James Blake’s post-pandemic album finds clarity in chaos

NEW YORK - People around the globe were forced to reassess their relationships in an environment where every interaction was a risk. James Blake, a Grammy-winning producer and recording artist, was no exception.

James Blake’s post-pandemic album finds clarity in chaos

NEW YORK - People around the globe were forced to reassess their relationships in an environment where every interaction was a risk. James Blake, a Grammy-winning producer and recording artist, was no exception.

Blake said, "I could see that it wasn’t just me who was reevaluating friends." Blake said, "It was necessary to reevaluate the question: "How many people do I need in my life?" This thought process is no longer necessary. "What's my purpose if I'm not in this rat race?"

These thoughts gave him constant inspiration to create music that was different from traditional love songs. He created tracks that touched on heartbreak, complacency and comparison, as well as hope.

Blake stated that songs about heartbreak are often about friendship.

His fifth studio album, "Friends That Break Your Heart," is his fifth.

Blake released singles from the album in July 2021, beginning with "Say what You Will". A music video featuring Finneas was created to accompany the song. The video shows Blake in constant shadow of Billie Eilish, beginning at the Grammys where Blake holds his one trophy, while Finneas descends down the stairs clutching his arms full.

Blake has had the pleasure of working with many artists, from Kendrick Lamar to Beyonce and Frank Ocean. However, he believes that this feeling is universal.

"Everyone has someone like that. We all have that feeling of comparison, even if we are successful. Blake said. Blake said, "We are constantly reminded via Instagram about everybody's success. You almost have to filter out your environment and protect yourself from constant FOMO."

Blake claims that the comedy tone in the music video was inspired by Jamela Jamil, his girlfriend from "The Good Place".

Blake said, "She's very funny." "But my videos aren’t always funny. They’re heavy and emotional and abstract, and I wasn’t sure if it was possible to pull it off."

The pandemic changed Blake's thinking and, more importantly, his ability to create the album.

He said, "The type of team I had around was very small and close-knit. It was just close to me. Not ones that broke my heart."

Blake mixes studio and at-home production. He admits that it is sometimes the most cost-effective option for musicians to stay home.

Blake stated that he feels like he gives enough royalties away, and that enough money goes back into making music. Blake said, "I think a lot (musicians) feel like, "Well, let’s invest in ourselves" if we don't get better recording deals or streaming royalties... Let's just try to make the (expletive). record for free."

Blake is fortunate to have toured for 10+ years. This contrasts with others who were severely affected by the pandemic's stoppage of touring. He knows many musicians who are in trouble.

Blake stated that while they might have been able to climb the property ladder, the pandemic hit and they couldn't afford it. "Many people who were in the tour business also lost their livelihood."

This contrasts with a conversation he had with a record label where he was told that they were doing "better then ever."

Blake stated that "we know there's a huge imbalance in who's making the most money." Live touring helps to address this balance. "So I hope some of those musicians and some of the people in this industry get back on their feet, and they understand that I'm rooting for them."

Blake is eager to be back on the road. Blake hopes that people will slow down enough so that they can enjoy the 12 tracks on his album featuring artists such as JID, SZA and SwaVay.

Blake stated that he would prefer people listen to it if they had the time to dedicate a portion of their day to giving it the attention it deserves. "We live in an online world so it's difficult to take in the music unless you make an hour of your time to listen to it.

Updated Date: 13 October 2021, 18:20

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