Blushing are a band formed of two husband and wife pairs, although it didn’t start out that way. Back in 2015, singer and guitarist Michelle Soto plucked up the courage to share some songs she had been working on with friend Christina Carmona. From that friendship, a creative partnership was born, Christina adding her classically trained vocals and bass-playing to the mix, shifting Michelle’s rough sketches into fully formed compositions. Recruiting their spouses, they set about recording the songs that would become their debut EP, Tether.
After the EP’s release, and with growing acclaim, the band went back into the studio as quickly as possible and recorded their latest offering, Weak. The record showcases a sound Blush are making entirely their own; shimmering guitars, rolling bass-lines, heavy drum hits and a vocal set to draw a raft of Cocteau Twins comparisons. From the gloomy Hidden Places to the triumphantly loud Bound, Weak is a record that wears its melancholy with pride.
Continuing our accidental theme this week of interviewing bands from Austin, Texas, today we’re delighted to chat with Blushing about the joys of being a band with your spouse, the continuing shoegaze revival and why more can be done to inspire women into music.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who are Blushing?
We are a four-piece dream pop / shoegaze band from Austin Texas that formed in 2015. Michelle and Christina had been friends for years as their husbands both grew up together and played in bands in El Paso. Michelle approached Christina, a lifelong vocalist, with some rough songs. Christina grabbed a bass and Blushing was formed. Jake and Noe were brought on board for drums and lead guitar and so far we have released two EP’s, “Tether” in 2017 and “Weak” this year.
FTR: You have the somewhat unusual position of being comprised of two sets of husbands and wives. What’s it like being in a band with the person you’re married to?
Michelle: I think it’s just like any other hobby you might share with your spouse. It brings you closer by working together towards a common goal and you learn a lot about that person by knowing their creative process. You can definitely be more open with feedback (perhaps a little too open) and spend more time working out ideas since you spend so much time together.
Christina: It’s fun! He knows what I’m thinking with just a look and vice versa. Making music together definitely creates a deeper connection and deeper understanding of one another. On the other hand, sometimes he thinks my skirts are too short on stage, so that’s annoying.
FTR: Your EP, Weak, just came out, what can you tell us about recording it?
Jake: It was fun overall. We only had 4 days to record the 5 tracks, so it’s full days of recording. The songs seem like they are about 80% done when we walk into the studio, then once we hear rough cuts and playback, things are rewritten/added/removed and the songs take shape as time goes on. I think this is true for every musician though. But it’s always exciting to start studio time because we know things are going to happen with the songs that we never expected, while writing them.
Noe: I really enjoy recording with Phil It’s like we’re just hanging out with friends. He understands what we’re trying to express and he always gives us great input.
Michelle: There is never a bad day a Bad Wolf Recordings. I wish I could record every day.
FTR: The shoegaze revival still seems to be going strong, why do you think the sound is back in fashion?
Michelle: I think it’s a mixture of nostalgia, influence and access. A lot of amazing new music is coming from people who may have heard shoegaze growing up and work that influence into their music. Then there’s fans of the genre since the very beginning with unprecedented access to finding and consuming new music. Bandcamp is full of musicians making shoegaze or some variation of it and a whole audience happily searching and discovering. It doesn’t hurt that Slowdive put out an amazing album last year.
Christina: Yeah, and it’s a really fun genre to play. One of my favorite things is messing around with Noe and Michelle’s pedals. One slight pedal change can completely change the vibe of a song and that keeps things really exciting and inspiring.
FTR: You’re based out of Austin, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being from such a musical city?
Jake: The only disadvantage is finding parking spots at shows, really. Other than that there is no sense of competition or disadvantage to being in such a musically influenced city. It’s very humble. For us it is cool, because usually on any given night we can go see one of our favorite bands play, while getting the chance to see a band we have never seen before and get introduced to someone new.
Christina: I may be a little biased because I was born and raised here, but I feel really fortunate to be a part of such an incredible community. I think that most bands and musicians are really supportive of each other. There’s an understanding that we’re just happy to be here having fun, making music together. Also, there are several organizations in Austin aimed at supporting musicians such as Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), a non-profit which helps provide affordable healthcare for local musicians. It’s awesome.
Noe: Any venue you play, any day of the week there are always people walking in. We’re lucky that we are in a city where people love music and enjoy going to shows.
FTR: What other bands from Austin should we be listening to?
There. Are. So. Many….. Muff, All in the Golden Afternoon, Glaze, Temple of Angels, Tres Oui, Lola Tried, Moving Panoramas, Big Bill, Silver Bars, Magnet School, Zealand the North, Honeyrude, Everything Fades, Go Fever, Rare Magic, Wildfires, of course Ringo Deathstarr, ugh… just so many!
FTR: What are your ambitions for Blushing? Do you see music as a viable career choice?
Michelle: I’m not sure music could be a viable career choice, but I also don’t think I would want to make a career out of making music. I like the idea that it’s something I do for personal fulfillment rather than a professional obligation.
Jake: It’s just a great hobby where we get to do something with good friends while meeting new and awesome people, that’s about it. It is just about having fun and has been that way since day one. I just think we are lucky to have the resources and time to be able to do what we are doing now, and not trying to take it (or ourselves) too seriously.
FTR: Why do you make music?
Christina: As cheesy as this sounds, music really is a part of who I am. Growing up with musician parents, I heard music every minute of the day. We all had to compete to use the piano. When I moved out of the house I began to feel like something was missing. It took me awhile but I realized that I didn’t feel like myself without making music. I needed an instrument so I went back home and asked my dad if I could (permanently) borrow his guitar.
Michelle: For me it’s that magical moment when you enter a creative flow and you lose track of time and are just immersed in the act of writing. It’s made even sweeter if a song that other people enjoy is the product of those moments.
FTR: Do you enjoy the aspects of being in a band that aren’t musical? What do you think of all the photoshoots, video making, interviews bands are expected to do?
Michelle: I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s fun and exciting and another avenue for creative expression. We are a pretty small band so these obligations aren’t overwhelming. And Jake is an amazing photographer so we’ve been lucky to have him as the band photographer / videographer.
Christina: Of course! We are soo lucky to have Jake for photos and videos! We are all such great friends it feels like we’re just hanging out…but in a productive way. Plus, we have an excuse for a celebratory beer afterward.
FTR: There’s still a lot of talk about underrepresentation of women in the music industry. Do you feel the industry is doing enough to encourage women to make music?
Michelle: There is definitely more that could be done, but I have to say in Austin at least, we are lucky to have many resources working tirelessly to encourage women to make music and ensure there is fair representation. In March we are playing a show in San Antonio organized by www.womenofvenus.com a group dedicated to encouraging women in their creative pursuits. So I like what I am seeing, and just want to see more of it.
FTR: What can people expect from the Blushing live show? Do you prefer playing live or writing in the studio?
Christina: You can expect fog. Lots of fog.
Noe: I don’t take playing live too seriously. If I make a mistake it’s not a big deal. I love recording because it’s my chance to really create the exact sound I want.
Michelle: I cannot help but smile the whole time I am playing. Jake hits drums harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. Noe is a magician over his pedal board and Christina swings her gorgeous custom pink Moniker bass around while singing with all her passion. As far as writing vs. playing live. As much as I enjoy the thrill of playing live, going back to the reason I make music, I prefer being in the studio dedicating hours to those magic moments of creative breakthroughs.
FTR: What’s next for Blushing? Touring? A full length album?
Michelle: We will be playing shows out of town, maybe not a tour but definitely shows outside of Austin. We’re also ramping up for SXSW and getting those shows booked. When it comes to writing we take our time. That is why we have chosen to release multiple EPs over a full length. With our writing style it makes sense to release an EP’s worth of songs that we really crafted, refined and devoted a lot of time to rather than try to write a full-length where some songs might not receive the attention they deserved. We do have a few songs near completion now and have a really cool plan for recording coming up, excited to share that soon.
Weak is out now. Click HERE for more information on Blushing.