For Blondfire – the brother and sister tandem of Erica and Bruce Driscoll – a musical bond has existed since they were out of their diapers. A genetic glue, which over time has fused the band into a well-oiled, indie-pop making machine, “I feel like when we start working on a song we’ll get a beat going, and what he comes up with is kind of what I want to hear. It’s really weird,” explains lead singer Erica Driscoll. She continues, “Growing up together we had a lot of the same influences. So Bruce will put something down and usually I think it’ll be really cool. We’re like on the same plain or something [laughs].”
[pullquote quote=”Everything from the recording, to the instrument playing, to the producing we’ve done ourselves.”]Behind Erica’s sugary sweet vocals and the infectious grooves of her brother Bruce, Blondfire’s music is intensified by their Brazilian background. Such South American tendencies are exemplified by a stimulating blend of exotic beats and rhythms. Splice this unconventional flair within a more traditional pop-enriched framework, and you’ll have an idea of what makes Blondfire tick. In essence, this co-gender act likes to take risks without steering too far into more esoteric domains.
I was lucky enough to catch the Locals Only regulars on a rare break and discuss their musical journey. Covering everything from legal troubles with the widow of a Hollywood legend, to paving their own success with an independent fervor, Blondfire invites readers behind the music and into the past and present which helped create it.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the band known today as Blondfire was initially named Astaire, in reference to the Hollywood luminary figure of (you guessed it) Fred Astaire. “We thought that was a good name, because our music was a little danceable at the time and obviously Fred Astaire danced. We didn’t think there would be any issue, but of course there was,” recalls Bruce Driscoll. The face of that issue was the embittered widow of the Tinseltown great who offered no leeway in sharing the namesake.
“Where the Kids Are”
For a band whose music back dropped episodes of Dawson’s Creek and films such as Monster-In-Law under Astaire, an unexpected name change was a concerning task, “We were pretty bummed, because we really loved the name Astaire, and had put so much into our work under that title. We had just done this great tour so it was a little bit of a blow, but we had to do it so we made the best of it. We came up with a name that we hoped nobody had had, because we didn’t want to have that problem again,” mentioned Erica.
Regardless of the near maelstrom of legal action and the ensuing identity change, Blondfire’s music was unhindered by such distractions. With a growing fan base and the pair’s unbreakable rapport, both Erica and Bruce agree the experience made them stronger. This resiliency would come in handy, as the Driscoll’s future would again be tested by the hands of their label. Having been signed under EMI, ostensibly a dream come true for all aspiring artists, the duo departed from the label in 2008 after the company’s instability was jeopardizing the release of their music.
Bruce recalls the difficulties of being shackled down, “When we signed to EMI it was kind of a mess, because they were going through internal changes at the time. We had all of these great songs we were sitting on, and rather than tell us that they were getting bought out and not knowing if they could continue making our record, they were just like, ‘yea just keep on making songs. ‘ So our destiny was getting held up by them, and that’s tough to have all these songs, which we think would do well if we could just get them out there, but they wont let you move forward.”
The decision to break ties with EMI has ultimately paid dividends for Blondfire. With full autonomous control of their music, writing new material has become a completely unfettered experience, like playing the role of explorers open to expand into new musical terrain. Results have been an auspicious relief for the Driscolls. Their 2008 LP My Someday was released to favorable reviews, and subsequently had their single “L-L-Love” featured on the Nicolas Cage film Bangkok Dangerous.
Blondfire’s newest single “Where the Kids Are” has also netted an outpouring of acclaim, and landed the Driscolls a spot on Locals Only with Kat Corbett. Bruce elaborated on their formula for the more recent success, “We wrote Where the Kids Are in a B room of a friend’s studio. All of it’s been completely do-it-yourself, and people have all kind of taken notice of it lately, which has been great. Everything from the recording, to the instrument playing, to the producing we’ve done ourselves. It’s not some label saying do this or do that. At some point we might want to partner with a label to have more of an ability to reach more people, but it’s gotta be the right one.”
Erica Driscoll elaborated on “Where the Kids Are” and the direction of the band, “We were trying to push ourselves a little bit, just to kind of go for a little edgier sound in a way. And when we were writing it, it was just so fast, it came together where you didn’t really have to think about it. It’s one of my favorite new songs we’ve written.”
By inheriting the rather unorthodox route of self-producing their own music, Blondfire has certainly taught themselves some lessons along the way. I wondered how much the Driscolls felt they had evolved since their nascent beginnings up to present day, “Since we do record ourselves there is a learning curve,” revealed Bruce. He continued, “I recently listened to the first music we put out, and although I’m still proud of it, it’s funny because I can hear the improvement of our technical abilities. Then also as songwriters the type of lyrics that we like to write have evolved, not necessarily into something abstract, but maybe a little more poetic. When we first started out writing songs I feel like things started out a little more black and white. There’s a whole world of other topics that we’re diving into lyrically that we weren’t touching on before.”
“Walking With Giants”
In the music business, it takes a tough layer of skin and the intrinsic motivation for a band to break through the mold. Blondfire seems to be well in tune with both of these qualities, foreshadowing a bright future for themselves. As long as they can manage to avoid the greedy widows of the world, don’t expect Blondfire to flame out any time soon.
Check out all of Blondfire’s social media sites below to learn more about the band, purchase music, and get the scoop on future performances.
Blondfire’s second LP Win the Game is expected in the early stages of 2012.