FEATURE: James Blake Finds His Voice as a Reluctant Man

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James Blake is winding his way through the crowd at Hammersmith Apollo to get a good view of Drake. He’s been invited to one of the pop star’s three sold out nights in London by Drake’s confidant and webmaster, Oliver El-Khatib, who posted a YouTube of Blake performing at BBC’s studio on the October’s Very Own blog. On his way to the front, Blake gets stopped by a pretty girl with serious bangs and a necklace that says “precious.” But it’s too loud for her short voice to reach his tall ear, so he gives up. He’ll later say he dropped the ball. A big, drunk guy in a varsity jacket and cool hat stops him again. “I met you outside of Boiler Room. You were on your phone and told me to fuck off!” he says. “I said that?” Blake responds in surprise. No, the guy is joking with him, then manhandles Blake by the shoulder and awkwardly introduces him to two friends. When the show starts, Blake doesn’t move or talk through the next two hours of mainstream hip-hop hullabaloo except to say that one song is a “massive tune.” This stillness in the midst of innumerable requests for hands in the air, mini-firework displays, shout outs to good breasts, obscene guitar solos and a number of people inexplicably opening their umbrellas is difficult but purposeful. Even as the thousands of people stampede out of the venue, Blake is impressively nonplussed, casually walking shoulders back and up like a dutiful soldier. But after the show, in a pub where he gets side-eyed by drunk men in track pants, Blake fawns wildly, detailing the most exhilarating moments of showmanship. For him, the thrill isn’t in the immediate pleasure of the moment or even in its second tier of memory, but in a third, academic level of process and deconstruction. He picks apart the show like an egghead unravels a motherboard. Then a fellow patron stands up on a table and starts yelling, a girl gets a beer dumped over her head and Blake realizes it’s time to leave.

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POSTED March 9, 2011 1:30PM IN FEATURES, MUSIC NEWS Comments (6) TAGS: , , ,

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  1. Pingback: Afternoon Showers: David Bowie’s Photo Album, Remembering Biggie & James Blake on Drake « Pinna Storm

  2. Alright says:

    I love James Blake, Toro Y Moi, and Jamie xx. I don’t understand why those guys have a boner for Drake his music kinda sucks.

  3. jimmy blue sky says:

    you left a TK in there on page 4

  4. rumblejazz says:

    and a CHECK on page 3

  5. Pingback: James Blake tours North America, displays indifference to principles of supply and demand | WAKAZ

  6. WILL says:

    OK “ALRIGHT”, ALL THAT SHIT U MENTIONED ESP JAMES BLAKE IS SOME PUSSY ASS FAKE BRIT R & B THAT WILL BE A JOKE IN ONE YEAR, JAMES BLAKE IS PURE BOREDOM IN THE FORM OF A PERSON, WHY A FADER COVER, DONT KNOW