Dead Heart Bloom | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Dead Heart Bloom

New Artists for 2006

Jan 01, 2006 Photography by Arshia Alborzi Dead Heart Bloom
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Dead Heart Bloom is the product of ex-Phaser member, Boris Skalsky, who handles the majority of writing, performing, and recording duties for his new band. Stylistically, Skalsky’s music nearly runs the gamut, capable of sudden turns, from Sea Change-era Beck to Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys. Subtle ties manage to keep it all together.

A debut is set to release on KEI Records on March 21, 2006 and will feature additional performances by drummers Gregg Hudson and Simon Ley, guitarist Paul Wood, and The Sunrise Quartet.

Under the Radar: How did the band form?

Boris Skalsky: After the break-up of my last band I had material that I had either not introduced to the band or that the band had not gotten too. I had some new ideas as well. I felt like I had something to prove—as if I was starting as a musician from square one, and would be judged as such. I was also a little angry at how things fell apart, and anger is a great motivator. So I holed up for six months and wrote songs and asked some friends to play a little and took the reins on the rest. This record—this band—is a result of that time. Essentially, the band formed because I locked myself up with some pianos, some guitars, a couple of mics, a 2-inch, and made a record.

UTR: Why did Phaser break up?

Boris: Towards the end, things out of our control began turning against us, our momentum began shifting, and we let this get in the way of the music. We stopped being able to write music together. That is always the death knell. So after struggling with it for a year, we felt like it was better to write apart than as a band. In the end it was for the best. Without Phaser breaking up, Dead Heart Bloom would not have happened.

UTR: Your musical style tends to change from song to song. What do you think ties it all together? Are there lyrical themes, for example?

Boris: Other listeners have told me there is a coherent style throughout the record that keeps it together. I feel this way too. Even though the songs are very different from one another, for me, there is something in the voice, or arrangement, or chord structure, that keeps it all coherent and organic. It also helps to listen to the record straight through, like a cycle in the classical sense, like a cycle of Schubert songs, for instance.

That said, there is definitely a lyrical thread on this record. A theme. An obsession, really. A lyrical obsession. Characters that pop up, that wouldn’t leave me alone. I would even go so far as to call it a “concept” record, but a very loose one. It was a concept that helped me write the record. That’s all. You need not know that, though, to listen to the record.

UTR: Being a songwriter, do you find yourself seeing every experience you go through in terms of how it could parlay into a song?

Boris: Yes. The easiest habit for a lyricist to fall into is drawing on experience and writing about yourself. But I’m also intrigued by the classic “story” songs, such as “Eleanor Rigby” or Dylan or Lou Reed songs. These songs teach us that a lyric need not always be about the songwriter. You can spin a story about anything, even something completely outside your experience. So although I find this type of song harder to write, I like this idea. I like the idea of getting away from the “I” in a song.

UTR: If you could play only one song for someone, which one would it be?

Boris: “Letter to the World.” I have a soft spot for this one because it barely made the record—a last second addition—and in many ways it’s the most successful. But it’s hard for me to pick one representative song from the record because the style of each varies. The three songs that represent the record best are: “I Hope I Stop Fading,” “Saint Henry,” and “Letter To The World.”

UTR: What are some influences or reference points that you could cite that would give people a good idea as to what the band is about?

Boris: What interests me most now are the bands that are based around collaboration. Or rather, a primary songwriter and their collaborators. I’m thinking here of songwriters, or a group of songwriters, that have a very honed musical vision that they surround with other great musicians to help take to another level. Artists such as Broken Social Scene, Iron and Wine, Bright Eyes, Trent Reznor, and Spiritualized fit this mold. These are people who never compromise, who are musicians because they born to do it, and whose music is always surprising. Fans don’t know what to expect from one record to the next, or from one show to the next. It’s something I’d like to model Dead Heart Bloom on.

UTR: What kind of response have you been getting as a result of MySpace?

Boris: We’re going to be doing a full radio and promotional campaign in March when the record is officially released. In the meantime, we’re using Myspace as a tool for sharing the music and getting feedback from music fans. So far the response has been very positive. I even got a note from someone in Sweden asking how they can get a copy of the album.

UTR: Where would you realistically like your band to be in one-year?

Boris: My greatest concern is to always move forward. I want to keep building. In one year, I would like to have two more records under my belt, an EP and an LP. I would like to be touring the records. I would like to start branching out into other channels such as film, TV, or songwriting for others. The possibilities are limitless. For instance, I filled in on bass playing with a DC band named Tone last summer who were commissioned to write music for a dance troupe. This kind of opportunity excites me.

Most of all, in one-year, I would like to start connecting with a group of listeners—Dead Heart Bloom fans. I believe every music has an audience. It’s only a matter of finding them. In one-year’s time I want to find that group of listeners and connect with them, be it 100, 1,000, or 100,000. Ultimately, I’m on the twenty-year plan and will do whatever it takes. But in a year I hope to at least have enough listeners where I can be self-sustaining—where I’m not doing this because I’m angry or because I have something to prove, but because I have something to share.

UTR: Which band’s career path do you most admire and would you most like to model?

Boris: I admire artists such as Beck, Trent Reznor, [Spiritualized’s] Jason Pierce. These people have music coming out of every pore. And everything they do is done with such care. You can see their minds working not only in the music, but in the cover art, the videos, the image of the band. And their careers remind me of how it used to be—the career path of Pink Floyd, for instance, who found themselves over the course of four records, and who were allowed to find themselves. These people sometimes take years to release a record - not because they’re being difficult or because they’re not writing, but because that is the way it has got to be. These are the people I admire. If I could have even an inkling of their career paths, I would consider myself a lucky man.

UTR: What are you doing to differentiate yourselves from all the other new bands out there?

Boris: There are so many bands, the hardest thing is to break through the rattle. The one thing that we have complete control over and how we will differentiate ourselves the most is the music. I hope the music is of such quality that it will poke through. The other thing we can do to differentiate ourselves is to control our own destiny, a lesson I learned the hard way. In other words, never let anyone who didn’t sweat with you in the studio or go through the trial of writing the songs to tell you how things should be done. Design the cover. Write the liner notes. Take control of the radio campaign, the marketing campaign, the website, the image. Listeners of music can always spot a fraud. I definitely don’t have a handler, and that in itself, I think, is different.

UTR: When you become more popular, what do you predict will become the biggest misconception about the band?

Boris: The biggest misconception will be to think of Dead Heart Bloom as a band in the traditional sense. I’m not interested in that anymore. I’m interested in collaborations and in experimenting with formats to keep myself and the fans excited. For example, right now I’m doing a lot of the record live with only myself and a piano. Very intimate. But I can also envision doing these songs—and other Dead Heart Bloom records to come—with a drummer, a cellist, a piano, or maybe a moog, a percussionist, and five guitarists, or maybe with a chorus, or an orchestra, or string quartet. There are many possibilities. Maybe the band will evolve into a standard line-up at some point, but I’d like to try experimenting with it first.

UTR: If you had to choose, would you rather have wealth and fame, or the respect of your peers?

Boris: I would rather write music that I am proud of, and everything else will follow. Ultimately, all that matters is that you be true to yourself and be proud of what you’ve created and then, if it’s good enough and if it was meant to be, in a hundred years the music will be remembered. I’m trying not to spend a lot of time worrying about wealth and fame or respect of my peers—my sole worry is that the music be good, and I assume that all else will follow. History will be the ultimate judge—I hope my music will survive, and be timeless, and be remembered.

UTR: What’s the one thing you won’t do to help further the success of the band?

Boris: I will never again let forces outside the music influence the progress of my musicianship, I won’t put my destiny in someone else’s hands, and I won’t release a note of music that I’m not proud of or don’t want released.


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June 11th 2010

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August 30th 2010

There are many possibilities. Maybe the band will evolve into a standard line-up at some point, but I’d like to try experimenting with it first.

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October 26th 2010

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January 9th 2011

Dead Heart Bloom brings rock, power pop, country, folk and blues to new album “Strange Waves,” The album lays on a magnetic grip from the get-go. Yet it’s not the type of album that necessarily requires a playlist top-to-bottom listen. You can jump in at midstream just as easily and follow the record to a gratifying point-to-point conclusion “Rolex Prices

January 10th 2011

The new Dead Heart Bloom album, Strange Waves, the 9 track record takes you on a dreamy guitar driven ambient-folk carpet ride that I never want to end.  I could sit and read the lyrics like poetry. A definite progression in their music and I am loving every moment. “Rolex Submariner