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Jason Blake

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Jason Blake from 2021
MSJ:

I was just looking through our archives, and we have interviewed you twice as part of Aziola Cry, but it's been about 13 years since the last time. I'm sure quite a bit has happened then. Can you catch the readers up on some of the highlights of the world according to Jason Blake?

Since we last spoke, I would say that I have spent the majority of my time writing and recording. Aziola Cry recently released our new album, The Ironic Divide. I also recorded music for what will be an upcoming art installation entitled, “Mummy Forest.” I self-released an album entitled, The Darkness Found in Shadow based on the seven deadly sins. This led to me getting signed to Wayfarer Records and I recently released my first album for the label entitled, Fictional Mirrors. I also added to my Warr Guitar collection which has really opened up a lot of new sonic possibilities. The most recent addition was an Artisan style which is a semi hollow guitar. It has a great “acoustic” sound. I can’t stop playing that one and hope to put it on a recording sometime soon.
MSJ: As you just mentioned, you've recently released two solo albums, in addition to an album with Aziola Cry. What can you tell us about those albums?
The Aziola Cry album was a long time in the making. We had been working on that album on and off, but things kept getting in the way of us finishing it. Ultimately, I think that is was worth it because the end result is an album that I am very proud of. The band was signed to Sensory Records and we put The Ironic Divide out a few months ago. The two music videos from that album are a musical highlight for me. I really think that they turned out great.

 

The solo albums came about as a result of my love of writing and recording the Warr Guitar. Logistically speaking, Aziola Cry albums require a lot of time and energy to make them happen, whereas with my solo work, I can work on them as inspiration hits me. Sonically, they are very different, yet share some similarities. As for the two solo albums, the first one, The Darkness Found in Shadows stems from the ambient interludes that we used to use in Aziola Cry. That sound was heavily featured on the Ghost Conversations EP. Once I made the conscious decision to eliminate that from Aziola Cry to focus more on the metal side of the band, it left a void in my playing. I decided to create an album entirely based on that sound. Every sound on the album came from the Warr Guitar. After that recording was released, I signed a deal with Wayfarer Records and began working on what became my latest album entitled Fictional Mirrors. This album is the perfect mixture of all the styles of music that I enjoy. At its core, it is an ambient album, but it contains a lot of progressive rock elements. Again, the only instrument used was my Warr Guitar to create all of the sounds on the album. I released a video from that album and have a second one in the works. I love working with Jeremy Bessoff, the same person who did the animation for the Aziola Cry videos. This time, he took a very different approach and created something that goes perfectly with the music.

MSJ: How are your solo albums different from Aziola Cry albums?
My solo albums are truly just myself playing the Warr Guitar. As a result, all spaces are filled with my playing. Fictional Mirrors is what I think of as a progressive metal album if it was only one instrument playing all the songs. I enjoy the challenge of creating music with only one instrument. As a result, I am always tinkering around, trying to find cool sounds. That is not to say that I wouldn’t include other musicians in the future to create something under my name, but right now, I am enjoying the challenge of making something interesting to listen to that only contains Warr Guitar.
MSJ: How are they similar?
When Aziola Cry began, I tried to incorporate everything that I liked and wanted to play into that one band. That is why the first two albums contained elements of ambient music. In fact, Ghost Conversations was entirely me creating ambient music with a little guitar and drums towards the end. What I decided going into the recording of Aziola Cry’s The Ironic Divide was that I wanted a pure progressive metal album. With that in mind, I decided that it was time to branch the different styles into different projects. As a result, Aziola Cry became a concise progressive metal band and my solo material explored that more ambient and atmospheric sound.
MSJ: What does the process of doing a solo album allow you that a group album doesn't?
The actual process of writing the music is similar. What differs is the recording. With the band, it requires a lot of coordination with many rehearsals to get the music ready and ultimately, recording in a studio. With my solo stuff, it is much more relaxed as I record a lot of it in my home studio and over a much longer period of time. This allows me to create songs in a much different way and really take my time with each piece. I equate it to a painting. Over time, I continue to add more colors until I feel that it is complete. The process of mixing is similar between the two projects because I like to give the material over to someone who does that for a living.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
One review that stands out was where someone said that The Ironic Divide was the best instrumental music that they have ever heard. That was very kind and nice to hear.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I have been very prolific with my writing as of late. I have a solo Warr Guitar album that I plan to release early next year. I have also been writing new music for the next Aziola Cry record, as well as the follow up to Fictional Mirrors which will be released next summer.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I really like the last Lunatic Soul album. I can’t seem to stop playing that CD. Other than that, I typically listen to a lot of ambient music.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Lately, I have read a few on the effects of technology on our brains. I find the topic very interesting. I’m also reading a book by Dave Luxton, entitled “The Goldilocks’ Zone.” It is a sci-fi thriller.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
It has been a while. I guess that it would have to be Riverside. I really like their music. I really don’t go to see concerts as much as I used to anymore.
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
The first concert that I went to was Def Leppard at the Palais de Sport in Lyon, France. They had just released the Hysteria album, and so I got general admission floor tickets to the show. I was young, and it was my first concert so I was blown away by all the lasers and pyrotechnics. I also remember that McAuley Schenker Group opened for them.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I absolutely love pedals by Chase Bliss Audio. I own almost every pedal that they have created. They are so versatile and allow for a lot of creativity when it comes to sonic possibilities. Another piece of gear that I recently started using was the Fractal Axe-FX III. I was looking for a simplified version of all the sounds that I get with my analog pedals, and while it does not truly replace that sound, it somewhat simplifies my rig. I mainly use this for live settings, whereas I record with the pedals.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

I just want to thank everyone that has taken an interest in the music that I am making. I am humbled. I am really excited about getting out to play this music live and interacting with people. I’m also very excited about some of the new music that has been recorded and will be released soon. For more information, please visit https://www.jasonblakemusic.com and https://www.aziolacry.com. Thanks so much.

MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.
 
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