Blake Lewis | Heartbreak On Vinyl | ALBUM
Tommy Boy | October 6, 2009
Blake Lewis | Sad Song | SINGLE
Tommy Boy | September 1, 2009
Blake Lewis | Heartbreak On Vinyl (Remixes)* | SINGLE
Tommy Boy | January 19, 2010
*Remixes Part 2 | March 9, 2010
AMERICAN IDOL VIDEOS
Feb 27 | NYC | Club 57
Mar 6 | Las Vegas | LAX in The Luxor | Performance + DJ set | 11:00 PM
Mar 12 | Seattle | See Sound Lounge | DJ Set
Mar 13 | LA | Human Rights Campaign Dinner | Hyatt Century Plaza | 2 songs
Honorees: Kathy Griffin and Portia DeRossi.
May 14 | DC | Club TBA | Performance + DJ set
Jun 4 | Orlando | Gay Days Weekend* | Parliament House
Jun 12 | Indianapolis | Indianapolis Gay Pride | 5:00 PM
Aug 8 | Chicago | Northalsted Market Days (Brompton Stage) | 5:15 PM
*Blake headlined Los Angeles and Atlanta Gay Pride 2009 events
"an excellent dance-pop album" – Maxine Shen, New York PostBlake Makes Yahoo's "The 10 Most Awesome Music Videos of 2009" with this unofficial fan-created video (above) for his album's title track, "Heartbreak On Vinyl." He joined Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Skakira and Mika, among others, on list
Blake Lewis On American Idol, Beatboxing, Singing, DJing and More
Anyone who tuned into season six of American Idol knew to expect the unexpected of Blake Lewis. The Washington native, who admitted he hadn’t watched a single episode before auditioning in Seattle, arrived in Hollywood without a hint of a plan, other than to be himself. Yet through talent, instinct, creativity and unapologetic brashness, Blake managed to make it all the way to the finale as the first runner-up to Jordin Sparks, each week showcasing a different side to his endlessly eclectic musical identity.
Two years later, the beatboxing wunderkind is going on record with a fully realized follow-up to his 2007 debut, Audio Day Dream, which sold more than 350,000 copies. Heartbreak on Vinyl, Blake’s first album for groundbreaking label Tommy Boy, blends his intrinsic pop sensibility with a love of electronic and dance music, which began taking shape long before he hit the Idol stage. “This is me trying to bridge the gap and make a record that I’m truly proud of,” he says. “I’ve got my 80s side and my indie side, my super pop slant and the electronic music that I love. I wanted to make happy, feel-good music. It all comes from an organic place.”
ADD featured songs written and produced by pop heavyweights like Ryan Tedder, JR Rotem and Blake’s own longtime friend, BT. For Heartbreak, Blake had a hand in writing almost every single track, and teamed up with collaborators including S*A*M & Sluggo (Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco), remixer extraordinaire Dave Audé (Pussycat Dolls), superstar producer Rodney Jerkins (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears) and Jean Baptiste (Will.I.Am, Black Eyed Peas).
The result? A collection that’s rooted in dance music — from break-beat to trance — and oozing electro goodness from every pore. The track “Binary Love,” which Blake describes as a “sexy, nerdy love song,” is a clear example of an ex-Idol finalist reaching new heights, while “Rapture of Love” tackles affairs of the heart over a Depeche Mode, Erasure-inspired melody that’s pure pop. “I want people to rock out in the car and not care that people are watching,” says Blake. “I love that feeling when the sequences are all perfect and you can just press play. I want the music to take you on a journey.”
Hitting close to home is the autobiographical title track, which makes reference to Blake’s favorite Seattle record shop and was inspired by a fateful trip to New York’s Union Square Virgin Megastore — both no longer in business. As the song goes: “Heartbreak on vinyl / I’m missing you and how / Easy street is empty / The silence of the sound / I guess the turntables have turned one too many times.” Blake explains the inspiration for its lyrics: “When people would ask me what I’m addicted to, I always said ‘music.’ And while they’d laugh it off like it’s a cliché, I’m actually a complete shopaholic when it comes to records. I’d literally buy 10 albums a week for years, so when I went to that Virgin Records and it said ‘going out of business,’ my heart stopped.”
The title Heartbreak doesn’t only apply to Blake’s fondness for crate-digging. “This record is really about my ex-girlfriend,” he confesses. “It’s my Songs About Jane — inspired by a breakup, so I wrote a lot.” “I’ve always been a fan of the melancholy, like Morrissey. I grew up playing classical nocturnes like Chopin and Debussy on piano, so I write really melancholy lyrics and melodies” This background explains much of the range on the album which leaves you wanting to dance in your car like no one is watching, just as Blake intended.
Case in point: the single, “Sad Song,” and the epic pop number “I Left My Baby For You,” which Blake describes as Daft Punk meets Prince meets Iggy Pop. “It’s about leaving her for California and choosing my career, then going back and telling her I was wrong,” reveals Blake, who’s since moved to Los Angeles and, has put this past behind him. Blake however has more than heartaches to deliver with his beats, as he made apparent while appearing as a DJ on the recent T-mobile GRAMMY Celebration Concert Tour alongside the likes of Lady Gaga, Estelle, Katy Perry, and Gavin Rossdale among others. Rising fans to their feet, Blake has even brought our First Lady, Michelle Obama, to break out her beatboxing skills during a performance at a luncheon in her honor.
Blake saw his story as an opportunity to build a new future. “I’m committed more to myself right now — both in my career and my life.” Simply put: Blake’s in the right place. “To do what you love and are passionate about is a dream come true,” he says. “My life is consumed by music and entertainment — and it’s the best life I could ever hope for.”
1 “Heartbreak On Vinyl” is the title track to your second album. Why vinyl? I have been in love with the sound of vinyl since I was a child. I remember playing Duran Duran’s first album countless times on my parents' record player, just listening for hours while rocking out. I got heavily into the DJ culture around '94 and started going to raves and parties through out high-school, where I fell in love with the art of DJing. There is something about the smell and feel of vinyl that will always be fresh to me.
2 Did you have a particular record shop in mind when you wrote this song? Does it still exist? Heartbreak On Vinyl is an ode to my local record stores in Seattle. Platinum, Sonic Boom, Cellophane Square and (in the 3rd line of the song) “Easy Street,” "The easy street is empty, the silence of the sound." "The sound" being Puget Sound. As a collector, audiophile and artist, it's really hard for me to see all these amazing stores being closed due to the digital revolution. Thus "Heartbreak On Vinyl" is a metaphor for these great shops.
3 From infatuation (“Rhythm Of My Heart,”) to lust (“Freak”) to loss (“Left My Baby 4 U”) you sing about love. Singing from experience? Care to elaborate? Taken or single? As of now...single! Upon making this album, I was in a beautiful relationship with my girlfriend Cari Ann. I thought I had been heartbroken before and I was wrong. This time though, I did it to myself. Not all the songs are about her on this album. “Rhythm of My Heart” just came out of nowhere in the studio, and “Freak” I had in my head for almost a year. “Left My Baby 4 U” is almost the complete story of Cari and me. It's a metaphor as well. The "4 U" is my career and California. I broke things off in Seattle and went straight to work on my album in California. Not realizing that I was still in love and that I could have just taken her with me, I went back to Seattle to get her back. [cue sappy soundtrack] When I got home, she finally told the truth that she had been seeing someone and that she was leaving with him for Hawaii the next day. I threw on The Script album and felt my heart literally ache to the point where I was having a panic attack from so many tears I had to sit down for an hour. I now know, for the first time, the pain and suffering of so many who have been heartbroken. “Left My Baby 4 U” and “Rebel Without A Cause” are very close to my heart and best represent what I was feeling at that time. [Sappy soundtrack fades out. Hehe.]
5 Until the last five years or so, very few pop artists dared to release albums that are dance tracks start-to-finish, aside from keeper of the dance flame, Madonna. Now we have artists like Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and most dramatically, Lady Gaga, who have become superstars with dance albums. What made you go for dance versus something safer? I've never known what safe is. I got these kinds of questions when I was on American Idol because of my arrangements and song choices. I just go with my instincts and what feels right in that certain moment. I've always been an artist influenced by dance though.
6 It’s obvious you’re a fan of current dance music. Your album could iShuffle nicely with those by everyone from BT and Darude to Daft Punk and Stardust, Rihanna, Madonna, Britney, Pink, Lady Gaga and even Prince. When you began to write for this album, what was your aural concept? Thank you. I'm honored to be among those names. On Heartbreak On Vinyl, each song I approached differently. Whether it be in the club, car, or gym, I just wanted to make an album that got everyone's attention. I wanted to tell my story of heartache throughout Heartbreak with substance and to provoke emotions without it being too presumptuous. In the beginning, I had no concept, except I knew I wanted to make a dance record.
7 You’ve said that you approached the production of many of the songs as if you were doing remixes, sending just the vocals and key riffs to top producers for a remix or more accurately, reproduction. Considering your love of dance music, you must have been like a kid in candy shop. How did you choose who you wanted to produce or re-produce? Whenever I am inspired by a producer or artist, he will be forever in my mind as someone to collaborate with. With each song, I had a different idea as to who I wanted to produce the track. Each producer had a different sound and feel to their music and all are inspiring to me. I believe with a great song there has to be a matching environment to get the final expression out. I had the paint and now I need the canvas. When sending my vocals to these producers, I was always a little weary being a producer myself. But I have a great respect and trust for them all. I'm a fan of all their work and I'm so happy that they wanted to work with me and that this record sounds so good sonically.
8 Who was the first producer you went to? Why? With what song? My first track I did on this record was my single “Sad Song” and I linked back up with my friends Sam and Sluggo. I was trying to challenge myself at writing an anthem. Sam, Sluggo and I had worked on my previous record and I love writing with them. They work with bands like Boys like Girls, Metro Station and The Virgins, all who have a very big sound as bands and I wanted that. Sam and Sluggo really embrace who I am creatively. So this was the right choice for this song.
9 How different are the songs on the album from the original studio versions? Some of them are completely different and some very much the same. I would say the most dramatic demo to final version is the piece I wrote with Ryan Tedder entitled Love Or Torture. I got together with my friend Dave Aude who is an amazing dance producer and we worked on this track for quite sometime until we got it right. It went from a rock/hip hop feel to a club shaker.
10 So you send your vocals to a producer and back comes the remix. Must have been fun anticipating the new version. Which was the most shocking (in a good way) remix? For the remix, I would say David Tort's version of “Sad Song.” I love it! Very deep, progressive, almost tribal club, with side-chained high-pass filters. Great for those peak hour mixes.
11 Your vocal attitude is a wild mix, clearly influenced by Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Bono, David Gahan, Bowie, Prince and uh, Doug E. Fresh. How accurate is that assessment? I wouldn't say Justin Timberlake, although I get that reference. I just got John Legend the other day, funny you mentioned him. Lately I've been getting Erasure and Pet Shop Boys, but you are pretty accurate with your assessment. I'm all over the map musically. I am a sponge for music and sound design, and I'm constantly trying to copy every sound I hear. I believe listening is the most important key in creating music, communicating and expressing my art.
12 Speaking of Doug E. Fresh, you busted out first as a vocal beatboxer on American Idol, ultimately blowing the audience away in a duet with Mr. Fresh. You tossed in a dash of beatboxing on this album. Can we expect more beatboxing at your live shows? Any beatboxing collaborations in the wings? I am always down to do more collaborations with fellow beatboxers. There are so many great ones out there. I get together with Doug E. whenever he's in LA or I'm in NY and I just jammed with my good friend Kid Beyond in San Francisco. Every time I get the chance to cipher with a fellow beatboxer, something amazing comes from it. I've been doing my live one man loop show for almost 10 years now and I will continue to incorporate it into my live sets and challenge myself with technology and the art of vocal percussion.
13 If you could do a duet with any singer on the face of the Earth, dead or alive, who would it be? I would have said Ella Fitzgerald a couple months back, but now that Michael has passed– R.I.P.–I would have to choose him.
14 Back to DJing. You still spin? If so where can we catch a set? I still love DJing and incorporating my beatboxing and singing over my remixes throughout my set. I play wherever and whenever.
15 What’s your sound? Favorite labels? Describing my sound is always tough for me. It puts you in a box and I have never been privy to being in one. When DJing lately, I've been into electro and funky house, but just recently my love for progressive house and trance is coming back. It all depends on the crowd. What I've learned over the years is just to feel them out and see what they move too. I always want my sets to be kinetic. I like to take people on a journey through sound when they listen to my music. I never really got into labels, except Distinctive when I was hard into breaks back in '99.
16 Obviously you spin, buy vinyl. How big is your collection? How is it organized? I think I only have about 500 pieces on vinyl, but a lot of them are rare and signed. I just moved them, so they aren't really organized really. As of now it goes old to new, picture vinyl and then electronic. I haven't gotten enough time to get deep. My CD collection however is all alphabetized by genre.
Blake DJing at the kick-off for the 2009 GRAMMY Celebration Tour Presented By T-Mobile Sidekick
DJ BLAKE LEWIS
Your top 5 favorite classic/influential club tracks of all time:
1 Orbital – Halcyon [if not by Orbital, need full artist or track name]
2 BT – Flaming June
3 Underworld – Pearls Girl
4 Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin' Beats
5 DJ Dan – That Zipper Track
5 vinyl records that never leave your DJ box:
1 Paul Van Dyke – Words/Forbidden Fruit
2 Michael Jackson – Billy Jean
3 David Bowie – Let Dance
4 Duran Duran – Duran Duran (Album)
5 BT – Love, Peace and Grease/Remember 2xLP
Current top 5 (If you were to DJ tomorrow night, what 5 records would you bring?):
Depends on where and for who I was playing, but:
1 Dylan Rhymes – Stars
2 Phonat – Learn To Recycle
3 Buy Now – Body Crash (Global Deejays Remix)
4 NAPT Featuring Skibadee – The Rollers
5 Kaz James Ft. Stu Stone – Breathe (Thomas Gold Remix)
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