Last weekend, James Blake performed a stripped-down set at FORM Arcosanti and played a cover of Frank Ocean’s penultimate Blonde track “Godspeed,” a song he helped put together. Just before his performance, The Fader sat down and talked with Blake about his recent high-profile collaborations with Ocean and Kendrick Lamar and about some upcoming new music of his own. As for the latter, Blake says that he’s planning on releasing some one-offs this summer (“I think I’ve probably got a few single tunes but I don’t know if they’re singles,” he says). And as for his work with Ocean, he had this to say:
[Frank]’s such an idiosyncratic. He’s so instantly recognizable. It’s not just his voice it’s turn of phrase. That’s just something remarkable that I have learned a lot from. […] We’re quite different in a lot of ways. But the songs that I’ve had input to on his record, I don’t really know in what part of the middle we met. He’s an anomaly, it’s quite hard to describe that relationship, so I’m not gonna try.
Blake co-produced Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. track “ELEMENT.” Here’s what he had to say about working with Kendrick and the rest of his collaborators:
Yeah, recently. I did send him a bunch of music and I was just hoping that he’d listen to it. I’d met him a few times before and they came to our show in L.A. We’d been in touch various times and he’d come to the studio and listen to stuff and we got on and I sent him some music while I was on the road when I was in Mexico. I got an email and he said, “Can you turn something in tonight?” I sent him a thing that I’d done and he took the chords and that became a part of “ELEMENT.”
I think that that was not the most organic way, sending music to someone by internet and it ends up in a tune but I just knew that I could trust them with my music because they have a flawless record of production, that unit that Kendrick works with. Sounwave and the rest have a really good understanding of how music works and I was really excited about to hear it. When that got sent back I was like, “Oh God. We should do this again.” We’ll see about the future but hopefully we’ll be able to sit down and piece things together. Either way actually, it’s something great and firm about that happening that way.
Blake’s most recent album is last year’s The Colour In Anything.