FEATURE: Blue Angel “Everyone is human and we deal with human emotions, not just physical location.”

The rain is pouring outside as I sit in the warmth of Angel’s Candid Cafe enjoying a relaxed latte with new London based duo Blue Angel. The location is not far from the fateful meeting place of producer/composer Jake Jansen and vocalist Bella Bennett. Had the two of them not been rehearsing in different rooms at the Backstreet Studios on Holloway Road, the chances are their paths might never have crossed. At the time Bella was rehearsing some songs to sing at a friend’s wedding, whilst Jake “was rehearsing there with a different band at the time, but I had some extra songs, which didn’t fit in with that sound. I remember I had popped out to get a drink when I heard Bella singing in one of the other rehearsal rooms as the door wouldn’t close properly. I hung around for a few minutes, liked what I heard and then popped in to say hello. I guess if the door hadn’t been broken, we may never have met!”

The chance meeting led to the discovery of the mutual liking of mojitos. Several drinks later, the seedlings of a collaborative project had been planted. Bella, who was more accustomed to performing live jazz was about to enter an electronically inspired world she knew little about.

“I guess if the door hadn’t been broken, we may never have met!”

With a musical direction sorted, the project started to take shape. Two strangers in the middle of London had found their common ground. A passion for music would bring them together, but what did they have to say that no-one had said before. Neither Bella nor Jake are true Londoners. Bella hails from a “relatively sleepy” town and is enamoured with her adoptive home. Yet “in spite of the liveliness and opportunities that London holds, it can be a tough and sometimes isolating environment – and we really wanted to reflect this contrast in our music.” Using their surroundings as a mutual inspiration, the pair set to work on creating the music.

However, Jake had one last ingredient to bring to the table. The deal had been done, they were now to perform as a duo, yet in order to do so, they needed a name. “I have always loved the film ‘Blue Angel’ with Marlene Dietrich and wanted our music to sound like the melancholic feel of that film.” So strong was his connection with the fi lm that it inspired him to put finger to keyboard. In order to express to Bella why the name related to their notion of urban isolation, Jake penned a “moving short story. After reading the story about two friends who used to meet up in the ‘Blue Angel’ pub to share their life-stories and memories – a meeting cut tragically short by the untimely death of the protagonist, the melancholy the story evoked fitted with the mood of the sound we wanted to create.”

“In spite of the liveliness and opportunities that London holds, it can be a tough and sometimes isolating environment.”

It was a story of another type that inspired the duo’s lead single “43 Days”. Filled with combating harmonies, the piano opening brews into an internalized war. The stark reality of a lost life is further explored in the stunning black and white Julian Bowman music video. Having read about yet another needless stabbing, this time on the number 43, a route Jake uses most days, he felt compelled to express his inner anguish at the everyday occurrence of needless violence in the city he loves. “’43 Days’ was written because I used to catch that bus every day to work and the sheer randomness and apparent danger of something as mundane as sitting on a bus just highlighted the urban environment we now live in.” Far from trying to correct a situation, Jake and Bella are mere observers of a tragic situation. However, Bella stresses that though ‘43 Days’ will not right any wrongs, she hopes “that this single does cause people to stop and question unnecessary violence in society today – particularly the recent rise in knife crime.”

Whilst Bella and Jake can only record their own experiences of urban living, they are not afraid that their London lives will feel alien to people in different circumstances. Like everyone else, Jake says that they only “write about what we know. Wherever they are from or wherever they are living, I would like to think that people could relate to the lyrical themes in our music. Everyone is human and we deal with human emotions, not just physical location.”

43 Days is out now.

Words & Image: Jeremy Williams


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