U.S. Debut, "Heavy Flowers," Coming January 2013
When words or rhymes come up I put them down right away or record them on my phone. If I don't, I feel like someone else will be able to pick it up from the sky or discover it and use it. - Blaudzun
Blaudzun is the alias of Dutch singer-songwriter Johannes Sigmond from Arnhem, The Netherlands, who has been working on his own behalf since 2007.
In January 2013, Blaudzun releases "Heavy Flowers" (Krian Music Group) his most dynamic LP to date; his unique voice, haunting melodies and dramatic string arrangements coincides with a love for folk and art rock. With this third collection of songs Blaudzun again surpasses his previous work.
He surprised music fans and critics, and received rave reviews, which he even surpassed with his second album, "Seadrift Soundmachine" (2010). The widely acclaimed album and subsequent live shows caused his definite breakthrough in the Netherlands.
This hard-to-label artist is in the house. Please welcome Blaudzen.
MS: So, why the name Blaudzun?
Blaudzun: Blaudzun is a former cyclist and Olympic medalist (1976) from Denmark. Iím a big cycling fan. I go to races and watch the classics and the grand tours like the Tour de France on television. In 2006, I came across the name of Verner Blaudzun when I was reading about a cycling race in the '70s. I fell in love with the sound of the word Blaudzun and kept it as my stage name since. Itís not like a tribute to the rider or anything. If so, I would have named my self after Hinault or Pantani.
MS: Tell us about the songs that you worked on that were initially intended for "A Midnight Car Ride"?
Blaudzun: I was planning to put out an EP, a small collection of songs intended to be the soundtrack for a midnight car drive or train journey. I love music that accompanies the dark of night, when everyone else is asleep and you feel like youíre the only person in the city who is awake. At that time I listened to Emmylou Harris ("Wrecking Ball"), Sigur Ros, and Johnny Cash ("American Recordings I") when I was on the road myself. I wanted my songs to fit in. Those songs are like little houses or caves where you can hide in for a little while. I want my songs to be that.
MS: They became your self-titled debut album?
Blaudzun: People at V2 Records heard the EP and asked me if there were more songs to make a full album. I was writing at that time, but no recordings were planned. When they told me they loved to do an album release I started recording some fresh tunes and finished the album in a month.
MS: How exciting was it working with the City of Prague Orchestra on "Seadrift Soundmachine"?
Blaudzun: It was really fun to see the orchestra and conductor working as if they were still in the Soviet area. Nothing romantic to it actually, except their marvelous style and skills.
MS: Barcelona seems to be your writing muse.
Blaudzun: The writing process isnít actually a one place and time event. For me itís a constant state of mind. It shapes a song when you work on it in different cities and different atmospheres. And itís true I work a lot in Barcelona. Itís a beautiful city with a rich and dramatic Catalan history. The city has a melancholic and sunny character that resonates through my life and work. I feel at home there.
But it doesnít mean a good tune canít come to me when Iím in Holland. I always travel with a paper notebook. When words or rhymes come up I put them down right away or record them on my phone. If I donít, I feel like someone else will be able to pick it up from the sky or discover it and use it. Itís odd when you think of it, but I feel it just the same. (laughs)
MS: Describe what a ďHeavy FlowerĒ is.
Blaudzun: Itís like those Van Goghís sun flowers at their peak, just before the moment they drop their heads because of their weight, and than they die. I love that image. I find it striking and symbolic for many things in life. Itís that almost cheerful expressive sight packed with a sudden grief and death around the corner that really does it for me. It makes me sad and happy at the same time.
MS: What inspires you to converge many different styles in your music?
Blaudzun: Actually, Iím not aware of that. As a child I grew up listening to my parents' music; Dylan, Paco de Lucia, Johnny Cash, opera and lots of Christian hippie music. Thereís a lot of European influences in my music, too, I think. I really love the melancholy of Balkan music, the emotional surrender in Spanish traditionals, the rhythm and instruments of Irish folk. As a teenager I discovered the Beatles - Beatles werenít played in my religious family - and Nirvana at the same time, that was quite a defining period for me as an artist, I guess.
MS: Extrapolate on "Solar," your current song/video.
Blaudzun: "Solar" deals with a troubled love life, obviously. The title was inspired by Ian McEwanís novel. But I try not to explain my songs too much because it deprives listeners of a first and honest chance to discover any meaning or story for themselves.
This video was shot at locations world wide. It is 100% analogue and was filmed on 35mm with a LomoKino, a re-issue of an old camera from the Soviet Union. Itís directed by my dear friend David Douglas. The parts where you see me singing were shot in Barcelona, Spain.
MS: Do you love performing live?
Blaudzun: Yes, I do love it a lot. Songs are meant to be played live in front of people; actually, thatís the final stage of the writing process, I guess. Songs donít stop evolving after I recorded them. They continue to grow and change while singing them before an audience. A song is like a living being to me
MS: Tell us about that rush.
Blaudzun: To be able to sing and to play with other musicians is what I like most. Thatís the reason I donít do solo performances that often. Itís great to create sound and musical layers with talented people and watch those faces in the crowd enjoy and reinforce the music coming from the stage.
MS: What song in your catalog best describes you?
Blaudzun: It depends on my mood I guess, but thereís no particular song that describes me best. "Heavy Flowers," the album as a whole, is what I feel is me at this moment.
Discover Blaudzun at www.blaudzun.com.