|Photo by Jena Yannone|
It's not surprising that Mark Needham – known for his work with bands like Fleetwood Mac, Mt. Joy and The Killers – would want to produce the self-titled debut album of Nashville-based band Bluphoria.
The band's wildly energetic sound and soulful vocals of frontman Reign LaFreniere are bringing something new to the music scene. As part of a nationwide tour with singer/songwriter Noah Vonne, Bluphoria will perform Nov. 4 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago.
The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and general admission tickets are $15, available at ticketweb.com.
I had the chance to talk to LaFreniere about the album and upcoming show.
Q – Of course, your self-titled debut album was produced by Mark Needham, who has worked with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Mt. Joy, The Killers and The 1975. What do you think he brought to the table?
Mark had so much experience that was just super helpful for us when we went into the studio. He really just gave us the confidence to try everything.
That was just a big help with our process and just making the songs the best they could be.
Q – To have somebody who has been involved with so many notable bands, was that an honor to have him involved with this project?
Yeah. It was honestly surreal.
Getting to hear some of his stories as well, really just enriched our whole studio process and honestly made us feel pretty good about where we were. He told us about how The Killers were really new too when he worked with them.
Things like that really made us feel more confident about the album we were making.
Q – Did you have any specific goals when you sat down to make the album and did you accomplish them?
We wanted to make an album that was simultaneously dancy and a good road trip album and just something we could be completely proud of in the future as well.
I feel like we accomplished that. I feel like our songs are pretty strong and I'm proud of how they turned out.
Q – I know the band formed right before the start of the pandemic. That must have been pretty interesting.
The second the pandemic hit, we were able to sit down and really write songs and not necessarily write them for a crowd, but write them for ourselves. So the pandemic helped in that sense.
It did take away the live shows though, which was a bummer.
Q – I understand an intern from EDGEOUT Records was at one of your house shows which ultimately led to the band signing to EDGEOUT / UME / UMG in January of 2021.
Apparently he had been to a couple of our house shows. He reached out to me one night and that's how it started.
He explained that he loved the music and that it was perfect for this label. He offered a great opportunity that I don't regret.
Q – I know the band was formed in 2019 after you moved to Eugene, Oregon to study film at the University of Oregon. And I understand you met two of your current bandmates at the University of Oregon.
As far as not pursuing a career in film, was this a good backup plan?
I still love film and being in that world. Right now, I feel as though music is my calling at the moment.
And luckily, the two kind of go hand in hand. So I intend to explore that.
But yeah, I met two of my bandmates at the University of Oregon. Dani Janae lived in Oregon as well and she interviewed me for a podcast and that's actually how we met.
It's been great.
Q – I imagine the Nashville music scene is different than the scene in Oregon. What made you want to move to Nashville?
Well, we recorded our album here. And we met a lot of the community while we were out here and we just felt it was a great next step for our professional careers.
I wanted to be surrounded by musicians that inspire me. The industry is here and the local scene is here and there's not like this weird fight between the two of them.
They kind of go hand in hand. Everyone helps each other out.
It's just a very welcoming place. That's mainly why I came out here.
Q – Is it living up to what you envisioned as far as the music scene?
Yeah, definitely. One-hundred percent.
Q – I know that Bob Marley and Sam Cooke are a few of your musical influences. How did they influence your music?
I think a lot of their influence comes from just the tone and the timelessness of their music. I love that aspect about them.
And also just their life stories as well. It's inspiring in the sense that both those people went through so much and created such beautiful work.
Whenever I'm feeling down, I remember them and it drives me. There's a juxtaposition between the two.
Sam Cooke made the music that needed to be made at that time. And Bob Marley did the same, but with more political tinge than Sam did.
But there's still a level of defiance in Sam Cooke's work that is just inspiring. For the most part, he made the music that he wanted to make.
And I'm a big proponent of just writing what comes to your heart. That's what I find inspiring about those two guys.
Q – Do you think they continue to influence your music?
Definitely. I listen to both those guys every day, pretty much.
And I hope that someday I can write as well as Sam Cooke or Bob Marley. We'll see.
Q – I'm sure you've heard your vocals described as soulful. Is that how you view your vocals?
I'd say so. I feel like it just comes mostly from my background.
My mom is a great singer. She's got a very soulful voice.
I sang in church choirs back in the day and I've been listening to soul my whole life. So I just feel like it comes naturally.
Q – It is a timeless genre, maybe because of all the emotions that are expressed in soul music. It's so honest and true.
Q – There does seem like there is a meaning behind the band's name.
It's a juxtaposition, where the music itself sounds happy and upbeat, but the lyrics have a little tinge of sadness or vice versa. We kind of describe it as being depressed at a party.
Q – And as far as your guitar playing, it seems like you are influenced by Lenny Kravitz.
I'm very influenced by Hendrix and Lenny of course and Gary Clark Jr., that whole sector of guitar playing.
I like how messy it is and it translates soulfully. The same way I sing, I want to play as soulfully as possible.
Q – Would you like to tour with Gary Clark Jr. someday? That seems like that would be a good bill.
I would love to tour with that guy. He's great.
Q – Do you have any goals with this tour? What would you like to accomplish?
I just want to have a good time and get our name out there. I'm excited to be playing music as much as possible and hopefully get some notoriety so we can tour with Gary Clark Jr. or somebody like that.