Pleased to Meet You Spotlight: Ballet School | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Left to right: Michel Collet, Rosie Blair, Louis McGuire

Pleased to Meet You Spotlight: Ballet School

International Affairs

Nov 05, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Band Name: Ballet School

Members: Rosie Blair (vocals), Michel Collet (guitar), Louis McGuire (drums)

Reference Points: Missing Persons, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and, of course, Cocteau Twins, whose Simon Raymonde signed Ballet School to his Bella Union label.

“The Cocteau Twins are a big influence on us because of their pedigree as a proto-shoegaze band, and because of how idiosyncratic they were,” says Rosie. “The period when they were making music, you couldn’t fit them into any specific genre, and that’s what I like about them.”

Location: Berlin, by way of Belfast, Ireland (Rosie); London, England (Louis); and São Paulo, Brazil (Michel)

“I came from Brazil, I was born and raised there,” says Michel. “I listened to a lot of British rock music. I wanted to have a band with people who were from Great Britain, but not people who were living there. I thought I would meet these people outside of there, because they would have an adventurous spirit. So, I went to Berlin.”

“At the time I moved to Berlin, I had a completely clean slate,” says Rosie. “I had nothing but the idea of starting a band, so I was very, very determined … I’d been casually starting bands since I was a child, but whenever you casually start a band, there’s no impetus. For the first in my life I was really determined to do it. There were no fucking other things going on, whatsoever.”

Foundation and Formation: Vocalist Rosie Blair embarked for Berlin with little else beyond a plan to form a band. One night, by chance, she overheard Michel Collet busking in the U-Bahn, Berlin’s underground mass transit system, and was struck by his beautiful, complex guitar style. She approached the guitarist; they bonded over shared musical tastes, and decidedly quickly that they were meant to work together.

“When I met Michel, we were in the same headspace,” says Rosie. “We immediately moved in together. We just stayed inside and immediately started writing material. He made me go out and busk in the street, because I was too shy to perform … We literally survived like that for two years. It was very, very intense, but I think that’s the only way it could have started, by being completely in the zone.”

Over those years, the two generated a body of catchy pop songs while recording demos and performing with itinerant percussionists. Their early tracks caught picked up some heat online, catching the ear of artists such as Grimes and former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde. However the band, as they had envisioned it, was still incomplete.

“We had played with a lot of drummers at this stage,” says Rosie. “I would estimate we played with maybe 10 drummers. We were really trying, waking up every day and trying to get that fucking band together. It was exhausting. And then we saw [Louis] and we said, he’s the one!”

“I was lucky, because when they approached me to join the band, I was already really into them,” says Louis. “I’d seen them play some acoustic sets together … I thought it was really beautiful. I was earning my money at the time drumming for a bunch of different bands, and I had no idea they’d already done so much groundwork.”

While there had already been some label interest in Ballet School before Louis even joined the group, Rosie and Michel had felt the band still lacked an amazing live set. It was Louis who finally brought that important element to the table.

“Whenever you go and see a band perform, you want to see fucking blood, you know what I mean?” Rosie says. “I have no interest in watching someone stand around not doing anything. I want to see something physical. Something aggressive.”

Sound and Vision:



Mainstream Pop Artist They’d Like to Write Songs For: Madonna

“I fucking stan for Madonna, I think about her every day,” says Rosie, laughing. “She’s like a parent. I definitely listened to her religiously throughout my formative years.”

Releases: Debut album, The Dew Lasts An Hour, is now available from Bella Union; the Boys Again EP, also from Bella Union.



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