New Zealand born London dweller and music maker Blair Jollands is set to release his forthcoming, as yet untitled, album this Autumn. Giving the world a little taster, free track 'My Way Home' is a glimpse as to what we can expect - soulful, melody-driven, modern folk. However, Blair's repertoire is varied and colourful, drawing upon influences ranging from rock to electronica and beyond and writing about his experiences on the road, love, life, politics and beyond. He's a real songwriter's songwriter with sustenance and soul.
Contactmusic: You're well connected in the music world, how did the signing to Boy George's label come around?
Blair Jollands: My track 'Everything But You' was playing in a promoter's office. More Protein shared the space with them and heard the track. George loved it. He's a big fan of Bowie and saw similarities in my voice and music. He released a bunch of singles, EPs and two of my LPs.
CM: How did you get involved with writing for film?
Blair: I accidentally fell into it; I was trained as a mastering engineer in New Zealand and knew how to work an old piece of kit called an Audio File. That skill came in handy one day when I went looking for something new in a post production facility in Soho where three people had walked out the same day. I eventually branched out and started my own recording and sound design company.
CM: Are there any films you would have liked to have designed the sound for?
Blair: 'No Country For Old Men' by the Cohen Brothers. There's no score in that film and to have carte blanche of the sound scape would have been an awesome opportunity.
CM: Some of the films you've been sound designer for have received Emmys and BAFTA nominations. Which are you most proud of?
Blair: 'Shackleton'. It's a wonderful story of endurance and unbelievable that it actually happened, that not one man in the expedition perished in the face of that extreme adversity.
CM: Musically, 'My Way Home' sounds like it has folky influences but the single 'Carve It Up' is a little rockier - where do you think you fit?
Blair: I don't know. I cross genres like Eddie Izzard cross-dresses. I'm hard to pigeonhole!
CM: You're from New Zealand but live in London - where is home for you?
Blair: That's a tricky one. I have lived in London now for many years but I don't feel like Its my home. I spend a lot of time in Spain, that feels like home somehow. I'm a country boy at heart; I grew up around mountains and beaches and Spain also has those wide open spaces. The nearest thing to a real home for me, ultimately, is New Zealand.
CM: What is the music scene like out in New Zealand? Are there any artists you'd recommend to us?
Blair: I feel blessed to be from New Zealand. There was never any pressure as a young songwriter to go down any particular road. With the geographical isolation comes a sense of freedom and that freedom is heard in music coming from New Zealand. I'm a fan of the Flying Nun camp, not so much the Pacific Dub sound that is big there. I'd recommend old bands like Straight Jacket Fits and Tall Dwarfs. Chris Knox is the Godfather of NZ music as far as I'm concerned. Great US bands from the grunge era fell in love with these guys and made something new from it once again.
CM: Tell us something about you or your music that would surprise people.
Blair: I was once a limousine driver in NYC.
CM: What's the new album about and when can we grab it?
Blair: My new LP will be released in Autumn. It's basically my humble take of current events. A lot of the songs look at the decay of obsolete systems - political and social. It's topical but interlaced with modern everyday life - love, loss, joy and tragedy. Tom Waits put it nicely: 'We are confusing information with knowledge, we are monkeys with money and guns.'
CM: What's the best thing about being an artist in 2014?
Blair: Music is one of the last freedoms - it's amazing today to have the access to communicate through this timeless and beautiful medium.
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