Friday Nights at NGV: Interview with Blank Realm

We interviewed Blank Realm, who will be headlining Friday Nights at NGV on 8 April 2016.

Describe your sound in 5 words or less?
Romantic occult chaos

If your music was an artwork what would it look like?
Probably something like Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau, but with more pizza boxes lying around.

Do you have a favourite artist/artwork?
A favourite is hard but Louise Bourgeois, Mike Kelley, and Agnes Martin are some enduring obsessions.

What’s your favourite gig you have played to date?
There’s been a lot of good ones. Meredith Music Festival was pretty great, just because we always wanted to play there. We felt like we nailed it, which is rare, and the crowd was ready to party.

What inspires/influences your music the most?
Other music, the chaos of these times, books, films, art. Anything but our everyday lives, which are quite boring!

What song do you wish you wrote?
The Electrician by The Walker Brothers.

What part of making music excites you the most?
I think we all enjoy coming up with new music. The times when new ideas take shape. We like to change things up a lot. When we hit upon a new idea, or a new way of playing, that’s usually the most exciting time

What can someone expect from your live show?
Us sweating a lot, dancing, sometimes a conga line if things get really crazy.

Tell us about the last song or album you created?
Our last album was our first in a real studio. It was a great and luxurious time. We got to sit around and think about doing things like more than one vocal take or tuning the drums.

We’ve been pretty haphazard in the past and just recorded things at home, or in those dodgy rehearsal rooms where you have like 10 other bands playing. We felt like a proper band.

What is your favourite part of being involved in Friday Nights at NGV?
We are excited to play at the great NGV. It’s an iconic Australian place and one we’ve visited many times over the years. I always go there when I’m in Melbourne. It’s really hard to think of a better place to play to be honest.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei showcases over 300 artworks that explore the parallels and intersections between the practices of these two exemplary artists. Are you excited about the exhibition?
Most definitely! Warhol was a pretty influential artist for us. Particularly his films. Ai Weiwei is, of course, one of the most popular and politically significant artists of the modern age. I’m really keen to check it out. It’s an interesting, and pretty bold, concept for a major exhibition.

A large portion of the works included in the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition include political or social commentary. Have you been inspired to do this through your music?
Well, our latest rekkid is called ‘Illegals in Heaven’. That’s probably the most overtly political statement we’ve made. A lot of people might not think of us as a political band, but we definitely think of our music as a refusal of certain social orthodoxies.

Andy Warhol famously said: ‘Art is what you can get away with.’ How would you respond?
He has more quotable lines than just about anyone. I would agree that, for us, there is a bit of a feeling of getting away with it. We are constantly surprised that we are allowed to make records, tour all over the world and basically do whatever we want musically. We are really lucky. Getting away with it for sure.

Ai Weiwei once said: ‘A small act is worth a million thoughts.’ How would you respond?
I agree with that! You can have the greatest thoughts in the world, but until you actually do something about it, they are just thought. I’ve had a million ideas lost in the ether through laziness or just failure to act on them. I try not to do that anymore. If you feel like you’ve got something to say you’ve really gotta act on it now, see it through.

What else are you working on now? Or where are you next touring?
After we do the NGV show, we are going to take a bit of time and work on a new record. Maybe for the rest of the year even. We’ve worked pretty fast pumping out stuff for nearly a decade now. I feel like we’ll take our time a bit with the next one.