The strangely welcoming moniker of Blonde is one that oddly suits the Bristol duo of Jacob Manson and Adam Englefield. Despite the fact that only Adam is Blonde and that there are no hair or hair-colour related references in any of their deliciously tropical anthems, the simple name somehow encapsulates the ‘feel good’ vibes that surround the colourful album art, melodic vocals and vibrant music videos. In fact, any adjective associated with feeling good, smiling, happiness (The list goes on), can also be associated with Blonde, the music, the image and the artists behind it.
On a typically unpredictable Irish morning after their blowout set in Carbon Nightclub that went from the deepest of house, to Basement Jaxx and Moose T, Adam is waiting happily in the foyer, while the mildly lethargic Jake arrives a few minutes later, anticipating lunch before they depart for Dublin on the next leg of their tour of the Emerald isle. One would assume due to their exuberant musical image that the two would order a pineapple each, sprinkled in *insert tropical fruit here* while drinking from coconuts, an omelette was enough for Adam, although Jake subtly maintained a bit of ‘Blonde’ on the table with a smoothie to go along with his salad.
Despite the multitude of adjectives and labels used to describe Blonde’s sound, Adam isn’t too fond of being tied down to one option in terms of making music ‘To be honest we don’t like to be tied to one genre really. We like to be able to make loads of different types of music, you’d never hear it, but me and Jake make so many different types of things, I don’t think we’d ever really want to be pigeonholed in that genre’. However, with Adam being the founder of Eton Messy, a YouTube channel that acted as a platform for many of the so-called pillars in the new UK house scene, there is a certain loyalty to it too ‘We do feel quite protective about it because that scene’s been part of our lives for the past four years, so we do feel really proud of that.’ On that note, working with Craig David on their new hit ‘Nothing Like This’ (Which they performed on BBC Radio 1’s live lounge before setting off to Ireland) has been strangely nostalgic ‘The funny thing is, the music that Craig was involved with at the very beginning has influenced the scene that we’re involved with now, it’s kind of come full circle really, so it’s quite nice that’.
In the era where the internet rules all, it’s difficult at times to tie down a fan base that’re focused on Blonde itself, despite the exposure that the online world has given them, the fast paced nature of it all can be their enemy too, says Jake ‘I think the songs are a lot more well-known than the brand, so I think it’s important for us to unite all the songs under the brand so that people start putting two and two together and realising all the stuff that we’ve done’. With that being said, Blonde wouldn’t exist without the internet. It’s very well documented that the two met online through Eton Messy, and both Jake and Adam were in agreement that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the World Wide Web ‘No. I [Jake] think the internet has democratised music in quite an interesting way, because one of the main selling points for Blonde when we were going into record labels, back when we first started, was the amount of hits we managed to get organically on the internet. It kind of stopped being a tool for labels to promote things and started allowing you to sort of prove to labels that you were worth looking at.’
Getting signed, collaborating with masterful vocalists and selling out nightclubs abroad is something all DJs dream of and it’s something that Blonde are quite literally in the middle of. ‘It’s definitely surreal, to a certain extent, no one gets into DJing or producing to not have success. Everyone who starts DJing in their bedroom dreams of big clubs and having their music recognised by thousands of people so, I mean it’s kind of what you always hope for, but not something you can really plan for.’ Jake says, as he sips on the mauve coloured smoothie, decorated by Blonde-esque lemon sections. Adam’s omelette, despite the meal’s French origins, maintains some degree of Englishness on the table, a key aspect people often overlook about Blonde given the pair’s overtly Caribbean sound ‘That’s the thing, all the tracks we write are very summery and uplifting and that’s why in a lot of the music videos that we’ve had done they’ve been shot in Mexico City etc. but they were made in dingy bedrooms with the rain pattering on the window. We do [Make darker/rainy music] but you’ll probably never hear them under the Blonde alias because it’s not really fitting.’ Adam adds as he decorates the egg and ham concoction in ketchup.
After having their flight delayed the night before and needing to be out the revolving doors of the Meyrick hotel within an hour to hit the road to the country’s capital, Adam knows the importance of timing all too well, especially in today’s no nonsense electronic music market ‘Certain songs would work better at different times in an overall campaign or different times of the year as well, so many times you see comments on videos “If this was released in summer it would be the summer anthem” and things like that, especially with the music we make, it’s very summery and festival-like, so you’ve got to get the timing right.’ Adding to that, Jake points out that Blonde’s success was no fluke in terms of timing and planning ‘There’s definitely pressure [To follow up successful hits] but we’ve always been thinking two steps ahead, there’s never been a point where we haven’t known what the next two singles could be, we’ve always had a huge pool of music to choose from, we’ve got about seven songs at the moment which could all be the next single, we’re narrowing that down because as you get closer to release date, you polish one up. A lot of this music such as, ‘I Loved You’ was written probably about close to two years before it was released, ‘All Cried Out’ was about a year and a half, so when it comes to releasing music you need to keep working on the song up until it goes out, because otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t sound current anymore’
As the plates were slowly vacated of their contents, the two looked forward in time and discussed what they would like to be remembered for ‘You know what, the thing that I’m [Adam] proudest about the Blonde project is being the soundtrack to people’s memories, you know people might look back at Ibiza 2014 or 2015 and they hear ‘I Loved You’ come on and it takes them straight back to that moment. If people are still having those visceral memories like that being brought back forty years from now being brought back by songs like that, it’d be wicked.’ Jake, while sifting through the salad in front of him, delivered a much more music-focused response ‘‘I Loved You’ really got us on the map, but obviously the song writing was already done, it was a sample that we used from an old Tamia track, but ‘All Cried Out’ and ‘Nothing Like This’ are completely original songs. No part of those songs existed before we wrote them and that, to me, is the craziest feeling, that we’ve completely created something new and that means we’ve actually added something to the culture, we’ve put songs out into the world which have resonated with people and had success. Even if the songs themselves, in their current forms, don’t last, maybe someone will sample aspects of them or be influenced by them in the future, and in that way we’ve already made a stamp that’s our own’.
While the plates left conflicting crime scenes, one, the bloody remnants of a ketchup-laden omelette and the other being the scant stalks of a salad, washed down by the contents of a glass looking like it had been dashed in Amethyst Dulux paint on a rainy day, Blonde have already left a mark on the English dance music scene, in the shape of a big colourful smiley face, whose grin is only going to widen as time goes on.