In the grand scheme of things, the world could use a little more peace, love, and gratitude. In a time where we often feel the fear of the day to day weighing us down, LA’s own Blesd is working hard to shine the brightest glimmer of hope with their rousing neo-soul. They just brought their positive vibes through West Hollywood when they stopped by The Peppermint Club earlier this month. They’ve got more shows and music up their sleeves and were nice enough to talk about all of that and then some…
Kendra: Coming from a world of pop-punk and emo, where being downtrodden is the norm, it was different to hear a song like “Gratitude.” Did you grow up listening to music that carried a happier message?
Lily: Thank you! Different is good! We come from a variety of musical backgrounds. I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and India.Arie. Music that made me feel hopeful and positive about the world. I love to be in my feelings, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s enough darkness in the world. It’s our mission to tip the scale towards the light.
Kendra: Where do you find that inner strength to be so and to deliver such a positive outlook to the world through your music?
Brock: Positive music is an act of defiance against negativity. In a world where headlines, ads, and life situations are battling for our attention we are often bombarded with the worst of the worst to grab our attention. This has the effect of either draining our energy or numbing our compassion. When we choose to come with a positive vibration in our music it’s to lift the world and its people up and out of the debilitation of negativity. We sing about the world we want to see.
Kendra: When you all came together, was the sound instant? Because you all do come from various backgrounds. Did it take a minute to find the Blesd groove or was it instant?
Jeremy: There was an instant connection around the first song we came up with, “Oseh Shalom,” which came about during a set break at a gig. After that, all of us were really excited about the band. I think that led us all to develop our own ideas about what we wanted the band to sound like. We had some growing pains during the first year as we built trust, learned how to communicate with each other, and learned how to blend everyone’s creative processes into one.
Everyone in the band hears things differently. For instance, we recently figured out that Brock best processes musical ideas when we play them live. While I feel like my musical decisions are better informed when we record and listen back in the studio. We found a sweet spot in taking songs to the studio and to the rehearsal space so we can hear out ideas in ways that everyone can digest.
Gratitude had a really interesting process because the song originally had a completely different bass line and a lyric-less chorus. We were literally about to upload it to Distrokid and we were like – wait a minute, this song still needs a hook! We are constantly pushing to get the best out of each other and the music so that we can inspire people in the biggest way possible. I’m excited for our next single because previously we had been using either programmed drums OR live drums but never at the same time.
We found a way to meld them together seamlessly for this song and it sounds incredible. So our sound is continuing to evolve as we finish recording and producing the rest of the EP. So I’m sure our next batch of songs will sound different than this collection. Whatever direction our sound may take, we can always agree that we make this music, not for us, but to heal and inspire the world. That helps to kill our egos and keep us humble.
Kendra: You guys just brought that inner light to Philly and New York City. Do you guys get to enjoy the cities when you’re playing or are you all business when in a new town for a show?
Joe: It depends on the schedule really. I think we all love to have those “when in Rome moments” whenever we can. Sometimes even with a tight schedule, we will try to sneak those precious little times in there if we can. For instance, we were leaving Philly, about to head to New York and Brock was really wanting to experience his first Philly Cheesesteak.
So as we’re literally driving out of the city, I spotted this little hole in the wall cheesesteak joint. We pull over to get Brock his cheesesteak. He got back in the van and basked in his cheesesteak glory all the way to New York! Being from Philly, it was probably just as enjoyable for me to watch him get to have that moment as it was for him getting to actually eat it!
Kendra: Will you be playing more locally in LA as the year winds down?
Brock: We plan on continuing to play in the LA area monthly as the year ends. We will be having a release show in November. Last year we hosted a celebration of light in December and we are planning on doing that again.
Kendra: Speaking of LA and bringing in that positivity, sometimes this city can be a bit much. It’s not for the weak. What is one aspect of LA you feel needs a boost to feel less negative?
Joe: Encouragement. The majority of people working in this city, work in the entertainment industry or know someone who does. If you do, you know it is an extremely tough industry to be in. Especially if you’re new to it. It can beat you down, be a very shallow place and really test your self-esteem and morals. It’s a business where you typically hear more no’s than yes. People are constantly telling you, your not good enough, or not pretty enough or not popular enough.
On top of that, there are so many things that can knock you off your focus. The party life, the celebrity of it all, the events, the glitz, and glamour. People in LA need a huge dose of encouragement to combat the negativity they may face in their everyday journey to their goals. Which is what we try to do at every turn. If you’re at one of our shows you’re going to hear constant messages of never giving up, not backing down, things are going to be okay, being true to who you are and being comfortable in your own skin.
Ultimately we want people from all walks of life, in any industry, in any city to be encouraged in that way. We know people everywhere face that same negativity every day. We want them to know that they’re not alone and we can make it through anything together.
Kendra: Okay, we have “Gratitude” out now but the debut EP is heading our way in 2019. If you had to compare the EP to one of the great philosophers, who would it be and why?
Ayo: There are a lot of great philosophers to choose from. I choose one that may not be considered a traditional philosopher. However, she certainly fits the definition of a great thinker, thought leader and person whose intellect and effect on the world of thought was vast. Maya Angelou not only sought wisdom and enlightenment but embodied these traits. As a weaver of words and song and someone who was an avid civil rights activist – she clearly stood up for what she believed in and used her voice to speak her truth. She had and has a huge impact on the world that continues far beyond her physical presence in the world.
I feel like our EP will do the same. We choose words we feel are important and set them to song, sharing our message of unity and love amongst all people. Especially now, that feels very potent and significant to express.
We say what we believe and hope to inspire others. We don’t have a traditional approach. It’s our own unique amalgamation, but we do seek wisdom and enlightenment while also sharing our truth as we grow. It’s our great hope that our music’s effect on the world will be vast.
Kendra: Other than the debut, what else is on the books for 2019?
Ayo: We’re really excited about playing more shows next year – particularly festivals. We played the Lovelight Festival this past September. Our music does well on bills with other high vibes, feel good artists. We will, of course, be writing and putting out more music. The big aim of 2019 is to have a lot more people hear us and know about our music!