Welcome to our interview with Blake Strange, a rising star in the techno scene. Today, we dive into his creative process, influences, and his latest album, “Alter Ego.”
Blake Strange, a Sydney native, has been immersing himself in the innovative style of techno, which has brought him immense exhilaration.
Despite the setbacks caused by lockout laws and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sydney’s music scene is making a major comeback, with Sutra Sunrise as the ultimate party hotspot featuring a rooftop dancefloor experience while watching the sunrise.
Blake’s average day revolves around a mix of exercise, meditation, and a café-style breakfast before diving into his studio, where he lets his creative juices flow.
Inspired by European DJ/producers and the vibrant rave scene in Sydney, Blake’s music has been shaped by their mind-blowing productions and unforgettable performances.
His latest track, “Nightcrawler,” emerged from a spontaneous collaboration and captures the essence of nocturnal exploration. Blake’s journey has led him to collaborate with renowned artists and release his album on the esteemed Jannowitz Records.
With each project, Blake’s artistic vision has taken a darker turn, focusing on surprising the audience and telling a captivating story through his tracks.
Through key production techniques and elements, he creates a distinctive atmosphere and energy, evoking specific feelings and moments. Blake’s music is a reflection of his immersive experiences and aims to capture and unleash the raw emotions he encounters.
Join us as we delve deeper into Blake’s world of techno and discover the passion that drives his musical journey.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Blake: Hey guys! So, today I’ve been holed up in my studio, jamming out and working on this fresh track.
Lately, I’ve been deeply immersed in exploring an innovative style of techno, which has been incredibly exhilarating.
Happy: home, and what’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
Blake: Sydney is my home, the music scene is good if you know where to look.
Admittedly, it took a hit from those pesky lock out laws and then the whole COVID situation, but hey, it’s making a major comeback now.
Currently, the ultimate party hotspot for me, both as a DJ and a dancer, is none other than Sutra Sunrise.
They came up with this brilliant concept of adding a dancefloor on the upstairs balcony, giving us Sydney’s freshest rooftop dancefloor experience while watching the sunrise.
Happy: Tell us about your average day.
Blake: I usually roll out of bed at a decent hour, kickstart my day with a mix of exercise, meditation, and a delightful café-style breakfast. Which consists of, poached eggs, veggies, and smashed avo on sourdough.
It’s the ultimate motivation to get up and get going, along with a coffee. Once I’m fueled up, I head straight to the studio.
Depending on where my creative juices are flowing, I’ll either wrap up a previous track or dive headfirst into a brand new one.
I keep this rhythm up until lunchtime, and then it’s time to tackle some administrative tasks. Mornings are when my imagination is in full swing, so I let my right brain take the lead.
As the day progresses, I rely on the left side of my brain to handle the nitty-gritty details.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Blake: If I had the perfect day, it would be just as I mentioned earlier, except without the admin tasks.
I’ve always fantasized about having someone to handle all that stuff for me, so I can fully immerse myself in the music.
Then spending the entire afternoon in the studio, dancing my heart out to a loop I’ve just created.
Those moments are pure magic to me. When I find myself moving and grooving like nobody’s watching, I know the track has serious potential.
It’s moments like these that make me truly come alive.
Happy: Tell us about your creative community. Who are some artists or bands that have inspired you, and how have they influenced your music?
Blake: My creative community is a vibrant mix of Sydney’s rave scene, where I’ve connected with fellow music enthusiasts at warehouse parties and underground raves.
These events have introduced me to incredible DJs who have not only shared the decks with me but also left a lasting impression on my music.
Additionally, European DJ/producers have been a significant source of inspiration for me. Their mind-blowing productions and unforgettable live performances continue to fuel my creativity long after experiencing them.
I must also mention the bush doof community, which holds a special place in my heart.
After spending three to four days immersed in the Australian wilderness, surrounded by nature and incredible music, I return to the studio brimming with fresh ideas and a renewed passion for capturing those magical moments and emotions.
When it comes to artists who have had a profound impact on me, I draw inspiration from the likes of Bicep, Maceo Plex, Raxon, BOHO, Carlo Ruetz, Butch, and Boris Brejcha.
Their unique styles and innovative approaches to music have shaped my own sound and pushed me to experiment and take risks.
On a different note, I’m also a huge fan of Sticky Fingers and Ocean Alley.
Whenever they perform in Sydney, you can bet I’ll be there, soaking up their infectious energy and incredible live shows.
Happy: Can you tell us more about the concept behind the opening track, “Nightcrawler,” and what inspired its grimy nocturnal sound?
Blake: Absolutely! “Nightcrawler” was born out of a spontaneous one-day collaboration with Jakob, an English artist based in Sydney and the mastermind behind Sutra Sunrise.
We started off with that irresistibly groovy bassline that forms the backbone of the track. From there, everything fell into place organically.
We added those grungy, gritty stabs that tease throughout the song, building up the anticipation until they finally come together in the second drop.
The name “Nightcrawler” came to us when we stumbled upon a vocal sample that perfectly captured the essence of the track. In the sample, a voice says, “crawling through the night,” and that was the missing puzzle piece that completed the vision for the song. It added a sense of nocturnal exploration and a touch of mystery.
I had the incredible opportunity to debut “Nightcrawler” at Sutra, playing it on the full main stage.
Witnessing the crowd’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to our creation was absolutely mind-blowing.
It took the energy in the room to a whole new level, and it was an unforgettable moment.
Happy: How did the collaboration with German-based label Jannowitz come about for your new album, Alter Ego?
Blake: After Jannowitz Records released my Phantom EP, I continued producing tracks in a similar vibe.
I sent all of my new tracks to BOHO, who is a part of the label, and he saw the potential in them. We decided that it would be best to release them together as a full album, titled Alter Ego.
To make it even more exciting, we invited various artists to collaborate and remix some of the tracks.
I couldn’t be happier with the final outcome of the album. It has been an incredible experience, especially since it also includes a collaboration with BOHO himself.
It’s mind-blowing to think that just a few months earlier, I was playing his Senso Sounds EP in my sets, and now we’re working together.
This whole journey has taught me the importance of persistence and never giving up on your dreams, even when faced with challenges.
Life has a way of surprising you with amazing opportunities in the not-so-distant future.
Happy: Could you share any interesting anecdotes or memorable moments from the collaborative process?
Blake: During the collaborative process for the album, I had some truly memorable moments and interesting anecdotes.
One of the highlights was having Mr.Bizz and Mala Inka remix one of my tracks. It was such a treat to hear their unique and cool interpretations, transforming the songs into something completely different while still maintaining the essence of the original production.
That’s exactly what you hope for in a remix.
Another fun experience was collaborating with Rad.Lez, another talented artist from Jannowitz.
We exchanged ideas and bounced back and forth until we found the perfect concept for our track.
It was a collaborative effort that resulted in a finished piece we were both proud of. Currently, our track “Push” is performing well on the Beatport Techno top 100 chart, and it’s incredibly rewarding to witness its success.
These moments of creative collaboration have added so much depth and excitement to the album.
It’s been a journey filled with unexpected surprises and the joy of working with fellow artists who bring their unique perspectives to the table.
Happy: Alter Ego follows your previous release, Phantom. How has your artistic vision and approach shifted between these two projects? What themes or ideas did you specifically want to explore on Alter Ego?
Blake: Between Phantom and Alter Ego, my artistic vision and approach took a darker turn.
My main goal with my productions is to create tracks that I can play in my DJ sets, so the focus for Alter Ego was squarely on the dancefloor.
I wanted to surprise the audience throughout the tracks, injecting unexpected elements that come out of nowhere.
I drew inspiration from the structure of films, where you have twists and turns, a climax, and a resolution.
By applying this mindset, the music becomes more exciting and tells a story, rather than sounding like a continuous, monotonous loop.
As my reputation as a DJ export from Australia has been steadily growing, I feel that my background and experiences have played a significant role in shaping my sound and musical journey so far.
Experiencing success with my music internationally and in Australia has boosted my confidence and reaffirmed that I’m on the right path.
Seeing my tracks being played on various stages and dancefloors around the world is truly a dream come true.
The best music I’ve created has emerged from my life experiences.
The feelings and emotions I’ve felt while playing to an audience in the early hours of the morning, a secret rave under a highway far from the city, have been a profound inspiration for the music you hear.
I strive to capture those moments and translate them into my studio work the following day. It’s about channelling those raw, immersive experiences and unleashing them creatively.
Happy: In terms of production, what were some of the key techniques or elements you employed on Alter Ego to create its distinctive atmosphere and energy?
Blake: When it comes to production techniques on Alter Ego, I employed similar approaches as in my previous works like Phantom and Twisted.
One key element that contributes to the distinctive atmosphere and energy is the use of fast basslines, often in 16th notes, which provide a driving force throughout the tracks.
The drums also play a crucial role in creating that energetic vibe.
In terms of my creative process, I often start by crafting the synths and building the drums around them, although sometimes I may switch the order.
This approach allows me to hear the harmonic elements of the track and helps propel the arrangement forward. I find that this method helps me establish a solid foundation for the production.
Creating a specific atmosphere is vital for me, as it adds character to the tracks. I aim to evoke a particular feeling within a defined sonic space.
Without this atmospheric touch, the productions would lose a significant part of their identity.
Additionally, I employ resampling techniques, taking elements such as synths and vocals and reworking them to enhance cohesion and create a cohesive sound that ties the track together.
Happy: Is there any gear that you can’t live without?
Blake: My best investment has been the Push 2. It’s amazing for generating ideas and recording automation, breathing life into synths.
Additionally, my trusty festoon lights brighten up the studio, creating an invaluable atmosphere.
Happy: What makes you happy?
Blake: Ah, one simple combination never fails to put a smile on my face – banana and peanut butter.
There’s something about that delicious pairing that brings me pure happiness.