A haunting, distorted riff of fuzz tickles your feet before the room gets blown apart by garage guitars. Behind blushed cheeks and a blonde fringe, Pip Blom sings about love like a screaming 1960s’ proto-punk kid from L.A.. In fact, there’s a lot of New York and West Coast garage in the arsenal of the Amsterdam-based singer, but don’t ask her about retro references! Pip’s all about the now.
We gave Pip Blom a disposable camera to document her time at this year’s The Great Escape festival in Brighton. Proudly admitting to not being a good lyricist, the indie newcomer talks to Lorenzo Ottone about using Google Translator to compose, being introduced to her favourite bands by her mum and all things Great Escape
Lorenzo Ottone: Your parents were in a band. Have they influenced your path into music?
Pip Blom: My dad was in a punk band, they did about ten John Peel sessions. My mom used to do the sound at a venue they played in so she joined them on tour. They had for over ten years an online music magazine and that introduced me to music because they were always looking for new bands. One day, about five years ago, my mom suggested me Parquet Courts, so we went to their show and I really liked them. They have been a big influence on me. When I started writing music, I thought I wanted to be a girl version of Parquet Courts – rocky and cool, not really girly. Lily Allen was another early influence. She was one of the first gigs I went to and really made an impression on me.
LO: You remind me of Courtney Barnett, because of your tongue-in-cheek lyrics too!
PB: I’m not a native English speaker, so I can only pretend to have clever ways to describe what I think. I just don’t know all the words, so I use Google Translator [laughs]. I prefer to sound real, rather than pretend that I am very clever. I’d like to write something that is kinda funny, but I’ve given up now [laughs].
LO: Do you try to address anyone specifically when you're writing?
PB: No, what happens most of the time is I come up with a melody and I just stick in words that fit, even if the grammar is wrong. Then, once the music is finished, I put the proper words in. Usually, I build lyrics around a single word that sounds good within that melody. You can take a lot of time to write if you want to, but I’m not fond of the idea of working on a song for a year. I prefer to try stuff out and if it works, I move along to something else.
LO: This approach actually reflects your sound which has got common grounds with US lo-fi garage acts like The Strokes and the Brian Jonestown Massacre…
PB: I started listening to The Strokes when I was already doing music, so although I like them, I wouldn’t say they are the biggest influence. I grew up listening to a lot of Blur, actually. They’ve influenced me much more. Writing most of the songs at home by myself on guitar, I noticed that I am quite limited, so bands like Parquet Courts really influenced the way I compose. Probably one of my biggest influences are Mikachu and The Shapes, but I swear you can’t hear that.
LO: So you prefer newer bands to classic ones?
PB: Me and my brother grew up listening to ‘90s music and indie, and my parents were always looking for new music, so we never really listened to classic stuff. My drummer is really into bands like the Beatles and the Stones and every time we are on tour, she tries to play retro albums in the van to educate us [laughs].
LO: You once said that when you were younger, Arctic Monkeys were a band you aspired to become like. Is it still like that after their new lounge direction?
PB: I’m not ready for a chilled out album yet [laughs]. I really admire what they do, changing style every time, but I’m not the biggest fan of this album right now. Who knows in few years time…
LO: Is it difficult recording music at home on your own?
PB: I always prefer to record demos on my own, because I have time to think about them – but in the end, I always go to the band to see what they think of a song. We listen back to a demo and we try to make it our own.
LO: You played four shows at The Great Escape this year! Which was your favourite?
PB: The Paganini Ballroom was very cool, because of the venue, but my favourite was the Prince Albert one. The Great Escape is a festival mainly for the industry, so people in the audience are there to study you. Usually when we tour, the UK crowds are always hyped – and this was the show where people were dancing the most. The Paganini Ballroom show was so crowded that I was fearing no one would have come to the others, but I was surprised to see so many people coming to watch us each time!
LO: From your pictures I saw, you had time to go to the beach and drive around Brighton in the van… Was it stressful to move around the city during the festival?
PB: It was so difficult to move around Brighton, especially without a parking permission, but we got driven so everything was fine. We only had one day with two shows, so we had time to enjoy the beach.
LO: I saw you went to see Sports Team. Do you feel that both of you are shaping a new indie sound and defining a scene?
PB: We are friends, we supported them before and we had singles out on their same label [Nice Swan Records]. I don’t know if I’ll ever do something as big as shape a genre. For now, I just try to write music, have fun and all that.
LO: Which bands would you recommend to our readers?
PB: Sorry, who are already quite famous, and Dutch bands Canshaker Pi and The Homesick.
30th May 2018: Cool Brother has hidden all original photos at MOTH Club and The Adam & Eve. Go down and have a rummage to find yours
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