By Harriet Kaplan
Berlin-based Germany’s Ballet School are a guitar-driven band with pop leanings and take musical sonic cues from the 1980s. This multi-national group, fronted by singer/songwriter Rosie Blair, possesses a multi-octave range that is thrilling, dramatic and ethereal. Michel Jun, also a songwriter for trio, delivers radiant guitar work and Louis McGuire offers up inspired rhythms on drums. In 2011, Ballet School formed and has released an EP “Boys Again” featuring the joyous and exuberant “Heartbreak Overdrive,” and an LP “Dew Lasts An Hour'” that includes catchy and melodic gems like “Pale Saints” and “Cherish.” Ballet School recently spoke to Black on the Canvas about the scene that was a catalyst for their formation, shared interests in crafting quality material, melding musical styles together and reaching out to new and existing fans.
What was the common interest and thread musically that brought the band together?
Ballet School: Just wanting to make good music and play live as much as possible.
How did Rosie and Michel wind up in Berlin? You’re both from Ireland, correct?
Ballet School: No Michel is Brazilian, only Rosie is Irish. Lots of people move to Berlin because it’s easy to be an artist there.
What was the Berlin music scene at the time and how has it inspired you?
Ballet School: The scene was a lot of minimal techno when I arrived, now it’s loosened up a bit. There’s more variety in music when you go out, but there’s still a lot of experimental music happening like DENA, Black Cracker, Lotic, Dan Bodan.
Before Ballet School, what other projects were you involved with?
Ballet School: Nothing so serious, Michel played guitar for a krautrock Berlin band called Camera, I was guesting on some techno tracks. We’ve both been in bands since we were teenagers.
What is different with Ballet School versus those other musical entities?
Ballet School: It’s our project so we are in the driving seat.
How did those experiences color and influence the concept of Ballet School?
Ballet School: Not really, just made us want to do our own work and not just be in someone else’s band.
How did the band come to work on a label of the Cocteau Twins? Is the band big fans of their music and sound?
Ballet School: Yes they are one of our favorite bands. But it’s not the reason we signed to Bella Union. We just wanted to find a label that nurtures its artists.
Is “The Dew Lasts an Hour” a big departure or a natural progression “Boys Again?”
Ballet School: No not at all, we wanted to introduce people to our sound over a longer period of time so we put out an EP first to give us time to build a fanbase.
I read that Ballet School has ambitions or talked about writing songwriters for mainstream artists? Is that part of the band’s plan to attract wide audience and move away from the indie/art school moniker?
Ballet School: No. We just think there isn’t so much of a genre divide musically anymore. Dirty Projectors are working on the new Rihanna album. So the mainstream is borrowing all the time for the artists on the less commercial end of the musical spectrum.
Rosie when you get compared to Gwen Stefani and Kim Gordon how does that make you feel or what is the first thought that comes to your mind?
Ballet School: I guess when you have blond hair people get reminded of other people with blond hair. But i love both those artists. They’re nothing alike apart from the hair though.
Is the tour you’re embarking on the first one as band?
Ballet School: No. We have toured many times.
What do you enjoy best and least if it isn’t the first tour?
Ballet School: Just making new connections and meeting people. It’s an amazing adventure.
Why did you pick a name like Ballet School for the band?
Ballet School: I wanted something really girly and delicate that evokes the idea of grace.
It was regarding your videos – how do you come up with the concepts and how much input do you have in them creatively and where does the inspiration come from?
Ballet School: Yes the ideas are all from us. We get inspired by lots of things. At the moment I’m mostly inspired by ideas of femininity. For some reason I find the ephemeral world of girls comforting.
I saw a comment on You Tube that mentioned Rosie comes off like a pop star in most of them. Is that conscious or unconscious?
Ballet School: I don’t really know what that means but hopefully it’s a good thing. How do pop stars act? Lorde is a pop star but I don’t think I act like her. To be honest I’m just being myself.
Ballet School Tour Dates:
Wed 22 April – NASHVILLE – The High Watt
Thur 23 April – ST. LOUIS – Billiken Club
Fri 24 April – KANSAS CITY – Middle Of The Map Fest
Sun 26 April – DENVER – Larimer Lounge
Mon 27 April – SALT LAKE CITY – Kilby Court
Wed 29 April – LOS ANGELES – Satellite Club
Thur 30 April – COSTA MESA – Maison
Fri 01 May – SAN FRANCISCO – Rickshaw Stop
Sun 03 May – PORTLAND – Hawthorne Theatre
Mon 04 May – SEATTLE – Barboza
Tue 05 May – VANCOUVER – Media Club
Fri 08 May – ST. PAUL – Turf Club
Sat 09 May – CHICAGO – Schubas