Blake Hazard

by Alex Teitz
Blake Hazard
 
            Blake Hazard is best known as being part of the band The Submarines. She has evolved as a person and an artist since then. In November she released her 2nd full length album Possibilities at Sea. The album came about while working with producer Thom Monahan in Los Angeles. Earlier in 2017 she released a number of singles. Possibilities at Sea includes “This Heart.” FEMMUSIC was honored to e-mail with her about the new album. For info visit https://www.blakehazardmusic.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Possibilities at Sea?
 
BH: There have been lots of tricky things about getting the record out into the world, but, the making of it really wasn’t fraught at all. I brought the songs to Thom Monahan, my friend who produced the record, and we talked about wanting to record the album essentially live in the studio. He brought together an amazing band of players, and we recorded all the main tracks and most of the vocals all at once in the course of just a few days. I loved working that way. Then we took the tracks back to Thom’s studio for minimal overdubs and harmonies. Maybe the biggest challenge for me was not getting to putting a lot of layers of sounds on the album, something I’m usually really drawn to. Thom’s mantra was ‘this record rejects impurities,’ and we kept most things as simple as we could.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Tell me about Thom Monahan. Why did you work with him for this album? How was it working with him?
 
BH: Thom has been a friend since we toured together years ago — I was opening for the band he played in and recorded, The Pernice Brothers. We drove for weeks of the tour just talking and talking and later got to work on more projects together. I’ve loved his work for such a long time, it made a lot of sense to make a whole record together. The Vetiver records he recorded, the Fruit Bats, and Devendra albums, were all inspirations to me.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about the trip to Istanbul. What happened there? What spurred the album after?
 
BH: I moved to Istanbul for a relationship. We had met in LA and had been going back and forth for some time, and I eventually moved there for a year. I tried to learn the language and truly loved being in Istanbul. And after that year I came back home. It was a great adventure and romance, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s kind of wonderful to come out of a relationship feeling like you were both better off for having been together, even though it’s over, and I think that’s what it was. Some months passed between when I came back and when I started writing this new album. And in that time, I felt hopeful all over again. I wanted to make a record that I felt anyone could listen to and feel loved, the way I needed to feel when I was going through breakups or any difficult times. I wanted the record to feel good, to be like a friend or a lover who makes you feel better every time you see them.
 
Blake Hazard
 
FEMMUSIC:  I see White Sea is involved in this album. Whom else did you have come in? Whom were you most excited to work with?
 
BH: Yes Morgan (White Sea) did a beautiful, sort of orchestral, remix of the song Oh Anatolia. I felt like she made a film of the song and turned it back into a song again. It’s really lovely. Xander Singh (who I met when his band opened for a Submarines tour, and who went on to be in Passion Pit) remixed the song Before the Ice. I sort of freaked out when I heard his remix — it’s so creative, he totally took the thing apart and put it back together in this intricate, pretty way. I love it. And Arne (DJ Styrofoam) remixed the song Hey, really opened up the track and gave it this whole other modern life. So interesting to basically hear a song produced in a completely different way. I had written with Arne for one of his albums, and he did a beautiful remix for the Submarines some time ago. 
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it changed over time?
 
BH: Normally I really labor over a song, and it can take months to feel like the lyrics are in a good place. With this record, though, things moved much more quickly. I wrote a few of the songs in just one sitting, like I was telling a story from start to finish. It felt good to work that quickly for once. In general, I keep notebooks and write songs on just one or two pages without much rewriting. I don’t really journal, though I’m always telling myself I ought to. And I record lots of voice memos on my phone along the way.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the most impact on you and why?
 
BH: It’s impossible to choose just one! And it seems like your influences can change so much over time, or different aspects of what your musical heroes have done come into play in your own work at different times…. With this record, I thought a lot about Ricki Lee Jones’ first two albums, Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, Van Morrison’s Astralweeks, though a lot of other influences came up once we got into the studio, as well. This song The Waters of March by Tom Jobim and Elis Regina was definitely an influence as I was writing this album, too (on songs like Safety Circle and This Heart). It sounds so simple, light, and is musically so great. This video of the two of them singing kills me, it’s so charming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBEesrdaRog
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
BH: I think it’s an incredibly tough business for anyone, really. At the moment, I can’t think of times when I knew I was being discriminated against for being female, aside from massive amounts of mansplaining when I first started out, especially on tour. I honestly haven’t noticed that as much in recent years, though, and I think that’s a sign of progress, with more women musicians and engineers being out there.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with or collaborate with and why?
 
BH: I’d love to make a new Submarines record. John, my co-Submarine, is also working on a solo record right now. Hopefully when we’ve both done our solo work we can get back to it. I’d also love to do more co-writing with people, and more remix collaborations.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
BH: I’m not sure this is in the cards, but, I would sincerely love it if more people decided to buy music again. That would change everything for the better in the simplest way I can imagine.
November 3rd, 2017