From big room to big basslines… Before last year Canberra-based Blanke was carving away the EDM coal face, supporting the Hardwells and David Guetta’s of the game whenever they rolled into town. Now he’s supporting the likes of Jauz, Yellow Claw and Slushii whenever they tour down under.
He’s also gradually amassing a bold body of work. After a steady flow of Soundcloud remixes of the likes of Drake, Future and RL Grime, What So Not & Skrillex, earlier this year he dropped a shred-ready moombah-punching remix of fellow Canberra artists Peking Duk and has followed it up with his debut EP Curiosity.
His first original material as Blanke, the two-track release showcases his breadth and musical DNA. From star-gazing synths to necksnap breakbeats and toxic bass textures, all within one section, both the title track Curiosity and Nashi are a calling card for Blanke (real name John-Paul) who, having developed his craft in a whole other side to the dance, has now found his spiritual sonic home.
Get to know…
You seem to be the touring DJ support of choice in Australia?
Not all the time but I have had some incredible shows recently, which has been amazing. There’s a really cool circuit and scene here that’s very supportive so I had the eye of the promoters working a few shows and they’ve invited me to play at some key gigs like a festival afterparty with Jauz and Slushii which was pretty sick.
Not bad considering you started last year…
Yeah I started Blanke a year ago. Before that I was working with Ministry Of Sound as a big room artist but my heart wasn’t in it. Bass was something I’d always wanted to do and I’m a lot happier and feel more creatively fulfilled. The big room stuff was a good way to learn about production.
What level were you at with the big room boys?
Not to the level Blanke is at now, put it that way. I was touring around Australia but was managing myself and booking my own shows so all very DIY. Being resident at one of Canberra’s biggest clubs and supported all the big room guys who toured over here were the biggest shows I did when I was making that music. It was all building blocks for what I’m doing now, though.
Interesting you mention the big room transition. Svdden Death told us a similar story earlier this month.
Bass music is just so much more exciting and has a lot more to offer you as a producer. There’s a lot more to push and explore. It’s come full circle for me because I came from drum & bass. Pendulum switched me onto electronic music in the first place like most of us.
Give us some highlights over the year since you’ve switched to the bass darkside
There’s been a lot of sick shows lately. Playing with Jauz or warming up for Yellow Claw to a crowd of 1500 people was insane. And now my debut EP – which is really exciting. I’ve been waiting to get some original material out there for a long time!
Are you sitting on a lot of original material?
Totally. We’ve got about five months of tracks to come out. The problem is you make something and it’s better than the last one so you end up with a lot of tracks that will never come out. But I’d rather do that than put out any old crap
You cover a lot of ground on the Curiosity EP
It’s all my inspirations fused into two tracks. I spent a long time thinking about everything I love and what’s brought me to this point musically and thought what do I want to make? I wanted to experiment and think about a fusion of guys like Porter Robinson and Knife Party but with my own 2017 twist. You can hear that in Nashi, it’s got so many things I love about electronic music.
What’s your creative process? Do you do anything weird in the studio?
I produce in the dark. It helps to get you in your own little world. You can get into a real groove. Especially late at night – no one is calling you or sending messages or whatever. Something other people do which I don’t seem to be able to do is have four or five tunes on the go at once and move around between projects when they get bored. I can’t seem to do that. I’m too much of a perfectionist and will sit there and chip away at the one tune until I’m happy. Creatively that’s probably a bad thing to do but it’s how I’ve worked so far.
After the Curiosity EP there’s another release coming on Klash, Dirtcaps’ new label. Then a month after that we’ve got a vocal single coming out which will be followed by a remix of Kilter. He’s making some really interesting sounds over here and is a super talented dude. So I’ve put a different spin on his stuff which has been a cool challenge.
There’s a lot of love for Australia’s bass scene. Tisoki told us he’d travel back in time to his first Australian tour if he could…
I’ve always felt we give out good hospitality. We give people a good time and have the best crowds here – very passionate and up for whoever’s playing. Anyone who’s touring here is at a level that they’ve got a following and there’s hype, and we don’t get saturated with them playing here so there’s a different level of excitement. I guess in the UK you have all the massive dues playing there all the time so you’re all sick of them maybe?
No chance. Time to rep Canberra
We’re not a massive city – it’s only 350,000 really. But we have a great, very tight little scene and some great talents have come from here like Peking Duk and Aston Shuffle. It’s inspiring seeing guys like that go on to do such big things.
Tell us something random about your past…
I was a huge sports head going through school – long jumper, runner and was third in Australia in velodrome cycling.
That’s Olympiad talk!
That was the plan when I was 17. I was peaking on that but the people in that industry weren’t my type of people, I was young and immature and more interested in girls and partying. Then I found out about DJing and it was gameover. My mother probably hates me for it.