Interview: Blake Red Talks Songwriting, Vulnerability, and Gibson Guitars

Blake Red
Blake Red
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A few weeks ago, alt-rock multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer Blake Red introduced the music video for “Follow Me.”

Blake Red
Blake Red

A dazzling guitarist, with a deliciously edgy, deluxe voice, Blake’s beguiling sound is at once swanky, visceral, and wickedly alluring.

With the release of her 2019 debut EP, S.O.S (Songs On Suicide), Blake erupted on the alt-rock scene. S.O.S presented songs rife with intimate vulnerability. As 2021 unfolded, Blake revealed she had voluntarily entered a semi-hospitalization program to safeguard her mental health.

In “Follow Me,” Blake expresses her personal struggles with anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.

Improving daily, an aura of imminence now encompasses Blake, witnessed by the raw, fearless lyrics.

“Follow me, / You’ll find out soon / Where the colors may take you.”

Chock-full of snarling guitar muscle, “Follow Me” harks back to the searing brawn of ‘90s bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden, laced with the alt-rock punch of Hole.

Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Blake Red to discover more about the person behind the music, her songwriting process, and her guitars.

What three things can’t you live without?

My family, my craft, and friendship.

What’s your songwriting process? Melody first, or lyrics?

Lyrics typically come just about last in the process. I like to start with the musical composition and arrangement. Sometimes I’ll start with a drum groove and other times it’ll start from a guitar/bass riff or chord progression. Once the instrumental is all set, then I’ll solidify the melody and lyrics around that.

What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?

I hope my listeners will realize that vulnerability is not a weakness and asking for help when it’s difficult shows strength. That would be the overall theme of my music and a big takeaway.

How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?

I started playing electric guitar the summer before 5th grade and drums later that same year. I also took piano lessons and played clarinet in the school band. Music was always a big part of my household. My parents introduced me to a lot of great R&B/soul, funk. and jazz. The first guitar player I listened to was Carlos Santana and my mom introduced me to the Beatles at a young age. I discovered hard rock/metal from Guitar Hero and fell in love with the kind of songs in the game. Songwriting and putting bands together always came naturally to me.

Which musicians/vocalists influenced you the most?

Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell are an important influence on my vocal and guitar sound and lyrics.

Which artists, in your opinion, are killing it right now?

HER is the first guitar girl who comes to mind and is truly killing the game! Also, Britney Howard from Alabama Shakes.

What was the inspiration for “Follow Me?”

This was a song that I wrote and performed years ago when I attended Berklee College of Music. My mom inspired me to rearrange, revamp, and record the song.

What kind of guitar do you play? And why?

My main workhorse guitar is a 2014 Gibson Les Paul Custom Lite. I love the sound on those humbuckers. I’m a big Gibson girl, I also have a 2020 SG Modern and a 2017 Explorer HP. I also have a Fender American Deluxe Strat Plus which is one of my favorite guitars.

What’s your definition of ‘tone?’ And has your tone changed or remained the same?

I think of tone as a personal fingerprint of sound that every musician has. My tone is always evolving and experimenting. The tone for “Follow Me” is different from the tone of my “S.O.S” EP. One is softer than the other, but they do tie together.

Why do you make music?

I feel that music is my truest form of self-expression. Without it, I don’t feel like I’m speaking my mind and heart fully. I’m an introverted person so I don’t always get everything out with words. Music fills in those blanks.

Looking ahead, what’s next for you?

Lots of time in the studio this Spring and Summer. I’m currently recording new music and I’m extremely excited to share what I’ve been working on!

Follow Blake Red Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

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