Blood Blood AKA Davey Gwynne is a musician from Glasgow, Scotland. He began writing music at a very young age, mostly on piano and acoustic guitar. Davey decided to return to Glasgow in 2008 after a few years drifting and started making music under the Blood Blood moniker. His first release ‘Autumn/Harvest’ was improvised upon his return to Glasgow and it was quickly picked up by Chicago based label I Had An Accident Records, who’s label boss immediately fell in love with it’s distorted, lo-fi electronics with ambient elements, wispy made-up-words vocals, and improvisational feel. Davey followed this with ‘The Last Starfighter’ – the second full length, and last largely improvised LP. Then came 2011’s ‘Causal Body’, the most vocal LP yet, with 17 lo-fi electronic pop songs that remain live favourites, with a suitably John Maus-esque live experience, building a reputation for chaotic, noisy performances that retained a pop sensibility.
2014 saw the release of ‘Sunday/Worship’ – a 14 track one hour plus epic, described by Herald Scotland as “experimental invention above form, perplexing and commendable”. The album, mostly instrumental, was very well received and had Blood Blood booked for a lot more live shows, including a short tour and packed gigs in Basque country after supporting Basque band ‘Belako’ on home turf in Glasgow, where they insisted on having him over for some shows. In 2016 Davey released an EP ‘Babydino’, a 6 track release recorded in one day at home for a girlfriend’s birthday when he couldn’t think what to buy her. The EP was an unexpected hit, selling out on Bandcamp and making tastemaker Joe Muggs’ ambient records of the year article where it was described as “having a distinctly indie pop fragility” and “building a sparkling structure that becomes quite majestic”. Davey is a self described “nerd of all trades”, making often brutal and avant-garde visuals in conjunction with his live shows, utilising rope lights, micro-cinema, and even images of heart surgery, and is currently working on an immersive virtual reality project, utilising 3d rendering and coding, with the end goal of creating immersive worlds of sound and vision for people to explore.
Since then, Davey has been hard at work as a member of Machines in Heaven, but has also been working on new material for several projects, including a one-man psych project, ‘Crystal Sun Servants’ and the long-awaited follow up to Sunday/Worship, ‘Black Tarot’, to be released in May 2018 by Hot Gem. ‘Black Tarot’ has been a project which has been inside Davey since late 2016 and was actualised in the writing process in 2017. The album title comes from a dream, where Davey was reading tarot for a friend, and all the laid out cards were black. As a keen scholar of tarot and occultism in general, Davey took this as a sign of something deeper to be found within himself – a challenge from the universe to make an album of pure feeling, where the eyes see everything and nothing in infinite space. As an avid reader, Davey takes influence from literary classics like ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ all the way up to grimoires like ‘The Lesser Key of Solomon’, and psych lit like Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Quantum Psychology’, and Crowley’s ‘777’.
I sat down with Davey to talk all things Blood Blood, social media’s influence on music, and even discussed Tarot cards. Davey is a man that has covered a fair few miles travelling about so I thought I would begin by asking him if his travels have influenced his music in any way… “I spent a lot of time in Birmingham when I was younger, under quite a specific and artistically oppressive atmosphere. I used to wander from my home in Longbridge into the more industrial parts of the city where I would meet people and talk about ideas. I love Birmingham’s artistic history and I think in retrospect I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from there.”
“I wrote the very first Blood Blood song (Pretty Careless from my first album Autumn/Harvest) in my girlfriend’s old room on her old tape recorder in rural Worcestershire around 2007. We got back together this year, so I guess you could say I picked up the ultimate inspiration down south.”
If you take a listen to Davey’s music it is clear he draws influences from a multitude of sources. I was keen to know about his musical background. I asked Davey if he was musically trained? “My musical training is a couple of piano lessons when I was still in single figures, along with musical theatre when I was a similar age. I remember getting a guitar when I used to sing in my old band around 1998, and the then guitarist laughed at me saying “you’re gonna do nothing but look at that thing.” I was incensed enough to teach myself guitar through learning Nick Drake songs. When I came back to Scotland from Birmingham I started to look into electronic music, synthesis etc. My first Blood Blood release was for the most part very free and messy improv using fruity loops for beats and recording/overdubbing through an old MP3 player mic and a pair of laptop speakers. I guess you could say I had no idea what I was really doing back then, in many ways, it’s the same now.”
Whilst on the conversation about music and production we discussed his current album. The album has a clear Esoteric theme to it. I was intrigued by his interest in this, and how the sound became so prominent in his music today…
“I have always been interested in Esoterica and Occultism in general, which has led me down a few paths. I’m an avid Tarot reader and run a Tarot reading service, which in turn led me to kabballah, Thelema, Enochian and goetic magick. I was a member of a Hermetic order for a few years where I chose a few specialist subjects, but the less I talk about that the better. I love the ambiguous, bisexual and cerebral nature of magick. There’s a certain high religious element to it, which derives from empirical thought. Jung was very learned on the subject (somewhat unintentionally), and had plenty to say in “Man and his Symbols” which essentially breaks down the “reason” magick “works”. It’s all quantum psychology.”
Davey added, “Crowley once said: We place no reliance on virgin or pigeon. Our method is science, our aim is religion.”
Whilst on the conversation of Tarot cards, I thought I would throw in a cheeky question and ask if Davey could introduce a new Tarot card to a Tarot deck what would it be and what would it represent? “I wouldn’t! I personally use the Rider/Waite deck which is the most well known and deeply symbolic. I’ve also used more “divinatory” decks like the Thoth tarot – each deck is slightly different but essentially represents the same thing. The major arcana (the moon, the magician, the hierophant etc) represent a journey split into to halves – childhood/adolescence and adulthood/elderly wisdom. I wouldn’t change a thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Davey has recently been working on a live show. I am sure, like me, you want to know more about this so here is what he had to say about the live show… “I’m still working on it, but expect it to be a wee bit spooky, but definitely pretty. I’m planning on using mostly “organic” instruments to recreate the songs live, utilizing loops and some modest electronics. The visual element will be more subversive, and almost ritualistic.”
“I love taking people out of their comfort zones and forcing them to turn the eyes of observation on themselves. My older live shows (when I was doing a lot of vocals) were extremely unhinged (I’m persona non grata at a few venues), so although not as extreme as taking clothes off and writhing on the floorI’mIm thinking along the same lines in terms of blurring the lines between myself and the audience.”
I am not sure about you but I will certainly be on the lookout for some of Blood Blood’s live shows… the darker the better in my personal opinion! Davey and I went on to discuss what he has planned for Blood Blood over 2018… “I’m hoping to do some collaborative work this year, as I’ve been (along with the other parties) putting it off a bit because of life. ‘Black Tarot’ was quite a big writing/recording project and now it is here, I’ve started to come back from being such a recluse. Other than that, I’m always writing new stuff which will probably mean another release later on in the year. I have plenty of projects in the pipeline to keep me busy! Also, I’m doing a wee compendium of pingers, mostly for DJs, essentially stuff that didn’t quite fit the mold of ‘Black Tarot’. With slightly less reverence, and designed more for the floor.”
Whilst chatting with Davey I wanted to know his thoughts on a more serious issue in the electronic music industry. I asked him his thoughts on how the industry can improve things for our female counterparts? “The industry historically has always been a white male’s playground. As one of those, I think it’s important to recognise one’s privilege in regards to playing shows (no one ever condescends me about my equipment), DJing (no one ever tells me I’m playing pre-recorded mixes, women get that a lot) and the list goes on. As a person who has benefited from an otherwise oppressive industry, I think it’s important to be an ally to artists of colour, LGBTQ (plus) artists, and female-identified artists. This means LISTENING. On a personal level, a lot of my artist friends identify as female (Nightwave, Heir of the Cursed, Monkoora, Rebecca Vasmant, etc) so to me, it just so happens the biggest inspirations on my music and striving to be better in it comes from women.”
“In terms of improvement, women specifically need to be treated as peers and given a platform. Thankfully the industry is waking up to this, but it was almost too little too late. We need to dismantle the awful “bro culture” that is prevalent, especially in clubs and specific genres of music. If you hear someone being a misogynist at a show/club give them a verbal whipping. If someone puts hands on someone else without consent, punch them in the fucking face, and if you are arrested wear that badge with pride because you did the right thing.”
I know it is something we feel strongly about at Decoded Magazine, and it was great to hear Davey’s thoughts on the state of the industry. At the end of the day as long as the artist is good it should not matter what sex they identify as. Let’s judge an artist on their ability and draw the line there! Whilst on a rather deep and honest chat I went on to ask Davey his thoughts on social media in the dance music industry, and as always, he did not shy away from an honest answer… “I just want to get this straight right now (my label’s gonna hate me for this)…”
“I despise social media. It’s awful. Facebook/Twitter is our Tower of Babel. I mostly resent it as an artist because I have to use it for self-promotion, in which case it is an invaluable tool for promoting music and other projects. It is a deal with the devil though, as everyone who has fallen prey to the neverending scroll will attest – it’s an anxiety breeding ground. With our connected lives, we have become more disconnected.”
Davey went on to add “Gurdjieff once said “We pick out feelings and sensations, moods and experiences and out of all this we create the mirage of an inner life, call ourselves conscious and reasoning beings, talk about God, about eternity, everything imaginable, judge and discuss, define and evaluate, but we omit to speak about ourselves and about our own real objective value, for we are all convinced that if there is anything lacking in us, we can acquire it.” – this sums up my attitude towards social media. It is nothing but masturbation, and people are addicted to it because they need to crawl back in the womb because the world is too chaotic, too violent, too much. But inevitably it is a plaster on a rotting corpse. It will and does push people into narcissism and anxiety complexes. People will talk about themselves on there, but not really talk about themselves at all.”
I must admit Davey is an artist that is not afraid to air his views and that is a great thing… shame so many artists these days do shy away from the tricky interview question. Trust me I see and hear a lot of empty answers or overly politically correct responses.
Moving back to the world of music and Blood Blood I asked Davey what gigs he was looking forward to over the coming months… I’m doing a lot of work getting the live show to where I want it at the moment, sorting a lot of stuff out to make it the best it can be. Live shows for summer and beyond will be announced soon, but for the moment I think it’s more important to build it to where I want it, so we can all burn it down together at the shows.” Keep your ears and eyes posted for more news on the live shows.
Davey did have one final thing to add, and one that does feel quite relevant both in this interview and the UK at present… his final words were… “fuck the Tories.”
I would like to thank Davey for a great interview and wish him all the success with his superb new album and his live shows.
You can purchase ‘Black Tarot’ via the Hot Gem online store.
Artist photo by Brian Sweeney