Saturday, November 13, 2010

Singer-songer Bleu makes album for himself after writing hits for others


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

After writing for the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Bleu, www.bleutopia.com, decided to make an album just for himself and his fans.

The appropriately named "Four," (it is his fourth solo album), was released this month on his own record label, The Major Label.

His fans are the reason the record is even seeing the light of day as they helped fund its release.

Bleu will perform Nov. 21 at the Mayne Stage, 1328 Morse Ave., Chicago, www.maynestage.com.

Also on the bill is Jim Bianco. The show starts at 8 p.m., and general admission tickets are $10, available through www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to Bleu about the new album, which includes a song dedicated to his native Boston.




Q - How was your song "B.O.S.T.O.N." received when you were in Boston this past week?

It seemed like some people kind of already knew it. I think people get a kick out of it. 

Q - What made you want to write the song?

It was just one of those things where I was kind of looking for new angles on old subjects. I knew I wanted to write something about how much I loved Boston, but I wanted to put a fresh angle on it.

For me, that was the fact that I wasn't actually born in Boston. I wasn't raised in Boston, and I also no longer  live there. But I still really love it.

I spent much of my life in Virginia. I moved to Boston when I was 17.

Q - I understand that you really set out to make an album just for you and your fans.

Because I'm writing for other artists and sort of doing Top 40 type of stuff, I feel like I don't have to try to do that in my own music, which is kind of liberating. I enjoy doing both.

Q - It seems like you've been in the news a lot lately. You were recently the guest editor for Magnet magazine, where you had the chance to name your favorite things.

That was really fun, actually. I had a good time going through that.

Q - I have to agree with you about the movie "Children of Men." That's a great movie. And Jellyfish you said was the best power-pop band ever.

Well, they're my favorite. 

Q - The fact that you were able to raise more than $30,000 in 20 days for this new record, was that unbelievable to you?

It was incredible. We ended up raising $40,000 in 45 days. It was absolutely mind boggling. I was completely blown away, just flabbergasted. I was nervous about just raising the $8,000, which was what we needed to make.

I had no idea that the supporters of my music out there were that supportive. It really came as a big surprise. It sort of changed my whole outlook on what I'm doing.

Q - Does that kind of vindicate what you are doing?

It was amazing. It obviously gave me a lot of ideas for the future of my career, to think that a small but very dedicated fan base might actually be willing to continue to support me making records and putting out music.

Q - How are the songs on the new album translating live?

Pretty good. I play with a duo. It's not always the big, lush arrangements from the record, but I hope the songs speak for themselves and people enjoy the new arrangements.

Some of the arrangements that we do live are very different than the record, sort of on purpose to give the live versions their own life. A couple of songs in particular, "B.O.S.T.O.N." and "Dead In The Morning," we sort of do like dance music. It's like a house party. We try to have fun with it, and mix it up.

Q - Do you think that the work you do with artists like the Jonas Brothers takes away from your solo work?

I think it's quite the opposite. I think it gives me the freedom to do whatever I want with my solo stuff.

I'm not worried about trying to write hits, because I'm sort of doing that in my other life. 

Q - And you would like to work with Britney Spears someday?

That would kind of be the ultimate for me. I actually pitched a ton of songs for the new Britney record, and I didn't get any obviously or I would be telling you about that and I would be incredibly rich.

I'm actually a huge Britney Spears fan and I'll probably pitch a bunch of songs for her next record too. I love her production and the songwriting.

I think a lot of people still think of her as "Hit Me Baby One More Time." But her last few efforts, to me anyway, I think are pretty adventurous in terms of subject matter, songwriting and production.

Q - Of course the music business continues to change. Would you have any advice for up and coming artists, what they should do or not do?

I think the core of it is just about being good, being a good musician and being true to yourself.

Hopefully, then the rest will come. It's not about gimmicks. Having longevity as an artist means being true to making your music, whatever that means to you.

Q - You released "Four" on your own label. Do you have any long term plans for the label? Would you like to sign other artists to the label?

I would never want to act as a traditional record label. But I would love to at some point release other records that don't have a voice, like in particular bands that don't function as bands anymore, but maybe made great records that nobody heard.

I don't want to get into actually being a label. But I would love to introduce wonderful projects to people that they would never hear otherwise.