By Paulette Arnold
Hailing from London, UK, BLOXX is one of the next breakout bands that will be dominating your playlists. Comprised of vocalist and guitarist Ophelia, guitarist Taz, bassist Paul, and drummer Moz, BLOXX is a group of best friends who just so happen to contribute to the alternative scene’s new genre of rock-fusion, which blends heavier guitar riffs and serious lyrics with pop elements such as synths and fast rhythms. BLOXX has already played festivals like Reading and Leeds, opened for bands including The Wombats and Sundara Karma, and are now preparing for their headline tour in April.
Rare Candy spoke with vocalist Ophelia “Fee” Booth to talk about the new EP, past performances, and what it’s like to be young professionals in the music industry.
Talking about BLOXX’s catalog of angry rock music, Fee notes the great juxtaposition between emotional lyrics and upbeat music,
"I don’t think you should limit yourself to writing sad songs and making them sound sad. I think, as an artist, you can put whatever lyrics and whatever you feel into a song and it doesn’t have to sound sad."
It’s this kind of duality that makes BLOXX’s music appealing and appropriate for any mood.
Signing on to Chess Club Records and touring with bigger bands has given BLOXX more exposure and has helped them learn what it means to act like a band—opposed to just the band of friends who met while at college and work.
BLOXX is thinking past the sonic elements of the band and has carefully crafted the artwork for the single covers. Groups of about three songs all include the same stylistic elements for the covers. The purposeful delineation of aesthetics is meant to define different eras in the band’s music, leaving listeners to only wonder, “what’s next?”
Check out the full interview below!
RC: You’ve slowly been releasing singles on Spotify in preparation for your upcoming Headspace EP, how did you decide which songs to release?
OPHELIA BOOTH: I had some favorites and I told our management that I really wanted to release “Monday” first, and then we didn’t have much choice on the other two. All I cared is that “Monday” would come out first, and it happened!
RC: How do you feel like these songs fit into the EP?
OB: I think they fit really well. We’ve grown up a little bit with our sound and “Monday” and “Lay Down” were two songs that I feel are pushing us in the direction that we want to go. We’re so excited to get the EP out.
RC: Do you have a favorite song of the ones out now?
OB: It was “Monday,” but I think it might be “Sea Blue” now.
RC: How did you decide on the name “Headspace” for the EP?
OB: It was kind of the song that we all listened to and came away thinking it was the strongest on the EP. It’s definitely a bit more pop, but it still has our guitar elements and is still a danceable song. I think after we had all of the songs recorded that a strong debut EP would be Headspace as a whole. I think that’s the era that we’re in now, the period is Headspace. It should be dropping February 15th.
RC: You said in an interview with Popped Music that you wrote a lot of your songs while angry, is there a reason why “angry music” inspires you most?
OB: I think it’s because of the lyrics. I’m used to writing really straight-up, forward lyrics. They aren’t metaphorical and they don’t beat around the bush. I think that comes from listening to bands that do the same sort of things. I don’t like being cryptic with my lyrics.
RC: Does this type of tone follow with any unreleased songs on the EP?
OB: The song “Headspace” from the EP is a very angry song. I was actually allowed to swear for the first time which was fun. We had to do a radio edit, which was funny. It’s quite an angry song, I suppose. I wrote it with a guy who I write with a lot. He was asking me how I felt and what was on my mind that day, and I’m obviously an angry person [laughs], so that’s going to be our next angry one. I’m not sure if we have any more angry ones. Well, it doesn’t sound angry, it sounds really happy, but the lyrics are really angry.
RC: What is it about angry songs that sound happy that appeals to you?
OB: I really like the juxtaposition there. I like songs that sound happy but have a deeper meaning because I don’t think you should limit yourself to writing sad songs and making them sound sad. I think, as an artist, you can put whatever lyrics and whatever you feel into a song and it doesn’t have to sound sad. I think that’s the art and the beauty of writing music, it’s great.
RC: I really like the covers for the singles, specifically the one for “You,” can you talk about how the artwork was chosen?
OB: I have a friend, Beth Woodwin, who is insanely good at drawing. This was our first proper single where we wanted to do nice artwork, so I asked her to draw something up along the lines of the song. She drew a few options of a girl and then she gave me one that she hadn’t finished and I just said, “Look, I love this one. I don’t need you to finish it. I love how it is now.” So I scanned it onto Photoshop and did the background myself. It kind of stuck for the rest of the singles from that period of time, so I did the same thing for “Coke” and “Curtains.”
RC: I noticed that the last three singles all have pictures of the band as the covers but the previous singles don’t, is there a reason for the switch?
OB: It’s not so much as having an era, but we wanted to have a campaign for one bit of the music and then when we moved on to another we wanted to have the same continuity. We have the same font, the same band photo, and the same positioning of the text so that when someone sees a picture of our artwork they’ll know what period of time that music came from. It embodies one whole piece of work and I think it shows growth as a band when we leave old periods behind and start new ones. We’ll never stop playing the old songs, but that change was chosen for that sort of thing.
RC: You’ve said that you never really meant to form a band, but it just kind of happened after playing together for fun. How do you make sure to balance playing for fun while growing as a band and racking up a larger fanbase?
OB: We’ll still all best friends. We grew up together and we were friends before we knew we wanted to be a band. I think that’s what works well because we can differentiate between things that are more important; like “Is our friendship more important than fighting over this song or fighting over what we want to release?” We always hone it in and think about that. I think that’s what helps us stay true to ourselves. Our heads will never get too big because we keep each other grounded since we’re friends first.
RC: So did you all just happen to play instruments before and just figured, “why not?”
OB: Yeah, literally me and Taz and Moz went to college doing music, and then I met Paul at work and he also happened to do music. Then we all just happened to be friends. It’s really cool!
RC: Do you find that most of your friends are other musicians?
OB: Not really. My main group of friends are still childhood friends and friends I grew up with. We’ve made a lot of friends recently in the industry from touring and stuff. We’re really close with bands that we’ve been on tour with. We like to hang out with a band called King Nun who are on Dirty Hit Records, they’re are close mates.
RC: Do you ever feel like there’s more stress in the band because you are all friends?
OB: We fight all the time! We say all the time how we’re like a four-way married couple. We argue and we fight and we think we hate each other and we call each other bad names and we get angry, but then the next morning we wake up and say “Oh, well I still love you!” It happens in every human relationship. I think it’s important to have that because if we got on too well then we’d let things slide and I don’t think we’d be as focused on the band as we could be.
RC: A lot of musicians tend to change their sound a bit as they grow and progress, how do you plan on staying true to yourselves and the music you’re making?
OB: I think it’s growing and I think we’re expanding our minds to be more open to different styles. The one thing that we’ve always been able to do is that no matter how different the music that all four of us listen to is, we can always write a song that we all love. Music, styles, and influence change and I think that’s a big part of why bands do decide to take the leap. I also think that a lot of bands do it for the exposure, like trying to cater for a larger and wider audience. I think that’s also important to do as a band, to not get stuck in a cubby hole of one genre and feeling like you have to just be that. It’s important to experience everything that you can and make the best music you can that gets stuck in peoples’ heads.
RC: Most of you met while studying music in college or working, are any of you still in college?
OB: Me and Paul dropped out of college. We went to the same college, which was really funny because I went to college the year after he did, but I met him first at work. I told him that I was starting university and he asked where. I said West London and he turned around and said, “Dude, that’s where I go!” It’s really weird because we had only just met then. We stopped going because we needed more time to do the band. Moz and Taz don’t study any more, but they work.
RC: You’re currently signed to Chess Club Records and work with S-B Management, how has the transition been from independent DIY artists to working with big names in the industry?
OB: It’s been really beneficial for us because we did everything ourselves for about a year. We used to get really stressed handling all that, but we met a great lawyer who introduced us to all these people and now it’s great. It’s crazy different because we’re being looked after really well and we’re getting all these opportunities that I know we wouldn’t be able to get ourselves.
OB: Quite a lot. Being the headline band on a show is a lot easier than being a support band. Supporting big artists like that has taught us all something, whether it’s Taz learning something for guitar or me learning something from lead singers about how to keep my voice for long periods of time and other little bits of information. We’ve made some of the closest friends that we’ve ever made on these tours as well. I think it’s really important for a band to experience being a support band and getting that knowledge before heading out and doing their own headline.
RC: As of now, you’re being grouped in with a lot of other indie artists, how do you feel BLOXX stands out against the rest of the indie catalog?
OB: I think it’s the sense of not staying within the guidelines of a genre. I think we push the boat out and we go a bit further away from what you would expect an indie pop band to be: we have heavier riffs, we have electronic elements, and we explore different avenues. I think that’s why we’re unique. Not unique as in no one else has ever done it before, but there aren’t a lot of bands doing loads in different genres in one song. It’s so hard to explain! We put loads of stuff out there, but you still know that it’s BLOXX. I can’t put my finger on what makes us BLOXX, but something makes us BLOXX! No matter what track we release. if it’s a rock song or a dancey-pop song or an electronic rock song, we don’t do electronic rock but if we did, it would still be BLOXX.
RC: It’s hard enough being young in general, let alone being young in a big industry. Do you feel like you’re taken seriously as artists and as professionals?
OB: Yeah, we’ve been given a lot of leeway. People trust us. Simon our manager trusts us. and so does Chess Club. I think it’s because they trust our ability to make good music and not mess up and do stupid things. I think it’s good because we were treated like kids for ages, and I think that’s because we acted like kids. Now we act more professional, and I think that comes from learning while being on tour with bigger bands and learning how to act like a band.
RC: Do you have any plans to come to the US soon?
OB: [moment of strained silence] ...I’ve been hearing things...maybe that we’ll be over in the next year...maybe. Hopefully, but I’m not sure where and I’m not sure how, but we might be!
RC: What has been your favorite performance so far and why?
OB: Reading and Leeds Festival this year was insane! We had about seven or eight hundred people in this tent, or possibly even more, and we were not expecting that because it was our first Reading fest. We didn’t feel like people really knew who we were and we went on stage and it was the craziest thing. We were so humbled and it gave me a tear. I was upset we couldn’t do it again.
RC: How have your live shows changed as you’ve released more songs?
OB: It’s a longer set, which I like. I always felt like when we played six songs that it was too quick. We have a longer set now, and it’s nice to play songs that people don’t know because it’s nice to get a reaction from them after the show and see what they thought about it. On the headline tour that we just did, we played four tracks every night that no one had heard and listening to the reaction afterwards and seeing people dance along to them as something they’ve never heard hallows us and makes us feel really good.
RC: Where is your dream venue/ place to perform?
OB: Madison Square Garden! Also Ally Pally, we’ve played there with The Wombats but we’d love to headline there. For me, Wembley Arena because the first concert I ever went to was a P!nk concert there, and that was pretty rad. Loads of places, so many places. I’d love to play the Super Bowl.
RC: What are some artists you’re listening to now?
OB: I’m listening to a band called From Indian Lakes a lot, I’m really into them. I know that Paul is really into YONAKA, they’re a really good English band from here and they actually just supported Bring Me The Horizon. Taz is into Tame Impala, anything Kevin Parker he absolutely adores. Moz is listening to Nothing But Thieves and Queens of the Stone Age. I’m proper digging HalfNoise.
You can catch BLOXX live on their upcoming tour, and be sure to keep an eye out for (possible) future US dates!