Everyone has at least one album they stick on to get properly ‘in’ their ‘feelings’. You know the one I mean, don’t you?
It’s what you listen to when you decide to go on a solitary walk through the city at night, pretending you’re the protagonist in your own version of Moonlight except it’s set on Stoke Newington High Street and there’s a cameo from a drunk girl throwing up outside Vogue Fabrics. It’s the album that resonates most in the last melancholy days of the summer, and the one you stick on when all your housemates are out and you feel like drinking three glasses of Casillero Del Diablo and scrolling back to 2014 on the Instagram of someone you dated for seven months in Year 10.
Maybe it’s Adele, or Frank Ocean. It could be Back to Black or any one of The National’s 87 identical albums. Perhaps it’s Nothing Was the Same or some emo shit from when you were 14. And there’s also a reasonable chance it’s something by James Blake.
Despite his own very valid objections to the use of the term ‘sad boy’ to describe him and his music, there’s no denying that James Blake is a kind of poet laureate of ‘that feeling you get when you walk past somebody wearing the same perfume as the girl who ghosted you two summers ago’. Even now that he’s living in LA, has Beyoncé’s phone number and is really obnoxiously in love with Jameela Jamil – a woman so conventionally stunning that Photoshop probably makes her look actively worse – he’s still putting out the kind of anthems that should probably come with a trigger warning for the newly single, albeit alongside one or two slightly more upbeat bangers.
With that in mind, James Blake fans are probably some of the most adept at staying in touch with their feels, and recognising the value in being vulnerable. So because I haven't had a good cry in ages (seven years? ever?) I headed down to his gig at the Hammersmith Apollo to get some tips, and to chat about what it even means to be sad.
Sammy and May
Noisey: Hey guys, what do you do to stay in touch with your ~ feelings ~?
May: I don’t find it that hard to be honest. I’m definitely an emotional person.
Sammy: She’s just very in touch with herself.
May: I guess it doesn’t take much to make me cry. I get sad at like, people eating on their own.
But what if they enjoy eating on their own? They might just be having some me time.
May: Yeah, people have said that to me but I just can’t see it. I hate eating on my own. If I wanted to get in my feelings though I’d just put sad music on.
Like what? James Blake?
May: To be honest, yeah! Sammy: Or, like, Drake. He’s very in his feelings, he literally wrote a song called “In My Feelings”. Or I’d watch a few episodes of... The Office maybe.
Sammy: Like the romantic scenes, anything romantic in a sitcom sets me off. Or if I watch enough Peep Show that fucks me up. When you watch too much Peep Show you start like, second-guessing everything.
May: Wow, I haven’t got that deep into it.
So basically what you’re saying is you binged too much telly and it put you in a dark place?
Sammy: Yeah, basically.
Make sure you take regular breaks next time then. Go outside or something.
Sammy: Thanks, yeah I will.
Peter and Rae
Noisey: James Blake is pretty in touch with his emotions right?
Peter: Yeah 100%.
Rae: Very much so.
What about you?
Peter: Oh, I’m all over the place.
Mood. Do you ever get that thing where you just kind of want to be sad? What do you do when you’re feeling like that?
Peter: Yeah, definitely. Actually recently when I’ve felt like that I’ve been obsessed with the idea of one day after work just coming home, turning all the lights off and turning some music on really loudly and just kind of… properly listening to it.
Peter: James Blake would probably be pretty good for that, and I think a bit of Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD maybe. I’m hoping James Blake will do some of that Travis Scott stuff tonight.
“Mile High” is an excellent sad vibe. Have you ever cried to it?
Peter: I haven’t gone that far but maybe tonight’s the night.
Rae: I don’t really cry at much. I cry more when I’m happy than when I’m sad.
I cry when I’m angry which is, like, the worst thing to do isn’t it? Nobody takes you seriously.
Peter: I dunno man. If you need to have a cry, have a cry. It’s cathartic.
Thanks Peter, I will.
Olly and Tom
Hi guys. You fans of James Blake’s last album?
Olly: Yeah, but I think I prefer the one before. You can wallow in the emotions of it a bit more.
Yeah, now he’s in love his music is not as... wallowy.
Olly: I think it’d be better if you didn’t know who his girlfriend was. You can’t really apply it to your own wallowing so much when you know who it’s about. The fact she’s famous makes it really hard to ignore that they’re about her.
Agreed. They’re too perfect, I find it very grating.
Olly: I quite rate that she stands up for some decent stuff though.
Ugh, I guess. So what do you do when you feel like wallowing now that James Blake is no longer so sad?
Olly: Well… music is always the go-to isn’t it? I just put on some sad tunes. The Colour in Anything is perfect for it.
I interrupted you guys watching the football, do you get emotional about that?
Tom: Oh yeah, football is my number one reason for wallowing to be honest.
Olly: Probably all of my emotions are expressed through football.
So Paul. Do you express emotions sometimes?
Paul: Of course I do.
What do you get sad about?
The usual stuff. Relationships, that sort of thing.
I feel you. What do you do when you’re feeling emosh?
Usually just listen to music. Like Frank Ocean or something like that.
Nobody has said Frank yet but I’m glad you did. He’s always what I listen to when I want to pretend I’m in a music video.
Haha yeah me too.
While sitting on the bus looking out of the window as it rains.
Exactly yeah. He’s great for that.
I’m glad you agree, I’d sound like a weirdo otherwise.
I think you sound like a weirdo anyway, but it’s fine.
Ok. Bye then.
James Blake. Famously a 'sad boy' right?
April: The last album is less so. I think he’s moved to LA and is just hanging out in the sun with his cool new rapper friends and isn’t as sad anymore. There are still a couple of sad anthems but I think most of the [new] album is more upbeat. Maybe “Are You in Love?” is a sad one, but I don’t like that one so much.
I’m definitely more into a sad vibe myself.
When he plays those ones it might be a bit awkward though cos I’m actually here with my ex-boyfriend.
Oh my god! Is that the guy that sort of walked away when I approached you with a camera?
Yeah that’s him.
Awks. Did you break up recently?
No, it’s all good, we’re good friends now.
Ok good. I was going to ask you about you stay in touch with your feelings, but I guess the answer is going to gigs with your ex?
Yeah, maybe. Being friends with your exes is good, it’s mature.
I agree. I guess it’ll put you in the mood for some sad anthems?
Exactly, it’s a win win.
Well, good luck.
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