After a short break, we are happy to announce the return of one of our most loved features. The FOCUS Nottingham feature provides a spotlight for emerging Nottingham talent, with the aim of promoting artists of all genres in the city that we believe deserve a platform. In keeping with social distancing precautions, rising Nottingham star BLLE joined us over the phone to discuss her career in music until now, approaching releases, and how her work is being affected by the ongoing international pandemic.
Having already initiated a promising career as a folk singer; appearing on BBC Introducing, establishing herself on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts, and performing with the likes of Laurel, BLLE made the decision to change course and move into pop music. She dedicates her conversion to ‘growing up and realising that pop music is real music’ and after taking three years to learn the genre by writing songs for other artists, teaching herself the stylistic specifications of pop production, and running the dirty tap until it was clean, BLLE became BLLE, a twenty-one year old pop artist, secure in her lively, elastic sound and hungry for musical development.
Despite returning to Nottingham’s music scene largely unrecognisable in terms of her musical style, BLLE’s pop persona has already seen her release two hit singles, both of which were bedroom-produced examples of quintessential pop ballads, and both of which were welcomed by local fans as a suitable ‘shake up’ for Nottingham’s music scene – a move towards electronic musings. BLLE spoke of BANKS, Dua Lipa and Tove Lo as the artists she draws most inspiration from within the pop genre, not exclusively for their musical capabilities, but for their artist development over recent years and their ability to ‘move from era to era seamlessly’.
Pop music as a genre relies on constant and consistent evolution, and artists within are thus forced to be malleable with their style and sound to survive – this is something which BLLE admires. Whether the ‘glitchy’ nature of BANKS, the touching lyricism of Tove Lo, or the unavoidably catchy melodies of Dua Lipa, BLLE admits that these artists carry weight in influencing her and start to ‘peep through in [her] own music, subconsciously’. In fact, the blossoming singer-songwriter’s latest single, Don’t be Surprised, could aptly be described as a prototype to Dua Lipa’s latest album; addressing similar topics of youthful love, heartache and self-empowerment, and projecting them through the prism of vibrant, charming soundscapes. Despite drawing inspiration from leading figures in pop, BLLE’s background in the more lyric-dependent genre of folk provides her music with a unique and immediately recognisable element of emotional resonance, seemingly removed from the historically heavy commercialisation of pop personalities.
“It is only in times of hardship, times of suffering that it becomes clear how desperately we hang on to it as a source of unity and strength, and BLLE is leading the charge in giving us something to reach for.”
In harmony with a range of Nottingham-based artists we’ve spoken to, BLLE found energy in discussing the local scene as a melting pot for musical talent, combining artists from vastly different genres and welcoming them into the ‘tight-knit community’ of mutual support and admiration. The current circumstances however have had a substantial impact on the local scene, bringing large amounts of uncertainty and delicacy to venues and artists alike, but, like many of her fellow Nottingham-based artists, BLLE has taken to live streamed acoustic sets to maintain the ever-energetic local musical activity. As recent streams have received praise from fans, BLLE argued that being an artist in such a climate, has meant that these are things that ‘you just have to do, because everyone needs music’ perhaps now more than ever. In ordinary times, it is very easy to take music for granted, but it is only in times of hardship, times of suffering that it becomes clear how desperately we hang on to it as a source of unity and strength, and BLLE is leading the charge in giving us something to reach for.
Whilst social distancing keeps her from gigging and co-writing with other artists across the country, BLLE has turned to ‘honing in on learning a lot more about production, vocal production, and really trying to perfect that side of what [she does].’ As someone who is very much ‘driven by routine’ and who ‘likes to be very busy’, BLLE admits that continuing to work tirelessly on her music has been something which has taken ‘a lot of self-motivation’ but, like many of us, she has been finding solace in listening to music, and it seems rational to expect a stronger, hungrier individual to emerge from such times, more ready than ever to continue on her star-bound trajectory.
“BLLE’s background in the more lyric-dependent genre of folk provides her music with a unique and immediately recognisable element of emotional resonance, seemingly removed from the historically heavy commercialisation of pop personalities.”
In speaking with us, BLLE also announced the recent finalisation of two more singles and, though exact details of release are under wraps, it is expected that they will both serve as welcome additions to her existing repertoire of irresistibly effervescent pop tracks, and as a furtherance of the proliferation of her unique, infectious sound not only across Nottingham, but through to other parts of the wider country too. In this sense, the coming releases are additional milestones in her ascent to musical prominence, a journey which she has mapped out in detail for the coming year. Assuming that national circumstance has returned to some version of normality by the end of summer, BLLE hopes to be in a position to put out an EP, play more gigs outside of Nottingham, establishing herself more precisely in Manchester and London, and have the facilities to go on what she understates as a ‘tiny tour’, a pretext to explore the East Midlands as a backdrop to the explosion of her musical talent.
In discussing her musical journey thus far, it becomes clear that BLLE’s music is an extension of her unique and creative self – lively and inimitable, zealous and driven. Following that sentiment, the continued growth of her musical prominence can only be described as a widely anticipated happening. BLLE is one to watch, so watch.