Blonde Elvis: The Camp Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Sexy guitar pop.
File next to: Josef K, The Flamin Groovies, Orange Juice
Playing: Camp Wavelength, Saturday August 29 @ Artscape Gibraltar Point. Get your ticket here!

Jesse James Laderoute: frontman for Blonde Elvis, Torontonian for 11 years, and lover of the email interview. Inspired by the rumblings of the city, Laderoute’s music falls somewhere between modest self-awareness and ironic social commentary — or maybe it’s both of those things. Or maybe it’s none of those things. You decide, have a listen.

It’s been more than two years since you last talked to Wavelength about Blonde Elvis. You talked about performers self-consciously manipulating their image to appease an audience and that the name Blonde Elvis was taking a shot at that. Has it been difficult to uphold that ideal?

It’s not particularly difficult to maintain a certain level of honesty with yourself about the inherently performative nature of your actions once you’re willing to admit it to yourself.

How have you seen/experienced Blonde Elvis change since the band’s inception?

Well, there have been a number of line-up changes since when we started. The live performances more closely represent how the recordings sound these days. There was a point at which I was simply singing on stage without playing guitar, and that was a fun time for me. I’d like to get back to doing that eventually, but it would mean adding a sixth member, which at this point seems impractical.

There’s a description on your Bandcamp for the song “Slow Fall on Egypt” that says, “a meditation on sexual conquest as a metaphor for regional politics.” Where do you get the inspiration to say things like this?

I came up with the title “Slow Fall on Egypt” and thought that telling a vague story about one particular type of boundary being crossed might be an interesting way to make a point about all of the ways in which people, states, and other institutions interact with the litany of boundaries that govern their relationships with temporal reality.

What draws you to creating lyrics and music that explore these ideas?

I want to make work that is self-aware, funny and hopefully a bit thoughtful. I’m not interested in exploring my explicit personal feelings. I prefer that my thoughts and feelings remain a bit obscure.

I see you went to River & Sky [in Sturgeon Falls, ON, near Sudbury]. I went there last year and absolutely loved it, from the bands to just the environment of that kind of festival. What were the highlights of the weekend?

It’s a great festival. It was an absolute pleasure to see Antibalas play on Saturday night. It made me feel embarrassed to call myself a musician.  Our pals in Mick Futures are always great to see as well.

How do you find Toronto in terms of being conductive to you creating music?

It’s a densely populated place, and a great number of my friends are doing great things. It’s both inspiring and motivating.

Do you ever get out of the city to find inspiration/create?

Not really. Most of my ideas come to me while I’m walking down the street in Toronto.

I see you walking around the Annex quite a bit, and you told me before that you live in the area. You always look pretty serious and focused on getting somewhere. Are you always really busy or is that the way you look when you’re traveling via feet?

I am often waiting until the last possible minute to leave for work so it makes sense that there would be a look of determination on my face. I’m trying to work on my lateness. I’m also convinced that, for myself at least, time spent walking is time spent thinking. That’s when I do my best listening to mixes I’ve been working on. It also gives me time to think about answers to questions like these.

Can you tell me about the album that’s coming out? Will you be teasing the crowd with some new tunes at Camp Wavelength?

Well On Vanity has already been out on CD for a few months, but should be arriving on vinyl any day now. Our follow-up companion EP titled On Agency is pretty much completed and will hopefully come out before the sky cracks open on the day of Reckoning.

— Interview by Stephanie DePetrillo

Blonde Elvis plays Camp Wavelength Saturday, August 29 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island). Get your single day tickets here! Or better yet, join us for the whole weekend and get a Festival Pass!