Enigmatic and alluring, Blood Cultures chatted with Atwood Magazine for their second-ever interview to discuss the origins of their new album, ‘Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs,’ along with their ways of navigating this reality.
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A dash of secrecy, a smattering of confidentiality, and a mountain of questions; Blood Cultures does well to ensure their brand of mystery thrives. Yet, despite the lack of information on them, one would be hard-pressed not to be enthralled by their mere existence. Allowing their music to speak for them, the band employs lush electronic pop melodies that circle listeners’ ears with roaring synths undulating throughout that provide a touch of experimentation to their bustling soundscapes. It’s the type of music that instills a sense of nostalgia and, at times, existential questioning. The latter surrounds their latest release, Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs, an album that, ultimately, is made for each individual listener, like a theme park for them to explore on their own time, in their own way.
Hazy piano and electronic plucks bubble into something much larger with the opening track, “Elegant Aliens.” Joining the music is a sound clip that explores the origin of man, what humans are, and what the meaning of Elohim provides us all. “We should question the origin of our conventions and our beliefs” explains Blood Cultures. “Otherwise we will never know why they were there to begin with.” The journey then begins, waves of synths and drum machine beat swarm and build with a slow yet melodic pace. Then, the track transitions into “Again, This Time In Color” in a seamless and slick manner, offering a new experience from the previous track.
The beat is heavier and pace immediately faster, the track jumping straight into a livelier aroma that is only accentuated with the almost ethereal vocals from the band. “I want to be excited, fires un-ignited. I want to fill my time before my demons find me,” is sung with a delicately sweet quality – a surprisingly effective and captivating combination that makes the track’s end with the onrush of drum machine, synths, warbled electronics, and altered vocals that much of a stronger experience. With “No Favors,” in-beat claps join the thudding, bass-y, electronics that make one almost instinctively want to join in on themselves. The side-effect to this track is dancing, as no one will be able to resist the urge to close their eyes and lose themselves into the dreamscapes Blood Cultures has created.
“Dunk On Me” takes a turn for a much darker sound, offering brooding spurts of high-intensity synths that are equal parts frightening and soul-freeing. It’s one of the band’s most unique sounds, the band themselves stating that “it was different from anything we had ever done before.” It’s a track that will follow listeners hours after it has stopped, and that is exactly what listeners will want. The quiet finish to “Dunk On Me” is then cut short with a sudden burst of energy and life with “Best For You.” The track takes no breaks, offering a continuous stream of heart-pounding melodies that will have one’s mind altered in the best possible way, even if for only three minutes.
The halfway point of the album is introduced by the track “Uncertainty (An Anthem).” It has a lounge-like quality to it, as if it has a home in a dimly lit room where under-the-table dealings will take place, creating a shady and beguiling quality that is insidiously hard to resist. Though, after thirty seconds, no one would ever wish to. “Flowers For All Occasions” provides the album with one of the more pop-heavy melodies, showcasing why Blood Cultures are masters at their craft. The indie-pop scene has never sounded so good, and this track will delight any fan of the genre.
Acoustic guitar joins the mix with “Oh Theo!,” allowing for a quieter and – oh, and there it goes. A flood of electronics and synth begin their downpour and create a dichotomy that ravishes the ear with infectious beats. On the track, the band explains that “sometimes a conversation gets heated by emotion and turns into an argument.” They grabbed that feeling and turned it into a visceral listening experience, and fans will be all the more grateful for it. Short, sweet, and full of raw energy, “Information” is a minute-long thrill that grabs hold of the listeners’ mind and enraptures them into a soundscape brimming with life.
The next track, “Broadcasting” is a dynamic and intricate song that conjures up some of the most unique sounding melodies on the album. It’s all over the place yet succinct, exemplifying the talent Blood Cultures possesses with a soundscape that easily lodges itself into the brains of anyone fortunate enough to listen. “Glass” then goes into a different direction, creating a scene that raises hairs and leaves one short of breath. It’s raw, it’s dark, and it’s inexplicably delectable. After the track ends, one’s thirst begins as they click the repeat button for hours, looking to satiate their desire for the song, only to be met with the realization that this feeling will never leave them. It’s a blessing and curse, one that any listener would dive into again, and again, and again.
“Never Ending” then calms the nerves and allows for a sense of sanctuary, providing the perfect vessel for each listeners’ souls to float their way back down into this reality. Every journey has its end, and this track makes for one of the best closers around. The inviting vocals croon the line “take me back to the beginning,” a sentiment fans and listeners will all be sharing as they reach for that replay button, wanting to start this journey all over again. Blood Cultures taps into the psyche of each listener, intricate tapestries of vivid dreams weaved before their eyes. Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs is an album nonpareil, burning brightly as it adorns minds with emotive, anxious, and intoxicating soundscapes that all coalesce into one of 2019’s greatest experiences.
Atwood Magazine had the rare privilege of chatting with Blood Cultures to discuss their album along with the methods employed on it. Get all of the info in our exclusive interview!
Listen: ‘Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs’ – Blood Cultures
A CONVERSATION WITH BLOOD CULTURES
Atwood Magazine: Thank you so much for taking the time! I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to talk to you. So first off, why now? What made you decide that this was the time to, in a sense, emerge from the shadows?
Blood Cultures: Well the shadows were getting rather cold and damp, and thought we could all use a little more vitamin D.
For those new fans out there who might not know about you 100%, what made you decide to be anonymous when first creating the band?
Blood Cultures: We just didn’t see the music as something that needed to revolve around us. When making the music, I had a vision and I wanted to honor that, not succumb to what typical bands and artists do because it “that’s the way things are done.” Everything is done with a purpose and what we do is in service for the listeners. Despite how personal the music is, we see them as emotionally relatable songs that are for you, not us.
Do you find it difficult to keep your anonymity in today’s society? Any secret methods you utilize to leave the recording studio without being seen and such?
Blood Cultures: I wonder the same thing about everyone else. In terms of today’s society, it seems like artificial authenticity is more encouraged than anything. And it makes you wonder if anyone is ever really seen. Do they want to be? How often do you hear people talking about things that they don’t care about for the sake of being noticed? There are tons of other ways for bands to be anonymous. We intentionally choose to be presented this way: the modern-day façade taken to its logical extreme.
Honesty, I feel, is one of the cornerstones of your music, your lyrics always sharing personal thoughts or experiences. This idea is already quite evident with Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs based on your first single “Dunk On Me” with its brooding electronic melody and the repetition of “they don’t know you like I do.” What made music the go-to outlet in which you share your thoughts, emotions, and experiences?
Blood Cultures: If I was a better painter, it would have been expressed on a canvas. If I was a better writer, it would have been expressed in a book.
Listen: “No Favors” – Blood Cultures
From the two years since Happy Birthday, how do you feel you have developed as people and as a band.
Blood Cultures: There’s been some pretty monumental personal development: We all got married! To each other! It’s a confusing but loving relationship.
Jumping into the album, I am absolutely enamored by it. The utilization of so many varying electronic soundscapes appears stronger with Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs than Happy Birthday. Sonically, what drew you to these new sounds, and what did the recording process for it all look like?
Blood Cultures: There was a lot of diversity in terms of the sounds on Happy Birthday, and that’s something we wanted to expand upon and continue exploring on the new record. In today’s age, there are a plethora of songs that will fit whatever specific mood you’re in or whichever genre you want to hear. You want to hear “chill lo-fi hip-hop beats to study to?” Here are 10,000 songs that check that box and satisfy your craving.
We wanted to take the expectations that people have for us, our genre, and that we have for ourselves and redefine them. Yes, it would be nice to have a simple bop-y indie-pop record that hits one emotional tone, but how does that challenge you? How does that record progress the genre? Our lives aren’t lived in one mood or feeling, they are roller coasters with highs and lows, love and loss, peace and anger. We wanted to try to embody this element of life with the diversity on the record, by hopefully hitting more than one emotional note.
To continue that same thought, what musical acts have inspired your sound? Who or what do you see as a large source of influence for you?
Blood Cultures: We are nothing but a collection of our influences and we honor and love them dearly. But music is like magic. When you explain how the trick is done, the sense of wonder dies with the answer. It’s not a logical thing, so when you apply logic to it, it becomes mechanical.
You carry the message that your music is an introspective journey for the listener, one where their own truth and meaning is whatever they feel – and I love this idea. However, I am curious about the nature of Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs and its apparent theme of early man, uncertainty, and our place in the universe based on the album cover and its description, track titles, and even the title of the album itself. What was going on through your minds when first making this album, and what, if any, themes were you looking to convey or share?
Blood Cultures: I think our role is to create the infrastructure. We create this world, this little theme park for you to play in, and every ride has its own themes and twists and turns. Sure we have our own intentions, but it’s really more about the feeling that you walk away with, where you say, “that was my favorite ride because…” So, the album can be interpreted from many different views and our vagueness is intentional.
What we can say about it is that it’s intended on being a conversation between two opposing sides that share a single relationship. What’s present throughout the record is a duality in perspective. There’s a side A and a side B. One that represents one side of the relationship: logic, responsibility, godliness, a higher self. And another that presents the opposite side: emotion, childhood, mortality, animalism. The album examines the relationship of this dichotomy that is inherent in every human and how it affects our actions. Actions that effect and are in service to the world around us.
This discussion lives in the moment before a decision is made. The thing is, the rest of the world does not pause and wait around until you’re ready and have your answer. It will continue with or without your decision but will be missing the massive impact that you could be having on it. Without your presence in the universe, it is missing an essential part of itself. And that is tragedy.
The first track is often an important one, typically acting as a window for the album as a whole. With “Elegant Aliens,” there seems to be a reason you wanted this one to begin the album with, especially with the sound clip ending on the discussion of Elohim meaning “those who came from the sky.” With that being said, what made “Elegant Aliens” the one to start it all off to?
Blood Cultures: The track acts an overture for the themes and ideas explored in the record. It kind of sets the scene for the environment in which the dialogue takes place. In terms of the content of the clip; we should question the origin of our conventions and our beliefs, otherwise, we will never know why they were there to begin with. Our origins tell us who we already are. When you become aware of them, you can decide who you want to be.
And on the subject of firsts, what made “Dunk On Me” the single you wanted to release first for the album?
Blood Cultures: It was different from anything we had ever done before and anything that we were hearing. It was something that felt like it needed to be said at the time. It was an over way to tell the listeners that we were going in a new direction. We don’t want to let people down, but we’re not making another Happy Birthday.
As an aside, the music video for “Dunk On Me” was mind-blowing (serious props to the lead actress). Do you have plans of releasing more music videos for any of the other tracks? If so, any hints on what will be next?
Blood Cultures: Absolutely. In terms of a hint, think Sylvia Browne smoking opium in a Countach.
Watch: “Dunk On Me” – Blood Cultures
The track “Oh Theo” stands out to me; acoustic guitars briefly interrupted by high-intensity electronics to then return to the calming acoustic balladry. What did the song making process look like for this track?
Blood Cultures: Sometimes a conversation gets heated by emotion and turns into an argument. Sometimes a train of thought gets derailed by a memory and turns into a mental break down. Sometimes a relationship gets seen in a different light and you finally see someone’s true colors.
“Glass” is one of my favorite tracks from the album. It’s so bustling and raw, and that moment of build-up from 1:24 to 1:32 blows me away every time. It’s for sure one of the most intense tracks on the album, so what was going on in your headspace when crafting it?
Blood Cultures: I’m not sure if this will ruin the track for you, but I had the idea for that vocal while in the bathroom, so I recorded the vocals as a voice memo on the spot on my phone. I tried to re-record it but liked that bathroom take the most, so we kept it in the final version. Kind of gross.
We’re not a big fan of redundancy and wanted to make every track have its own function and sound within the thematic grid of the record. This song is sort of the climax of the record. It’s the boiling point and explosion of this built-up tension. The point of no return.
The closing track is often as important as the opening one, and “Never Ending” felt like a great pick. It’s on the calmer side, and when listening to it, I felt it was gently guiding me back down to reality. What made you decide to close the album with 'Never Ending?'
Blood Cultures: If “Glass” is the climax, this is the epilogue. The album is structured in a way where each track balances each other out. The last track and first track complement each other in terms of elements, tone, and arrangement. Not only does it make the record feel a sense of balance but it’s kind of poetic that in the end, you return back to where you started. In terms of the journey, we’ve come full circle – we’ve gone through this whole experience and we’ve come back home but forever changed by what we went through.
As stated before, your music is very much a personal journey and experience for each individual listener, but that also includes you. So what do you feel when listening to the album, what is your truth with it?
Blood Cultures: It’s impossible to answer this without leading a listener down a certain mental path of our own bias. We don’t think what we have to say now really matters. We will always have a clear idea of what it should be, what it means to us, but whatever message we intended might not be what the listener feels to be true for them. It might mean something entirely different to someone else and we have no right to take that away from them. The music is for everyone. I guess the only thing we want to say is that it comes from a place of love and we hope you take it that way.
What are you hoping fans will get out of with their first listen?
Blood Cultures: I hope they feel it.
Listen: “Best For You” – Blood Cultures
I want to say again how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to speak to you. To close, what are you looking forward to after the album release? How do you see yourself growing?
Blood Cultures: Thank you for the insightful questions. We’re certainly looking forward to playing our first tour. It’s going to be in the fall across a few cities in the U.S. Playing live has always been something that has been exciting for us, because we get to see the impact that the music has in real-time and see the connection that people have with the music right in front of us. The live versions of these songs present a new experience and it will be interesting to see how people react to that. Growing is painful, but necessary. You can’t change without letting go of a part of yourself in order to replace it with a new one. We’re finite in that way. Whichever way we develop, you will see it and it might not be easy. For both of us.
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:: Stream Blood Cultures ::
11/15 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
11/16 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
11/22 – Austin, TX – Mohawk
11/23 – Dallas, TX – Ruins
11/27 – Chicago, IL – Schubas
12/05 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brendas
12/06 – Washington, DC – Songbyrd