Now only on their second album, Paris-based ambient electronic dance music duo
The Blaze has had a meteoric rise, due in no small part to their cinema-inspired videos. With their harmonies and finely wrought house beats supporting serious social messages, they are the sound of these changing times
The world has been going through a transitional period, but for French ambient electro outfit The Blaze, consisting of cousin duo Guillaume and Jonathan Alric, it’s been business as usual. “Our lives remain the same,” they tell us. “We’re still doing the same thing, making music and videos, staying in our bubble as much as possible.”
The result of their work during the pandemic is now coming to fruition. 2023 marked the release of their second album, Jungle, featuring two singles – ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Eyes’ – which showcase slightly different sides of their musical identity. “These two singles represent different angles but come from the same creative process,” they say. “We choose our themes depending on what affects us, but we always evoke them in a very poetic way, never head-on.”
“In a way,” they continue, “‘Eyes’ talks about the lack of social connection people experienced because of the health crisis, while ‘Dreamer’ talks about migration and has much vaster emotions.” That’s how Jungle was developed; starting with emotion, they then made it more universal, always putting the human at the center.
They are reluctant to speak about any specific direction taken in the new album. “We’ve never set ourselves a goal to achieve,” they assert. “You could say that we’re always in transition, from one project to the next. The only motivation is to try to surprise ourselves, find new sounds, and get out of our comfort zone. There is no beginning or end. Just what we feel in the moment and trying to transcribe it artistically.”
The Blaze describes their creative process as intuitive. “You can spend hours exploring different styles and different sounds for no reason. Then at some point, the magic happens. It’s hard to explain, but the planets align, offering us something glaringly obvious. That’s when we know that we have a strong basic track. But we’ve never followed a particular path to get there, other than being patient and taking the time to try anything and everything.”
Behind the smooth surface of the music, their art is driven by social issues and, they stress, “something deeply human”. In addition to migration, which has already been mentioned above, they have also touched upon topics such as uprooting, grief, and social diversity. This is evident not only in their music videos but the feeling in their music and the way in which they approach their live shows. “We don’t put ourselves at the center of our work. Everything we do is turned towards the other. Like a humanist quest, devoid of any political stature.” In fact, something along those lines would probably be The Blaze’s manifesto.
The visual and sonic elements of The Blaze’s music go hand in hand. They describe it as “two idea bubbles which are constantly connected.” If you’re planning on catching The Blaze on their upcoming tour, you’re in for a treat. “The first thing we did for this album’s tour was to change the scenography,” they tell us. “That’s why we now have five independent screens on stage joined by suspension cables. We also wanted to make our live show more dance-oriented and deliver a much stronger energy. We came to this conclusion following our festival show experiences on our previous tour, and perhaps also the fact of having been cut off from the world for several months.”
The Blaze has previously named the video for ‘Pass This On’ by Swedish band The Knife as one of their favorites. In addition to Swedish culture, The Blaze also appreciates Swedish nature. “For the French, northern European countries like Sweden seem to us to be much bigger in terms of nature, with these huge lakes and forests as far as the eye can see. There’s the light too, not only are there the northern lights, but you have the longest golden hours in the world when you get closer to the solstices.” They mention that they are also fascinated by Swedish photography. “The film director Johan Renck’s work is amazing. His Chornobyl is an absolute masterpiece. The classic A Swedish Love Story by Roy Andersson is a must-see, too. And of course, you have your Swedish Roberto Benigni, the two-time winner of the Palme d’Or, Ruben Östlund.”
Guillaume and Jonathan are big cinéastes. “It’s always difficult to choose a particular film, but we often name The Tree of Life by Terrence Malik. Surely because he speaks in a very poetic, almost mystical way, about grief and the human condition. He also manipulates a very nostalgic emotion using flashbacks, placing one family’s story at the heart of the theme, whose points of view range from a baby being born to the Big Bang. From the use of the Steadicam to golden-hour lighting and the soundtrack, this film is full of elements and artistic choices that have inspired us a lot.”
Despite their fondness for photography and cinematic production, however, The Blaze are still struggling to get used to photo shoots. “To be honest, we’re not really into fashion that much,” they say. “We have a fairly simple style and have kept it the same for years. That said, we try to dress similarly on stage to be more visually coherent. So, when we arrive for a photo shoot – which isn’t something we do very often – the slightest detail seems so sophisticated, which was also the case with this shoot. We’re never very comfortable in front of a camera, but this time round, the photo shoot was very cool and there was a really good vibe with the team.”
The theme of this issue is ‘Transitive’, a term denoting a relation between a property and two elements. (As an example, in the sentence “The kids love rock’n’roll,” the verb love is transitive.) So, in artistic terms, it bears a resemblance to Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s stated intent: “The motif is something secondary; what I want to recreate is what lies between the motif and me.” Modern art is essentially transitive. The term ‘transitive’ also relates to transition – a step in the process before the end goal. In a sense, portraying an artist in an interview like this is an attempt to capture a transitive moment when a property (in this case the artist) is moving from element a (perhaps their past discography) to element b (their new album). This is certainly the case with The Blaze – always in transition, moving on to the next mystery.
Talents: The Blaze
Photography by Matthieu Belbreuve
Styling by Victorie Seveno
Words by Jonathan Södergren
Photo assistant Kevin Ramon
Stylist assistant Pauline LeLong
Make-up & hair by Émilie Plume
Production by Amal Jefjef & Carole Congos & Agency
1&2) Jonathan wears a leather shirt by Loewe and pants by Dickies. Guillaume wears jeans shirt by Loewe and jeans by Levis
3) Jonathan wears a Jacket and trousers by Arket. T-shirt by Dior Homme. Shoes by J. W. Weston.
Guillaume wears a jacket and T-shirt by Dior Men. Suit trousers by Cerruti 1881
4) Guillaume wears a suit jacket by Maison Margiela. Top and shoes by Dior Men. Trousers by Cerruti 1881. Jonathan wears a jumpsuit by Etudes Studio. Shoes by Asics
5) Guillaume wears jeans jacket and jeans by Kenzo. Shoes by Dior Men. Jonathan wears a T-shirt by Uniqlo. Jacket and trousers by J. Lindeberg. Shoes by J. W. Weston
6) Jonathan wears a leather shirt by Loewe and pants by Dickies. Guillaume wears jeans shirt by Loewe and jeans by Levis
7) Guillaume wears a shirt by Egon Lab. Jeans by Dickies. Jonathan wears a knit sweater by Paul Smith. Jeans By Levi’s
8) Guillaume wears a sweatshirt by Acne Studios. T-shirt by Dior Men. Jonathan wears a jacket by Acne Studios. T-shirt by Dior Men