George Bloomfield - Why Didn't You? (Interview & EP Review)
Updated: May 8, 2021
Leeds-based multi-instrumentalist and producer George Bloomfield self-releases his debut EP Why Didn't You? that tackles personal issues for George through wonderfully arranged pieces of melancholic dripped indie-jazz-funk.
After releasing his debut singles 'Twelfth' and 'Push Back The Sun' last year, George continues to create deep and emotive soundscapes that resonate a psychedelia feeling with the eclectic range of styles and genres breezing through each song.
The title track starts the EP off with exquisite guitar playing that flows insanely well between different sections and phrases. Written about the sudden death of his best friend, the ambiguous meaning of the lyrics add a new texture to the nostalgic atmosphere of this song and this continues throughout the EP.
The second single 'Reminiscent' has a beautiful liquidy guitar effect and the melody feels ballad-like with the mournful horns complimenting this mood. The 'oohs' add an ethereal flavour that transports you into George's mind as he solos through his feelings with magnificent elegance.
'Cornucopia' has a folkish element to it with the guitar picking and bass line hypnotically twisting with the sliding guitar sound that soothes you. It's extremely meditative and offers a respite to the difficult lyricism of 'Remember The Days' that reveals some of the pain felt by George. With the 'Outro' featuring the EP's contributors saxophonist Alex Harrod, trumpeter Jack Purcell-Burrows, flautist and vocalist Freya Thompson, the whole EP rounds off a very impressive introduction to longer length compositional pieces that George can produce.
The melancholy but relaxing nature of the EP allows introspection and feels relatable to some of the difficult feelings both George and everyone has had to deal with during lockdown. This ability to relay his own experiences into music that connects with each listener is fantastic, and George is certainly a producer who will continue to challenge himself and create even more powerful music in the future.
Ben managed to catch up with George recently to chat about the EP, other production work and future plans for this year.
Tell us about the EP, why did you want to write it?
Yeah, for me, it was just kind of a constructive way to spend a year of lockdown which hasn't been ideal. But I decided just to record it all in my room and do as much as I could, even without the facilities that I wanted. So I'm really pleased I managed to do that. And get some people in to play the parts and everything. So it was a really good escape from all the other crazy stuff that was going on in the world.
I really like the style I settled on for this EP, and putting out singles is one thing, but I'm really proud of this as a body of work. I wanted it to be almost like a playlist to set the mood and people can listen from start to finish.
Did it give you a new perspective on how to approach it with doing it DIY in your own bubble because of lockdown?
I think I've all always made tunes DIY, but the main thing was recording drums. That was something I was trying to do in a studio all year and that was just not happening. So I just thought I'd get a kit and do it in my room. So that was interesting to approach. But I do like the DIY aspect.
You flow between a lot of genres in this EP, I feel like there's a lot of kind of melancholy moods but they come out in different chill, funk, also indie-ish tones with how the guitars are played - how do you approach incorporating these styles?
I listen to a wide variety of music and I'm trying to do something slightly different, like a different take on a sort of style. A lot of people might listen to Mac DeMarco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but then I'm trying to put in your jazz forms and then funk influences to spice it up with a few different elements as well.
You've added vocal elements to this EP which is new for you, why did you explore that avenue?
I don't necessarily class it as like my main instrument but you'll probably notice in these tracks, they're not like your standard verse chorus structure like many songs are. I'm kind of using quite simple lyrics and I'm using the the vocals as just like another textual layer. It almost seems still instrumental but it's just adding a layer on top. I can't see myself writing any vocal ballads.
You have one of the biggest pedalboards I have seen for a guitarist, tell us about the gear you loved using on this EP.
I've been focusing on my production and for me growing up I've spent as much time taking apart guitars and equipment and building them as I have using it, to be honest, so I'm really into that sort of stuff. Definitely into my pedalboard but kind of got into this old school tape machine I bought for 20 quid off eBay that I'm putting the drums through so I'm loving that. I've got a rotary speaker which if you know you know, a Leslie speaker. That's super fun to play with. That's a whole separate obsession to the musical world is playing with effects and all those fun toys.
Are there any tunes that have any significance to you on the EP?
I guess 'Why Didn't You?', which is the title track, kind of sums up my year really. I unfortunately lost my best friend at the end of summer which was quite a big deal for me. I put a lot of that emotion into making these tracks, it was quite a good escape from that. And with the pandemic, I just sort of channelled into trying to be productive and make some tracks that I was proud of. But that was definitely on my mind whilst writing all of it.
You've been in bands before, studied music and production at university, how do you think all that has evolved your sound over time?
I think that the different styles that are now incorporating my music have all come from a different playing element. I started playing a lot of jazz and blues with my friend, Ed, who is actually the person a lot of this EP is written about who I lost. But you know, we discovered Boogie Woogie and jazz, and then hip hop and all of these super fun sounds. And then I kind of moved to Leeds and did a bit of big band stuff. I was in a 9-piece funk and soul band called Mondo Bizarre and that's definitely where a lot of my arranging for horns started and the love of those brassy tones. Then it kind of all just blends into one big melting pot of genre-less goodness.
Are there any places that are kind of on your bucket list that you'd love to play these tunes on your EP?
I've never played any of them live because of lockdown. So I've also written them all without thinking about the live element. So I might have not given myself too many favours with some of the arrangements. But I would love to play it live. I think it would go down really nice on a sort of sunny afternoon at a festival with a pint of cider in the sun, that'd be great.
It's been strange obviously writing on your own because it wasn't possible to play with others in lockdown. Music is much more fun when you play it with people for people for sure. So I would like to incorporate that. At the moment I've been using the creative potential of the studio and just overdubbing different layers and adding horns and adding strings and kind of getting carried away with all the different elements that I can add just because it's so fun to do. But I would probably have to think about it slightly differently for a live approach and it's definitely an element I'd like to explore.
You've been doing other production and commercial work during lockdown right?
I've been making this EP which has been really fun, but trying to look at some other avenues to take my music and actually get paid as well in the process. So I've been writing for TV a bit, I've got some tracks on BBC Match of the Day, and across BBC Radio 1 too at the moment. I'm writing a film score which is really fun. It's a big challenge with full orchestral scores, and it's an hour long. So that's a whole different kettle of fish to all of this. But I'm really enjoying the challenge there. It's a big test for your compositional skills to match the required feeling that your client wants. So it's quite a different approach.
I definitely think it doing all that stuff feeds back to my music, especially the arrangements which are something I've really fallen in love with. I'll be getting more and more ambitious with my own arrangements, which in turn will be more awkward to play live but just as fun!
Who are you digging in the Leeds scene at the moment?
I first got into the Leeds scene through those kinds of big Afro funk-jazz bands like Necktar, Mansion of Snakes, Têtes de Pois and all of that lot. They're all so fun live! Now I'm listening to more and more indie music. I'm really liking Van Houten at the moment and Niall Summerton has some really cool tunes as well. It's something I'd like to get into more is the indie scene here because I've just sort of started enjoying that.
Is there any like dream collaborations that you'd want to do?
Recently, I saw this crazy collaboration between Khruangbin and Paul McCartney, which I just thought is mad. I mean, either of them if they want to do a track, that'd be great. The guitarist Mark Speer is killer. There's so so much sound with quite a little setup so yeah, I'd love to play with those guys.
What are your plans coming up?
Yeah, I plan to just press on really and release more tunes. I've already got my next two tracks that I know I want to release after the EP. It'd be great to have a live element and hopefully just you know, reach a wider audience and keep pushing on with it.
The next tune is already got more funk elements than before. And it's a bit more upbeat. And it's a bit more celebratory of the end of this lockdown and stuff so the good times are coming! They're way more fun to play live as well!
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Photographs: Hamish Irvine Photographer