To say that the Melbourne live music scene is vibrant is an understatement. Not a day passes in the city without its wide array of venues, from big stadiums and theatres to clubs and small cafes and the seediest bars, echoing with a polyphonic patchwork of genres that creates Melbourne’s soundscape. Last Friday, another new voice was added to the mix, that of Blondel, AKA Bianca Gatsios, a daring and soul-baring performer who made her stage debut at one of the city’s main artistic incubators, Northcote’s Bar 303, presenting her original songs, a series of intimate stories, delivered with honesty and understated assertiveness. After that, she’s ready to face the world.
How would you describe your music to someone not familiar with it?
This is actually super tricky. People compare the sound to Lorde or Lana Del Ray. It’s kind of mellow. Some songs can be electronic and others have just a piano.
If your music was a soundtrack for a movie, what kind of movie would that be?
Maybe some dark psychological thriller, something like Donnie Darko.
How has your musical journey been so far?
My dad plays music for fun, and he has a little studio setup. So I started learning off him when I was around 12 years old; we would do small recordings together. About four years ago I set up my own studio and I’ve just been recording songs and posting stuff on Soundcloud. I enjoy it a lot so I decided to get serious about it. I’ve spent the past year creating an EP.
Why did it take you four years to perform your songs?
Aside from being terrified of the stage, I wanted a set body of work that was thought out and done right. That’s how the EP came to be. But I wanted to get experience first. I think it was good for me to have those years, trying out different styles and sounds, and overall developing and finding my voice as an artist, figuring out what I wanted to say.
Is it easy for you to write songs?
It’s actually super easy for me to write. My inspiration comes from everywhere. I like to sing about subjects that I don’t like to talk about. When I have problems, depression or anxiety, it’s not often something I like to discuss, even with friends. So I write it instead. I think of the whole process as what I’m most natural at. I write way more than I can record. It’s adding music to the words that I struggle with the most; more often than not I’ll have a lyrical line in mind and then I’ll go and write the rest of the song on piano. That way I can write to a tune.
When did you realise that this is what you’re good at, that this is what you want to do with your life?
I think quietly it’s been a dream my whole life and it was a bit of a red flag going through school and even uni and just not having a care factor for anything but music. But it’s only been the past couple of years that I’ve got serious about it and thought that maybe this is possible, maybe this is something I can do professionally.
When are you releasing the EP?
Soon, hopefully. It’s just a matter of getting it mastered or not before releasing it. I’m still not sure if thats what I want to do; I kind of like the music to be a little raw, I’m afraid it will lose something through mastering.
My initial plan was to release the EP visually. I actually started working on storyboards for videos, but I think I want to actually focus on the live aspect and start doing regular gigs, now that I’ve got a taste for it.
Who are your heroes?
It is mostly artists, musicians, directors, and so on. I mostly obsess over movies and music, and so I look up to those people.
I have three artists that I can call my favorites: Kanye West, Lorde and Twenty One Pilots, who have done a lot for me. Their words have helped me through some tough times but even musically I feel like I’ve learnt a lot off them, they’ve certainly been a huge inspiration for me. I went through a bit of a quiet stage where I wasn’t really writing or recording anything, and then, when I discovered them it got me going again. So they’ve had a huge impact on my life.
Who is Blondel? Why did you choose that as a moniker?
My dad strongly recommended that I don’t use my real name when posting my music, I think for both security purposes and mystery. So I went searching for one. I have this kids’ encyclopedia and inside is a section on myths and legends. I opened to a page about this 14th century poet named Blondel who saved his friend from prison through music. So I stole the name! I kind of liked the idea of music saving someone, because I find it does that.
Is it saving you?
Certainly. It’s an important outlet for me. But not only my own. Listening to other people’s music as well, when you can relate to it, can help you through hard times.
How do you imagine your music affects others?
Like all musicians, I hope I can get an emotional response; maybe someone can listen and relate to it. I hope it can make people feel like they’re not alone.
What’s your greatest aspiration?
I hope I can live off my music and even support my whole family with it.
How has your Greek background affected your artistic endeavour?
Greeks are musical and confident – full stop. We can sing and dance in front of each other. As for my own background, I’m only half-Greek. We celebrate a tradional Greek Easter and Christmas and my Yiayia, who doesn’t really speak English, actually puts on a huge feast every weekend for the whole family so I feel pretty involved in Greek culture and love this side of my family. I love being Greek.
* To listen to Blondel’s songs, go to soundcloud.com/blondelmusic