Shortly after releasing their first EP last November (the excellently moody Dark Roots), Cari Rae and Jordy Asher — better known as Blonds — packed up their stuff and moved from south Florida to New York City to record an album with Rare Book Room producer Nicholas Vernhes and basically start a new life for themselves. Last week we premiered “Run” — the first single from their forthcoming long-player The Bad Ones — and I recently had a chance to chat with the duo about their tumultuous/exciting/bizarro experience of dropping everything and moving across the country to chase after their rock and roll dreams.
STEREOGUM: Where was your album recorded?
JORDY: It was recorded in New York at Rare Book Room Studios with Nicholas Vernes. We wrote most of the record in south Florida when we were still living there. Most of the songs that ended up on the album were fleshed out down there. When we got in touch with Nico he really loved certain aspects of the songs and felt like we should bring a different aspect to what we were doing and fine tune and hone in on it. We took that as a nice compliment.
STEREOGUM: How long was the process?
JORDY: We started writing immediately after the EP.
CARI: We pretty much wrote the whole thing in December.
STEREOGUM: How was the experience of moving to New York and immediately recording the album?
JORDY: I think it was a positive thing to have in your mind for the first time when you’re to a city like New York. The first thing you’re doing is recording an album with a really amazing person. That was part of what made moving here so comfortable. We had talked to a lot of people beforehand interested in doing our album and we were really at a crossroads and we decided on Nicholas because of his body of work. Cari said that she knew he was the guy to go with after five minutes of talking to him. It was apparent from the beginning that it was meant to be.
STEREOGUM: The record sounds really beautiful, but still a bit rough around the edges.
JORDY: Yes, that’s because the whole thing with Nicholas there were certain sounds I was making the demos in Florida that he wanted to keep in because they were so unique and characteristic of what we do. I was convinced that he would want to change everything, but he wanted to keep a lot of the stuff we’d done on our own. It gave it a quality and character that was rough and balanced out some of the polished sounds that he brought to the album later on.
STEREOGUM: When did the band start?
JORDY: It started when we wrote that EP. That was the first time we wrote songs together. It was a really amazing and humbling reaction that we got. We thought it was going to be a bedroom project, that we’d just make a few songs and show it to our friends and that would be it, but the reaction was so nice — and so humbling — that we decided to keep going.
CARI: That was back in December … so this is really a six month old baby.
STEREOGUM: That’s amazing. You would never guess that listening to the record…and that puts a whole new spin on this story. Had you both been in other bands previous to this?
CARI: No, I’ve never done anything music-related before this. Jordan just really likes the sound of my voice and I love his production and his brain … so we just thought, why not?
STEREOGUM: There is a very noir-ish, romantic vibe to the record. It’s obviously the product of an intense partnership.
CARI: It definitely is. That’s probably the ace up our sleeve, our relationship. Every day in our life is like a holiday since we just love each other so much … it’s disgusting.
JORDY: The positive aspects of our relationship definitely bleeds into everything that we do. We don’t have to force or try to do something when we’re not feeling it. If we’re not in a good mood it’s just not going to happen. It really is almost like method acting — where we have to write about what we’re doing to truly believe it. The same goes with our performances.
STEREOGUM: What is the live setup now?
CARI: We’ve been playing some shows in New York. Our live setup right now is a four piece, it’s Jordan and I and a drummer with a keyboardist and bassist. We have some samples that are kind of hard to translate live so we’re just using a sampler right now. So basically him and I do lead vocals and he plays guitar. I’m a really emotional singer so if I’m having a bad day we know to record tomorrow instead.
JORDY: On the live show front, there’s a lot of layered guitars on the albums and the way that we’re reproducing that sound live is I’m running my equipment through multiple amps all having multiple effects on them so it sounds like more than one instrument while playing in unison. I want to make a bigger and more lush sound without having to put more people onstage.
STEREOGUM: How did you find the other players?
JORDY: The drummer, Tim, is a very close friend of mine. He played on the album on a few tracks and the keyboardist is a friend of his. We met him after we moved here.
STEREOGUM: Did the experience of pulling up roots and moving to a new city somehow bleed into the record?
JORDY: Yes, for sure. The final track on the album, “Locomotion,” was really frantic when we did it on the demo and Cari hated it because it was just the immature way to get that song across. When we got to the studio we wanted to leave it off the album and Nicholas was really insistent about giving that song some time to completely change it. He said to completely rip the spine out of it and see where we could take it. After doing that it ended up becoming one of our favorite songs on the album. The mood of that song would not have existed had we not moved here … so much of that experience really affected the vibe of the record.
STEREOGUM: Do you know when the album comes out?
JORDY: August. We’re kind of looking to do it on our own. We’ve talked to a few labels but it just hasn’t been anything that seems to be too serious and at the stage we’re at right now we figure we might keep doing it ourselves to see how far we can get.
STEREOGUM: Do you have day jobs? New York is so expensive for bands, how have you managed to survive these past few month?
CARI: We both have day jobs and got really lucky finding them. I just walked into a store that I liked and asked if they were hiring and they gave me a job a week later. People tell me that things like that don’t really happen here very often. Jordy has actually gotten two jobs since we’ve been here. Making this record, living in New York City … it’s all still really new and exciting for us. We’re so excited about the upcoming album, we have to stay busy so we don’t go crazy. So we can actually pay our rent here.
The Bad Ones is out 8/7. Blonds have been added to our Northside showcase on Saturday 6/16 at Cameo. Details here.