As the sounds of popular music become more streamlined and the lines of genre blur, it can be difficult for a band to carve out a niche, to find a musical identity. Listeners crave both uniqueness and familiarity as attention spans wane and the music market floods with cookie-cutter mediocrity. It’s refreshing to find a group of musicians who know who they are and what they are doing, that can bridge stylistic gaps, and play with intention and obvious skill. We caught up with one such band, Blame the Youth, to find out what makes them tick.
The diverse four-piece Charlotte, NC-based band describes their music as “bluesy-jazzy-weird shit.” Their sound is certainly difficult to define in a single word, joining alt-rock, funk, and soul into a powerful auditory experience. Their recent EP The Hourglass exudes both musical confidence and maturity, much more so than one would expect from a debut studio release. From the articulate, driving rhythm in Galaxy to the psychedelic guitar feel in 5th Street and the dynamic vocal display in Earworm, the six-song EP has elements to please any listener.
The band originated with singer/multi-instrumentalist Phoebe and drummer Kynadi. Originally a duo, the group expanded to include Alexa on lead guitar and Amber on bass/backing vocals. “I went to jam with them one day,” recalls Alexa, “little did I expect to become part of the band. A year later we found Amber. After that, we all felt like we had a special combination of members and were ready to make music together.” The group cites influences from across the board, including soul, funk, R&B, alternative, fusion, and even progressive metal. “We all have different personalities, but are still goofy and work well together,” says Alexa.
Blame the Youth’s creative process relies on all members of the group contributing. “No one person dictates how the song is formed. We all add our layers to create something that’s our own,” explains Phoebe. “Each of the songs on our EP were started by a different member of the band, and are distinctly unique in style according to each member.” The group feels that individuality is a strength and helps define their sound. “My favorite part is the different styles and points of view that we can give each other when we collaborate,” says Amber. “When we write, there’s a lot of conversation about how we can make parts better and what to add. It’s exciting writing together.”
Despite their refined style and comradery, the band is not without its challenges. “As an independent artist, it’s important to network and talk to people, but also knowing who to talk to,” explains Amber. “We spend a lot of time trying to put ourselves in spaces where there are people like us, who look like us and make music like us. Those types of people aren’t heavily represented in music. We are constantly talking to people and meeting people, sending music out, and making connections with others. We don’t want to just be a ‘Charlotte band.’” They also face the classic conundrum of limited resources, a struggle well-known by many budding artists. “Most of our efforts have been very much DIY. We don’t really have anyone in the industry guiding us,” claims Kynadi. “We’re always working hard to figure out our next move and how we can advance.”
Despite the rigors of the indie music game, Blame the Youth remains optimistic and hopes to spread their message. “We tend to stick to themes such as positivity and self-acceptance. We want our listeners to relate to our music. Most of our songs stem from real-life emotions and we try to transmit those feeling in our music,” says Kynadi. “We always want our listeners to feel welcomed, accepted, and free when they listen to our music.” Their attitude can be felt in the music, evoking a scope of emotions but never leaving the listener feeling low. “My goal is to touch as many people as we can with our music,” Phoebe explains. “The best feeling in the world is when someone feels and can truly relate to our music. It isn’t about the fame and fortune, but simply the music.”
As the band looks to the future, with a follow-up music video in the works planned for release later this year, they urge other artists to maintain their creative integrity. “Don’t let anyone compromise your individuality. There are going to be people that want you to look or act a certain way. You should always be your authentic self,” urges Phoebe. “If you stick to it and work hard, people will draw to it.” We are excited to see where the band will go in the future and look forward to their new music. You can find Blame the Youth on Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and at www.BlametheYouth.com.