PLAY THE KING
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” The Alchemist teaches. Taking it to heart, Blake Ian continues to follow his personal treasure by doing the things he loves most. He believes there is an unknown energy in the universe that manifests itself in various forms like music and art. He believes that sobriety and continued practice of transcendental meditation enable him to become a better vessel for that energy to come through.
The artist adds that he decided to let go of the goal of achieving commercial success through music. “Being disenchanted by where I saw the music industry had gone and was continuing to go, I decided music was going to be something I just did for the love of it,” he explains. He continues, amused, “ The irony is when I finally let go of the pressure of trying to prove quantifiable result from making music, that is exactly when opportunities started coming.”
And opportunities abound to keep Ian busy. 27 Productions, for example, has opened up unique opportunities to collaborate with other music artists he admires.
“27 productions was originally just a means to put out my own work. But after I put together my home studio after our tour, Chris Kearney asked me to produce an EP with him. I absolutely love his voice and the honesty he puts into his work.
Lee Diamond who played the single snare drum in Play the King really helped give it that sun sessions sound we were going for. For over a decade he has also been behind me on the drums in several of my bands and is one of the most talented musicians I know. It’s exciting that he allowed me to produce his work, especially since he has always been so capable of producing his own sounds.”
Calotype is the solo project of Larry Hess, the guitarist in Blake Ian’s first band when he was 13. Hess had already made four solo track demos back then and has since been a friend whom Ian also regards as a musical influence.
Another artist, Jake Incao is one he has known since they played in the same clubs in Long Island. “I got a call from Jake after he had overcome problems with addiction and had made some admirable changes in his life. He had a wonderful renewed energy for life and it all went right into the work.”
Having dealt with his own battle with addiction and fear, it was natural for him to find empathy, a quality he hopes would be among those that his songs offer. “I want my songs to be able to help. I want people to find assistance, compassion in them, to know that they are not the only ones suffering alone--just as I found comfort in learning that David Bowie had suffered with the same panic attacks that I had. It made me realize that you can have severe panic attacks and still become David Bowie.”
But what about Blake Ian’s fear? Has he finally conquered fear?
“The presence of fear in my life has been both crippling and empowering. At times I have been fascinated by it and, with the right perspective, have gotten much stronger because of it. I guess instinct tells us to turn from it, run from it or try to stop it. But only by facing the wind calmly (referring to Face The Wind, a song he released in 2011) with my feet planted firmly have I been able to reduce its ability to knock me off course.”
Today, Blake Ian continues to follow the road Dylan has paved. When asked if Bob Dylan or his style is as relevant as it once was, Ian says he believes his idol is an example of what was once that could be again. “The noise is certainly out there, opinions are being shouted over each other.” It is for this very reason he says that he is currently working on a tech start up called, “Tawkers.”
“It is a social conversation platform. My friend and co-founder Jordan Sudy and I were in one of our daily New York-San Francisco phone calls one evening when we started chatting about different ideas we had for apps. I mentioned wanting to be able to have AIM style chats with people, but have them be publicly visible. The idea was something that came about from iChat ‘convos’ I would have with people like my drummer Lee Diamond, who like me obsessed about film directors and music producers etc. I couldn't help but think that there were one-on-one text conversations going on all over the world that people would find interesting or from which they could learn.”
He suggested that people will always want to be heard, and it is important that they have “an outlet for the most thoughtful and relevant words to rise in volume.”
“A friend and mentor Bill Flanagan once said to me, the holy spirit shifts its location over time. Centuries ago it was in the Renaissance, decades ago it came in the form of rock and roll, and today it seems to be peeking its head out in Silicon Valley and Soho.” If that’s the case, could ‘Tawking’ be a new way of speaking in tongues?
But then perhaps the spirit or energy of the universe can already be found in the art of Blake Ian’s music. And if one listens closely enough, we might even learn its meaning.
Copies of the limited edition vinyl of Play The King, signed by the cover artist Peter Tunney, are on sale both at Tunney’s gallery at 73 Franklin Street in Soho, New York City or online at www.blakeian.com.
Photos courtesy of BLAKE IAN