Blouse, a Band with a Dream-Pop Masterplan

Blouse photo by Jeff Luker

Blouse has always been a band with a plan. The group, which released its debut, self-titled album November 1st (stream it below), formed in Portland, Oregon in 2010 and knew right away what its end-goal was. “We were hanging out at the warehouse where we recorded a lot, and we had this plan of recording more songs and getting Captured Tracks to want to sign us,” admits frontwoman Charlie Hilton. And, after a brief, fortuitous flirtation with Sub Pop, who released the group’s “Shadow” single in May, the band got its wish. “We recorded four more songs within a couple of weeks and sent them out,” recalls Hilton. “They were like, ‘Yes, we want to sign you guys.’ So our plan worked.” It wasn’t all trickery, though: What Captured Tracks (Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing) got from the band were dreamy, atmospheric, electronica-tinged pop songs that could score a falling-in-love montage for any finer independent film and will probably soundtrack a good part of your coming winter.

It’s not too surprising that something so well constructed was the brainchild of a pair of art school students. “Patrick [Adams] and I met in an art class at Portland State University,” says Hilton. “We had both started the graphic design program at the same time and met on the first day of school and started talking.” The two began playing in her living room and when they had demos done, Adams shared them with his friend Jacob Portrait, the record producer and bassist for Unknown Moral Orchestra. When Portrait agreed that the pair was onto something, all three piled into a studio and recoded the songs that would end up their first two singles. “We jumped in the studio pretty quickly,” remembers Hilton. “We hadn’t ever played a show and we didn’t know what the project would be called yet. We went into the studio before we even knew what the songs should sound like.”

Rushing into recording was a formative experience for Blouse. “Definitely a big part of our sound is that we crashed a lot of the songs in the studio and the live version of the band was something we put together after recording,” says Hilton. “Basically we finished a couple of songs, decided on a band name and threw it on the Internet. Within a few days some blogs had picked it up somehow.” Within two months the band had offers from both Sub Pop and Captured Tracks and seemed on the road to buzz band stardom. Unfortunately, Portrait’s other group got there a bit before, and he had to take a leave of absence from Blouse to fulfill his UMO duties. Though Portrait will mix a cover of a song by the Wake that Blouse is doing for a split single with Craft Spells, the band is currently a four-piece with two musicians picked up in Portland. Undeterred, Blouse will hit the road to promote the new album and get some live shows under its relatively young belt. “We’re excited to tour the record and see how the early part of next year pans out,” says Hilton. “I think we’re going to play South by Southwest. We’d love to get back into the studio next year. Until then it depends on how the next few months go.” Considering how the past few have gone, it should be nothing short of impressive.

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