Canadian born and raised, the globetrotting duo known as Blond:ish has been on a journey of expansion and discovery since leaving Montreal over five years ago. Anstascia D'Elene and Vivie Ann Bakos have taken their weekly Montreal parties across the pond to London and techno stages far and wide. Together they are spreading a message of positive energy through their inspired sounds.
Having recently relocating to Barcelona, the duo are remixing, producing, and playing regularly, impressing crowds with their warm tones and mystical track selection. All of this has cumulated in their upcoming debut album, Welcome To The Present, out on Kompakt Records, October 23.
Although the duo claims that the grey skies of London proved to be functional and productive, it was the sun and the sea that stole the hearts of the Canadian duo. "The fact that you can walk less than five minutes to some of the best restaurants, bars, and incredible markets is a huge plus—it just all equates to an easier life in between touring," says D'Elene. While the two originally released on labels like Noir Music 2 and Get Physical, it has been their work with the team at Kompakt that has turned heads and ears. "Michael [Mayer] and the team have been really amazing in letting us explore different musical directions," says D'Elene. Keeping true to the notion of musical expansion and exploration, she is content with the duo's tendency, "to not stay stagnant in a repetitive genre of music."
Listening to the catalogue of their original work, there is an omnipresent acoustic trend. Live instrumentation softens the blow of Blond:ish's introspective music and takes the message deeper, closer to the subconscious. Their organic method of recording sounds as they appear in nature is something to be strived for. "It's that extra element of humanization such as being off time, or even off tone a little that gives the track the subtle touch," says Bakos. "That's where you catch the best parts."
The themes that circulate within Welcome To The Present, beginning with the dream-like introduction of "Shy Grass," were mostly recorded in Tulum, Mexico—one of Blond:ish's favourite spots to record. "We recorded random noises like squeaky doors at a store, a fruit vendor on the beach and the loud birds outside our window every morning in Tulum," says D'Elene. "Those are all little memories encapsulated in our music which makes it all very nostalgic to us."
The atmosphere of Welcome To The Present becomes apparent early on and stays throughout. Feeling like the end of an enlightening, hallucinatory vision, it flows from track to track, refreshingly unconcerned with anything outside your headphones.
"We've always wanted to show our true sensual side of production and making an album was the perfect opportunity to do so," says D'Elene. This vivaciousness is present on the album, particularly in the psychedelic guitar licks and the live drums of "Velvet Wave." "We are constantly evolving our sound, but it still has certain ties to the late 60s and early 70s," she says.
"Our first trip to India had really influenced the direction of our album," claims D'Elene. "It was full of synchronicities that we never expected." Taking time to meditate and expand their own consciousness, the duo found their life-altering moments on the subcontinent important for Welcome To The Present. Interested by a "limitless umbrella of sound," the two have been experimenting with the notion of sound expressed visually, through the study of cymatics: studying the visual patterns formed by sound waves. "You can imagine we're like little kids in the candy store, not sure where to start," says Bakos. "We're starting with a multi-disciplinary course in sound therapy and learning to play some eastern instruments and learn about their history!"
The hypnotic rhythm behind tracks like, "Moonvalley" highlights their interest in eastern instruments. The track could be the only catalytic ingredient needed in a hallucinatory experience, or philosophical exploration within Welcome To The Present. Although the album was largely complete prior to heading to India, it was there that the girls from Montreal were able to put the music aside for a moment and focus on meditation and the direction they would be taking their lives. The closing track, "It Starts Now," is exactly what a closing track should be, a conclusion. It provides a sense of closure and the motivation to face the day—with independence.
"We kept trying to describe that exact moment when the sun goes over the horizon at sunset, when all judgement and thought and ego goes out the window," says Bakos. After some searching, the two say they eventually came across an answer: "It was under our nose the whole time, and it was very simply, the now—the present."
10.10.15 - Terminus Club - Olten, Switzerland
14.10.15 - W Hotel - Istanbul, Turkey
17.10.15 - PRJCT, The Rai - Amsterdam, Netherlands
22.10.15 - Cinema Hall, Budapest, Hungary
30.10.15 - Monarch - San Fran, USA
31.10.15 - The Park Plaza - LA, USA
6.11.15 - Marquee - NYC, USA