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Oxford's Blessing Force Scene - Hear The Bands

By Laura Snapes

Posted on 17 Nov 10

 
 

Blessing Force is a mysterious cult of musical souls that has taken over Oxford and have their sights set on beyond.

There's a feature on all these amazing bands in this week's issue. Here, you can stream tracks, and read more in-depth/insane Q&As that wouldn't fit in the magazine...


Trophy Wife
[Listen]



Why the name?
Kit Monteith: "Our name and artwork are all tied together. The idea of a Trophy Wife has a desolate side to it despite the glitzy exterior. We feel that sits in line with what we are doing musically."

Which other members of Blessing Force have you shacked up with?
All: "Earlier in the year we lived in (Foals HQ) The House Of Supreme Mathematics. We currently share a house with Chad Valley and Solid Gold Dragons."

There's a perception that Blessing Force is a hippy cult full of massive stoners. Any truth in that?
Jody Prewett: "There's no truth in that. I stopped smoking dope because it only fuels my paranoia. I can't speak for everyone else though.

Trophy Wife, 'Microlite':



Fixers
[Listen]



What do you do?
Jack Goldstein: "We make psychedelic dance/pop music. It's music that people could dance to but sadly never feel inclined to, which I understand. I've always been too scared to dance myself, but selfishly, I've always wanted everyone else to dance to our music."

Why the name?
Jack: "It harbours no real connotations other than I understand it's some kind of sedative drug that people take for pleasure to space themselves out for a little while. We had no knowledge of this when choosing it as a band name though. Annoyingly, I've since come up with a million better ones. Names such as Stevie Gay Paughn, Bob Crunkhaus and my personal favourite, Heloisa Vinhas which is name of the hit-and-run victim and aspiring Brazilian actress that Tom Cruise stopped by the roadside to help out."

Ok... Have you still got day jobs?
Jack: "Yep. Perhaps, if we are lucky enough to ever retire from our dayjobs I will buy a large diamond dollar sign to wear around my neck - failing that i might just replace my bottom row of teeth with diamonds. I think Kanye's relationship with monetary value is simply amazing, he's just simply awesome."
Fixers, 'Amsterdam':


Solid Gold Dragons
[Listen]



Why do you think there's been such a groundswell of incredible bands in Oxford recently?
Sam Scott: "A lot of the musicians in the new swathe of bands have been making music together for years but it's in the last year or so that certain things have come to an end (e.g. Youthmovies split). This has left people more time to focus on exciting new projects. I think organising ourselves as Blessing Force has helped us provide support for one another more readily than if it was just a case of pulling favours from friends without being able to offer anything in return."

What are your plans for SGD?
Sam: "I intend to form a band to play the songs live, not too many people though, a big band is cumbersome and I want the project to have space for crooning and ambitious bass lines. I sometimes draft Jamie who plays in Pet Moon in, to help me out and speed the process up. I plan to have a set ready for the new year."

There's a fair bit of Arthur Russell's influence on your sound - what is it about him?
Sam: "Yeah that's fair to say. It's a real compliment that people have said my voice sounds like his, he's my favourite singer. I think the attraction for a lot of us, is the space in the music and the soul in his voice. The other thing I think is cool is, he's a cellist really, just got into disco or whatever and made the music he wanted to."

Solid Gold Dragons, 'Solid Gold Lover':


Pet Moon
[Listen]



How far back does the idea for Pet Moon go?
Andrew Mears: "The idea to start with was that it would be something I did alongside [his former band] Youthmovies. There's probably a couple of songs in the album repertoire that probably did start off as Youthmovies songs, but wouldn't have sounded at all the same in Youthmovies. Everything in Youthmovies - I'd bring a song to it and it was like throwing meat to dogs. It'd get torn apart."

And with you as the main person, instead of sharing?
Andrew: "Yeah - Youthmovies was democratic to a fault. It was great, and everybody had a lot to offer in that band, but it can be frustrating when you bring something to a practice or whatever and see it slowly getting further away from what you were initially intending. I wanted to do something that stimulated my ego a bit more I guess!"

Quite a few of the other Blessing Force bands are doing stuff with other smaller labels. Are you quite resolutely going to stay on yours, or are you open to working with others?
Andrew: "No, no. To me, the point isn't about staying fiercely independent, it's about entering into the things that you enter into on level terms. The point with all of the Blessing Force stuff, really, is to help each other get to wherever they need to get. If somebody wants to sign a huge record deal with a huge record label, I don't think there's anything morally reprehensible with that."

We hear you're a big R&B fan...
Andrew: "Yeah. I like R&B because it's basically the only popular form of music that allows virtuosic playing or singing. Jazz is sidelined and prog is sidelined, and anything with technical requirements is sidelined [from the mainstream] but R&B has got straight through there. I don't know why, but I think it's amazing. So much R&B astonishes me. It's always the first genre to make revolutionary steps in production.

Pet Moon, 'Superposition':


Rhosyn
[Listen]



So you ran away to Anglesey to write - what happened there?
Rose Dagul: "I first went in March last year, and just started writing songs - it was kind of an outlet. I was a little bit heartbroken, and a little bit depressed and sad, so I started writing all this music on Garage Band, not thinking, ooh I'm going to be in a band. I just did it, I don't know why."

Why the change from Wap Wap Wow to Rhosyn?
Rose: "I'd just graduated, and going back to Anglesey to work was more of a conscious decision this time. I thought, I need to get away. At the first rehearsal when I was back in London, everyone pulled out except for the string players. We sat down and it was clear that this was the way to go. We made a group decision that this was the way forward - just string players and a drummer, and we'd get rid of the singers. And they were completely cool with it - they were friends who had just joined to help me out, and they just did it to enjoy singing some nice songs."

Rhosyn, 'Glass':


Chad Valley
[Listen]



So in comparison to most musicians that dunk their toes into the chillwave, you've actually been to Ibiza.
Hugo Manuel: "Yeah! It's weird being in Ibiza. It's not as if you go there and everything sounds like Studio. That'd be amazing. Maybe there's a corner that's like that! It was just the feeling of being out there. With any genre or scene, I don't like being associated with it, it just puts a label on you. Any band that I've heard described as chillwave I've been pretty into."

When you play live, how much is live/sampling?
Hugo: "It's stuff that I've prepared. It's very prepared and thought out. It's just allows me a bit of room to improv, to extend the section or delay it or whatever. Then I'm playing over it and singing when I play live. I'm not very conscious about making it a super live experience - I'm singing all the time, and I'd hope that that was enough."

A lot of you have referenced the Lissvik, Tough Alliance and Gothenburg thing - Trophy Wife said that if they could be produced by anyone, it'd be Lissvik.
Hugo: "Yeah, I'm massively into that. I've only listened to The Tough Alliance for like six months or something, and I think now I can say that 'New Chance' is one of my favourite albums. I've not quite got into The Embassy yet. It was Jeff from Cascine who asked if I knew them. Also really important to me is El Perro Del Mar. That first album is beautiful. I'm pretty hardcore into Sweden."

Are you still doing your R&B remix project?
Hugo: "Yeah, what I've done is a whole bunch of remixes and edits, and I'm going to release a tape of those. I think that'll be the next thing to come out, as a stopgap before whatever the next release is. You'll probably be able to download it for free and buy the tape. I've done The Dream, Mariah Carey, a couple of R Kelly ones, Janet Jackson and Keri Hilson as well. I'm really, really into that."

Chad Valley, 'Portuguese Solid Summer':


Pick up the new issue to read more about Blessing Force

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