Interview with Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino

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Blonde Redhead is an American band formed in New York in 1993 and composed of Kazu Makino (vocals, keys/rhythm guitar) and twins Simone (drums/keys) and Amedeo Pace (lead guitar/keys/vocals).

We talked with Kazu about their career, their new projects, and how they are experiencing the lockdown.

Retrofuturista: How are you living the lockdown? How did you keep busy during the quarantine?

Kazu: I am strangely busy in quarantine. We are working on our new album and I personally still in midst of promoting my solo/ film…we are living in upstate now and the house is heated mainly by the fireplace so we need to go get some woods etc and like everyone we cook all the meals and to get a little exercise staying in touch with your friends. Every day should be a repeat of every other day yet it really has up and down. Do you agree?

How is evolved your sound from the beginning? What has changed in this time?

I think we relied a lot more on guitars in the beginning and now we rely on everything from keyboard to synth but the melody and harmony things like that has a consistent thread … that is just my opinion tho

blonde-redhead interview

What inspires you as an artist? What was the record that made you want to be a musician?

I hardly thought about music like that something of a choice. But many many many different kinds of music move me. Even the ones I don’t like, move me. It is so powerful and helps people identify who they are through what they love and it is only audible otherwise completely transparent but it is the thing that makes you move your body, your mood, heart, and also affect your brain. And it is contagious yet not deadly. It’s magic.

What are some other artists you like that’s surprise people?

Ummm the music I listen a lot are r&b and hip hop, pop, gospel but is that surprising?

Is the state of popular music worse than it’s been in the past? What is changed?

I don’t agree. I love what people are coming up with today, maybe the biggest change in majority of music today is that they are in a grid. The tempo does not vary in a song. Like in classical, pop music too could swell in speed up and down. I think that is one thing I miss the most. Looseness of the music. I personally dislike the click track.

blonde-redhead interview

Is there a song or more that you are particularly connected to? Is there any music dedicated to someone or related to a moment that marked a significant change in your life?

Ummm, it changes a lot I think the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto might be the ones I carry closest to my heart personally. I love his last album “async” so much.

There’s an incredible atmosphere on your albums. How much are the atmosphere and sound decided in advance or when you’re writing?

Thank you… well in the beginning, you are the only person hearing the atmosphere in your head and you have to make it come alive, sometimes it is even hard to convince your bandmates that it is good enough idea.

But finding the right sound is a big part of a recording and producing the music, and definitely, there is the recurrent sound that you are attracted to. I’m sorry I cannot be more specific.

blonde-redhead interview

Can you share with us any meaningful story from the backstage?

The dressing room story…Ummm at one point I got a dog and she started touring with us at a young age of 8 weeks old. She knows very well her role and she walks around the stage and venue like a stage manager. Yet once the show starts she will never come out on stage even if she was pushed except one time, she got separated from us in London because she was not allowed on the Eurostar train. We had a show in Paris that night and we had to get on that train we were in tears, felt like we may never see her again.

Our sound engineer Jeff volunteered to stay behind and find another way to get to Paris. After a good thought for a couple of hours in a hotel room, he found a flight and arrived in Paris safely with Colette, my dog. We didn’t know anything about what had happened to them and were playing a show in Paris at Le Trianon, the most beautiful venue in the world. And for the first time, Colette decided to walk out on stage in front of thousands of people to let us know that she made it. We stopped and just amazed to see her and she was just showing off to everyone.

And after the show lots of people told us “you know after the dog came on to the stage, they started playing so much better” … but the truth is that our sound engineer Jeff took over the sub person at the board and that is why it sounded visibly better, I think? or maybe it is Colette? who knows!

Do you have any preference between the studio or playing live?

I prefer to be in the studio but playing live can be incredibly inspiring too and leads to the next music that you want to write.

How did your song “For the Damaged Coda” ended up in Rick and Morty? Why did they choose that particular song?

It wasn’t anything special. We just get continuous requests to use that song for many different visual and that song was just one of those things that I was doing just to kill time because twins were sleeping. We were working in the live in-studio for that record and I started layering many vocals because there was nothing else to do. crazy…no?

What is your next project?

We are finishing the next, probably the last album, we will make together.

Photo courtesy of Blonde Redhead, a special thank to Sara Mehrjoei e Titti Santini

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