Catching Up With Blankenberge
Written by Richard Gehring on May 21, 2021
One of my favorite bands is Blankenberge and I had the honor of hearing them live in concert two years ago in May of 2019 in Offenbach, Germany during their European tour. I love their amazing wall of dense, melodic sound. I interviewed them after that show and wrote a blog, which can be viewed on the DKFM website. And that was a follow-on from the first DKFM interview of Blankenberge, done by DJ Heretic in 2017. So, sure, we’ve been enthusiastic in our support of their creative canon, which has only grown more impactful from release to release.
Blankenberge has been in regular rotation on DKFM since their first release in 2016. They are a four-piece band from Saint Petersburg, Russia whose members are Yana (vocals and guitar), Daniil (guitar), Dmitriy (bass), and Sergey (drums). They have had three well-received major releases: Blankenberge EP in 2016; Radiogaze LP in 2017 and More LP in 2019.
With a single premiering on May 26 on DKFM, followed by the release of a new album, I had the opportunity to discuss that exciting news and much more with the band.
DKFM: Blankenberge had a European tour scheduled during the spring of 2020 which unfortunately was cancelled due to the pandemic. What impact has the lockdown had on the band?
Daniil: Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time at home so when the pandemic began, it was easy for me to stay home. It would be great to go on tour now, but we still need to wait since the virus has not disappeared and the borders are closed.
Sergey: Now it seems that the forced isolation had some positive impact giving us time to focus more on creating music, even if we were unable to rehearse.
Dmitriy: At first it was very unusual because we temporarily did not rehearse and there was a certain decline in productivity. But when I first heard the demos, I knew it was going to be great.
Yana: I try to find something positive amidst the pandemic even though that’s difficult to do. I find this experience of staying home very interesting because life became slower and we had more time for creating music.
DKFM: Let’s fast forward to today. We are honored that DKFM will be premiering your new single “No Sense”. Your fans and our listeners will be delighted to know that the May 26 premiere will be on When The Sun Hits with DJ Amber Crain. What can you tell us about the two-sided single?
Daniil: I would call this track a symbiosis of the two previous albums. It has a light guitar intro and a heavy overdriven ending. Together with the single “No Sense”, we will release a remix of the track “Look Around”, which was made by our multi-talented friend Alex Kelman. The 2-song single will be available on cassette, limited to 40 copies.
Dmitriy: All the tracks on the upcoming album are very cool, but I would say that “No Sense” is my favorite track from the album. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it as much as I did.
Yana: The lyrics and the vocals melody came to my head very easily when I was listening to the demo that was recorded by Daniil. There were a lot of things that were going on at that time – the pandemic, political conflicts, and my personal life had changed some, so I had a lot to say in the songs. I tried not to put a lot of information into the lyrics so the listener would not be distracted from the music itself.
DKFM: Tell us a bit about the new album? What’s the title, the number of songs, and when can fans expect it to be released?
Daniil: The new album is called Everything and it will include eight songs and one instrumental track. The music has been recorded and now it is in process of mixing by our friend and sound engineer Mikhail Kurochkin who also worked on our previous album More. I hope the album will be finished this summer and I would describe the sound as “classic Blankenberge buzz”.
Yana: Our music continues to change gradually. We tried to add something new to what we did in the previous albums and to create something that is even better. I hope the listeners will like what came out of this as much as we do. I think the album will be ready to see the world by the end of this summer.
DKFM: Describe the process of making the Everything LP and any changes that were made to instruments, pedals or your overall sound?
Daniil: Yana and I created a full-fledged home studio for recording guitars and vocals. Especially for the new album, I bought a Japanese Jazzmaster and immediately fell in love with its sound. I also got some new fuzz pedals, including a classic RAT fuzz pedal, sound of which you will hear in 80% of the new songs. I created and recorded songs at home using my Kemper Amp.
The process of creating and recording the album was significantly different from the previous albums. Almost all the songs were composed during the first lockdown in April 2020. We didn’t rehearse them together because we stayed at home during lockdown. I tried to compose completely finished and ready to play tracks so that all the musicians could go right to the studio and record them. We were sharing audio demos using social media in order to be prepared for recording which began in the fall of 2020. The drums were recorded at Show Me a Dinosaur’s studio. The bass was recorded at our own rehearsal studio. Guitars and vocals were recorded at home in our home studio.
Sergey: It was a very interesting experience. The basis of the tracks and even entire tracks were created remotely before, but there were always rehearsals where we were searching for the right sound, making corrections, and even changing the structure. Now it was necessary to accurately fit the sound to the idea of the song. Before the recording, I tried to add some electronic drums and percussion instruments while listening carefully to what came out of it. In the end, everything remained in a rather classic form for Blankenberge, but on future albums you will hear some experiments that came out while creating this album.
Dmitriy: From a recording point of view, nothing has changed for me on this album. We recorded the bass in our studio with Mikhail Kurochkin which was the same last time. I have a large collection of bass guitars but I only use my Gibson RD Artist bass for recording. We also recorded the sound from our Matamp GT200 amp in the same way. I really love this combination which creates a unique tone.
DKFM: The vinyl format of the More LP continues to be very popular. What formats are you planning for the Everything LP?
Daniil: The new album will be released on vinyl. We are planning to make it independently as well as the More LP. We will try to add something special and interesting to the design. We will also make CDs/cassettes to satisfy all physical media lovers.
Sergey: We are already becoming fans of vinyl and someday we will make a limited edition just for ourselves (*laughing*).
Yana: Just a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine that the music with my voice would be on vinyl, it is so awesome!
DKFM: Some of the clubs in Russia have reopened. Is the band playing or planning to play any local venues? Have you discussed playing and touring again outside of Russia?
Daniil: I don’t want us and our listeners to be in danger of getting sick. I think the situation with the coronavirus is very scary and dangerous. I think it’s better to wait a little longer and over time I hope that the incidence will begin to decrease. I don’t know when and where we will be performing next. Last year, I was sure that after the 2020 tour was canceled, we would be touring in the spring 2021, but the borders are still closed.
Sergey: Over the last one and a half years, we have realized that we don’t need to make far-reaching plans. The largest festivals have been postponed for a second year so we will also wait. Once life returns to its usual state, everyone will be healthy, and then there will be concerts and tours.
Dmitriy: I agree with the guys. While the situation has not stabilized, we can wait for the concerts and focus on the new album. At first it was very unusual without concerts, but over time I realized that now it is better to wait a little and then arrange a concert and go on tour with new strength and new songs.
Yana: It is even harder to decide if we can play gigs or not because it is not forbidden and the government doesn’t financially support workers of the entertainment industry. As long as gigs are not the source of our income for a living, I don’t think it is necessary to play gigs now while the whole world is still suffering.
DKFM: During these uncertain times, what message would you like to send to your fans?
Daniil: Take care of yourself and your family.
Sergey: Thank you for listening to our music and following our latest news. Stay open-minded even with closed borders.
Dmitriy: Friends, thank you very much for listening to our music. We love and appreciate you very much.
Yana: I wish everyone can find some hope while in the pandemic. It has changed so much of what we do, and how we interact. The hope is that when life gives you lemons, find a way to make lemonade… that this provides an opportunity to create, inspire, engage, even if it is in a different manner than normal.