The Heavenly Recordings-signed quartet are making waves across the North Sea, linked by history with the legendary John Peel. Their infectious melodies will rattle around your skull for days
Dutch artist Pip Blom has already fulfilled much of her musical destiny. Form a band to breathe life into her solo bedroom recordings? Check. Sign a record deal with an indie label? Done. Play Glastonbury? It’s on the cards. The 22-year-old musician who fronts the indie quartet of her namesake will open the John Peel stage at Worthy Farm this month. She may have always had Glastonbury in her sights but the stage slot is a significance one: her father was pals with the late, great Peel himself.
Pip, with her younger brother Tender who plays guitar in her band, uphold a legacy together. Their father, Erwin Blom, was in a post-punk band called Eton Crop who Peel adored – so much so that he invited the Dutch group to perform five BBC Radio 1 sessions between 1983 and 1988. Eton Crop disbanded in the mid ‘90s but Erwin laid down something of a musical foundation for his children.
Tender is quick to downplay his father’s career, however. “I mean, not to talk trash about him but they didn’t achieve that much,” he says, sipping a beer in a sunny east London beer garden. “Aside from the John Peel sessions – that’s their claim to fame.” The 20-year-old gives off an air of belief that his band will trump his father’s accomplishments sooner rather than later.
‘Boat’, the group’s debut album, out now via cult label Heavenly Recordings (Manic Street Preachers, Saint Etienne) brims with melodic, college rock-indebted anthems. It follows 2016’s ‘Are We There Yet’ and 2018’s ‘Paycheck’: two EPs rammed with impossibly catchy lo-fi ditties. Basically, Pip Blom write songs that make you fall in love with guitars again.
The band are understandably “very excited” about opening the John Peel stage but in some ways the dream was never too distant nor too big for Pip. “It’s funny because around the period I started producing songs, I began a blog called ‘The road to Glastonbury’,” she says. “I asked lots of Dutch industry people if I could have a chat with them and then I turned it into an article. I wanted to play the festival once in my life. Lots of people were laughing and saying like, ‘Well, it’s quite an ambitious goal’, which it is, but I think it’s really important to aim very high.”
She may have been planning out her career with an acute focus, but some opportunities have blown expectations wide open. Last summer, the band supported The Breeders on their European tour – one of Pip’s all time favourite bands. “‘Cannonball’ was my ringtone for ages!” Pip says, referencing the American band’s epoch-defining 1993 song. “I was a bit afraid [of the tour] but it was really cool. It’s like 20 years from their prime time but it was just like the old days and their old records.”
The Breeders are one of the many acts evoked by Pip Blom’s ‘90s rock sound (see also Throwing Muses and Pavement). It can be attributed to a steady diet of British indie stalwarts including Blur and the Arctic Monkeys: bands that Pip and Tender’s music journalist parents played around the house.
Dutch acts Alamo Race Track and Scram C Baby – both on Amsterdam’s famed indie label, Excelsior – are also key influences. But Pip Blom as a whole weld broader tastes, Tender, for example, is obsessed with trap music. Gini (drummer) listened to “way more ’60 and ’70s music like The Beatles and Bowie” growing up, while Darek (bassist) is a Joy Division and Nick Drake fan.
The band feel an affinity with burgeoning British acts, and namecheck the likes of Squid, Haze, The Orielles, and Sports Team during our conversation. At home in Amsterdam, Pip Blom are part of tight knit music community with Dutch acts including The Homesick and Personal Trainer.
Do they notice many differences between the music scene there and in London? “I feel there’s a small group of people that go to all the things that happen in Amsterdam,” Gini answers. “Musicians there go to see other band’s sets. So it’s 80 or 90 per cent of the same people, always. But here it’s much more varied. In the Netherlands, the general crowd tends to be more held back. They’re not dancing a lot, but I think the English audiences can be a lot more enthusiastic.”
Though the scene at home is, Tender says, “better than ever”, the band are in awe of the abundance of venues in London. “There’s probably more venues in London than there is the whole of the Netherlands,” Pip adds. “It’s insane – we like it a lot.”
The band’s set on the John Peel stage is just weeks away, but don’t worry, the band will appear a further two times across the weekend. Looking ahead, the group want to tour Japan (“the crowd seem really interesting, also the culture,” says Pip). And songs like ‘Aha’ – the widescreen, shoegazey closer of the band’s debut album – suggest that Pip Blom are heading in a bolder, louder direction.
Is that the plan? Pip pauses, and smiles. “I’ve been writing new stuff, but I haven’t really been as serious about making our second album. I’m just taking it slowly….” This time, she’s letting life run its course.
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