BLAJK are on the cusp of a breakout. While it’s only been a few short months since our first encounter, the boys have been making considerable inroads with a steady stream of singles. Their debut release “Hamptons,” for example, has surpassed the +100k mark on SoundCloud, while their latest single “French Class” was recently featured on Spotify’s “Weekend Buzz” playlist, alongside St. Lucia, Sia and Shakira, of all people. With a new EP on the way and a support slot on Young Empires/BANNERS‘ upcoming Canadian tour, we thought we’d catch up with the band to discuss their dark-pop sound and their plans for 2016.
Indie Current: First of all, I just want to congratulate you guys on all your success so far—the response to seems to be really positive! Has this changed the way you see yourself as musicians?
BLAJK (Brent): Thanks very much Matt. It’s people like yourself that have really helped get our band off the ground. All the blog coverage has been great but it definitely hasn’t changed us creatively. Our goals are the same as they were when we first started the band. It’s gotten us excited for the coming year though. We’re itching to put out more music.
IC: Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of the band and how you all met?
B (Brent): The band has been together as a whole for about a year now. Before that, Paul and myself were making music together and trying to get a band started. Jordan was doing the same—making YouTube videos and writing music while trying to get a project started. A mutual friend brought us together and things clicked immediately. Thomas and Raymond have been buds forever so once things got rolling it was a no brainer they’d complete the lineup.
IC: Jordan: Before the formation of BLAJK, you could be found on YouTube recording covers of various Top 40 hits. How and when did you decide to start writing your own music? Do you plan on maintaining a presence on YouTube?
B (Jordan): I started writing at about the age of 12, around the same time I started taking guitar lessons. I believe my first song was titled “Take Me Away.” I definitely plan on maintaining a presence on YouTube. The content down the road may involve more of BLAJK, which I’m super exited about.
IC: Another question for Jordan: In other articles I’ve read, your voice is often described as very “dark” and “melancholic.” Do you draw inspiration from any other artists?
IC: Many of your songs seem to paint a picture of driving through the city at night. Was this intentional or is there another feeling you’re trying to convey with your music?
B (Brent): Interesting you say that because the night has always been a catalyst to creativity for us. We make all our music in the late evening to the middle of the night. Something about it helps it come easier and spark all kinds of different emotions. So naturally driving or just knocking around the city is what we’re thinking about a lot of the time when we write. It’s cool to hear that the same vibe resonates with you.
IC: Can you explain the meaning behind your latest single “French Class,” and what the artwork represents?
B (Paul): “French Class” is a song about abandoning everything that gives you comfort in exchange for experiences that make you feel alive. It’s intimidating, it’s exciting, it’s listening to your instincts and ignoring doubts.
The artwork was done by our good friend and artist Jiyeon Kathrina. She says the repetition of words like “down pour, escape, shore, sweet unknown” next to delicate, deep melodies, reminded her of something visually soft yet hard at the same time. It also gave her a colour palette: Royal blue. So it came down to her own interpretation of the song’s significance.
IC: You were recently asked to join Young Empires and BANNERS on their Canadian tour. How did this opportunity come about?
B (Brent): Ya we couldn’t be more excited to hit the road with those guys! Really cool of them to give us the opportunity. It happened fairly organically actually. We played a couple Toronto shows in late 2015 and some of the guys from Young Empires came to check us out. Sparked a friendship and we went to see them play a big show at the Danforth Music Hall. Got to hang out and pick their brains a bit. From there they’ve been nothing but supportive and when tour time came they asked us to join.
IC: Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about your forthcoming EP and what we can expect from it?
B (Brent): It’s an exciting time for us right now and this EP is going to be a good representation of who we are as a band. It’s pretty big sounding. We wanted to be ambitious with it. What I really like is it sounds even more like a band. More organic instrumentation with lots of grooves but still blending with our electronic influences.
02.19.16: Waterloo, ON – Maxwell’s House
02.20.16: Hamilton, ON – Club Absinthe
02.27.16: Toronto, ON – Virgin Mobile Mod Club
02.28.16: London, ON – London Music Hall – Rum Runners