photo credit: Chloé McLennan
Enigmatic Blixie Perestroika shares the third single from her upcoming debut album, Ambition is Low, which will be released on September 9, 2022. The new single “Swing” is a dark, soaring ballad analyzing an estrangement. “It might sound angry but it’s really yearning,” Blixie explains. “Sometimes you can’t say something to someone directly, because they won’t hear you. So for me, it comes out in music.” The melancholic, baiting chorus belies an emotional undertow that catches the listener off guard.
After years of writing in isolation and unreleased recordings, Blixie found herself moving away from Los Angeles, to the heart of rural Europe to rebuild a ruined estate – and leave the ghosts of her past behind. In the stone stillness of a medieval town, shuttered in by the pandemic, disquieting voices demanded a release.
Lyrically seizing subjects as though just asking the question could heave the ghosts of history and in so doing spill their secrets, BlixiePerestroika’s debut album Ambition is Low is a call for accountability, a scream in the dark and a confession at dawn: a dream not far removed from the acid self-deprecation of Blixie’s heroes, Primo Levi, Ian Curtis, Stuart Adamson, and Sylvia Plath.
What’s your story as an artist?
‘Walt’ from Breaking Bad without the meth, murder and illness (hopefully). I’m pretty reserved, friends often don’t know I’m in a band although I’ve written, played, sung forever. I took a path indirect, found that various collaborations would implode when guys would “collaborate” in the expectation or hope of something else. It took a long time to find the right band, people I trust, and as importantly, the space and time to record. Working constantly to survive drains other vital resources. I had to move somewhere where I could change my way of life in order to prioritise creativity, and when I did things fell into a place where it was possible to finally finish the album.
What inspired this last release?
Years of being an osmosis machine ready to burst. Distilling too much nostalgia and poison and wanting to make room for peace. Jack reminded me that I couldn’t keep bitching about things privately and expecting the world to change. I re-read Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” warning against facing life with a sneer: the desiccating cowardice of cynicism. That the credit belongs to the man in the arena. It was a jolt to get over my reserve and despair. The world feels hopeless which makes it more important to stand up and be counted than ever.
Do you get inspired by other art forms?
All the time. By everything.
Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing this?
I don’t recall it being very funny but we were recording the vocals for “Hypochondramania” while I was, somewhat ironically, hooked up to an EKG. Apparently I convinced a cardiologist there was a problem so had to wear a monitor for 24 hours. Comically, the wires kept getting caught on the mic stand. I recall Jack and Morgan trying not to laugh at the spectacle – obviously there was actually nothing wrong with me, at least not in a cardio-vascular sense. As Morrissey might say “I can smile about it now but at the time it was terrible…”!
What’s your favorite place or environment to write?
The studio. It’s dark, cold. Lots of cut outs on the walls which are good company.
What’s a record that shaped your creativity?
Wasn’t just one but a handful that burned a new consciousness of what music was, and could be. More than just the rush of melody and music (as if you needed more!), was the understanding that there were artists where the potency of their ideas, vision and voice carried into a different sonic sphere – complete and distinct as planets. Practically the entirety of Pink Floyd’s catalog shaped my brain, but it was ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ where Roger’s “voice” starts to emerge. To experience that album — the beauty, tragedy, vastness and depth of the songwriting, its lyrical brilliance and then arrive at the singular, stark genius of ‘The Wall’ — what a gift. Despite its theatricality, it doesn’t descend into pantomime. It’s a dark crystal of anguish and exhortation. The omnipresent glower of war in Roger’s lyrics and sonic textures were formative for me. It underpins everything. Then… Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’ redrew all the maps. Songs sung in Cockney, in ‘Occa’ Australian, pirouetting through four octaves… magical, soaring storytelling. It was hieroglyphics to me at first, and I spent months learning it inside out. To this day I still find more in it, different perspectives. It was the same with NIN’s ‘The Downward Spiral’. The world Trent Reznor created, the skewering hardness of the instrumentation, the menace, the consistency of his voice as a narrator — it was strangely familiar, yet alien, confronting and enthralling. I had to try and understand it. Those records — and so many more from this rare, fleeting period of just a few decades — made me feel less alone.
Who is an artist or band you look up to today?
Roger Waters. We diverge a bit politically but he is one of the few artists expending all his earthly, intellectual and spiritual resources in service of trying to make the world a more accountable place. He doesn’t appear to play the craven celebrity game and says precisely what he thinks. There is no sacred cow he won’t publicly kill. I don’t look up to many artists today sadly. However, I love Amyl and the Sniffers for reminding me to be a bit more “no worries” about things and get some of the “bad energy” out; makes me feel like I’m in Australia and things are going to be alright. I “look up” to any artist trying to stay truthful and creative despite various pressures to homogenise themselves or conform for the sake of fashion or commerce or popularity. It’s not easy and I don’t want to disparage anyone who does, but they’re not going to be an inspirational cut out on my wall. It’s grounding to watch old interviews with John Lydon and I think a lot about Kurt Cobain, Judee Sill, John Lennon. Would they be posting selfies? Be on TikTok? Be accepting Grammys and stuff? Selling “merch”? Sending their MBEs and OBEs and knighthoods back? I have no idea. And I know it’s not black and white, particularly for musicians who have been doing this for a long time and have no viable alternative to support themselves. I have a lot of admiration for artists who stay the course. For instance Ben Lee, who is releasing his 3000th album and seems to be embracing everything in a radically joyful, beautifully absurd way. I really aspire to that, to elect joy, but I’m not nearly so evolved!
What excites you the most about what you do ?
From a selfish angle it’s the possibility of not having to experience the same feelings at the same intensity again. That you might be able to move on a bit by letting things go. To break through to the other side even, even if a situation hasn’t resolved in the way you might want. The idea that maybe other people could experience the same thing and feel the same hope or release is pretty exciting too.