Get to know singer, songwriter and producer Jerome Blazé following the release of his dreamy new single 'Paddington 2'.
Eora/Sydney-based artist, songwriter and producer Jerome Blazé recently shared Paddington 2, the second side from his Double A-side release DAWN.
Picking up where the sunlit morning of Waking Up took off, Paddington 2 is a beautifully soft expression of optimism and childlike wonder and a continuation of the core spirit of community that runs through Jerome Blazé’s work.
DAWN marks Blazé’s first release since his acclaimed debut album Giver (2022), and he's also a widely-loved producer in his own right, with his credits including Nick Ward, Odette, Thandi Phoenix and Paul Mac.
Imagined as a series of hopeful vignettes to capture the energy of the much-loved Paddington 2 film, Paddington 2 sees Blazé joined by a golden-hazed chorus courtesy of Sarah Levins, Krisha Umali, Chris Lanzon, Ned Olive and Ebony Tait.
Notably, the song’s rhythmic backbone comes not from Pete Longhurst's free-form, shape-shifting drums (which were the first laid down for the track - a new approach for Blazé), but from Blazé’s piano, which intermingles expertly with guitars, synths, violins and rough, quirky cello played by James Tarbotton. The composition edges on reaching full-blown chaos, but instead ends in warm-hearted comfort: “I breathe you”.
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As well as its titular inspiration, Paddington 2 references one of Jerome Blazé’s favourite songwriters, Laura Marling, whose track Once I Was An Eagle functions as his alarm every morning, inspiring the line: "Wake to Once I Was an Eagle".
It's also a subtle hark back to DAWN's first cut Waking Up - a similarly collaborative effort that was also produced and mixed by Blazé with mastering from GRAMMY-nominated, ARIA-winning producer Andrei Eremin.
Of ‘Paddington 2’, Jerome Blazé says: “When setting out to write the next era of music one of my main objectives was to capture the energy of the second Paddington Bear movie."
"This song felt the most Paddington so far. While writing it, I knew the chorus had to have more than just me singing on it - it felt too external to have only me singing. So I asked my friends to help me out."
He added, "They’re some of the best vocalists I know, and each voice brought something new and surprising to the track. I was expecting James Tarbotton just to bring his violin, but he also showed up with a child-size cello. He’s not a cellist, but his janky, out-of-tune playing had so much character that I had to use it.”
And if you're keen to check out the singer IRL, he'll be performing for Season IX on August 22 at Phoenix Central Park (you can find out more about his performance here.)
To celebrate the release of Paddington 2, we had a chat with Jerome Blazé to find out everything you need to know about the Southern Highlands singer/songwriter and producer.
You've just dropped your latest new music Paddington 2, can you give us a bit of a rundown about the track and what inspired it?
This song came out very easily. I did a writing trip at the beginning of the year with my friend Chris Lanzon and it got me thinking about how certain lyrics can frame things in a way that makes the everyday seem extraordinary.
It’s an idea that I was already thinking about, but off the back of that trip, I found myself noting down lots of lyric ‘seeds’ that were just observations from my day-to-day life.
When I sat down at the piano with those main chords, I scrolled back through all the seeds and just put them side by side - with that, the song formed itself! It came to be about observing the world and others around you and the world observing back.
It wasn’t until later on that I realised the song was doing something I had been reaching for since I started this new era of music - capturing the wholesomeness/ lightness of the second Paddington Bear movie (one of my favourite movies).
Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your own sound and style?
Bon Iver jumps to mind first. Maybe not as much in my newer music, but it was such an influential album for me.
The production on that album is just so unapologetically dense and colourful - such a great balance between experimental and having a strong through-line with Justin Vernon’s voice.
The producer Inflo has been a recent obsession of the last few years - his work with Little Simz, Michael Kiwanuka, Cleo Sol and his own project SAULT is all outstanding.
I’ve been leaning into more soulful, groove-based influences with the new stuff (something I maybe pushed away for a while), and Inflo has been a big North star on that end of things.
I’ve been on a bit of a Four Tet bender of late too. I love his music, but the creative mindset he radiates in the very limited interviews he’s done has been really inspiring. He just seems to have found this really productive, sustainable way of making music that has lead him to have such a long-lasting career. Listen to the Tiga podcast with him - it’s a game-changer!
If your music was a flavour, what would it taste like?
Mmm probably a nourishing Ottolenghi dish - one without too many steps or ingredients.
What’s been the biggest moment in your career so far?
Selling out my album launch at The Vanguard last year was very special. It was just such a warm, celebratory vibe in the room - one I’ll never forget. Outside of my music, I play keyboard in Ngaiire’s band.
Playing in the Opera House forecourt alongside the SSO at the end of last year was a very epic one.
What's the most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration you've drawn from when writing a song?
I mean the Paddington movie seems like an apt one… The title track from my album Giver samples the boygenius' tiny desk show, but played through my laptop speakers which at the time were doing this weird stutter-y glitch.
The backbone of that song is a collage of that, a voice memo of some windchimes from home, a vocal chop of my friend Ivy-Jane Browne and some cello I recorded years ago.
I love ‘collaging’ random sounds from disparate sources into one big soup. It’s like cooking with your eyes closed; sometimes you’ll make a bad soup and accidentally cut off your finger, but on the odd occasion the soup is actually pretty yum. Waking Up is another good example of a yum soup.
Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?
We’re talking real early here, but I only recently remembered DJing a weeknight evening at the new frozen yoghurt place in Bowral where I grew up.
I was probably in year 9 and I brought out my little Numark DJ controller and blasted High Street Arcade with the most abrasive electronic music I could find. Nero - Doomsday was the vibe. I don’t think my smattering of friends knew what hit them on that cold Southern Highlands evening. Nor did the owners of the frozen yoghurt place, who regrettably never asked me back (no regrets though).
What are the top three tracks or artists you’re vibing on rn?
Biased but Sarah Levins - Butterfly is a total banger. No one else in the Aus alt-folk zone doing it like her at the moment - soaring vocals meets multi-phased, unfurling songs meets deeply moving and mature songwriting.
The new Billie Marten album is absolutely stunning. Minimal yet layered, warm and live production that captures so much energy. Gorgeous, simple yet profound songwriting too.
Hugo Van Buuren is a new Australian discovery. I found out about him through my friend Theo Carbo who mixed his record. Hugo's debut is just so high quality for a debut - such a beautiful blend of explorative chords, intimate songwriting, great grooves and deeply expressive textures.
What’s something that fans not might know about you?
I’m not sure if I’ve kept this a particularly good secret but I love cooking. I’m also addicted to Zelda at the moment.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I’m so impatient - not sure if I’d be able to listen to anything for the rest of my life. Is that taking the question too literally? Ok, maybe Tourist - Everyday then.
What's in the works for you in 2023?
Planning to release some more singles towards the end of the year. I’ve got an exciting TBA headline show coming in a few months, as well as another communal show towards the end of the year which I’ll share more news about soon.
I also want to DJ a bit more because it’s really fun (no frozen yoghurt gigs though pls). Just excited to keep music coming out more consistently - it’s my forever journey to just continue finding ways to keep inspired, playful and joyous. All the rest flows from that!