Devon Welsh’s Band Belave Beats Kings Of Leon To The Punch As “First Band To Release An Album As An NFT”
Right now, the music world is trying to figure out what to do with NFTs, the confusing and potentially extremely lucrative digital assets that have been taking off in popularity in recent weeks. NFTs — non-fungible tokens — are ways of holding things like music and art, rather than money, on the blockchain. Thus far, artists like Grimes, Yaeji, and Mura Masa have taken advantage. Yesterday, we published Arielle Gordon’s guide to the phenomenon and the reasons why it might not be such a good idea. As if on cue, yesterday Kings Of Leon also announced that their new album When You See Yourself would be the first ever by a band available via NFT. Devon Welsh wasn’t going to let that happen.
Welsh, the former Grimes collaborator and Majical Cloudz leader, has a new band called Belave. It’s a duo with Matthew E. Duffy, Welsh’s original Majical Cloudz bandmate. Duffy left Majical Cloudz in 2011, shortly after the release of the duo’s full-length debut. He was replaced by Matthew Otto, who was the other half of Majical Cloudz until the duo broke up in 2016. (Otto was later accused of sexual assault, and Welsh addressed those accusations during a Reddit AMA shortly thereafter.) In essence, then, Belave is a reunion of the original Majical Cloudz lineup, though the roles are different. In this band, Welsh does the instrumentation, and Duffy does the vocals.
Yesterday, Belave released their debut album Does the bird fly over your head?, an oblique and atmospheric thing that combines vaporous synthpop with spoken-word excursions. But the way that the group released the album is almost certain to overshadow the album itself. On Twitter, Welsh announced that the album’s release made Belave “The First Band To Release An Album As An NFT, beating Kings of Leon by a comfortable margin.” The album was minted as an NFT yesterday afternoon, and people can verify that on blockchain.
It seems like this whole thing is a deliberate and petty attempt to tweak Kings Of Leon, undercutting the monetary value of their release. It might also be an attempt to ensure that the entire idea of NFT is the domain of arty weirdos, not huge rock bands. At least, that’s what I’m getting from Welsh’s tweets.
(That last tweet linked to a since-deleted screenshot. It showed someone claiming to be a lawyer for King Of Leon reaching out “to discuss the recent dispute.”)
In any case, the Belave album is out in the world now, however you may wish to consume it. If you like, you can stream it on plain ol’ Bandcamp below.