London indie rock superstars BLOXX are early in their trajectory as musicians, but they’re already showing great promise and high aspirations while still maintaining an unpretentious outlook. We spoke to lead singer Ophelia Booth about touring stateside for the first time, their debut full-length, and learning from both the good and bad of the music industry.
“Wait, are you a band?” one of the members of a group walking past us asked enthusiastically after noticing three of four members of UK indie band BLOXX posing for a photo on the steps to an apartment south of Houston in the East Village. “You look so cool!” Laughing, they took information for the show at Mercury Lounge later that night and departed, still raving over how cool they looked and attributing it to their “Britishness” and standing as musicians. This is New York City and the London rockers were truly in it.
After forming in Uxbridge, West London, during the pursuit of BTECs in music performance, they released “Your Boyfriend” and were suddenly engulfed in the whirlwind of touring in support of names like INHEAVEN, Sundara Karma, and The Wombats. BLOXX is made up of Ophelia-aka-Fee (Vocals), Taz Sidhu (guitar), Moz Norohna (drums), and Paul Raubišķis (bass), and released their debut EP Headspace in February of this year.
SiriusXM Alt Nation’s Advanced Placement tour has seen the likes of The Regrettes, Mikky Ekko, MISSIO, and more over the years, and this leg features a rotating lineup of BLOXX, Kansas City (MO)’s Hembree, and Los Angeles’ Warbly Jets. This being BLOXX’s first-ever tour stateside was bound to bring with it a semblance of novelty, not always good. “People here, they’re harder to please, but they have a good time,” Fee explains to me in her band’s tour van; our chosen interview location. “They come without knowing you, and they’re willing to listen to you and kind of judge you, but in the end, they’ve been so nice to us.” On top of that, they’re trying their hand at Slim Jim over Peperami (the latter is preferable), IHOP over Nandos (both pass inspection), and swimming in the Pacific over the Atlantic (both cold).
While this isn’t lead singer Fee’s first time in the city – let’s call it the baked apple because summer is approaching and it’s starting to get toasty – she still regards it with a tinge of wonderment, which is how she’s seen all the cities they’ve been to over the last month of cross-country touring. With the vast spaces across the states, Fee describes seeing all of it like “visiting different countries in the space of a couple of days,” which is no doubt overwhelming, but she’s had an amazing time.
She’s even using these experiences as inspiration for lyric-writing. “I’m sure, in three sets of lyrics that I’ve been writing recently, there’s references to places we’ve been and references to cities that we’ve been. It’s kind of cringey sometimes but obviously where that’s coming from is the inspiration of being in all these different places.” Outside of that, though sticking to her guitar music roots and longtime Bombay Bicycle Club fan status, she’s been drawing from the poppier side of the spectrum, namely a certain country-pop artist. “When I listened to ‘High Horse’ for the first time, that changed my writing process. Now I’m a country artist!” she jokes. “It’s not rock, it’s yeehaw bop. I still rock out on the reg, I’ll just do it with a little bit more Kacey Musgraves.”
The band have been working on writing for their upcoming debut album, which hasn’t actually been announced yet. Fee let the news slip in an interview after a show not too long ago – it’s no secret, she reassures me, but no official campaign was started for it after signing the deal. There will be new music soon, but no album this calendar year. Upon return to the UK, they’ll continue to focus on touring, writing, and finalizing the recording process, plus “some cool video stuff” that they’ll drop soon.
BLOXX have come a long way for not having a full-length release yet, and have come a long way from writing their first songs in a garage at seventeen and eighteen. “We’ve grown up so much,” Fee says. “We didn’t know anything about touring, we didn’t know anything about really playing live shows, but we’ve grown so much that we’re not afraid to try and experiment different things, and try and push the boundaries of whatever you would say a traditional indie band, a traditional rock band, is. In that sense, I think we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in general. I know that things in this industry test your patience and make you happy and just keep you neutral. They all feed into you as a person and they kind of make you grow and build yourself.” The band has kept them focused on their aspirations and goals, and they stay together as a front against the hardest parts of being in the industry.
“We’re a very aspirational band,” Fee says after listing her greatest goals – playing in Tokyo, headlining Reading & Leeds festival, releasing a top ten debut album, overall worldwide domination – outlining again BLOXX’s desire to push the boundaries of that they could possibly accomplish, but with a very down-to-earth perspective. “We don’t want to be a sell-out pop band. We want to keep our integrity, but we all have dreams individually as musicians and as a band that we want to be an amazing band that people like to listen to and get down to. There’s nothing better than playing a show and seeing people enjoy themselves, so if we could do that in front of ten thousand people at Wembley Arena, then it would be a dream come true.”