Long before anyone knew that 2020 would change everyone’s lives, organist/multi-instrumentalist Wil Blades was planning to make this year one of new beginnings. He had just moved from his longtime San Francisco Bay Area home to Los Angeles, where he planned to forge closer ties with longtime collaborators and take advantage of the City of Angels’ new creative pathways.
When the pandemic hit and the touring market collapsed, Blades turned his sights inward, attempting to make a record fit for these unusual times—and necessarily dictated by his quarantined reality. The resulting EP, Kaleidoscope People, is due out on digital platforms on Friday, December 18th.
“I needed to make music somehow,” Blades explains. “I understood early on in the pandemic that this was going to last a while. It would have been easy to give up and just watch TV or focus on practicing, but I realized that in order for me to be sane I would have to keep working.”
Though he is renowned for his abilities on the Hammond B-3 organ, Blades grew up playing drums and guitar. Both his diverse musical background and his new, pandemic-altered living situation played a role in the direction of Kaleidoscope People. “I have neighbors upstairs now, so I don’t have free rein to just play whenever I want like I did at our old house,” Blades laments. “A major part of this project has been figuring out a way to make music late at night on headphones. It wasn’t a conscious move away from the organ so much as needing to make music somehow under less than ideal conditions.”
As such, the five-track collection of dream-like slow jams is based around a combination of analog synths and guitars, which were recorded “at home, late at night” with programmed drums (later replaced with live drum parts captured at a local practice space). Blades even added some personal, local color to the record, from the chirping of crickets outside his home to the wail of sirens during the summer’s many protests. All of these touches gave the album a relaxing, personal feel for its creator.
“I don’t generally listen to my own music,” Blades admits. “It’s uncomfortable, like hearing your own voice on an answering machine. But Kaleidoscope People was so therapeutic for me that I ended up listening to it a lot.”
The EP’s opening track, “Second Rate”, was written by Blades on guitar while watching a vintage NBA game. Its wide-eyed groove reflects the inspiration Blades derives from his sports heroes. As Wil explains, “Basketball players have the ability and mental attitude to always work through hard problems. That’s been really inspiring to me, not just during the pandemic but as a musician in general. Musicians constantly put themselves in vulnerable positions, releasing very personal music that is bound to get criticized and picked apart.”
Today, Live For Live Music is thrilled to premiere “Second Rate” as the first single off of Wil Blades‘ forthcoming Kaleidoscope People EP. Listen to the track below. Pre-order Kaleidoscope People ahead of the EP’s official 12/18 release here.
Wil Blades – “Second Rate”