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The Blueness

The Blueness

Monday 16th July, 2012 11:23AM

The Bluesness is the unmistakable project from Mëstar's John White. Named after a Mëstar album that never eventuated, The Blueness are about to release their debut album Ravendah Dream - a fantasy/sci-fi inspired collection of songs centered around casio keyboards. We caught up with John over email to find out how he got into music, the new album and touring America...

Hey, how’s it going?

Good thanks! Slept in a cave last night.

How did you first get into playing music?

I started playing rock music at high school with Stef Animal. At that time I got obsessed with playing 4 chord guitar riffs over and over. I've been playing those kinds of riffs ever since.

Who were some of your earlier influences?

The Labyrinth Soundtrack, Enya, Bailterspace, The Bats, Vangelis just to name a random few.

What do you listen to most these days?

All kinds of weird stuff. Lots of local jams on Lady Gray's computer. I collect my favourite albums on

Your earlier projects Mëstar and Cloudboy both released some fantastic music - what happened with them? Did you feel well supported by fans and the industry with these projects?

Thanks. I really enjoyed playing violin for the second half of Cloudboy's career. Demarnia's writing lots as usual in Christchurch. Craig's administrating an Arts venue in York, Johannes is playing in the Golden Awesome. Stef from Mëstar is the Golden Awesome singer. With Mëstar, I always felt supported by our audience because it was largely grown out of our own personal bubble. I was a bit shy to go touring overseas in those days so it's nice to have a new project to do that now.

How did The Blueness come into being and how does it relate musically to your previous work?

The Blueness was the name of the next Mëstar album. It was the sequel to "Shut the Squizwot Factories Down". It started in Wellington 5 years ago as an out-of-control shoegaze band. The new incarnation is based on Casio keyboards rather than guitars.

You have a new record on the way, Ravendah Dream, is it your first full length? What other releases do you have out?

Yes, this is the first full-length album. We self-released a couple of EPs, one in NZ and one in America but this album feels like a definitively new sound.

Tell us a bit about the writing and recording process of the new album…

So each song is based on a very simple Casio keyboard hook with Casio beats. Kristen then added her synths, Lucinda bass and Michael guitars. Lucinda came up with some nice new parts, also a song that we co-wrote. The album was recorded in my bedroom mostly directly into computer via a nice preamp. After some rough mixes, Michael applied post-production magic at Radio One.

Is there a particular theme or idea you’ve explored in Ravendah Dream?

In a way it's turned into a very bread and butter fantasy album. I don't mean any particular story - I'm talking about the general fantasy world which is shared by everyone: unicorns, wizards and such. The Blueness itself is a concept from Mëstar, it's the name of the expanding blue mass which is slowly devouring the world. This blue mass if magnified unveils the cityscape and construction of an expanding civilization. In the title song when I'm singing "We are the Blueness", I'm not singing about the band, I'm saying that we're people, similar to the people that make up the microscopic civilization that we know as The Blueness.

How would you compare Ravendah Dream to your past work as The Blueness and other projects?

Ravendah Dream is the first album of any project that is based around the Casio keyboard. Galaxy II, for instance,  is 15 years old and probably one of the first I wrote on a Casio.

The industry must have changed quite a bit since you first started releasing music – what are some of the positives and negatives in your opinion?

I'm not really bothered by the industry that much. I think it's great that everyone can stick their albums on bandcamp and if they're good people do listen to them. I still think there's a big place for labels, but if you really can't stop making music for the share sake of it, it's okay to operate in a non-industry fashion for your own happiness and well-being.

How do you find the Dunedin music scene these days?

Very busy. Lots of different factions, and overall more bands playing live than in past years.

You’ve done a bit of international touring, tell us about that – what have been some of your highlights?

It's mostly been trips to America. There's a certain side to America that I really love and I can't say it's that different from New Zealand. The highlights have always been meeting inspiring people. I also really enjoyed camping, Oregon's really nice. Olympia is like an American Dunedin.

The Blueness are off to the states again shortly -  tell us about this tour, how did you organise it and who will you be playing with?

Next month we're doing a tour of about 20 shows all around the country. The shows happened because of people I'd met from previous tours and also from helpful people on the interwebs. We're playing with a whole bunch of different bands.

You also have local tour dates coming up, tell us about that, who will be joining you?

Our guitarist Michael McLeod is having his band The Shifting Sands play for Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. In Dunedin Lady Gray from Mental Health Triangle's doing a set. In Christchurch Castlecliff Lights is opening and in Wellington DJ Contag.



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