Informed more than ever by a plethora of largely undiluted underground influences, the current wave of British pop is in its healthiest condition for years. The likes of Rudimental, Disclosure and London Grammar have used specialist sub-genres as the starting blocks from which to make huge zeitgeist-defining pop records – in the process, providing compelling evidence that pop is no longer the dirty word that it once was.
The overwhelming reaction to the first track they released, the Bieber-sampling leftfield house of Talk To You, showed that they had a project worth pursuing. There was but one catch: the two members of BLONDE hadn’t yet met. Manson left Leeds to visit Englefield in Bristol – ironically the city that he grew up in before leaving for university – where they met at the White Bear, a local bar linked to the city’s infamous Shit The Bed club night.
As BLONDE gathered pace, their music evolved in all directions – a little house, elements of R&B, an occasional garage influence and a whole lot more. As Englefield explains: “We wanted to do something more upbeat and happier but we didn’t really set out in any direction at all. We work at different tempos and in different time signatures. It’s pretty hard to pigeonhole us. Our music is more about the vibe rather than the genre and I think that’s true about a lot of acts right now.”
Since then, the duo’s focus has been on creating material for possible inclusion on their upcoming debut album. Mixing electronic genres at will, the material largely focuses on the changing fortunes of romantic relationships.
Around the core BLONDE duo, there’s a scene of recurring vocal talents at a similarly emergent level. There’s Hannah-Rei who Manson first noticed performing in a local bar; SonyATV songwriter Cass Lowe; Zak Abel, who recently signed to Atlantic; and Ryan Ashley who has joined the RMP roster alongside the likes of Disclosure and Jessie Ware. Ashley will feature on the next single, Foolish.