Entrance, a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee, creates the kind of music that sticks to your bones. Playing a unique brand of psychedelic folk music (often with blues songs now in the public domain), I find myself humming the tunes for days after I've heard them, wonderful songs that are nostalgic and forward-thinking, bright and murky. In fact, these very traits could be seen when I met Blakeslee. He is at once young and old, recollective and revolutionary, light and dark.
Describe your music to someone who hasn't heard your music.
Well, hmm... Let's see... It's been a lot of different kinds of music over the years, but right now it's a three-piece electric rock band. I guess the word “psychedelic” would be the main word that I'd use to describe it to someone that's never heard it.
What were your influences growing up, and what do you listen to now?
Right now I listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac actually, but that's sort of a new development. I'd say classic rock and folk and blues and just American music in general. When I was in my teens, I got into a lot of punk and hardcore and just the whole underground music scene, and that's probably been the biggest overall influence. And I guess what I do now is definitely inspired by both of those realms, like folk and blues and country and old-time music and also like metal and hardcore and punk – like Nirvana and Sex Pistols.
When you are making music do you try to get this amalgamation?
It's more of a natural thing... instead of deciding what I want the music to be like, I just let it come out, and that's how it comes out. I can listen to it and be like, “that sounds like that,” but it's not an intentional thing. It's just what comes out.
I read that you taught yourself as a child to play the guitar upside down. Teaching yourself the guitar is a huge undertaking...
That's pretty much all I've done with most of my time my whole life.
So you always knew you wanted to be a musician?
I think so.
You don't remember feeling... You always felt like that's what you wanted to be doing?
Pretty much. Like when I first got a guitar, I basically, from then on, didn't really hang out with other kids. I just played music by myself. My main friends, [who] I acquired later on, were older people who were making music more than my actual peers.
There's definitely something in teaching yourself to play an instrument. It involves becoming obsessed with it, and you want to challenge yourself. Instead of just like deciding you're good enough at any given point. So I'm definitely still teaching myself to this day.
A good friend first turned me on to your music, and the song I first heard was “Darlin,” and he and I both lost our fathers awhile back, and there's the line “My father is a gentle man/ He helps out whenever he can”. This line is so lovely and real and something we can relate to. That said, what do you hope that people get out of your music? And obviously, you are making an impact, do you consider other people and the impact you have when you are creating? Does that even make sense?
It does make sense, yeah. Some things, with lyrics I write... like that particular song that you are talking about, each line in a way is dedicated to someone. If they hear it, they can probably tell -- all the people in my family, in my life, who mean something to me, and I tried to put them all into a song. The way that any song I've ever heard mean something to me that it doesn't mean to the person who wrote it because of my experience is basically why I even have words to my songs. Cause though I am expressing myself, there wouldn't be much of a point in singing just for yourself. It's totally about people having a chance to respond to it based on their experience and have it mean something to them that I couldn't even imagine ‘cause I'm only me. I don't think too specifically about other people. Though, now I'm writing a lot of new songs that are more intended for political kinds of things. And I'm thinking more about the audience, the people that might hear it, and trying to put my ideas into a language that they can understand that's not going to offend them and that they will understand what I'm trying to say. So, the more of a message that you try to have in music, the more you need to really think about who the audience is and try to make it something they can grasp instead of phrasing things in a way only you can understand.
Okay. So now, I'll give you a word and you can either respond with one word or with what the word means to you. The first one is "truth."
It's one-word response can be "light."
I just finished reading a book like ten minutes before you got here. I've been reading this book for almost a year. It's called The Autobiography of a Yogi, and I just finished reading it, and it ends with this really wise man trying to delve into truth and someone asks him what is truth and he doesn't respond. He's just silent. That was his answer. He has a footnote that says that there's no way to explain what truth is. That everything is truth and that there would be no way to separate an idea to define it ‘cause that would be a piece of it and truth is a wholeness. That's something I think about a lot.
Next word: "light." Strange, eh?
Coincidence! Light... I guess "energy" would be a one-word response to light. But another thing I was just reading in the same book, in one of the last chapters one of the last chapters was about this woman who never ate for like 56 years and [Paramhansa] Yogananda, the guy who wrote the book, had a chance to meet her near the end of his life. He tried to understand basically through spiritual will and through cosmic knowledge how someone could survive without food or water for a really, really long time. And everyone around this woman knew this was true cause she never ate or drank anything. And basically she was feeding herself from light because there was a scientific explanation in the book in the footnotes. Chlorophyll, which is in plants, is what captures the light, and it's what transforms it into energy for the plant and either by eating a plant or an animal that ate a plant. Which I don't eat meat, but even when you eat meat, you are eating the energy from the plant through the animal. But basically sunlight is what powers the plant to power like everything else. So, Chlorophyll is a substance which traps light which is energy and transforms it into fuel.
But this lady, by not eating anything, basically cut out the process of needing the thing that traps the light to create her energy. So, she just fed directly off the light. She basically was like a plant in some ways. In spiritual ways but also in a somewhat scientific way, because a plant is just fed by the energy that's given to it and gives back energy and recycles it that kind of shows that light is the fundamental thing that everything is made of or that powers everything.
Coming after "light," a word would be "balance."
Without light, you can't have dark and vice versa. Without heat, you can't know what cold is. And I'm trying to integrate darkness in a more positive way into my life and into my music and everything that I do, cause it is dangerous to be too tuned into the dark side even if you are just trying to criticize it and say that things should be different. If you focus too much of your energy on negativity or darkness, it's not good. But you also need that for balance, so that's why I would say balance. But I think that to deny the dark side would be just as foolish or unsuccessful as to only live in the dark, but you can ignore that it's real -- that everything has another side to it.
Hmm... Sentence could mean like a sentence in a paragraph, but also like this is your sentence. Hmm...
The way that all these things are going after one another makes it mean a certain thing. I feel like sentence as in what time you have to serve for something that you did wrong or what your unavoidable obligation is. A lot of people, including myself, sentence themselves without even realizing it, to a certain way of looking at things or doing things. That's a self-imposed sentence but kind of what a lot of pain and suffering seems to comes from. Even if you created it yourself, feeling trapped in a certain way of looking at something so you can't see that there are a lot of other ways that might be different, that might make everything seem a lot better.
Where do you see the focus of the band heading in the future? And what sorts of things do you have in progress?
We just did some of our first recordings as a group of all three of us. All three of us writing and composing and performing the songs together. On our earlier record, I played a lot of the bass, even though the bass player was really Paz who played the bass live. So in some ways, we are just becoming a real band where everyone has their own roles in creating the songs, instead of me writing the songs and having them play it. So we are definitely starting to record some new songs. We are still starting to write the songs; it's the first time I've ever collaborated with anyone on writing. It's going to become more of a real band. I'll still be the leader of the band, but it's much more of a collaborative thing, not just like solo project. And we will def tour a lot, but we are just trying to figure out when.
Do you guys have some sort of time frame for a release?
We are starting to write and record, but I don't know when it will come out. Pretty anxious to do it, but not sure when.
So, you are from Baltimore and from what I read it seems as though you've traveled around a lot. Why LA?
The first tour that I ever did I was still in high school and I was playing bass in a band, and we played in LA and a few other places in California. And ever since then, I've always wanted to move out here. I was probably like 16 at the time. Paz, who plays in the band, grew up here and my girlfriend who isn't from here but she grew up here as well, and we were kind of traveling without knowing where we were going to live, and we came here and never left. It just seems like a natural thing that drew me here. I pretty much always wanted to live in California ever since I can remember. I think some day I would prefer the northern part of California, but it seems like a good place to start.
If you were making a mix tape for the road, what song would you put first, and what song would you put last?
I know what I would put last. It would be this song by Bob Dylan from Time Out of Mind called “The Highland,” I think. It's a 15-minute song that every verse barely goes anywhere, but it eventually tells a story. We listen to that a lot driving on tour, because it's a good way to kill 20 minutes. The first might be a little harder. We have been listening to a lot of R. Kelly on tour. Like something that I never realize that I would. We bought it at Wal-Mart while we were traveling across Texas, and we just listened to it over and over again. I think right now the first song would be track 4; I think its called “Leave Your Name.” It's his answering machine if you called, and the lyrics are about what he's probably doing cause he's not answering the phone and how he'll call you back. They probably don't represent what would be on the mix, but they would be first and last.
Lastly, is there anything you'd like the TMT readers to know?
Just that there's a new kind of music that doesn't exist yet, and we are gonna try to be the first people to create it.