ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 9, 2013 | If you’re like me, perhaps you take to Facebook a wee too often some evenings sharing music. And perhaps this shared music strikes a chord with a friend who is equally as effusive with the “like button.” And perhaps the invitation arises that affords an opportunity to put said friend—Chad Clark of Washington, DC band Beauty Pill—in contact with the musician inspiring the evening’s muse, Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile, whose brand new US release, Mid Air is in stores now.
Well, perhaps you’re reading that conversation at present.
Chad Clark: One of the things that attracted me (and many others, I’m sure) to The Blue Nile was the band’s daring and imaginative use of sonic texture. There was always a delicate, elegant, painterly quality to the records that seemed deeply felt, deeply considered. Some of the early sounds were almost non-musical: the sound of bicycles wheels spinning and such. Always at the center of it was your voice and your imagistic words.
This is something that influenced me greatly as a musician to experiment and explore textures in the studio. This “texturalism” (for lack of a better word) leads me to a few different questions. It seems to me that The Blue Nile was sort of is its own impossible-to name genre. Would you agree?
Paul Buchanan: I suppose we pursued our own shared imagination. What was important was the sense of the song, so recognisable licks were out. We tried to create the world in which the person in the song belonged.
I can’t really think of “peers” who worked in a similar terrain. Did you regard yourselves as having peers or did you feel like you were working in a field of your own? If so, was that lonely? Or did you enjoy the feeling of making your own world?
Yes, we were in our own world, and just doing the best we could to capture the idea. We had no money, no phone.
The Blue Nile’s sonic adventurousness proved to be subtly groundbreaking. Did you have conscious ambitions to break ground, to innovate? Or, were you just following your instincts? Did you just innocently happen upon those ideas or was there a sense of deliberate design to the path you chose?
Circumstance and limitations shape what you do as much as your imagination, don’t they? Marrying the two is a step forward. You’re right—we stumbled on ideas and followed our instincts. We played the way we could play.