James Blake is riding the wave of success as people slowly digest his third studio album The Colour In Anything, a record he released as a surprise a fortnight ago and followed up with a short string of shows in the US and London. Having remained an enigma in the three years since he released Overgrown, Blake recently reflected on his time since then in an interview with Rolling Stone, and gave thanks to the people who helped him through it most.
“I had four years of my life where I just worked on my own music… I love the music that came out of it, but I don’t want to work in that kind of pressure cooker again. You’re a little bit mad. While I’m obsessing over these tiny details, things that a lot of people aren’t going to notice, it stops you from really focusing on the things that are important… I wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep because I would have the pressure, the expectation… When I first started, I was excited by the feeling of uplifting a room and shocking a room. Over time… I found it really difficult. And my music reflected that mood. I hit a quarter-life very difficult point, and I got through it. I look back on it and I think that this album has shown me how strong I actually am. I think that feeling of uplift is bubbling and wants to come back.”
While many may approach The Colour In Anything with the same kind of apprehension as a Radiohead release in that it’s often considered ‘depressing’, Blake doesn’t see it that way; “Shut up! This is great. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s depressing. It’s difficult to describe how certain music can be objectively depressing or sad. I don’t think that’s possible.”
Blake also went on to say that part of his creative process revolves around his love for being in the studio with other people. He met Rick Rubin while working on the record, who became a major source of inspiration and direction – sitting in on recording sessions and giving his own opinions.
He also gave honourable mention to Frank Ocean, claiming, “his music was a huge influence on the way I was writing the record, the way I was writing melodies. [However, I] was more of a fan of him when I heard his newer music. It’s better. You grow, you improve, you nail a new message to the board. He’s had time to mature. It’s really cool to watch.”
Blake did, however, distance himself from artists like Diplo when it comes to collaboration – “I’m not gonna go full Diplo and have a beat farm.”
While The Colour In Anything continues to unravel itself, it’s also incredibly exciting to think about what’s next for Blake. For now he’ll be touring Australia as part of this year’s Splendour In The Grass lineup along with sideshows.
James Blake Tour Dates
Tues, 26 Jul: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Wed, 27 Jul: Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
Thurs, 28 Jul: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Sat, 30 Jul: HBF Stadium, Perth