From working with super stars, to composing for TV and films, Blair Hollands has been there, done that and probably got the T-shirt when it comes to music. And now, after writing about his time fighting off Lyme disease, Blair has written an album that is beautiful, unique and has even been compared to the early work of Bowie and Beck. Bair Jollands career is just going from strength to strength and he took some time out to speak to us about all from ‘covert cyber activity’ to being nominated for an Emmy.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m from New Zealand, I like to eat Oysters and my favourite colour is Turquois.
What was your first thought this morning?
How am I going to make Glasgow Airport by 5am?
You were previously known as El Hula, why the name change?
El Hula represented a period when I was signed to Boy George’s Record label Things To Come. I released a couple of Lps and several singles on that. When that label folded it felt like the right time to make the name change.
After spending so long writing scores for film and television, how come you have decided to focus on your music career as an individual artist?
I was a musician and songwriter before I got into film scores and sound design. Now I do both. They both work together. My music is very cinematic.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
As you are originally from New Zealand, what is it about the UK that drew you to living here and specifically in London?
I ran out of money in New York and London was the only place I could think of. My Grandfather was born in the UK, so I could legally work here. Otherwise I would have gone to somewhere a little more tropical! But When I got here I saw the attraction in all the music happening at the time – drum & Bass, Brit Pop, dance music and closer proximity to a melting pot of styles.
You have spent your time in various places around the world. What is it that you love about travelling?
I’m a restless soul. I need to keep moving. Movement inspires rhythm! Rhythm inspires music!
Do you have a favourite place and why?
I’ve been spoilt. I’ve been to many amazing places. But if it’s a beach, the woods, mountains, the sound of flowing river, I’m good. My body is very sensitive to gadget radiation of the city, so I like to escape that when I can.
Is there anything about your world adventures that can be heard in your new album, 7 Blood?
I was recently touring South America. You can hear that a bit in some of the songs. There’s some Colombian mariachi sneaking through!
Tell us more about the album?
The title track '7 Blood' is about super pathogens and covert cyber activity. I'd been bitten by a tick and was dealing with the fallout of Lyme, trying to function normally on a daily basis while being controlled by these really clever bacteria that can basically disguise itself from the immune system. I watched the documentary call Hypernormalisation and then Zero Days which is about the Stuxnet virus. I thought there were some spooky connections here than needed to be looked into at a deeper level. These superbugs, Biological and digital. Around the same period, I composed for a film called Pylon directed by Jono Smith that is also looking at the same subject. I walked with a herb doctor up a mountain in Andalucía to pick a killing herb to attack the bacteria. The herb was called 7 Blood.
The album is schizophrenic in styles to replicate the moods of one under the influence of these bugs. The final track is called Restless Soul... like I described earlier!
What’s your favourite track and why?
I tend to listen to Not Enough most. I just like the vibe that was captured in that recording.
You have been compared to artists such as Beck, Nick Cave and David Bowie. Do these seems like accurate comparisons to you?
Mostly... maybe more so earlier... Over time you develop more your own sound and voice and let your influences fall away... well, personally speaking.
Who and what else influences your unique sound?
A good film, interesting sounds. Other producers and the amazing music they are creating. Mistakes can also influence your sound.
What has been the best moment of your career?
Getting an email from David Bowie. Working with Boy George. Getting the Emmy Nomination.
What has been the worst job you have ever done?
Digging holes to fill them back up again.
What ideas have changed your life?
The idea to go to London.
What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
I’ll be touring the 7Blood record in Europe this November and then preparing for Australasia in January and February