Considering art a superpower, musician Blake English pours his heart out for everything he does and his songs are a reflection of his experiences and emotions, enabling him to connect with his fans. His unique glam-punk sound, that can be heard in his latest EP Spiders Make Great Poets is not only retro but fresh, and his videos are heavily influenced by the cinematic horror universe and all of its creatures, which come across brilliantly each and every time he makes a new release. Even though he has a very strong imagery and messages, he’s still evolving as a person and as an artist.
Your biography says that you have been heavily involved in the theatre and dance scenes since you were a child and that you love using your body as an instrument to express your artistry. Could you tell us what does art mean to you and how does it make you feel?
My definition of art has changed drastically over the years which I think speaks to the meaning I’ve currently settled on. Art is a reflection of the spirit and how it experiences life. That is why I stand by the fact that good and bad art does not exist. It is more about whether it is honest or dishonest. And even being dishonest doesn’t make it 'bad' because it is still a portrayal of where its creator is in life and the lens of experience they are viewing it through. Sometimes honest art speaks to a small portion of a population and sometimes dishonest art speaks to the masses.
With my own art, I aim to be as honest as I can be. I can tell you that some honesty I was expressing in the past has evolved to even opposite views now. Art is the thing that continues to save me from me. It is the thing that adds a question mark to the end of any definitive statement. It is what connects us to one another and ultimately to our truest selves.
I understand that you have always loved performing and that you have a creative mind, but I am curious about how and when did you decide to start singing and what made you do it.
My singing career started with my mom recognizing my particular affinity for musical movies, telling stories in my imagination, and singing constantly around the house. When she received an audition flyer in the mail for a local community theatre’s production of Grease, she became determined that I would take part. Ironically, I wanted no part of it as I was determined to focus my attention on sculpting. She knew in her heart that I needed to be involved in theatre so she forced me to audition and luckily mother did know best because I became obsessed and passionate about it, leading me to the performance-based career I have today.
How long did it take you to understand yourself and find your style? It looks really special and elaborated, as it can be seen in your video Sad Girls Dance Party.
Art is, for me, an ever-evolving form of self-expression. So with that, it has taken my entire life to get to where I am artistically today. And even now I don’t feel like I have fully formed what 'Blake English' is. I get little pieces of clarity every once in a while and that clarity goes into a song or a dance or a music video or something that allows me to report back to the world this new exciting point a view. Sad Girls Dance Party was my first big try and putting many of my artistic points of view and life experiences into a narrative, almost musical theatre-like, storytelling piece and I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out.
Every song on your EP Spiders Make Great Poets is inspired by a real-life experience, allowing fans to know you better. Which would you say is your the song that might hold a special place in your heart because of its meaning?
(Laughs) All of my songs are my children and represent different pieces of me so it would be hard to single one out. That being said, my song The Neighbors has always felt like one of my prouder moments as a writer and a musician. I feel like it fully encompasses the type of stories I enjoy telling and the type of musicianship I want to explore in all my songs. It kind of showed me the type of artist I aim to be more consistently which is why I’d say it’s my favorite.
On the other hand, which would you say is the most painful experience you have shared or plan to share in upcoming songs? Does expressing these bad feelings out loud make it easier for you to understand them or deal with them?
Even thinking about this one makes me uncomfortable. The fourth song on my EP is called A Ghost I Knew From Yesterday and it particularly deals with my feelings of betrayal by some of my family members as they have continued to support Donald Trump over the years. This one person, which shall remain nameless, played an integral part in my development as a person and as an artist. So when this person came out in massive support of a man that felt so opposite to everything I hold as valuable and 'right,' it was a massive blow to my identity.
I do think, though, having to put my thoughts into a string of words that work with a melody to create a story, absolutely helped me work through the issue. It helped me figure out what I was feeling in the first place which then allowed me the opportunity to work through it.
It can be said that anyone could talk about their feelings and tell their stories, but how do you choose which feelings to express and how do you create stories around them in order to make them appealing for your fans? Which is your creative process?
It takes me quite a bit of time to write a song, especially if it’s about feelings I’m still in the process of figuring out. Generally, the songs that I see through to the very end are songs that I have gained a firm grasp on what it is that I want to express. I’m all about the classic formula of storytelling which involves a beginning, middle, and end and I try to use that in every song I write. If a song is not gelling in certain aspects, I generally have to come away from it until more awareness moments of what I’m feeling come to me. That being said some songs like Sad Girls Dance Party are written in less than 30 minutes and I chalk that up to a fully processed feeling that could then form into a story through song.
Your videos are usually dark and are influenced by horror movies. Do you think they represent who you are or are they a vision of your mind and inner thoughts? How would you define your videos?
I’ve always been fascinated with dark imagery and horror storytelling. When I was a kid, monsters and creatures were the things I gravitated to the most. I used to think it was because I related to this misunderstood outcast-type character. Now I understand that I felt like if I was friends with the thing that scares everyone else then I would be protected. Which as a child I had a lot of bullies to be afraid of, so protection was what I sought out in these imaginary fear-inducing beings. That being a theme in my childhood obviously plays a major role in the art I create today. I don't think I’m actually that dark of a person, if anything the feeling I get from horror is a pure and elated joy! It makes me happy and so I create it.
In your latest music video for the song Sad Girls Dance Party, there is a short film that tells a beautiful story before the song starts, and it seems that you really like the cinematographic style in your videos rather than simple narratives. Do you plan to change the game regarding music videos and go a little further by creating these short films, adapting and explaining the story rather than just sticking to the music?
A common thread in all my work is the art of storytelling. I love telling stories and it’s why I do what I do. I can’t imagine creating anything without a story and so it will remain a constant in all of my work. In terms of being a game-changer, I really just think of it as I’m going to do what I enjoy and see where that lands. The short film aspect of Sad Girls Dance Party really is something I plan to utilize in all my videos because I think there's something really special about shifting the focus from the 'entertainer' to a narrative that takes the audience on a journey.
We are living in a complex society. Do you think music and art have the power to change thoughts and traditions? You talk about your experiences and struggles in life, I’m sure you want to change the world for the better.
Art is our superpower. It is the thing that gets us through these difficult times. It is the thing that gives voice to concepts and ideas that otherwise can’t be expressed or experienced due to whatever circumstance present in one’s life. It is the changer, so yes art does, has, and will continue to make the world a better place.
What inspires you, and what keeps you doing what you love every day? Was it easy for you to start in this industry?
Honestly, other artists are what keep me going. I get so happy when I see a piece of art or performance that I relate to or want to represent in my own work. Other artists fuel my passion. So I guess, yeah, it was pretty easy for me to fall into the industry. When you’re passionate about something, things just seem to fall in line with that passion and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
It is curious how the world is evolving and everything changes. How do you see yourself in a couple of years from now? What would you love to be doing, say, twenty years from now?
Oh dear, well, I can tell you that I definitely want to be on Broadway. I guess my vision for the future is a bit murky. I know I want to help people. I know I want to create the things I love. I know I want to perform. I know I want to direct and produce a couple of the scripts I’ve written. I know I want to be on stage. That’s about where my vision for the future is situating right now.
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