This interview is with electronic music composer Jared Blum of the electronic music music projects "Vulcanus 68" and "Blanketship". Here Jared speaks about his many past and future projects, as well as his influences and his collaborations with other experimental music artists.
What was the first band that you were in and was it an experimental or electronic music group?
JB > The first real band I was in that was more or less experimental that also had synths was in college in Ithaca, NY called g(25). That actually became the name of our label, g(25) productions, which put out the first Blanketship record "Threeps" in 2003. Super fun band, basically an instrumental video game rock/metal/dub/electronic hybrid - very original at the time. I played bass and synths. When we lost 2 members we became g(23) which was all electronic 3-piece playing crappy keyboards trying to be Kraftwerk, Air or Plone.
Were you interested in music from an early age?
JB > Very... I had MTV at a very early age which was also when MTV had just started. So i was fascinated by music videos. I also stared checking out my parent's records so I was already getting a dose of the Beatles, Zeppelin, Janis and a Moog Star Wars record! Then I discovered Van Halen and played a mean tennis raquet for years!!!!
When was "Vulcanus 68" formed and what kind of music did you wish to produce?
JB > Vulcanus 68 came about as a side project with my buddy Rus Archer in around '02-'03. I played bass in his band for a while and we just started playing with these collections of crazy noise tapes we each had made, so when we played them together at first it was mind bending! We never had a specific sound in mind... just as ugly and gross as possible I guess? Dominic Cramp got involved because Rus was out of town for a gig. Then all 3 of us played together a couple of times too. Rus moved on to Portland and the rest has been me and Dom.
Who are some of your influences in electronic and pop music?
JB > Like I said before I grew up in the 80's so all that stuff is in my genes I guess. But I guess in terms of really good pop music the stuff like Bacharach, Brian Wilson, Beatles of course come to mind. But I would say electronically it really "re"-began when i discovered Aphex Twin, Eno, Talking Heads / '80s King Crimson, Tortoise, Electro-acoustic music and Dub around 1996... That's when I started writing and producing my own music by myself.
Blanketship was more of a pop-sound - did you want to try to make the sound of the band different than Vulcanus 68?
JB > Oh for sure. I was always and still am all for having multiple projects that are totally different to work on. I like keeping things separate. Blanketship was my outlet for creating "pop" music without a band. I got really into sound collage/hip hop producers who were using samples and I wanted the focus of the project to utilize the tones and feels of the glorious '60s and '70s mixed with whatever cool weird melodic stuff i could find. It was the search for these sounds/records or CDs and tapes that makes the project so much fun... I wanted it to sound like a band from somewhere in the world you never heard before yet sounds vaguely familiar.
When did you sign to GiganteSound records?
JB > I started GiganteSound with Dominic Cramp in 2005. We both got to point where we needed these projects to come out into the world and waiting to get "signed" by some label seemed far fetched. So we basically just started it as an outlet for us to put whatever we wanted when we wanted... Only the THEMAYS and Sunshine Children's Militant Hour aren't us.
Could you tell us about collaborating with Billy Gouldof Faith no More?
JB > I met Bill in '04 or so. I began helping him at his label Kool Arrow Records as a way to learn about the business since I was just about to start GiganteSound. Through the years he's helped me mix a bunch of records and we've stayed tight ever since. One day I brought in some slow record sounds I had recorded for a new Beaks Plinth record and he got interested in playing around with these textures. We had talked about doing something one day and this seemed like a chance to collaborate. He's really into experimental soundtrack music as well so it seemed a good fit.
Could you tell us about collaborating with Lord Tang of Gigantesound as well?
JB > I haven't really done anything with Lord Tang yet... We both were on the Motown Meltdown comp, but that's about it. One day I hope to do something with Dom on this project... I really really like his records.
What are you doing when not recording music?
JB > When I'm not in my studio, I spend time outdoors with my dog or working for the man. Living in the Bay Area allows us lots of options whether be dining, or going to shows or galleries... I also do all my own artwork and design for the records... so that takes up a bit of it...
Any new releases or future releases that you wish to tell us about?
JB > Yes I have new project tentatively titled Vision Heat. It's an all original '80s pop/soundtrack-esque compilation/library record that I'm super excited about. So think Harold Faltemeyer, '80s horror stuff, Tangerine Dream, Moroder, Madonna and all that great in between AOR music all wrapped into one record. I tried to make each track sound a lot different than the next so it has that real compilation feel to it..
Photo: Margaret Banda