The first thing you notice when you listen to James Blake play live is that he is a compelling songwriter. The next thing you probably notice is a sub-bass sound so deep that it will make your insides swim.
The singer says he first realized how to harness the power of sub-bass when he was recording a cover of the Feist song, “Limit to Your Love.”
“It was just pretty intriguing at the time,” he says, “and I got obsessed with the effect, physically, that sub has on you, and loved to use it.”
You played so many different festivals this summer. And I first saw you at the SXSW festival in Texas. Do you ever get to check out any of the other acts?
I was fascinated by Odd Future at SXSW. To me, it looked like that festival kind of broke them. They did really well to show people what they can do. I saw them twice. The second time it took me a while to get in. It was like ridiculous hype, to the point that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
Well, some might argue that the hype surrounding you comes close.
I just think it’s a different kind of hype. It’s gone at different speeds and I think they’re burning at a different temperature.
It has been interesting to watch the online thermometer, so to speak. For you there seemed to have been hype and then there was the backlash.
I loved the backlash. It was really cool.
Oh yeah? Why?
Because once the backlash happened, there was a backlash against the backlash, and it was really interesting to see. To be honest though, I’m not really part of it. I think that’s what I’ve liked about it.
Are you saying you don’t have a Google Alert with your name?
[Laughs] I don’t think anyone can say they’ve never done that, but I think it just matters so little to the creation of music what 6 million Internet people think that it didn’t really bother me too much. But from what people told me, for every negative thing that was written, there were about 100 positive things.
There are so few lyrics in your songs. After performing them over and over for the past year, do you find that you’re …
No, I wasn’t going to say that, I swear. Do you find you get something entirely different out of the few words?
I love it, actually, because singing something that is so distilled means that you have to really care about it while you’re singing it.