RELATIONSHIPS and the pain of being separated…
is a common source of inspiration for many songwriters. Blaise Pascal’s latest track, I Can’t Wait, looks at a long-distance love and the excitement of an impending meeting – seeing the girl after so long away. London-based Pascal is a Future-Soul artist who will soon be supporting Izzy Bizu: not bad for someone who is about to release their debut E.P. I Can’t Wait borrows a melodic hook from Billy Cobham’s Heather – used in the Hip-Hop classic 93 ‘til infinity by Souls of Mischief – and is out tomorrow. I was keen to see how Pascal was feeling ahead of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig on 15th February (supporting Izzy Bizu) and what other plans he has for this year. He talks about his dance background and why he is so keen to support fellow musicians.
Hey Blaise. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good. I’ve had a lovely week. After spending some time in ‘The Cave’ (studio) writing; it was my first time performing live with the Iluvlive house band at the Underbelly in Hoxton. Great vibe, great band! Really enjoyed myself.
For those new to your music can you introduce yourself, please?
I like to think that my songs are an invitation to lift one's spirits. I’m a big fan of following my heart and I like to speak of real issues that people endure collectively through our own individual experiences. I like to look for the common thread that runs through us all and speak of it.
I feel that when I write from a place of self, I will resonate with others better.
I like to work with my team as part of a collective as there is so much wisdom to be reaped - through my manager & label partner Steve Marshall (Canned Heat Records) and my talented producers Mushtaq and Jonny Mead. We cross-pollinate between styles such as Soul, Reggae and Hip-Hop (with an Electronic Future feel).
I Can’t Wait is your new single. It samples the melodic hook from Billy Cobham’s Heather (used in Soul of Mischief’s Soul classic, 93 ‘til infinity). What inspired you to mix those sounds and would you say you have an experimental approach to music?
Mushtaq (producer of the E.P.) has a fountain of knowledge and collectively we wanted to experiment and find our own way. We decided that an homage to oldskool Hip-Hop would be a cool thing to do - so Mushtaq re-played the Billy Cobham lick.
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Based around the idea of a long-distance relationship – being apart from your girlfriend but excited to see her – was it a difficult song to write? Do you source a lot of influence from love and its many different sides?
When I write it’s like therapy for me. It’s what keeps me sane. I’m all about love and appreciation and betterment. Manifesting these songs help me exercise out old facets of myself. The messages come from my mess - and examining the light and dark side of love as well as other things.
The single is from your forthcoming E.P. What can you tell us about it and the type of songs featured?
These songs are a window into where we were at the time we wrote it. It was during a time when I started to look at the world through new eyes and with new understanding. (I was) becoming more conscious of the bigger picture of man's true potential when we invest our energy into love and positivity. There seems to be many disconnected diseased minds, backwards peddling; using control and domination.
The E.P. exposes this negative behaviour and what happens when we choose to follow the love of going backwards instead of moving forwards with positivity - and transmuting fear into love.
On 15th February you’ll be supporting Izzy Bizu at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Have you met Izzy before and are you a fan of her music?
I haven’t met her before and ‘I Can’t Wait’ to! She seems so lovely and I’m loving her song White Tiger! Tune!
That gig must play large in your mind – an incredible space to perform in. How are you feeling about the performance and does it rank as the most exciting dates you will ever play?
I’m feeling really positive about the gig to come. I am really enjoying playing with the live band and want to make the most of it. You never know when the rollecoaster will stop so I’m going to hold on for as long as. Venue and crowd-wise this will be my most exciting gig to date for sure!
Before entering music, you graduated from Sylvia Young and were offered a scholarship at Rambert School of Contemporary Dance and Ballet. Is dance something you are still pursuing and how does that experience help with your songwriting and performances?
I am now totally immersed in music and do yoga regularly to keep my body and mind open and chilled out. The Dance exploration and experience I have had has been a massive part of my development for music too.
It has been so wonderful to express myself as a dancer and take the unique perspectives that I gained whilst choreographing and creating through a physical form.
Whereas now I let that same expression come through the timings, melodies and messages in my songs. The freakier I was as a dancer, the more vocabulary I gained as a musician - which gave me confidence to explore and search for more options and perspectives in my music. I am one, so both forms of expression feed each other. Having more self-awareness of how I share my energy has really helped my live aspect as well.
Whilst a dancer, and travelling on the road, you completed your debut album, Wild Life. How much of the album’s sound was dedicated to that itinerant nature and how to view the album looking back?
Wild Life was a wonderful project that I wanted to keep as live as possible. I had something to prove to myself.
The songs are like a collection of daydreams that felt very real to me. I assembled a team of seasoned session musicians and creatives/producers and it was made as a labour of love and not really considered for any bandwagon. It turned out to have proved to be a good springboard for me to be discovered by Canned Heat Records.
After the E.P. is released, what plans do you have for the rest of this year? Any plans to tour abroad or record another album?
Since the writing of the E.P., we have already completed writing an album's worth of demos. and are continuing to write and prepare for our live shows. My life is music: I’m just surfing the wave and hoping to reap what we sow.
You have a lot of faith and love for fellow musicians. In that spirit, you founded Acoustic Roots. Can you tell us a bit about that and how that is going at the moment?
Acoustic Roots was created by artists (and with guidance of other music industry expertise) and was supported by the local community to provide a platform for emerging artists. We got to enjoy many wonderful up-and-coming artists and had a lot of fun doing it. However, we are on pause now as it took a lot of time and energy to upkeep and I now want to channel all that energy solely into my career. I look forward to rebooting it at some point in the future.
If any musicians wanted to get involved with the project, how might they go about doing that?
Acoustic Roots is currently on pause. Always open to collaborations as sharing the love is the way forward. Come to a gig and say hello.
If you had to choose just one album that has been most inspiring to you (as a musician) which would you choose?
Jeff Buckley’s Grace. Awesome.
Are there any new artists, either locally or mainstream, you suggest we check out?
What advice would you provide any young songwriter coming through right now?
Spend time finding out who you are through your writing and trust that you are exercising your demons and slowly finding enlightenment through self-discovery.
Do it for the right reasons - like personal truths, observations that will bring a perspective that lift your own spirit, and in turn, the listener.
That’s what I’m into. Go within and follow your own intent and be brave. Love yourself and trust in something bigger than you - like nature or a higher purpose other than personal gain. Law of attraction will present you with opportunities. Stay open-minded, optimistic and stay present. Keep doing what you love with love and appreciation.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song (not yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Bobby Caldwell - What You Won't Do for Love
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