Coming out of the UK Adam Englefield and Jacob Manson AKA Blonde have been generating some worthy buzz. The two Bristol gentleman have been making some extra sexy and smooth house tracks since they linked up over the internet a few months back. While Jacob was producing under the alter ego Theives, he would send tracks over to Adam who runs the YouTube channel Eton Messy. You can say there was mutual admiration, as they instantly hit it off and decided to collaborate on their first track, “Talk To You.” Fun fact: they made the track before they ever met face-to-face. I had a chance to catch up the duo to discuss everything from their musical background down to reasons not to cut your own hair. We also have an extra special premiere of their latest track, "It's You."
Earmilk: Hey guys, thanks for taking some time to chat with us. I know you have only been a collective since 2012, can you tell me how and when you two linked up?
Jake: I was producing old-school garage influenced tracks under Thieves and submitted a track to Eton Messy (Adam's channel), a few months later I ended up remixing one of his Beluga tunes. We were both really happy with how it came out and decided to start producing tracks collaboratively. At this point we had never met.
Adam: “Talk To You” was the first track we wrote together on. The intention wasn't to start a new project; it was to write a straight up Beluga and Thieves collab. After realizing our production assets complimented each other perfectly we decided to keep it going under a new name: 'Blonde'.
EM: Can you tell us when you got your start making music?
Jake: I was enrolled in music comprehension classes aged around two or so, although I didn't really fall for a specific instrument until I was 11. I played bass guitar in a load of Funk, Indie and even Hardcore bands until I left Bristol for university and that's when I really developed an interest in production.
Adam: I started playing guitar when I was 10 but didn't really start to make my own music until I was 14. I started off by writing a lot of singer-songwriter tracks on my acoustic guitar and ended up taking music technology at college. It was then that I learned how to use sequencing software and by the time I was 18, I had started to make electronic music exclusively and turned my focus away from the other stuff.
EM: Who were some of your musical influences growing up? Any single album you could not live without?
Adam: My music taste growing up was eclectic to say the least, but looking back there have been certain artists that I feel influenced my direction and that I always go back to. I was heavily into indie music when I was 16 and used to follow artists like Metronomy religiously. As far as influential albums go, Mount Kimbies, Crooks & Lovers, and James Blake’s self-titled debut album had a massive impact on swaying my musical interest more towards the music I am currently into.
Jake: Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Nile Rodgers and Erykah Badu. I guess I’ve always been a sucker for feel-good music, something uplifting and soulful. I've got a copy of Joni Mitchell's Blue on vinyl, which still sees a lot of action, A Case of You is probably one of my all time favourites.
EM: What’s the music scene like in Bristol? How does it compare to the States?
Adam: For a small city, Bristol has a really varied and exciting music scene. In past years it has been famed for its renowned Drum & Bass and Trip Hop artists, but recently there has been a huge resurgence of House music in the area with many nights flying the flag. Having only visited the states to visit Mickey Mouse in Florida at the tender age of 8, I can't say much for the clubbing scene. That said, Todd Edwards has had a huge influence on the UK garage scene and more recently Kastle's Symbols label has been pioneering a lot of new talent. The American take on this kind of music is definitely unique in its style. I find its more Hip Hop influenced than the UK stuff (which is more garage influenced).
Jake: I've never actually been to the states, but the influence of people like Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and Kevin Saunderson has been very much responsible for shaping the sonic landscape of UK dance music. Bristol has historically had an infatuation with bass heavy music, which is very much evident in its latest house exports like Eats Everything and Julio Bashmore. Their blends of classic house elements with deep, club-ready bass epitomises the influence, which Bristol has on many of its artists.
EM: I read that your families played a major role in your musical careers, please explain?
Jake: When I was younger my mum was very active in the Bristol music scene as a singer-songwriter so I was exposed to the whole gigging culture at a very early age. Both of my parents have extensive and eclectic music collections that have definitely influenced my own musical taste heavily. They were both pretty instrumental in my early involvement with the music scene as well, carting me to-and-fro from gigs and putting up with full band rehearsals around their houses. My dad had a copy of Cakewalk and an audio interface, which I did my first ever bits of recording on. I think that was my earliest involvement with the technical side of music production.
Adam: From very early on my mum has introduced me to a wide variety of music from the 60's through to the 80's. Mainly Northern Soul, early Rock and Blues. She is equally obsessed with music as I am. So her input helped me choose music as my path. Also my sister was the person responsible for getting me into 80's pop and 90's RnB, which I find, influences our sound massively.
EM: Any up and coming artists right now, you think we should have on our radar?
Jake: There's this guy called Real Connoisseur from Oxford, UK who is consistently blowing my mind at the moment. Every single one of his releases has found an instant space in our DJ sets and the quality of his production is just unreal. 'Nobody's Fool (I'll Be Good To You)' and his latest release 'Down on Me' are both definitely worth checking out. Highly tipped.
Adam: A favourite of mine (and a regular on Eton Messy) The Golden Boy is probably my hot tip for 2013. I don't think he has done a single track that I haven't loved. Tracks of his that you should check out would be firstly his bootleg of Lauryn Hill’s 'That Thing' and 'Gonna Do'. He loves a good piano riff as much as we do so what's not to love!
EM: When your not busy making music, what would we find you doing?
Jake: We’re both really into cooking so probably dreaming up some sort of epic feast or something.
EM: Earmilk premiered your soulfully crafted “Be Mine” track and it was an instant hit. Radio 1’s #Foundcloud feature even picked up the track. Can you let us know the inspiration behind it and share more details on Radio1?
Jake: We actually wrote the track back in November of last year. At that point we hadn't met and as with a lot of our tracks it started with a sketch that Adam sent over. The sped up vocal chops were already in place and created such a great vibe that the rest of the track kind of wrote itself. The Radio 1 play came as a total surprise. We had no idea the track was being played until afterwards when it came up on our Twitter feed and had to wait for the show to finish before we could listen back.
EM: I know you founded and run the YouTube Channel Eton Messy. For our readers not familiar with the channel can you tell us more about it?
Adam: Eton Messy is a YouTube channel where we upload new music we are excited about. Mainly things that are either House, garage or RnB influenced but rather than it being too closely tied down to just one or two genres its a general feel that every track on the channel have in common. We also run events across the UK and put out music through our record label 'Eton Messy Music'.
EM: Best advice you have ever received?
Jake: Never try to cut your own hair. Oh and don’t read the YouTube comments on your own tracks. Actually maybe just don’t read YouTube comments.
EM: If you were curating your own festival, who would you have headline? Dead or alive.
Jake: Aaliyah singing duets with Brandy and Janet Jackson with Amerie on the backing vocals.
Adam: Destiny's Child
EM: Lastly, what can we expect from you guys in the upcoming months?
Adam: We have a couple of festivals we are going to be playing at which we cannot wait for: Outlook and Dimensions in Croatia and one big UK festival that we will be announcing soon. Then as far as production goes we are working on a bunch of new tracks that we are eager to share with you all!
Jake: I've also finished university at Leeds so I'm moving back to Bristol so that we can get a studio space together. We're both looking forward to finally being able to work on material under the same roof.