Sunday, October 14, 2012

Interview with Blake Runyon of New Mountain

L.A. based band New Mountain has released several EPs since 2010 and a stellar debut full-length entitled 'Under New Skies' dropped on September 13.

Frontman Blake Runyon's gorgeous vocals call to mind Ryan Adams, Jeff Buckley, and Thom Yorke, yet very much manage to stand out from these giants; no small accomplishment.

Q & A with Blake Runyon

The Nightfly:  You have a remarkable voice. How long have you been singing?
Blake:   Thank you!   I'm 25 and have been singing since I was kid in a church choir; it was then that I noticed I could stay on a certain pitch.  My first time up at the mic would be when I was 13 playing with my ska band The Scuba Kids who are still playing.

The Nightfly:   Who/what inspires you as a songwriter?
Blake:   Other musicians I feel musically in-tune with and the world around me.  What's not to write about in this crazy world of ours?

The Nightfly:   The categories listed on the New Mountain Bandcamp page are “alternative/city and color/ indie/acoustic/percussive/rock/singer-songwriter/strings/tribal."  Is it frustrating having to label your own music or is “checking boxes” simply a necessary aspect of marketing?
Blake:  From an artistic viewpoint it is a little annoying to label my music, but on the other hand Bandcamp rocks so hard that I just couldn't not do something they told me to do.

The Nightfly:   How did you meet your New Mountain bandmates keyboardist Matt Luker and percussionists Matt Fonda and Candice Harris?
Blake:   I met Matt Luker on Craigslist when my previous band 100ftSnowman needed a new keyboard player.   After 100ftSnowman I met Candice and Fonda through his new project Me and My Giant.  I loved their connection, and felt the need to invite them in on New Mountain.

The Nightfly:   New Mountain’s sound is distinct in part due to the absence of drums and the prominent role of the two percussionists.   Was this happenstance or decided on from day one?
Blake:   Percussion seemed like the easiest way to record the demos considering we had one good condenser mic.   The sound pretty much Instantly grew on me, and I decided to stay with the vibe.

The Nightfly: Scott Heath doesn't play in New Mountain, but he wrote the lyrics for “Carry” and "Judge Velocity.”   Is he a regular co-writer of yours?
Blake:   Scott is a close friend of mine who is a Drum and Bass DJ;  he goes under the name Selva Massive.   We write songs for fun, and it just so happened that the current lyrics he was working on at the time perfectly fit the vibe of my song ideas.

The Nightfly:   You play in several L.A. bands plus do solo gigs around town, and your New Mountain bandmates are members of other bands.  Is there a desire at this point to focus exclusively on New Mountain?
Blake: Yes, there is a desire on my part, but timing will have to come into play with everyone's schedules.   We play together when we can, and will probably start incorporating all of our projects into our current paths soon.

The Nightfly:   A video was made last year of New Mountain doing an excellent cover of Adele’s “Daydreamer”.   How did that come about?
Blake:   That video was made by the New Joint Collective headed by Chris Lee.   I chose the song because I kinda became obsessed with it at the time.  When Chris asked me to do a cover video I knew what song was probably going to be the choice.

The Nightfly:   Who did the very interesting art work featured on the New Mountain Bandcamp page?
Blake:  I've been searching for the artist myself, and I hope that he/she sees this interview so they know who to call for future arrangements.

The Nightfly:  What is the story behind the album title ‘Under New Skies’?
Blake:   The title of the album is a lyric from the song "New Mountain."   I thought that having a song, band name and album title revolve around themselves was a cool idea.

The Nightfly: Talk about each track on the "Under the Skies" album.

Track # 1, Siren Radio:  The song represents the intensity of living in the moment and the consequences that eventually catch up to us due to the natural dynamics of life.

Track # 2, New Mountain:  This is a story about a person deciding to take a new journey after a devastating change to their reality.   I felt this track was the perfect description for my situation at a certain time, representing the new musical journey I was about to take.
Track # 3, Carry:  The song is a plea for a family to get back together.

Track # 4, Ageless Things:  It's about my first love and the awareness I gained from moving on from such an intense experience.

Track # 5, Call on Me (The Taste of Armor):  I wrote this when a close friend of mine passed away.  I tried to tell myself in the song that no matter what happens in this life we are connected and that there is nothing to fear in death.

Track # 6,  Judge Velocity:  In life, chaos might seems to rule but its all relative, it just depends on how you perceive it.  Take that leap and don't be afraid to face the chaos called life.

Track # 7,  The Burn (In Your Eyes):  When I wrote these songs I was on the path of trying to heal myself from a previous traumatic event.  In short I wanted to go with the flow and conquer my fears.  Writing this song helped me realize the destination I was searching for.
Track # 8,  Of Space:  I took a trip to Joshua Tree one morning with a few friends, woke up earlier than everyone else, sat on top of a huge rock and experienced this overwhelming calm.  The song is an interpretation of that moment.
Track # 9,  Out of My Dreams:  This is about a girl that I've seen in my dreams come to life.  Some might experience a faceless lover in their dreams, but when that lover pops up the next day, a song has got to be written.
Track # 10,  The Origin:  It describes the seclusion I went into after losing a lover.  This track helped me take notice of my dark thoughts and turn them into an expression of myself.  To me, this song defined me as a solo artist.

Track # 11, a cover of Adele's "Daydreamer", is included in the full album download on New Mountain's Bandcamp page.