A lot has been happening in the world of Blake Lewis since I last interviewed him in April.  It would seem that a new chapter is opening up for him after American Idol and his stellar album "Audio Day Dream".  In this little phone chat I had with Blake last week, I was keen to learn more about his collaboration with Darude, his plans for the next album and that certain "special someone" he has been spending a lot of time with recently.  In fact, I'm sure I woke them both up outta bed when I rang…

EQ: So since we last spoke, you parted ways with your record label Arista. Are you happy with this decision? 
BL: Definitely happy with that decision. There was a lack of communication with that relationship. That's what happens when you get on a major label – they got the money and usually the business perspective. They didn't do a good job with me so onwards and upwards! I'm happy that's over and happy my feet are back on the ground. 

I've always said, I think you would do quite well in Europe as you're a fan of dance music and electronica which is heavily rooted in your music. Would uprooting to Europe for awhile be something you'd consider? 
BL: I would love to live out there – I've always wanted to. I've been touring in Europe since I was in the eighth grade and listening to electronic music since 92. 

What are your favourite places in Europe? 
BL: Man I've been all over. I love it all really. I love each place for different reasons. Berlin and love lots of places in Germany. 

I hear you have some Welsh and German blood in you – that's an interesting combination. 
BL: Yeah I'm a bit of Welsh, a bit of German, a bit of Irish! 


So tell me about your current collaborations with Darude. The music blogs got quite excited that you covered the Flock of Seagulls classic "I Ran". 
BL: The relationship with Darude started about five years ago. I helped build a club out here in Seattle called Element – which is no longer here unfortunately. I was the MC, host, bar-back, I did it all – helped build it, clean it and was basically part of the foundation. I would always get on the mic and beatbox and MC to get the crowd hyped. On a good night we were 1500 people and we had a huge massive sound system and it was fun! We had everyone there – Paul Van Dyke, BT, Darude, Crystal Method – all the big names in electronica. So I was the main MC for all these raves and parties here and at one of the first shows we did, Darude was playing and that's where I met him. But we hooked up basically because I kept running into his friends. And my friends were calling me saying he wanted to get a hold of me to work on something. 

PURCHASE: Darude ft. Blake Lewis "I Ran (So Far Away) CD single on Darude - I Ran (So Far Away) [feat. Blake Lewis]

You also did a charity track with Darude called "Selfless" – tell me about that project.
BL:  It was the first track I did with Darude and it's on the "Dance For Life Soundtrack" which is an AIDS charity. That actually came out a month ago, before "I Ran". I love "Selfless" better than "I Ran" because it's an original track I wrote with Darude. That collaboration turned out really well. We were both really excited when he sent me the track. He came to Seattle for two weeks when we did "Selfless" and then he proposed to do "I Ran", which I love that song. Darude's version is so different. I really don't like doing cover songs honestly… 

You probably had enough of that on Idol… 
BL: Yeah, unless you make it your own. I mean that's the whole reason I went on American Idol. I didn't want to be on the show unless I could make the songs my own and put my own twist on them to make it my remix show. I love mash-ups and I love remixes and people who do them well. You know when you hear a remix that's better than the original song…But back to "Selfless", about a month later he sent me the
track, I recorded the vocals in my house and that's how the Darude/Blake Lewis collobo came about. 

So tell us about the new album. I hear you're in the process of working on it… 
BL: Yeah, it's actually a different record I'm working on with my production partner KJ Sawka who's an amazing drum and bass producer. We're doing a record together called "Orchestral Drive-By". Basically it's like Massive Attack meets the concept of Zero 7 with so many singer/songwriters on the record. I'm about five song deep into that project. I'm more of producer than an engineer in terms of my EQ, programming and editing – that's where KJ steps in. I'm doing all the melodic producing mostly so far because his own EP is going to be out in January. I JUST started working on my own record though,
so I'm going to have two albums out next year! 

Orchestral Drive-By MySpace (Blake wears some crazy masks)

How will your next solo record differ from "Audio Day Dream" 
BL: It's completely different. With "Audio Day Dream", the concept and writing was mine but I didn't get to produce, except for co-produce on two songs and I've been producing for 10 years now so that was really tough for me, even though I worked with amazing, AMAZING producers. I think that album turned out terrific. But as far as being a creator, I wish I would have had more hands-on with that production. I really wanted BT to be the executive producer for that record, but Clive Davis was not having that. Arista really has no idea how to handle a dance artist or electronic music. It was just tough. I need to have a label or a home that understands electronic music. That's almost 50% of who I am as an artist. I love writing kitchy and melodic hooks – it all has a lot to do with where I come from and that's the dance music scene. 


Now here we go into the weird questions…brace yourself…Now, little did I know…I read on Wikipedia that you learned beat-boxing from someone in the acapella group M-Pact. That surprised me, as my sister was (and I think still is) a huge fan of M-Pact and she dragged me to tons of their shows which I have to say were quite good. Do you still keep in touch with those guys? 
BL: I do! That's so crazy! Yeah, I was in an acapella group called Kickshaw. I've been beat-boxing subconsciously since I was a kid. Random enough actually, Robin Williams and Michael Winslow, anyone who made noises with their mouth, I was like super stoked on when I was a kid. I was a junior in high school in 97 and I was in choir and toured the world with singing and I saw this group (M-Pact) and I thought "What the heck is this? I've been doing this forever! You mean you can do this professionally?". So as soon as I saw M-Pact, that sub-conscious became conscious. When I got out of high school I joined an acapella group and started working with crazy effects and really getting into beat-boxing and looping. And then after the acapella group, I started my own one-man band show and it turned into a whole beat box show. 

M-Pact MySpace / website 


Now I hear you have a special boy in your life…A Mr. Sir Diddimus I believe…tell me all about him.
BL: [laughs] Yeah yeah he's chilling out next to me right now! I never had a dog when I was growing up and I actually had a fear of dogs cuz I got bit when I was a kid. 

Oh No!
BL: Yeah the one dog I did have died…sad. My dog now is awesome. He's from a dog shelter. His mom had him inside her with nine other dogs and she was gonna be on death row. 

Is it true what they say – are dog owners just like their dogs?
BL: Oh my god, him and I are like two peas in a pod. He's a bit of a handful. 

So were headed into Christmas now – what albums are you looking for in your stocking stuffer? 
BL: I'm kinda the Grinch when it comes to Christmas or at least Christmas music. I really do not like Christmas music. During Christmas I always like bite my tongue because it's like "so happy" and overkill. But I like some of the Christmas ballads I guess. Like the Nat King Cole Christmas style. But I swear I turn into the Grinch around Christmas. As far as stocking stuffer CDs, I don't know, but right now I'm listening to British artists like Adele and Jamie Lidell. I just love the European artists that never let go of Motown. It's funny in America now – we're embracing these British artists when we started Motown. But that's America for you. We take something and love it, then don't love it anymore really quickly. I'm just waiting for funk to come back y'know. If that comes back, then there will a funk Christmas. 

Maybe then you'll record a Christmas single then.
BL: I don't know about that!  I don't know what's coming out next year, but I just bought Ne-Yo's new record which I really love. I don't do a lot of Top 40 music, but it's got this Michael Jackson quality. It's really really good, I was blown away.

That's it – thanks Blake for spending some time with us. Any parting words? 
Thanks for listening supporting your local artists. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have support!