Hailing from all corners of the globe, Berlin based band Ballet School are the epitome of relaxed-cool. We whisked Irish lead singer Rosie Blair high up into the NYC skyline, to the top of the Hotel on Rivington last week during CMJ, to talk about Ballet School’s debut album The Dew Lasts An Hour, the artistic movement in Berlin and her love for live music venues.
Congratulations on the debut album! How has the reception been so far?
Well it seems to be pretty positive! But you know I haven’t been reading any press or reviews or anything… I just can’t read anything! It really is true that you have those feelings of detachment, where I feel like it belongs to the people now, and I just have to let it be with the people and move on. We sat on it for so long, and I’ve gone through quite the emotional journey with the album, it’s almost like being a kid and having all those growing pains, and then flying the coup.
For people who haven’t heard the album yet, can you tell us what to expect from it, and why they should love it?
Well I hope they hear it as a pop record that’s got a new edge; hopefully they’ll think the writing is good and the songs are catchy! The songs are definitely all written so people will think ‘ooh this is my jam’, a no-filler album. That’s my hope anyway. You write and write and write, but one of the advantages of releasing a debut record is that you write for aaages, and end up with a lot of songs to choose from.
You guys reference the Cocteau Twins, Madonna and The Cure as your initial musical influences; are there are any bands currently that inspire you?
It’s so hard to choose, because I’m like a little baby with a wide sensory palette; every single song, or artist I hear I think “ooh, who are they? What’s their story”. I really like Tenasha at the moment, I found her on Youtube and thought wow, she is really R&B circa 2005 which I really liked. I really like KAYTRANADA; he’s a really excellent producer, and I’m a big fan of a lot alternative pop artists like Kindness, Dev Hynes [Blood Orange], Chvrches, and Charlie XCX too, I’m really interested in how she works especially because she writes so many songs for such great artists.
You all met in Berlin…What is it about that city that brings people together + helped you bond as a band?
I think we really ended up living there because of the resources. I think Berlin is a really great example of the new model for bands; we aren’t like Oasis, we didn’t grow up together, we’re all from different countries and I think that’s happening more and more; it’s more indicative of the modern context where people can connect online and want to make music together, and Berlin is a great place to live. Plus it’s really cheap to live.
What is the scene like in Berlin at the moment? Where are the best areas to hang out, where are there lots of bars and other fun things popping up?
Spittelmarkt is popping up pretty quickly; it was an area that was derelict for a long time, but now a lot of start ups and bars are moving in. Our friend recently opened up a new space in Spittelmarkt called ‘Consulat’ in an old Consulate building with a theatre, which he let us rehearse in for this tour. That’s what’s cool about Berlin, it’s about finding a space that you can really take advantage of. Berlin isn’t like the density you see in New York; it’s sprawling. Imagine if these high-rise buildings in New York were more spread out, and were derelict, that’s what Berlin would be like. You might walk from one club to another in Berlin, and it would take 90 minutes and you’d think nothing of it. In Berlin, you have these anomalies, commercial buildings that people will take over, but all for different life spans, they might pop up for 6 months and then be gone.
I’ve heard you particularly love the live scene in preference of digitally produced music and you’re playing at some iconic New York venues on this tour… Are there any live venues you’ve really enjoyed playing?
We’re really honored to be playing at Glasslands in Brooklyn since it’s closing at the end of the year, so that’s a very big deal for us to be playing there. What made Glasslands so great is not the actual building itself, but the community around it. That can happen anywhere, anytime; finding a community of people so willing to support each other and each others shows.
I haven’t had the privilege of playing at too many clubs where the sound has been spot on, but few do stand out: our set at Panorama Bar at Berghain in Berlin with The New Pornographers was really excellent, and also [Le] Botanique in Brussels – the sound was incred-i-ble. Paradiso as well, which is truly iconic, but the sound there is really awesome. Those technical aspects really make the best shows, but also the shows where its just your mates all messing around and sharing a passion.
At Supper we like to highlight places with great vibes; we mainly love to hang out at places that play awesome music or just have general good vibes. Where are those places for you?
It’s hard in Berlin, because there are so many iconic places, but they just have such a short life span; they pop up and then 6 months later, they’re gone. Really dirty, dingey places like Urban Spree are good; and places in general that are run by artists and friends. Louis’s girlfriend actually runs this great space called Team Titanic which is really fun.
– Leilani for Supper