Originally from Stockholm and currently residing in London, Johan (better known as Blende) has been described as one of the most exciting new acts in the electo house scene. He has aspirations of coming back to the US to play some major shows soon, but in the meantime he has pushed his boundaries as a remixer, laying a funky spin on everything from Skrillex to Korn (preview tracks directly below). I’ve been a big follower and fan of his productions for the past few month and had the pleasure of interview him earlier this week.
Tell us about Blende. How did you get started and what drew you to developing your sound as a producer?
I used to go to parties in Stockholm, where I grew up as a teenager; whether it was sneaking into clubs on a fake ID or big rave parties in the woods. Eventually I felt that it would be even better if I could be the one playing the music myself, rather than being part of the audience; so I got into DJ-ing. The one thing that frustrated me though, was that it was hard to actually get any gigs. As a quiet unexperienced kid, I didn’t have anything new to offer really compared to any of the other people playing in the clubs. I realized the only way to go was to try and produce some music of my own as well. So that’s how I started basically.
I constantly find new music that I draw influences from so, I assume that’s the main reason why I always develop my sound, or try at least. I’ve always been into disco and 80s pop and I suppose that comes across a bit in my own music. Funny thing is that my early tracks do not sound very disco at all. I think that’s pretty much down to me not being that great of a producer in the beginning. My first releases came quite quickly after I’d gotten started. There’s still plenty of room for development, I believe. I pride myself on always trying new things, rather than going for what I already feel that I know, as that really bores me. Like what a lot of producers seem to do; they just stick to the drum sounds and bass sounds they use for every track they make, that’s not really how I operate normally. I do think it’s important to stick to my sound but also to constantly try and surprise the followers I have so they don’t get the same thing over and over whenever a new track or remix comes out. That’s the real challenge, but so far I think I’ve done okay
What was your interest in music before developing “Blende.” Do you have prior experience in other genres of music?
No real experience, other than being in bands with friends and all that stuff one does as a kid. Other than that nothing at all. I can’t really play any instruments apart from a bit of basic guitar, but luckily with the type of music I make you don’t really need to, you just need a good set of ears. A few more piano lessons as a kid wouldn’t have hurt though, in fact I wish I had had some, as it definitely would have saved me some time now.
Are you a full time dj, producer? If so, what was your previous job, if you don’t mind us asking?
I am, yes. My last job before DJ-ing/producing was not very interesting; I used to work in a bar.
Who are your favorite artists to follow, see live, and (potentially) collaborate with?
I tend to mostly follow my friends in the scene, although I obviously do have some people who I tend to look out for new material from, which are always a trustworthy source of music for gigs. Whenever I go and see someone live yet again it tends to be mostly friends that play as well. And same thing with collaborations really even though I reckon it would be quite fun collaborating with someone maybe not so obvious. Like Mic Murphy from The System, not even sure if he’s going anymore, but how amazing would that be to have him sing on a track!
Could you give us a top 5 list of your favorite tracks at the moment?
Can’t put one of my own tracks down without coming across as a self-absorbed prick, can I? Anyway, favourites at the moment would probably be these:
Stubborn Heart – Starting Block
Punks Jump Up & Dave 1 – Mr Overtime (Oliver Remix)
Futurewife – Fifty Fifty Love
Chinese Flash Mob – Fade 2 black
The Shoes – Time to dance
You have definitely established yourself as a remixer. Are you working on any originals or collaborating with other producers right now?
Yes, I try and work on originals as often as I can. I have got plenty of them finished, and some more or less finished, that should in theory be released in a not so distant future. I always seem to have new remixes coming through though so it very often puts a hold on my originals. Quite often I have to turn remix work down so as not to make the original works suffer too much, but since it’s something I really enjoy doing it can be a hard thing to do. In terms of collaborations I’ve got a few coming up too. Lately it’s mainly with a friend of mine Adrian Lux, although that’s been just for remixes.
What do you have coming up? Any plans for an album or EP release?
I’ve got more remixes coming out very soon – one for a new project of one of the guys from Azari & iii and Isis (ex-Thunderheist), and then another one is together with Adrian Lux for Lana Del Rey and also one for Wynter Gordon & Robbie Rivera. First up though, which is coming very shortly, is the first batch of my edit giveaways. It’s basically a bunch of edits I’ve done of some classic tracks and updated them a bit, and a couple of selected ones will be given away for free. No album planned as such although I do have enough material really for one, but at the moment I would rather focus on a couple of more EPs first of all. And yes, there’s something in the works for a new EP or two also, but I can’t actually give you much more details at the moment
Do you have a favorite drink or ritual before going on stage?
Not just for going on stage but I always drink white wine. Some people think it’s a bit weird when I choose that instead of beer, but it’s just something that’s stuck with me.
Do you have any aspirations or plans of coming to play shows in America? Perhaps Florida?
Would love to come out to Florida, haven’t been since WMC a few years ago, so it’s about time I come back! I’ve got loads planned though, watch this space
If we send you a PBJ tanktop, would ya wear it?