2014 Artist Survey: Blaue Blume

Jonas Smith on 2014's Best Albums, Good vs. Evil, U2's Free Album, and His First Kiss

Jan 29, 2015 Photography by Petra Kleis Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Jonas Smith of Denmark-based band Blaue Blume.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1. Sun Kil Moon: Benji-He has a peculiar social-realistic tone in his lyrical universe; only a few master this without coloring the music with a drowsy melancholy. 

2. Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness-I saw her live in Copenhagen a couple of months ago and was blown away by her grace. The songs on the album are perfectly crafted and suit her heartbreaking voice more than ever. Had [Leonard] Cohen ever had a daughter with Vashti Bunyan, it could have been her. 

3. Grouper: Ruins-I've listened a lot to this record lately and it's growing on me every time. I love the sentimental mood it's insisting on. I hear it really loud when it's really dark outside.

4. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream-This is just timeless songs and it holds the key to the ideal way of kicking off a record.

5. Lewis: Romantic Times-I'm a sucker for mythical figures like him.

6. Mac DeMarco: Salad Days-Just can't help liking this guy.

7. Caribou: Our Love-The ninth track, "Back Home," has one of the most successful buildups I've heard since Radiohead's "Idioteque."  

8. Real Estate: Atlas-An instantly likeable album.

9. Warpaint: Warpaint-Nigel Godrich did a really good job producing this record.

10. Scott Walker + Sunn O))): Soused-I don't get what's exactly going on, but it's cool.

 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

I haven't heard the record yet and I'm neither a fan nor a hater of U2, but if I'm supposed to take a stand I would say that the idea of giving music away completely devalues it. I honestly don't understand why they didn't come to that conclusion. It seems very arrogant to believe that people need your music and even more hypocritical to use your power to try and force it into people's ears with a helping hand from your corporate pal, whose business completely undermines your ideological idea of saving the world. Radiohead asked you how much you wanted to pay for it and that is, in my opinion, a more interesting experiment. Also, I don't think that it necessarily is beneficial for any musicians to have as many people as possible to hear their music. I like the idea of it finding its natural way to a caring listener.     

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

That really depends on how good a person you want to be or how big an idiot you can live with. I believe that great art does go beyond a righteous common moral codex. Creativity is as much for the villains as it is for the saints. In fact, I would say the more you are able to lose yourself in a creative process and observe from a neutral perspective without prejudice towards yourself and your unfiltered thoughts, the more you are able to communicate the truth in which beauty often lies. There are numerous examples of artists not fitting the normality. I am reluctant to pull a Lars Von Trier but he gave a fine, nonetheless daring, example of how one of history's biggest psychopaths also was somewhat of an artist. That said, I do not sympathize with mass murderers even if they might be artistic geniuses. I think my point is that you can look at people's work with contempt because of who they are, but it does not change the fact that it might move something within you. Well, that wasn't really an answer to the actual question, but an interesting debate nonetheless. I have heard about that Kozelek/Granduciel beef and I have no actual for or against arguments. Actually, I don't care. They both made two of my absolute favorite records this year. Personally, I aim to be less of a douchebag than I sometimes can be offstage, but I wish I didn't give a fuck about how people see me and how I want them to see me. Rimbaud believed that in order to really know goodness, you will have to visit evil. I often wonder how my little songs of love or hate would sound if I really dared pursuing one or the other. 

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

That we sound grandiloquent, verging on pretentious. That's the thing I love the most about us.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

I had my first real kiss with a French girl when I was around 10 or 11 years old, and by "real kiss," I mean I felt both horny and endlessly in love at the same time for the first time. Unable at that age to analyze or act on that strange peculiar new emotion wrestling within me, I often wonder today if she felt the same way. Luckily my heart has found peace somewhere else now, but I can't help but think of Samantha once in a while. Who she has grown to be and how her hair smells and her skin tastes. But with our little success as a band, I think there is a slightly bigger chance of finding her on Facebook than searching through every Samantha in France.

www.soundcloud.com/blaueblumedk



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