Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Blanco White

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Blanco White

When I first heard Blanco White, I had to learn more. His voice is amazing and he has a ton of plays on Spotify. I first heard “Colder Heavens” and was hooked. His songwriting is pretty great, too, and he has a depth that demands to be heard. It has a certain gospel feel to it… His vocals do, anyway. He calls it, “Anglo-American folk,” and why I have no idea what that means, we’ll find out in the interview below. I am so excited for this interview… It is my pleasure to introduce you to Blanco White.

I heard your single “Colder Heavens” the other day, and was blown away. That single has over 5 million plays on Spotify. Tell me more about that single. Good stuff!
Yeah, I’ve been blown away by the plays on Spotify. Very exciting for an emerging artist like myself. That particular song draws on aspects of the “tinku” rhythm from Latin America, which is played on the ten stringed ronroco in the track. I wanted that rhythm part to be the source of momentum in the song, with other parts in the arrangement adding more dynamics and atmosphere.

I’d been playing around with the chord progression a while back, but somehow it ended up in the bottom drawer and I didn’t come back to it for quite a while. When I did, the progressions felt fresh again, and that’s when I wrote most of the melodies and lyrics for the song.

According to Twitter, you “weave together Anglo-American folk with an Andean and Flamenco sound.” I have to say; I have no idea what Andean and Flamenco sound is. Can you elaborate?
Both are genres of music that have had a huge effect on me. The rhythms in Andean folk music (music from the Andes in Latin America) are unusual and interesting, but above all it’s the instrumentation and melancholy atmosphere of that tradition that I find captivating. Instruments like the charango and quena have an intensely unique sound, and I wanted to incorporate some of that atmosphere in my own music. Check out artists such as Ernesto Cavour, Los Kjarkas, Violeta Parra and Gustavo Santaolalla.

Flamenco was something I discovered slightly later when I lived in Cádiz in Andalucía back in 2012/13. It very quickly became a total obsession. Watching it live is unlike any other musical experience I can think of. The flamenco style of guitar is remarkable and for me Spanish guitarists are the best in the world. I started studying aspects of flamenco guitar whilst in Spain, and that has heavily influenced my own sound, especially in tracks like “El Búho.”

Both genres have been inspiring to me, and so with Blanco White, I wanted to try and bring those influences together alongside the musical influences I had grown up listening to back home.

Speaking of “Colder Heavens,” you just released the Colder Heavens EP. Tell me more about that release.
We recorded the EP back in the autumn of 2016, and released it earlier this year at the end of March. It was a chance to develop the sound I had started experimenting with in my first self-produced EP The Wind Rose. This time I was very fortunate to work with producer Ian Grimble who helped me to explore the new ideas behind the release.

Who is Luke Insect?
Luke Insect is a genius artist and graphic designer who has done all of the artwork for the Colder Heavens EP release. We spoke about influences and references, mostly from 20th Century avant-garde art movements, and he came up with the EP design which I instantly fell in love with.

Tell me about your relationship with Yucatan Records.
Yucatan Records has been at the centre of my development as an artist from the very beginning, and a constant source of support and guidance. I feel very privileged to be a part of their amazing roster.

I am going to be in London in a few months. Going to see a show at the Ministry of Sound. While in town, besides the big stuff, what can I not afford to miss? I like doing things like a local!
Music wise, there’s always a huge amount going on. I know my label comrades Wovoka Gentle and George Cosby are going to be playing shows round then. They blow me away every time, so don’t miss out on seeing them. If you’re stuck for something to do one evening and like the Blues, ‘Ain’t nothing but’ in Soho is always a great hangout for live blues music.

You don’t have many tour dates on your website. Any plans for a tour this summer?
This summer I’m spending a lot of time in Spain where I’m focusing on writing new material. I’ll be touring again later this year in the autumn – we’ll be announcing dates soon.

You studied guitar in Spain. How was that?
I had a fantastic teacher, Nono García, who has a very authentic style of playing and is also a respected composer. Learning from him, and hearing him play was always very inspiring.

Tell me more about working with Ian Grimble.
It was amazing to work with Ian. He’s got so much experience, and has made so many great records. We did a lot of experimentation whilst recording – he definitely takes the view that you don’t know if an idea is a bad one until you’ve given it a go, so it was great to have that freedom to explore. Beyond possessing an amazing set of ears, he’s also a lovely guy to work with.

You are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What is your favorite social network?
I guess they all offer slightly different things. In my personal life I don’t use social media very much so I’m still quite new to it all, especially Twitter and Instagram. I do like photography though, so maybe I’ll go with Instagram.

Who are some of your biggest influences?
Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gustavo Santaolalla, Beirut, Laura Marling, Paco de Lucía, Feist and composers like Vaughan Williams and Erik Satie.

What’s next for Blanco White?
This summer I’m in Spain focusing on writing. I’ll be looking to record again towards the end of summer before touring through the autumn in the UK and Europe.

In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
“Plastic fox, it’s got a snail on its head.” Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip

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