Interview: Donovan Blanc’s Joseph Black

The latest signing from Brooklyn-based independent label Captured Tracks is New Jersey duo Donovan Blanc, which consists of self-proclaimed “pop junkies” Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab. Black and Schwab previously recorded music as Honeydrum and the pair’s prolific output yielded nine lo-fi EPs in two years, crafting quick, experimental tracks featuring hazy pop melodies washed with distortion.

The pair regrouped in 2013 as Donovan Blanc, whose self-titled debut LP was released June 24. With refreshed focus and clearer production, the band’s colorful new songs feature addicting hooks, jangly guitar vibes, and poetic vocals. With a singer-songwriter pop sensibility, Donovan Blanc recalls 60s acoustic folk and 80s R.E.M.-inspired guitars. Their inventive sound builds a unique tension in the contrast between its driving bass line and mellow vocals. The New Jersey pair have created warm, summery pop tunes that fit nicely in Captured Tracks’ growing lineup. I had the pleasure of interviewing Donovan Blanc’s Joseph Black this summer. Here’s what he had to say:

Alternative Nation: How would you describe Donovan Blanc’s music to someone who’s never heard your work?

Joseph Black: Like a good custard; delicate yet firm.

Congratulations on signing with your new label, Captured Tracks. Are there any plans to collaborate with your new label-mates?

Not yet, but we’re still holding out hope for Blanc Dogs.

What musical influences have inspired your work? What do you guys listen to?

Currently I’ve been listening to João Donato, who Ray turned me onto, and I’ve just begun a bit of an Andy Gibb kick.

Donovan Blanc.

How does Honeydrum compare to Donovan Blanc? Do you see Honeydrum as a step in your musical evolution or its own, distinct project?

Honeydrum was more scatterbrained. That isn’t to say that we are interested in doing the same thing over and over again as Donovan Blanc, but we’re definitely trying to treat each release as a cohesive project, rather than a stream of consciousness idea pad.

You guys have recently been playing some festivals, including the Northside Fest, with some of your Captured Tracks brethren. How is it to play your new material live?

We’ve played a bunch of shows as Donovan Blanc and they’ve all been fun. Since many of these songs evolved as we were recording, it’s been a real treat to hear them performed by a full band.

What are your plans for the future?

We like to keep busy so we are already messing around with ideas for the next thing.

I’m excited to hear what Donovan Blanc has in store for us in the future, but in the meantime you can find Donovan Blanc’s self-titled debut, out via Captured Tracks, here.