The Blaze: An Invitation To Feel
Following on the success of a number of hit singles, award-winning music videos, and their latest album, Dancehall, French electronic music duo, The Blaze, has amassed an impressive global cult following in just under two years. Their secret? Making you feel—a lot—whether you’re ready or not.
Though, to be clear, The Blaze doesn’t just transform sound into feeling; their true talent lies in their ability to push you to confront the true complexity of emotion with each song and video they release. For example, “Queens” from Dancehall, is not just sad—it’s hollow longing in the opening chords, it’s despair in the unanswered goodbyes of the lyrics, it’s regret in the drumming tempo, it’s betrayal in the swirling, frothing bridge, it’s gut-wrenching hopelessness in the wavering final notes—and on top of that, you can dance to it. Attempting to reduce their songs to just one adjective is to do a disservice to the passion that whelms from within them. Across the board, their music is an invitation to feel, a challenge to look your emotions in the face, an open floor to dance with the thoughts you’ve ignored. The Blaze is not for the faint of heart.
We caught up with the duo, Guillaume and Jonathan, hours before they took the stage for the New York City leg of their US tour to chat about their first time performing in the States, their creative process, and what’s on the horizon for them and fans.
So, this is your first US tour?
How’s it going so far?
Guillaume: It’s going pretty well! We are happy to be in New York. We are happy in general to be in America, because we are coming all the way from Europe, and to see a lot of people come to our concerts in America…. for us it’s a surprise, you know? To see, wow—we are on the other side of the planet and people are here feeling emotion with us and sharing our music and sharing this moment with us. It’s very emotional to see.
Jonathan: The American crowd is very warm. They sing the songs, they clap their hands and dance, and when we feel a little bit stressed on stage, usually we look at each other and sometimes we look at the crowd and we see people dancing like this [lifts arms up] and we feel much better in two seconds. It’s really good.
We’re happy to have you here! I’m curious about your live performance in general. So much of your music is very emotional and people experience it in a very personal way. How do you make that emotion carry through in a live setting?
Jonathan: We try to talk about universal themes, and I think that’s why we touch a lot of people. When we write an idea, we include a lot of personal stuff. For example, the gorilla scene in the “Territory” video—that’s something my brother did to play with his child 10 years ago. It was stuck in my head, and we put it in. We try to be sincere about personal stuff.
Let’s talk about this process. When you are working on a song, do you always begin with a feeling you want to communicate or, rather, is it a sound that you want to turn into a feeling?
Jonathan: There’s no true recipe. We can start with the music, and when we choose some piano chords or something like that, it can inspire us a lot and we start to write the idea. But, it can also be the contrary. Yes, with music or images—there is no recipe.
So you start with an idea, not necessarily an emotion? You don’t decide: “this is going to be a happy song”… you come up with a bit more of a story before you go into it?
Jonathan: It depends. Generally, we used to do the contrary. For example, “Queens” is a sad song. Immediately we got some sad ideas but, in the end, we like to work with contrast and we find poetry in contrast. We like to do the contrary of what people expect. We are of course talking about death in “Queens”, but 90 percent of the music video is about life, because it’s a flashback from the story of two girls. We talk about life through the spectrum of death [laughs]. Yes, the “spectrum of death”.
You need to put that on a shirt. You’d be a millionaire. [Everyone laughs at my amazing joke.] So what happens when you guys disagree? Do you ever disagree on how a song should go?
Jonathan: We of course disagree, because I can have a really bad idea [laughs] or he can have a really bad idea, and we discuss them a lot and we fight. We work like that a lot.
Guillaume: It’s good. It’s one of the ingredients of our recipe. When one of us has an idea, the goal of the other one is to start to fight with this idea just to see if the idea survives. So, ya, of course: we have an idea and put it on the table to fight with it, and if the idea survives: alright, it’s a good idea, you know?
Are you guys that emotional in your personal lives as well?
Jonathan: Of course.
Guillaume: Of course.
Jonathan: I cried two hours ago [laughs].
Guillaume: I cry all the time in my life, and it’s good to feel things—crying, dancing, smiling.
Emotion is the principle source of living. If you’re not feeling emotion, you’re not living your life. It’s very important.
Jonathan: And it’s important for us to be sincere. So, yes, we go to the movies and we cry. The last movie we saw is the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. This movie is truly amazing, and you cry from the beginning to the end, which is really good for the psyche. To cry for a long time—it empties yourself of energy, so it’s good.
It certainly shows in your music. Once you’re done with the tour, what can fans expect from you next? Or have you not planned your next steps?
Guillaume: We are going to kind of pause for 3 months—that will give us time to go back in the studio and time for the people we love—and then we go back on tour in February and March. We’re doing a European tour.
And are you planning on releasing more music any time soon?
Guillaume: We don’t have plans for the future now because we love to work in the present—it’s very important for us. One of the biggest sources of our inspiration is to take the time and not feel pressure. With our producers, they give us time and it’s very good for us, you know, because we’re speaking about humans, about emotion—very deep things—and we need time to be sure about what we want to talk about, and the kind of music we want to do. We need to not plan into the future.
Makes sense. And one last thing—as a fan, I have to ask: since you typically produce visuals and music at the same time, can we also expect videos for the rest of the songs on Dancehall?
Jonathan: Maybe yes… maybe no. [Laughs]
Guillaume: That’s “the spectrum of death”.
Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.