To welcome our new advertiser UTM Music Group, we chatted with their artist Caroline Blind about her past with Sunshine Blind and beyond, her last album The Spell Between, life through the pandemic, and her upcoming performance at Goth City Festival in Leeds.
How would you sum up Caroline Blind in one sentence?
Caroline Blind : Always searching for the perfect song/sound…
Back during the Sunshine Blind days, Sunshine Blind were infamously lambasted by Andrew Eldritch as a band “too gothic” for The Sisters of Mercy to follow onstage. Do you embrace the label and term gothic? The term goth? What are your thoughts on the usefulness or hindrances of genre labels and the solidarity or limiting aspects of subculture labels?
CB : I don’t get hung up on labels at all, so anything anyone wants to tag it with, I know it’s for their own reference, not mine. I definitely don’t limit myself to any particular genre, I’ll use trap beats, or acoustic guitars, or anything else if I feel fits the mood, though of course I’m attracted to darker moods and minor chords at the end of the day!
Labels are a fact of music, at times they have helped me, others not. Certainly did not help me when it came to The Sisters of Mercy, who seem to care if their fans like to wear black or not. I do not care, I just make music for whoever. I hang around goth clubs when I’m home or traveling, because that’s where my interests and friends can usually be found, so I feel at home in the goth scene, yes.
Can you tell us a bit of your story in your own words?
CB : I formed Sunshine Blind with guitarist CWHK in 1991, just outside of New York City. At the time I was mixing my very loud and powerful rock vocals with some quieter stuff, usually within the space of a song for maximum punch. His guitar style mixed some riff and hardcore guitars with a more trad goth 12 string guitar sounds. Together I thought we had unique and dynamic sound.
We played NYC and then up and down the East Coast, making noise for a while, playing out a lot, and got signed to our first record label (Scream Records) within a year or two, and then the larger Energy Records in 1996. We released two albums in the 90s, “Love the Sky to Death” and “Liquid”, which had riffy guitars combined with swirly noises, barn burners, and torch songs.
We began to tour nationally. We moved to San Francisco in 1994, but kept on the road until The Sisters of Mercy threw us off that opening slot for them, and made off with all the promotional money our label had invested, causing the label to go under. After that we weren’t able to tour for a while, and all our momentum was lost. We put out a third album in 2003 called I Carry You, which was more trip hop and psychedelic than our previous two albums. Like I said, we never cared for making the same sounds over, we were happy to try new things and experiment.
Anyway, the band really broke up around 2004, and I started thinking about doing a solo career in 2016, after a few reunion shows inspired me to do more music. I started reaching out to people I had known through touring and playing, and found many who were up for collaborating, so I’ve been very fortunate to have some of my favorite, and the best, musicians I know contribute to my recent work.
Who are some of the most memorable artists you’ve collaborated with?
CB : Since I began the solo career in 2016, I’ve worked with members of The Wake (US), Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Switchblade Symphony, Faith and The Muse, Dream Disciples, The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, KMFDM, Lords of Acid, and many others. It’s been great catching up with old friends, and great meeting and working with new friends on that list.
I did a whole album of electronic music with Wolfie, the guitarist from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, so we’ve worked the closest for longest, probably. I’ve been to Leeds a couple times to visit with him now, it’s going really well, we call the project “Voidant”. We put a full album up on Bandcamp last year, it was really fun and challenging to do, since electronic music is not my main language, but I think that’s what makes ours unique! Electronic music made by a rock guitarist and a rock vocalist!
What are some of the most memorable moments?
CB : Every moment back has been a treat, to reconnect with people I didn’t really have time to get to know back in the 90s has been great. And when I hit the road with George from Switchblade Symphony on guitar and Dave The Dramedy on bass back in 2019/2020, we had some real adventures, and great laughs, as well as good times seeing old and new friends/DJs/bands/fans on the road. I’m so glad we got out and did those shows before the pandemic, so many great memories!
How was 2020 and 2021 for you? And how is this year going?
CB : 2020 and 2021 were okay for me, I’m one of those people who hardly goes outside anyway, and since I had been working in the studio making a lot of music. It was not a big change to stay inside full time and trade files with people I was working with.
I had planned to move from San Francisco back to New Jersey in the summer of 2020 for a while before the pandemic, and I just stuck to those plans, even with the pandemic, I just picked up house and moved across the country.
I bought an old church building to live in and put my studio in, and I’ve been fixing it up. With the lockdown I have been able to just focus on the chruch, so that was okay for me, too.
Musically, I released my solo album The Spell Between in early 2020, and since then, I just released singles and videos from it. I wasn’t able to tour, of course, so I put together a remix EP, which allowed me to reach out to people from lockdown and work with new people, so that worked out in my favor. I got great remixes done from Ben Christo, (guitarist of The Sisters of Mercy), Mark Gemini Thwaite (from The Mission, Gary Numan, and Wonderstuff) and Ashley Bad (from Lords of Acid), and also a remix from Andy Blacksugar (from KMFDM).
This year, I have my first live shows booked for this summer and my fingers crossed the shows will happen, as I know what can happen if you lose momentum on your projects! Also working on new music, hopefully I will get an EP out this year or next.
What are some of your personal favorite things? Music, movies, books, fashion designers, etc.? Anything you’d recommend right now or anything that has a connection or influence on The Spell Between?
CB : My favorite things are musical and music. I enjoy immersing myself in playing in bands and playing in the studio, collaborating, in person, or by trading files on the internet, talking with my friends who are, or have been, in bands/are promoters/are DJs or any type of artist or industry professional. I worked in a nightclub for a long time, so bartenders, promoters, club staff, or performers have always made up a big part of my social circle. The Spell Between means just that. I enjoy what happens when you meet and interact with people, the spell between you, be it time or something magical that happens…
I try to hang out with people and go to clubs between the music making whenever I can. I like to go see shows, of course in many genres, classical to modern, etc. Outside of that, I have random interests in sewing/fashion, motorcycles (either riding them or watching MotoGP racing). I’m a huge Anglophile and I like to travel to the UK whenever I can, I enjoy scifi shows, especially anything to do with alternate realities/time travel. Books, I mostly like biographies and autobiographies. Other than that I enjoy staying home and trying to deal with my mood disorders and neurodivergent thoughts. [laughs]
What’s your favorite way to stay connected to your followers and fans?
CB : Traveling to see them in person, if at all possible, by playing shows. But I also really enjoy making music in the studio for them, making videos and interacting with them virtually in that way.
You’ll be headlining the opening night of Goth City Festival in Leeds, UK on July 7th. Are you excited, how are you preparing, and anything special we can expect?
CB: It’s been a pandemic since I had just started playing out live again, so I’ll pick up where I left off. Shake out the backing tracks I have, make new backing tracks for the new songs I’ve done since, get back in touch with my live band members, start making plans for rehearsals/travel, that sort of thing. I’m glad I have time (and the space) to prepare for that show and I hope it launches me on to others and new horizons. People can expect a good covering of my whole career, song-wise, old and new, they can expect my new band for the first time in the UK, and they can probably expect guest appearances from my UK collaborators, I’m still seeing about that.
Any new music releases on the horizon?
CB : I have a song I am working on for a covers/tribute compilation album right now that’s coming up, so I’m working on that first. And then I do have a couple songs I’ve been kicking around to get to after that. I’d like to do an EP this year or next with those. And also, do more of the Voidant music, too. We’ll see how it turns out!
What’s in store for Caroline Blind in 2022 and beyond?
CB : I’ve been so happy to get back to doing music, and with whoever is around and whenever I feel like it. I will continue until I have nothing more to say, I suppose. First and foremost, my music is self-expression and how I relate to the world, and deal with the aforementioned mood disorders and neurodivergent thoughts. So I will carry on engaging in musical diversions until I have nothing else to say/share on those fronts, which will probably be never.