Blair Jollands

  • Blair Jollands
  • 2018-08-08

While Blair Jollands is an accomplished composer for film, producing soundtracks for Pride, Wild Bill, Bleak House and Shackleton, he’s also release solo work. Having previously collaborated with Boy George and The Strokes producer Gordon Raphael to release two critically acclaimed albums, Blair is back with new LP 7 Blood. We caught up with him about his latest release.

The bastard son of Jim Morrison and Desi Arnaz with a shot of Tequila.

First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
I needed some form of escape. Music was perfect. It got me through some difficult times.

**Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from? **
JJ Cale, Old blues, Chess Records, Motown, Antifolk, Jazz, Beck, Bowie, Elvis, Dylan, Camaron, Coltrane, Bjork, Cohen… Cash, Grunge.

How would you describe your style ?
The bastard son of Jim Morrison and Desi Arnaz with a shot of Tequila.

If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Bob Dylan.

You’ve previously worked with Boy George and The Strokes producer Gordon Raphael. What did you learn from those experiences?
From George I learned how to be true to your instinct and not be swayed by outside forces… and how to make a good cup of tea. From Gordon, I learned a lot about how to produce music… and how to drink tea.

You’ve also picked up Emmy nominations and accolades for producing work on Pride, Wild Bill, Bleak House, A Touch of Cloth and Shackleton. How do you approach these projects compared to your solo music?
I used to separate my sound design work and my music, but now I incorporate them both as one where ever possible. There’s not enough time to be two different people.

You’re going to release your new album, 7 Blood, in September. How are you feeling about that?
I love 7 Blood. I’m very proud of it. It captured the moment I think so I’m very excited about sharing it, live and with the recordings.

What’s the album’s themes?
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 this really clever bacteria that can basically disguise itself from the immune system. I watched the documentary call Hypernormalisation by… I think its Adam Curtis… 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. around the same period I composed for a film called Pylon directed by Jono Smith which is also looking at the same subject. I walked with a herb doctor up a mountain in Andalucia 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’ - a self portrait that I wrote while I was dreaming from the desert of the dust bowl.

When and where did you record the album?
I have a studio in Tile Yard in London. Most of it was done there with some overdubs at my home and other elements done in Jon Kelly’s Studio next door to mine or other producers in that neighbourhood. Jon along with Alicia Light, Mark Anderson, Tom Fuller and Paul Whalley are other producers that played their part in making the album what is it.

Can you talk us through each song?
‘7 Blood’ - see above!

‘I’ll Remember You’ - written for a film I composed for called The Mad Axeman about Frank Mitchell who was connected to the Kray Twins. Theres a scene in the film where he’s dancing with Lisa who was the girl brought in by the Krays to try and calm down Mitchell while he was incarcerated in this flat in Bow. Its very romantic. I only wrote 1 minute of the song originally to fit the scene but later realised how strong the song was so finished it off with the help from producer Jon Kelly (Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Chris Rea). We then filmed the video in Buenos Aires which you can see on youtube. Iraina Mancini sings on this track with me. She is amazing.

‘Not Enough’ - I wrote this after watching a nature program with my son (he loves them), and they were talking about how the moon was moving away very slowly. It started the idea for that song. I filmed the video in New Orleans and Colombia in this town called San Rafael which was caught in the crossfire between government forces and the narcos 15 years ago. Amazing place and it fitted the vibe of the track.

‘Burning Man’ - “You can’t set fire to a burning man.” Can’t say more than that! Again I am joined by the lush Iraina Mancini and she features too in the video that we filmed in Bolivia and here in London. It will be released along with its single in 3 weeks to coincide with the burning man festival in California.

‘Black Diamond’ - veganism vs. canabalism, black gold vs. black diamonds. What power games are being played inside my own body?

‘Mojacar Moon’ - Mojacar is a place in Spain where I lived and still go. Its my New Zealand away from home. Spacious, quiet, beaches and mountains. This song gives some respite from the topical numbers. Revelations, Drifting Song and I will Carry You are earlier songs I wrote but still felt welcome on 7 Blood.

What are your hopes for ‘7 Blood’?
I hope many people get to hear it and that I get to tour it as much as possible.

When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
I’m gigging around the UK intermittently until November when I’ll be touring in Europe. I’ll be touring Australasia in January and February 2019.

Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
When I was a kid, ‘Don’t accumulate stuff’. Very simple advice and very important.

Watch the video for I’ll Remember You’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to blairjollands.com.

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