Music & concerts
In the flow

Blaudzun: ‘I tend to shut myself off’

How do artists get into the flow they need to create something fantastic? Is it particular music? A special workplace? Or is it pure luck? This month: pop musician Blaudzun.

text: Marloes Elings
photography: Jelmer de Haas

‘In order to be more focused on my work, I once experimented with psychedelic micro-dosing. I made mountains of stuff in that period. Some of it was really good, but the majority never made the album. It doesn’t matter. Making pop music is work. I spend hours writing and playing, waiting for the flow to begin. You just have to keep plugging away; there aren’t any shortcuts to that magic feeling when everything comes together.

Real Hero took me three, maybe four, minutes. I just started playing the song, as if it was already floating around and all I had to do was pluck it from the air. I’d spent four hours that playing and writing in my studio. I took a break and when I came back, I played three chords without thinking and started to sing. And BAM, there it was! I still get emotional when I think about it. I sent it to my brother Jakob straight away (my recording equipment is always switched on). I always ask his opinion first. I also texted the person I was thinking about when I wrote the song. The album I was working on, Lonely City Exit Wounds, was already finished, but I just knew that this song had to go on it. It was eventually released as the first single off the album.

All those hours spent writing and playing are the path to discovering the core. You can circle around it for ages, and later, looking back, you see how everything was leading to that one point. While I’m playing, I’m constantly open to inspiration. For example, I’ve taught myself to keep playing in the studio if a guitar string snaps. That forces me to make other choices and gives me new ideas. I have several instruments. A melody that I think up while I’m walking or cycling, and record on my phone, sounds completely different on a ukelele than on a banjo. It becomes a different song.

When I write new numbers, I tend to shut myself off and turn into a hermit. I clear my diary because talking to people interrupts my flow. Once I’m in the studio, I’m like a sponge wringing itself out. Outside, I absorb absolutely everything. A nice walk with a friend, an all-nighter at a party, everything I experience when I’m in Barcelona or Berlin. Music. Magazines. Books. I’m currently reading Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, the frontwoman of Japanese Breakfast. It’s a beautiful coming of age book. All these things combine to inspire me.’

Theatre concert NY-RIO-BERLIN by Blaudzun is on at the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht on 29 April


Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht is a leading theatre in the centre of the Netherlands.

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