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[Interview] Blanks: “Stay delusional, just keep going for it. The older you get, I feel like the less delusional you dare to dream”

Last 27th of September, Blanks debuted in Madrid and we took the chance to sit and chat with him about his European tour and his music. This is how his show in Spain went.

Hi! First of all, thank you so much for taking your time to have this interview with us, Recovery Magazine. How are you? 

I’m doing well, actually, really good! 

So, Madrid is the last stop of the tour. How does it feel having toured Europe? 

Amazing! We’ve spent the last two days driving and on the road. I’m like “Oh my God, it’s like, it’s finally happening for some sort of reason” because we were supposed to tour it pre-Covid and Covid happened and it stuck up and postponed. And it went so fast. Three weeks ago, I was like “okay, I hope I’ll get through this tour without like getting sick or having voice troubles” and now it’s the last show and haven’t had any troubles and it had gone by so fast. So, I’m just trying to enjoy the most of it tonight.

And how did you feel about all of this tour and how did you feel on stage?

Before we started, I was kind of nervous because it’s like the first real Europe tour. But on stage it’s been amazing. Because, in the Netherlands we’ve played a few shows, but never like this much in Europe. And every time I come on a stage there’s this great energy people bring. And every night before the show I think about “Whoa, I’m in Madrid for example tonight and there’s like, I mean I don’t know how many people who are just who came for me basically”, which is a really weird idea, but the energy they bring is so beautiful, so every night on stage is incredible, I don’t know how to say it in words, but it’s been amazing.

And so far, which venue or festival has been the most exciting for you to play in?

We played a show in London last week, from the Europe tour. I think that was my personal favorite just because the people were like out of this world. But hey, Madrid has to happen still tonight so… We also played a festival in the Netherlands about three weeks ago and it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had. It was 10 or maybe 15,000 people and they were clapping and singing along and that was just insane because it’s so many people.

What has been the best about touring?

I feel like the best is you get to play with the band. So, the boys and I, we get like really tied musically. And so every night it goes easier and you’re more comfortable on stage. And I feel like I get more comfortable with engaging with the audience because I love that, I love when they sing along or I get to make jokes with the people in the front lines or something. And that’s gotten more and more comfortable throughout the tour. And then I just love meeting the people from all the different cities and people telling me stories, because after a show I always stand by the merch for about an hour and then people come up to me and tell me stories about how my music has meant something or how they discovered me and I think that’s one of my favorite things about the tour: you get to finally meet the people who’ve been following me for a while. 

And what has been the the worst? 

Oh, the worst… I’d say the different types of food. That’s hard. I mean hotels, it’s fine. And the showers in the hotels are always like pretty okay. But then some venues, they offer you food and some they offer you to buy it and you always have to find food. Sometimes it’s like you hit it on the nail or hit it on the head and it’s perfect. And sometimes it’s like really bad. And you’re like “oh man, we have to play a show after this”.

And have you felt homesick while doing this tour? 

Um… Not too much actually, I think a little bit at the end of last week, but it’s just so busy you don’t really have time to feel homesick.

So yesterday you released your new music video for “Not Scared Anymore”. Do you usually take part in the creative process of your music videos?

Yes. Always, I always do. 

And in 2021 you released your album “Nothing Lasts Forever and That’s OK”. Are there any new albums coming out soon?

Yeah, so the music I’ve been putting out this year is going to form up to be an EP. And then after that I’m starting this kind of new idea I’m developing at the moment. But I’m starting this new YouTube series, which I’m going to call “Fill in the Blanks”, because people have been throwing the title around for years. But now I came up with a concept where I’m going to write new music with the input from people who are going to fill in the blanks of a song. And then, I just want to make really good songs that way and release those. And then with those songs work towards a new album. So, I can’t give you a date because I have to start, but maybe somewhere next year or something.

And how does it feel to release a whole album?

Um, well, fun fact, the last time I released an album I was in Bilbao, actually. So also in Spain. 
It feels more special because it’s like a big body of work you put into the world, but on the other hand it also kind of feels like not every song gets to have its moment, you know? When you release a single, it’s like, focus on this one, you know, this is it. And when you release an album, it’s like, focus on these ten songs. And then, I feel like, there are songs on the album that I wish they had their own little moments. So, I love the challenge of making it and building a body of work, which is cohesive and sound-wise matches, but I feel like I like putting out separate songs more. But the feeling of holding your own vinyl that’s super cool. 

Is it more overwhelming than expected, creating a whole album? 

Yes, absolutely. Because usually I write a song in a day and then I’m like “okay, song’s cool”. And then I need two more days to finish it, maybe, being that the good scenario. So I was like “okay, three days is a song, 10 songs is 30 days which is a month…”, you know? And then it took me like a year to make an album because not every song you make eventually ends up on that shortlist for the album. It’s definitely a way bigger project than I imagined. There’s also a lot of promotional stuff, which you have to take care of.

And you have created songs with your fans on Instagram with polls. But how does it feel to keep these creations of the album from the fans until you release the album? 

Yeah, I’ll just be like “Hey, there’s something finished. Surprise!” [laughs]
There’s plus sides to both of it. I feel like if you get to work on your own thing without telling anyone about it, you can take as much time as you want, or you can try to develop something new. But you know, I just get a lot of energy from other people also. So I kind of feed of the energy and when I write a song together with the people, it’s kind of like you feel what works and what gives people energy and it gives me energy and it elevates the songwriting. But then again, I feel like some of my best songs are written with my Instagram followers and some of my other best songs are written completely alone by myself, so I feel like there’s a healthy balance there. And it was kind of scary the first time I decided I could write my own thing without you guys, but I think it works out well. 

And your music has these 80s vibes and synths. Did you grow up listening to that kind of music? Or was it more like you, maybe in your teenage years, discovering that kind of music and then being influenced by it?

My parents used to listen to that type of music, so I got a little bit influenced by that. But when I was around 19, I discovered the 80s and all of these artists and I started listening to it more. And that was the moment I got more inspired by that, I’d say. 

And what artists are the ones that influenced you the most?

Ooh, I think Tears for Fears, maybe Phil Collins, um, I’m forgetting like a really big one now… Wham! as well… All these classic 80s songs like Break My Stride by Matthew Wilder and Pet Shop Boys… Basically the really 80s, heavy 80s sound. 

And what music are you most into right now? 

Ooh, I still love the 80s. I also do love pop music, so like every Friday I’m checking all the new releases. So indie pop, kind of that space, I’d say. 

And you started your YouTube channel in 2013. What motivated you to do so?

Um… I saw there were these other Dutch YouTubers who were making videos, and I was already making videos for a few years just with my brother, like videos for fun, and then I saw a Dutch YouTuber who made little skits, and I was like “hey, I feel like I could do that”, and then I started, and of course it sucked, but I thought it was very much fun, so I kept doing it, and then eventually it grew into what it is now.

Did it ever make you feel scared at first? Was there anything stopping you from starting YouTube at first?

No, I don’t think I was kind of like thinking about that part. And I guess I’ve been lucky, I’ve never experienced a lot of, like, hate or anything like that. 

How did you come up with the name of you channel: Blanks?

So my last name is de Wit, in Dutch, which means “the white”. But I was like maybe Blank in France it’s white. It sounds cooler than my real name.

And, so by the videos we can see that you play a lot of instruments. How long have you been playing those and how did you learn?

I started with guitar when I was like 11, I believe. And I had like 3 years of lessons and then one more year when I was 15, I think. I started singing around that same time. And then when I was 18, I felt like I needed to know some more music theory so I took 2 years of piano lessons, to kind of round it out a little bit. And the bass guitar is kind of like guitar. So I teach myself just like producing and songwriting, watching a lot of YouTube videos, making a lot of shitty things and then learning from that. 

And on your channel you have some series of videos such as “styleswap” and the “one hour song challenge”. But also, the one mentioned earlier about writing songs with your fans on Instagram. Has there been any time that an option has been winning and you didn’t want that option to win and being like “I have this in mind, but you’re voting this, so I have to do that”?

Yeah, definitely. I think it has happened twice or something? I’m not sure which song. The thing is, sometimes an option wins, and I’m like “I know already this is not like the best option, but I’m trying it out because they’re voting for it”, and then I try it out. And then I’ll post a story like “Hey guys! I tried it out and your choice is wrong, so I picked the other one”. I think I did that like once or twice, and I think one of the songs was “Breathe In Breathe Out”, because they voted for a bass line and then it just didn’t work so I changed it. I changed it to something even different than the two options I think because I was like “I need to save the song”.

How did you come up with this series?

There was this trend going on on YouTube like “my Instagram followers decide my day”. So, I was like “hey, I can maybe do that with, like, a music video”. And that kind of like sparked it. 

And the first time you did it, did you think that it was going to be a flop, or did you think that it would work and get a good song at the end of it?

I don’t know what I expected, actually. I was just like “let’s give it a try”. And I think around that time I wasn’t like really focused on how good the song would be, but more on how good the video would be and I was thinking, “this is gonna be a sick video” and then the song was the byproduct. And the first one wasn’t that good, but the second one was actually really good, where we were also on my team like “hey, we’re gonna put that in the song because it slaps”, you know. 

And you’ve had your YouTube channel for 10 years already. Looking back at your 16-year-old self, what would you tell him and what tips would you tell your younger self? 

Oh, um… Basically stay delusional, just keep going for it, yeah, I feel like that works. The older you get, I feel like the less delusional you dare to dream. So, I would just encourage him to dream big, just go for it and focus on what feels good. 

Are there any dreams you want to fulfill as a musician? 

Yeah, definitely. I want to score a worldwide hit with Blanks and also as a writing-producer behind the scenes. And I would love to be able to tour European venues that are like 5,000 to 10,000 people, like big shows. 

And there any dreams that are further away from music? 

I’d love to write a book one day. Kind of like a self-help book. It’s like a different path. 

And what would be one of your career’s highlights so far? 

Um, this tour definitely. Also… Oh my god, good question. Definitely this tour, we played one show in the Netherlands in Paradiso, which is like a legendary venue. That definitely was like a highlight. And then, as a writer-producer, I worked on an album, which won the number one in Belgium this year, which was for me to write and produce on a high album, I was like “man, that’s so cool”.

And what do people have to expect from Blanks this 2023 and upcoming 2024?

Back to the roots, more YouTube, more music and more together, more with the community. Because I’ve been writing a lot outside, like what I just said like on my own, without telling what I’m doing. So I wanna do that more the next. 

And what are you most looking forward in the future?

We have another Paradiso show in the Netherlands in December. That’s gonna be really cool. And then I can’t wait to start a YouTube series, the “Fill in the Blanks”, which I hope it works, I feel like it’s gonna be really cool. And then when I shoot music videos in different cities in Europe and then just to build like a body of work, of music, together. I feel like that’s gonna be amazing. So, I can’t wait to start. 

Thank you so much. 

That’s it?