VENTS Magazine Interview
Updated: Feb 12
Hi folks, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
VENTS thank you! We are doing great and excited to be talking with you!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I’m Coming Through”?
It’s the first single off our upcoming EP “3”, which will be released in November. This is the first song that we actually did a video for, that was done for our original recording. Prior to that we had 2 other songs from the EP that were remixed and one which, was released to Billboard and charted at #15 on the dance chart earlier this year. Even with the remixes and their success, it was always our desire to release the EP as a whole, showcasing our versions of the songs. But we wanted to release a single first and “I’m Coming Through” felt like the logical choice, especially because of the video being done for it. There are now remixes in the works for “I’m Coming Through”, so it will be exciting to see how that goes as well.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
No, not specifically. Lang had written the musical idea a number of years ago around the bass line with an upright bass sample and acoustic guitar. It sat for quite awhile unfinished like that. I think he came up with the synth part that starts the song one day and it just brought this whole new approach to it and so we heard it with new ears, got inspired and starting working on it again. So the song came together over a long period of time.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
We had ideas of what we wanted to the video to be like because we had a basic storyline to follow in the lyric, but as in the case of all creative endeavors there were lots of adjustments and tweaks to make throughout the 2 day shoot. The concept of our storyline was to be in pursuit of the villain and his hostage. This involved moving around the city of San Francisco and filming scenes with people walking around and just your everyday city traffic. Most of the passerby’s were not that aware we were filming scenes and those who were aware, just walked around us. The director had a certain places in mind he wanted film and one was in Chinatown. There are a famous set of stairs on Harlan Place, that tourists like to take photos on and people literally wait in line to get on those stairs. We needed to get a shot of us descending the stairs. So we got to the top, and were practically sprinting down and I’m in heels mind you! We get to the bottom and we have to do it again! I think we ended up doing that at least 3 times, while the tourists politely waited on us. We did our club scene in a much more controlled atmosphere, and in some ways it was much easier, but I think moving around the city really immersed us in our roles as pursuers. We were getting the scenes filmed quickly, moving around a lot and having to be on our toes. We had to trust that the director was getting all he needed for the scenes; sometimes with all the activity going on around us, it was hard to tell!
The single comes off your new album 3 – what’s the story behind the title?
It seemed as though we were hitting a dead end with trying to figure out what to call the project. As we were talking about it one day, I can’t remember if Renee said it… I think I came up with “3” partly just because it’s our third project as BlissBliss. Over the past year or so, our son Zane has become our full time bass player and he’s actually a multi instrumentalist and one of those freaks that can just about pick up anything and sound like he’s been playing it for years in like, less than a week! But at any rate, he is a big part of where we’re headed because he’s so musical and fits in with us, so we saw the significance of his role and felt like “3” worked on a couple of levels.
How was the recording and writing process?
We kind of write all of the time; at least we collect ideas for lyrics and music all the time. Renee will sing something into her phone and I’ll do the same thing. We have a studio in our basement so we’re pretty frequently working on some idea. The recording process this time was totally different than the way we’ve done everything else we’ve recorded. In the past we’ve primarily done a lot of programming and then added the live players to it. This time we really wanted to get everybody in the same room and try recording together. What a crazy idea?? Musicians actually playing music together in the same room at the same time! Wow… more music should be done that way! Sarcasm… ha! It was amazing and we’ll be recording the next 5-6 songs the same way.
How do you get to balance all your different and wide influences?
Even though both of us have different musical backgrounds, as far as the music we were influenced by, Lang’s being rock and progressive rock, mine being R&B, we both gravitate to strong melody, groove and a little more complex harmonic choices. We found early on, that the music we loved together, was the kind of music we wanted to create; certain artists and songs just totally pushed both of our buttons! We have a very long history of writing together and I think we have naturally developed a way to meld whatever musical differences existed.
You brought some special guests into the record – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?
Yes, we did handpick them! All of the guys who played on the project are stellar players in their own right and that level of talent created things that we couldn’t have done on our own, for sure.
Mark Lee Townsend played guitar and engineered the tracking session. He and Lang met when they had toured together when Lang was the drummer and musical director for a band that opened for Amy Grant on one of her tours.
Tim Gaines is an old friend of ours. He had played for years in the Christian metal band Stryper and we met him back in those days on a tour.
Tim Pascoal had been referred to us by a musician friend so we stepped out and introduced ourselves to him.
David Davidson is someone that Lang has used as a violinist and string section director on projects that he has produced in the past so we reached out to David from the previous work they had done together.
Another friend we had met many years before is Irene Kelly who sang background vocals on many gigs with us and in the studio as well on other projects that Lang’s produced.
What did they bring to the table?
Mark Lee Townsend is just a really gifted musician who has a depth of knowledge and experience that gives him this ability to play a number of different styles/genres really well and know how to interpret what a piece needs. He co-wrote “I’m Coming Through” with us and really helped shape the sound of the EP. His role was huge!
We had heard Tim Gaines play some other stuff and he has a deep love for old R&B and one of his favorite players is the famous Motown bassist James Jamerson so we loved that right away! He came in and just nailed it. “I’m Coming Through” really spotlights his playing.
Our son Zane played bass on one song on the project called “No Apology” and he just really had this sound and tone and stepped right into the place we were looking for on it and we were just so excited that he could do it; really proud of him!
Tim Pascoal became extremely integral to the sound and approach of this EP. His involvement on keys was the secret sauce and we can’t imagine having done it without him. He has a background in jazz and gospel that helped give voice to the way we wanted to chords to be voiced. He totally got what we were looking for and took it light years beyond.
David Davidson did such an amazing job of taking Lang’s notes and ideas and creating these great string parts on Bulletproof; we were blown away at what he came up with!
Irene Kelly brought her soprano voice to the mix and she and Renee have this great blend. The three of us sang the BGVs on all of the songs on the EP except for the ones that it’s just Renee and I singing. She has some step out lines on “No Apology”. It was so great to have her voice and enthusiasm on this project.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?
We have worked as songwriters for a long time. Lang teaches songwriting and we were signed as writers with BMG publishing. I think our approach now, is choosing to work with writers who are really good at what we want to have in a song that we feel we might be lacking in. You enter those kinds of situations with a different expectation; you want their input; you’re not fighting to get all of your ideas in it. When we collaborate between the two of us, we seem to have somewhat defined roles but we’re both pretty open to hearing what the other thinks and try to make room for it with the end goal of our sound and lyrical approach in mind.
What aspect of the number 3 did you get to explore on this record?
I wish we had a really insightful answer for that, but the title came after the fact!
It’s gotten more meaning as time has gone on.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
A lot of our inspiration stems from our everyday life experiences and observations about life. We’re always saying to each other “That’s a great line; write it down!” Or “We’ve gotta use that line in a lyric!”, about everyday conversations, or movies we watch or things we’re reading.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, we are in the process of booking dates and looking to do a tour out west sometime after the first of the year.
What else is happening next in BlissBliss’ world?
We are releasing 2 other singles from our EP “3” over the next few months. The EP will be released in November. We’re planning on an EP Release party and show in Nashville in mid November, so we’re getting ready for that. We’re also writing and gearing up for recording another group of songs soon.
Check out their music video “I’m Coming Through” HERE.
Originally posted at: http://ventsmagazine.com/2018/09/07/interview-sophisti-pop-duo-blissbliss/
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