Newfoundland based musicians Blue East share thoughts on faith, avoiding the pitfalls of genre and the ties of music
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Blue East have literally grown up together as musicians. Ties of home and faith have linked vocalist Robbie Lee, guitarists Hunter Madden and Bryan Abrahamse, drummer Caleb Pond, bassist Josh Holloway and keyboardist Jacob Riche.
Lee caught up with The Herald to talk the binding ties of music, spreading a message of love and faith through song, and avoiding the traps of being pigeonholed as artists.
Take me through the inception of the band. What was it that brought this project to fruition?
So we started a long time ago. Three of us have been playing together for let’s say seven or eight years now and then along the way some people have come in, some have left the band and then this group in particular with the six of us have been together just over two years now. So that just came from other people leaving the band and needing to fill them in. But also we’ve all just been really great friends our whole lives. So we all grew up together. And we’ve known each other forever. We all went to the same church growing up. So yeah it just kind of happened.
You guys have been quick to point out that your sound is ‘intentionally unclassified,’ kind of representing a wide range of styles to avoid falling into boxes?
We don’t want to be put into a box where it’s like oh they can only play a certain kind of gig or this kind of things. We play a lot of different styles of music.
Everything kind of has a underlying Newfoundland feel. I want to say like it’s very acoustic guitar driven and always has a good drum beat going. Everything kind of has the same basis to it, but even if the genres are different you can still kind of get that feel. I don’t want to be classified into a box as a specific genre or specific style. I think that we have more to offer than that and I think that’s important to us.
How important is the ties of spirituality and faith in your music? You guys have been adamant in not wanting to push an agenda or message onto your fans.
You hit the nail on the head there … Obviously with spirituality and growing up in a church and we all have a personal faith in the band and that all means different things for us, but we obviously don’t want to push that on other people. We want people to discover that on their own because we need to be organic in that way. We write songs which are kind of open ended and the lyrics can have multiple meaning on purpose. So using words like you and not really making it specific, but saying ‘you helped me’ it can be about a person, it can be about God. It can be about anything that you want when you listen to it. So we like giving people that option.
For the most part our songs are about Jesus and God, and love in general and just trying to spread that love. But not everyone has to take it that way. And that’s totally OK. And we’re totally open to that, for a number of reasons. We don’t want to force religion on anyone. And that’s not what we think that our music is about. We want it to be open and free and not put in another box where it’s just oh we can only play churches or we can only play at big worship conferences or something like that. So you know it’s very important to us that people can interpret our music the way that they want. We think that makes us unique as well, that everyone can get something out of it if you really listen. If you want to just listen for the music that’s fine too. You don’t even have to listen to the words.
We’re trying to reach an audience, and the biggest audience we can because it is tough to get by in the music world today. And so pigeonholing yourself is probably not the best option in terms of marketing in general.
Do you feel a contrast in audiences, between say playing at a YCNL event or church to something that is not strictly speaking billed as a faith based event?
There’s a different feeling and it’s not really about our music. When we play in those types of settings we just try and act as a conduit. We try and act as something to make it a little bit easier for people to connect with God because in today’s day and age it’s hard to focus on that. So we want to not make it about our music in those kind of things. We want to just provide that atmosphere where you know our lyrics can bring people closer and not impress on them.
We don’t need to be impressive in those settings. It’s more effective for us and it’s our mission when we play at those type of events to actually just bring people closer to God in their worship and make it easier for them to connect, to make it accessible, make God’s love accessible. Like I said being a conduit in that we take the love of God that we feel so strongly when we play and try and spread it around others and help them feel that. So it’s kind of like we’re trying to be that two-way piece of communication in our playing. It’s not about us. It’s about the audience and it’s about each and every individual audience member having that feeling of taking that closer step or taking that next step. Whatever each individual person needs, just being that bridge.
You guys released your debut album, On the Other Side last October. How active are you all in the creative process? Any idea on what kind of turnaround you’d like to have for material with your debut in the bag?
So we’re always trying to put out new music. It’s tough with all of our different schedules where we’re all doing different things in school.
So it’s tough to really maintain that. But we do keep up weekly practices, sometimes twice a week. But new music is always just running around in our heads. We just message each other and send different clips and stuff like that, so we’re hoping to put out something in the near future. No plans of it yet. We’re still trying to ride the coattails of this album we put out a couple of months ago. But yeah new music is on its way in terms of gigs.
For more on Blue East visit their official social medias and blueeast.ca