ARTIST INTERVIEW: Mexico City Blondes

Mexico City Blondes

Mexico City Blondes are a musical duo from Santa Barbara, CA, that know how to place the packaged whipped cream with the homemade cherry pie, so to say, lovingly delicious. Or, put more succinctly, “Sort of marriage between the electronic and organic sounds,” says Greg, one-half of the Blondes.

The group recently released the single “Shot the Moon,” a delicately sewn sultry couture dress of a song with layered synths laced with Allie Thompson’s seductive vocals.

 “It’s definitely a snapshot of our dark side,” says singer/songwriter Allie of the single. “A musical confrontation of some of my deepest fears, a way to address nameless faceless foes who don’t have the power to hurt us unless we let them. Even going to the dark side is more satisfying to me when there is redemption and light in the darkness, hence the imagery of a white moon in a dark sky.”

We spoke with Allie and Greg from Mexico City Blondes about fashion influences (Gwen Stefani of course, power to the blondes), the power of Black Sabbath, and getting in touch with their dark side.

AudioFemme: How’d you come up with the name Mexico City Blondes?

Greg Doscher: I came up with it on a flight to, of all places, Mexico City. Really loved it for the project, and Allie liked it immediately when I suggested it. It has a meaning to me, but I don’t like to spell it out for people. It can be whatever comes to anyone’s mind when they hear it, and it’s more fun that way.

AF: How did the band form?

GD: Allie responded to an ad I put on Craigslist a year or so after the last band I was in dissolved. I advertised myself as a local producer looking for singers/songwriters to collaborate with. I can handle the production and recording, but can’t sing to save my life. Allie and I hit it off immediately and seemed to be on the same page as far as influences and the type of music we wanted to make. She’s also a great songwriter and we’ve had a lot of fun collaborating.

AF: Who have been your primary musical influences?

Allie Thompson: Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of folk music with introspective lyrics. Joni Mitchell, Dylan, Paul Simon…The art of crafting a song was always revered in my childhood home, and the production was an afterthought. It wasn’t until I started writing songs that I began to experiment with production style in order to bring the songs to life in the way I wanted to hear them. Around that time I was listening to a lot of Portishead and Beachhouse, and around that time I met Greg who was able to translate my rudimentary descriptors into the songs I wanted to hear!

GD: Aside from those above, as a teenager I picked up a guitar because of Black Sabbath and that’s still with me. Was really into the big 70s groups like Sabbath and Floyd, David Bowie and Zeppelin of course. As I grew up my tastes evolved a bit and realized that electronic music could be as sonically nuanced as some of the rock I grew up on.

AF: Do you have any fashion influences?

AT: I grew up with posters of No Doubt all over my walls, and I guess I never really got over Gwen! 15 years later I still look to her for fashion influence both on and off stage. I’ve always been a sucker for red lipstick, and it sure is convenient that she’s a blonde!

GD: Haha, my wife.

AF: Much is made of labeling sounds, what words do you like best to describe your music?

GD: Hard to say, but from a production standpoint I’ve always been really heavily influenced by groups like Massive Attack and someone like DJ Shadow who’s made incredible music with a sampler. That being said, I’m a guitarist with a pretty extensive rock background, so there’s always going to be some elements of that in there. Sort of marriage between the electronic and organic sounds I like and that we try and use. “Shot the Moon” is a good example of that mix. The electronic elements are the Moog synth that pulses throughout and a drum machine, but we also recorded live drums and live piano on top of those.

AF: Will you tell me about the meaning behind your new single “Shot the Moon?”

AT: It’s definitely a snapshot of our dark side. A musical confrontation of some of my deepest fears, a way to address nameless faceless foes who don’t have the power to hurt us unless we let them. Even going to the dark side is more satisfying to me when there is redemption and light in the darkness, hence the imagery of a white moon in a dark sky.

AF: How much of your personal life gets worked into your songs?

AT: The songs are always personal.  Sometimes I write in a moment of acute emotion, but often a song will take me a few months to complete. It takes me that long to process emotions and gain perspective. The songs have the most power for me in understanding a situation as a whole, and that often takes time to unfold.

GD: Just about all of it. Hard to separate the two because of course whatever you’re feeling emotionally or going through personally is going to bleed into the music in terms of the sounds you pick, the chords you play and more obviously the lyrics that get written

AF: What’s next for Mexico City Blondes?

GD: We have a single that’s sort of the B-side, companion to “Shot the Moon” called “Yellow Sunshine” that we’ll release soon and a video for “Shot the Moon” on the way. Aside from that, lots more music in the pipeline and we’ll try and get out and perform these songs wherever we can.

Listen to “Shot the Moon” below.