Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Blow

If you haven't heard Portland's The Blow before, you've been missing out, son. It's the sort of smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music that makes you realize just how much you really like smart, unconventional, highly addictive pop music.

We spoke with the Khaela half of the Jona Bechtolt/Khaela Maricich duo earlier this week, while the two are in the midst of touring the country opening up for Australia's Architecture in Helsinki.

And here's a look at how it all went:

Hey there, Khaela. How you doing? How’s Portland treating you?

Hey, Joe! I’m doing pretty good. I can't tell how Portland is treating me. I’m in Houston, far enough away that if Portland is snubbing me, I can't note the effects. Nor the potential kisses.

How did The Blow first come together? Where did the name come from?

The Blow has lived in some different ways, through a number of epochs. I played solo as The Blow for a few years, and Jona and I joined forces to turn The Blow into a pop duo in early 2004.

The name came from the mouth of my friend's son, years ago, when he was about two years old. (He's eleven now.) They lived in a converted school bus, and the wind would blow through when the door was opened. One time he said, "Close the door! The blow!"

The band started out more with more of a raw acoustic sound and then became more poppy and electronic later. That came out of the start of your collaboration together, right?

Yeah, the raw stuff was me by myself. When Jona and I hooked up, the sound went pure electric. We were like, "let's make some songs, totally in the style of mainstream chart-toppers. Let's go all the way out."

How did you decide to work together?

Well, it was like your basic playground relationship story. It started out that we just kind of ended up playing a song together at the What-The-Heck-Festival, in Anacortes, in 2003. So, that was like the incidental first brush with love.

Later that year, I asked him if he'd want to make beats for a song of mine. He said yeah, and we did it, and it turned out well, and happened so easily (for the song Hock It). This part was us talking for a minute by the water fountain.

Then, our friends Steve Shcroeder and Zac Pennington set us up. They made a limited edition EP series (called the Pregnancy Series), and they asked us if we would work together and make the first EP for the series. We agreed to do it. Steve literally was the one who called me and asked me about the idea. This part was our friends pulling us each aside, and being like, "Hey, you know that he/she likes you, don't you?"

And, then, it just worked out. We carved our names in the table.

This is the part where I artlessly mention that Hock It and Hey, Boy are two of my favorite songs from the last few years. (I couldn’t work it in anywhere else.)

Holy shit! What a compliment! Those are the first two songs we recorded together.

What’s the new album like? How’s it different from the last?

I wonder how the new album is different. We pretty much continued working in exactly the same way as we had before, the only difference being that there was a year or so of time in between the recording. Maybe you can listen and tell us what's different.

What was the process like creating it?

Ahhhh the process. Making things is wild, you know. It's the stuff of wild animals. I think when people work together, the process churns up and brings out the absolute best in people, alternating with their absolute worst. It's powerful stuff, bring new things into the world.

The literal process usually goes that I lay around my apartment and make up words, and sing them to myself. And then I go find Jona and we sit at his desk and he drives the computer, and I do a fair share of back seat driving-- He will be making a beat, and I will be saying, "Hey, what about in this part we make a sound like if there were silvery fish going by?"

He either does or doesn't get a little exasperated, and then he inevitably finds a way to make the perfect sound that is exactly like silvery fish. We get a little tired and we go out for tofutti cuties.

What’s next for you? You’re just about to start touring?

We are both about to start touring, on two different tours. Jona will be doing his solo show as YACHT, and I will be touring as The Blow, playing the music from the new record. That promises to continue for a while, and then after that? I might set up a face painting booth at a fair, or go build a house for someone in a place where there was a flood.

Last question: What are you listening to right now that you like?

- A cd my friend Lucas Grey made where he reads aloud from his dreams, with music accompanying in the background.
- Arthur Russel: Another Thought.
- Dear Nora: Mountain Rock.
- That song Toxic by Brittany Spears.

That’s it! Thanks for your time.

Thanks for taking the time to ask me these questions. Hope Los Angeles is being sweet to you!

The Blow's new album comes out on October 24th on K Records. You can hear tracks off of it here on their myspace page.


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