words Filipe Phitzgerard
Kris Platt and Daniel Morgan Ball, of Blue Americans, is the Belfast-based duo whose sound carries an immense amount of energy wherever it goes. They infuse the soundwaves with electricity and use their romantic, yet punchy, lyrics and soft vocals to deliver a combination of words, vocals, and sounds that just works. Platt and Ball write of the world around them; the things they see, hear and feel while creating an opportunity for whoever listens to their music to be immersed into their very own world - while still being able to dance like nobody is watching.
Their current project is the Sum Yen EP which includes four awesome tracks where the duo's musical identity and abilities are displayed in a candid and surreal way. Inspired by Bob Dylan, Prince and Nina Simone - among other 80's icons - Blue Americans is looking and reflecting at the times we live in. As artists, they see their responsibility in creating music that is not only suitable for the dance floor - whether in the club or your living room - but to translate what they see and experience in a sharable format that can reach anywhere and everywhere in the glove.
As Blue Americans release the full Sum Yen EP today, we had the chance to chat to Kris Platt about their coming together to form Blue Americans, their views of the world and creative inspirations, as well as what's next for them.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Starting from the beginning; how did you guys come together to form Blue Americans? When did that happen? Kris Platt: We were in a previous band together along with two other guys for 7 years. When that ended I moved to Paris. We started sending songs back and forth and realized that what we were making made sense as to what we wanted to say. I moved back to Belfast a year and a half later and started working on what Blue Americans is now.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Since you guys formed Blue American, can you tell us one of the most remarkable experience, or time, you guys had together as artists? Kris Platt: We’ve had a lot of love from Spotify which has been incredible but the most remarkable experience was when Chloë Grace Moretz put up one of our b-sides on her Instagram story. That was a surreal moment having all of our friends texting us saying, ‘Here, did you know the girl from Kick-Ass just shared your song?’
Filipe Phitzgerard: That sounds incredible. When it comes to inspiration; what would you say most influence you as artists? Kris Platt: The idea that someone from across the world that you will never meet might listen to your song and feel something profound.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Why “Blue Americans”? Kris Platt: Blue American Spirit Cigarettes. The strong ones.
Filipe Phitzgerard: What is your relationship with the American culture or the United States as a nation? Kris Platt: We’ve been to the States many times over the years. Both to play and to holiday. It’s a world on its own, that’s for sure. We love America, its music and its culture are fascinating. We don’t love its lack of civility in parts or the fact that it’s being governed by a child.
Filipe Phitzgerard: I can't disagree with that one. As an American, I feel for the way many things are being handled at the moment. So, you guys have this really cool identity that merges your musicality with fashion. What is your relationship with the fashion world? Kris Platt: Being able to wear a piece of clothing and feel good about yourself is not something to be underestimated. Whether it’s a white T-Shirt and jeans or a suit, clothes really do have the power to give us the confidence we so often lack as humans.
Filipe Phitzgerard: As a duo; how would you say you best complement each other? Kris Platt: We’ve been working together for so long that we basically have the same brain. It’s not often we have different opinions when it comes to music or what to do next. If our opinions do differ, we flip a coin. Those opinions are never that far apart to make either side of the coin on feel like a drastic decision.
Filipe Phitzgerard: That's a pretty simple yet effective way to resolve an impasse. When it comes to your sound, it is described as “left field pop”, and, with that in mind; what do you think are the main differences between the music you guys create and pop? Kris Platt: We like to make music that people can dance to, music that’s catchy. Our lyrics are where we differ from mainstream pop. They’re a bit more intricate than just exclaiming that we’ll be ‘forever young on the dance floor with the bass turned up loud’. Almost sure that’s a song that someone’s written.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Which artists or sounds influence you guys the most?
Kris Platt: We take influence from lots of genres but the era that seeps in most would be the 80’s. Artists like Prince, Bruce Hornsby, and The Blue Nile.
Filipe Phitzgerard: In very few words; what is music for you guys? Kris Platt: An escape, a revelation and at times a burden.
Filipe Phitzgerard: All of your tracks are infused with some sort of electricity that seems to flow through soundwaves; how would you describe this 'electricity' when it comes to your own music? Kris Platt: What a wonderful thing to hear. I guess we don’t really think about our own music in those terms. A song comes from what you’re feeling at the time, or when something moves you. We try not to question it in case we somehow manage to stop being able to pluck them out of the ether at any given moment. But we’ll take Electric as an adjective. Thank you!
Filipe Phitzgerard: You're welcome. [Smiles] Your brand new single “Sunchaser” sounds incredible. It's punchy, electric, and musically involving. Can you tell us a bit about the story behind it? Kris Platt: I’m a big Bob Dylan fan. I was listening to 'Times They Are A-Changin’ and was captivated by the fact that it could've been written today and it would still make sense. Sunchaser started there. A modern-day Times They Are A-Changin. At the same time I read a wonderful quote from Nina Simone, she said ‘How can an artist not reflect the times?’. It’s so true, it’s our job. To speak on what we see, what disturbs us, what makes our blood boil and what makes us hopeful. That is what Sunchaser is. It’s a song navigating through the grim parts of our planet and wondering if you’ll make it out alive.
Filipe Phitzgerard: We find it very refreshing when we listen to your songs; there is a mix of romanticism and punchy go-get-it mood to it. How does this combination of dynamo synths and romanticism happen for you guys?
Kris Platt: I’m a romantic and Danny loves synths. Truly a match made in heaven.
Filipe Phitzgerard: We know that 'Sunchaser' is one of the singles from your current EP – Sum Yen along with “Dumbo” and “Honey” (which are, by the way, incredible tracks). How is this project coming together creatively and musically? Are there more tracks to be added to it? Kris Platt: There are four tracks on Sum Yen. All of which was finished last year. We wrote them together with the intention of creating a world for people to dive into and get lost in. We’re hella proud and are now looking forward to moving on to the next project. And yes, there is one more song to be released very soon called "This Old Thing".
Filipe Phitzgerard: Is there a specific process or ritual you follow when creating new music? Kris Platt: Because there are only two of us it’s a much easier process than what it would be with three or four members. Danny will send me something he’s been working on, or I’ll send him a snippet of something I’ve been working on. We then get into our studio and finish it together.
Filipe Phitzgerard: What should we expect from Blue Americans this year?
Kris Platt: We will be playing in The Waiting Room in London on May 16th and Voodoo in Belfast on May 26th. We will be out on the road after summer along with a new release which we’re very excited to share.
Filipe Phitzgerard: That sounds awesome. Okay, let's do a quick fire round.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Best places you've ever been to. Kris Platt: New York and the Swiss Alps.
Filipe Phitzgerard: The sound that best describes your life right now. Kris Platt: 7:30 am iPhone alarm.
Filipe Phitzgerard: A colour that describes the sound you create. Kris Platt: Blue.
Filipe Phitzgerard: A dream stage to play on. Kris Platt: Brixton Academy
Filipe Phitzgerard: Top three musical influences. Kris Platt: Tom Waits, The National, and Phil Collins.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Favourite movie of all times. Kris Platt: Pan’s Labyrinth.
Filipe Phitzgerard: An icon. Kris Platt: Elvis Presley.
Filipe Phitzgerard: If Sunchaser was selected as a movie score what kind of character would it be the theme song for? Kris Platt: Someone who’s really mad all of their life until they’re on their death bed and they look back and say, ‘Know what? I guess it wasn’t that bad!’
Filipe Phitzgerard: Who do you see playing that character? Kris Platt: Jack Nicholson.
Filipe Phitzgerard: Favourite F-Word. Kris Platt: Facetious.
For tour dates and more info on Blue Americans visit their official website.