu, J Dilla, obviously D’Angelo. It's just really great music for down time - my mum really loves Badu so I grew up on that. We've both been through lots of phases - we were both definitely into guitar music and bands when we were younger.
Adam: I don’t think its healthy to listen to just one type of music, otherwise you’ll have a very one-dimensional approach. Innovative music is about taking elements from different places and bringing them together to make something new.
You must have had quite a hectic summer, do you have any particular highlights?
Adam: Playing Bestival was pretty amazing obviously, and we went to Secret Garden Party with a lot of friends so that was something we really enjoyed as punters - that was pretty special. We had our first gig out in Ibiza at Ibiza Rocks as well, with the Bondax boys, which was really good fun.
I can see the similarities in your sound and Bondax’s sound - its all quite upbeat.
Adam: It's a similar audience, so we end up playing on a lot of the same bills. It works well, obviously they’re lovely guys as well. We quite often get booked on lineups alongside Karma Kid, TCTS, Goldenboy and Applebottom as well – you know it's going to be a fun night as we’re all mates.
Speaking of the DJ lifestyle, what's the weirdest, strangest or funniest thing to happen whilst you’ve been playing?
Adam: Well when we were playing Bestival the year before last, I went to plug in my phone charger while we were playing and it exploded in my hand! All the sound stopped and the power went down, and everyone just started hooting and booing, and there was smoke coming out! I was having a mini heart attack. Luckily they managed to get it going after 5 minutes. Or maybe less, but it felt like more!
That must’ve been a painful 5 minutes! Onto more serious subjects, what's in store for your forthcoming album and when can we expect it?
Adam: Well, it will be a lot different from what people will probably be expecting. We didn’t want to be stuck to house music in terms of what we’ve done before, so we’ve mixed it up with different styles whilst keeping the overall sound. There’s a bit of RnB in there, some garage stuff, just all our influences in one album, not just our normal house. And that’s really exciting for us - we’ve got loads of cool upcoming acts and a bunch of vocalist features, but we're not really sure when it's dropping.
Jake: We’ve got a lot more singles to put out in the new year and we’ll be looking to put out the album when it feels ready I suppose. We’re working really hard on making it as good as it can be - we’re both quite perfectionist, and there’s always been a high standard of quality control with what we put out. At the moment we’ve got a lot of really great songs, but now it's about really refining them into a cohesive work. As DJs especially you want to put out an album that really works from start to finish.
Adam: We want people to see it as a well put together, well thought-out album, instead of 10 songs that we've shoved together. I think the album is a dying art form anyway, if you’re gonna do it now as opposed to playlists, youtube channels or mixes, you need to make it work start to finish as an album as opposed to just some songs.
Jake: The way that people consume music has changed a lot, and that shapes the way good successful albums work, - you can’t get away with filler or duds anymore. You want people to put on the whole album.
Because people are quite reluctant to go and buy an entire album as well these days.
Adam: Yeah its a big investment because you can either buy a song for 79p or an album for £15, so why not just buy the 3 singles? You have to make sure that every single song on the album is just as valuable, and that’s when you get onto a winner.
For the meantime do you have any bookings or shows that you’re especially looking forward to on the horizon?
Adam: Well we’re doing the Eton Messy tour as residents for every show, alongside Just Kiddin’. It’s 9 shows across the UK and Southern Ireland, so that’s gonna be really fun, like we were saying earlier that’s gonna be with a lot of acts that we’re mates with, so its gonna be a big party hopefully!
Now for our final famous Guestlist question... think about your answers carefully. If you were an ice cream, what flavour would you be? And you have to think hard, it's not just your favourite ice cream flavour, it's about *what* you are...
Adam: Bubblegum and sunshine! It would be, something fruity, I reckon, maybe like, mango.
Jake: Like, girl, you so fiiiineapple.
Adam: What does fineapple taste like?
Jake: I dunno man. Fine. Just fine.
"I Loved You" is now available for pre-order on iTunes:
To hear more from Blonde you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud: