Pip Blom are based in Amsterdam and are one of the most in-demand new alternative bands from the country alongside friends Canshaker Pi and The Homesick. Similarly ambitious to their peers, the band are ill-content to be destined for domestic success and an international touring career has started to take hold: they toured in the UK 7(!) times in 2017 – and are beginning to pack out small venues with their headline show but mostly play second fiddle to bigger bands. Notably, they toured with indie stars Surfer Blood.
With a debut album still over a year away, we’ve not heard the full extent of their ability yet, which is exciting considering how incredible their recent releases on the label Nice Swan have been: ‘I Think I'm In Love' 'School' and ‘Babies Are A Lie’ are Gigwise favourites, and they have received heavy rotation on 6Music. Such is the jangly charm you can imagine John Peel would certainly have given them his nod of approval if he was around. And you can imagine these early singles gaining cult classic status in years to come.
In light of the confidence I have in this new band, I caught up with 21-year-old singer Pip Blom - the band is in her name - over the phone to hear all about the band’s rise, line-up changes, and success preceding the very formation of the band. Get to know this majorly talented singer right away – her band are deserved of your ears.
GW: There seems to me there is a bit of progression in your sound since 2016. Maybe 2017 was your best year so far. Do you feel that?
PB: In 2016 I started without a band and when I got the band together they had never been in a band before. Everything was very new and we had to catch up to what was happening.
GW: What was happening?
PB: I released one song every week in February and they got picked up by a few very big Spotify playlists. First it was on Fresh Finds, which back in 2016 was based on songs that were receiving the most positive comments organically online. A lot of people were talking about the songs. After that the songs were on a lot of Discover Weekly playlists, which at the time were brand new, and so were at the most influential period of their existence.
GW: Were those four songs your first ever songs?
PB: There were a few before that which were clumsy. These are the first that I thought, 'nice... this is going to work.'
GW: I suppose one of the major differences in your sound since those 2016 breakthrough releases is recording in a proper studio. What do you like about the new recordings more?
PB: As the band is in my name and I’ve got the blonde curly hair so I kind of look ‘cute’ people just think we just make cute girly music and that’s something I’ve had to suffer. I like that as the stuff gets a bit louder that we get compared to bands with boys. Being recognised in terms of genre instead of it being like, 'oh this is another band with a girl' is important.
GW: What were you grouped in with last year?
PB: Last year was Courtney Barnett.
GW: Was that really annoying for you? Maybe you don’t even like her music?
PB: The thing is when we first started I really liked her music and then we got the comparison all the time and I’ve stopped listening to it because I think it’s so annoying. I think it’s lazy and it’s coming because we’re both female and we’ve got this lazy singing style. I like her, though, and I think she’s very cool.
GW: Do you listen to a lot of old music? It doesn’t feel like you’re using much in terms of new technology.
PB: Well not that much really old stuff, I'm into a lot of 90s music at the moment. The Breeders, Blur, Pavement.
GW: There’s a certain charm to what those bands you like with cranky old reverbs and stuff. It’s different to a lot of these clean Pro Tools effects bands use.
PB: I don’t like band’s that sound very polished and clean. There are cool bands live that go into the studio and – in my opinion – they mess it up by making it very clean and I hate that. I think that’s so stupid. Every song you make sounds dull if you do that. Of course there are certain types of music where it fits very well but well. I don’t really like that kind of sound so I always try at home in studio. I try to find sound that make it sound a bit noisy. I just don’t like perfect sounds.
GW: You started recording music at a very young age, you were still in high school. What was it like socially? Was there anyone around doing it with you?
PB: I tried to find people in my school who wanted to play music with me but I couldn’t find them.
GW: So you were quite a loner?
PB: Yeah. I was like, ‘whatever I’m going to try and do it myself’. But now my brother is in the band which is very nice. I always asked him to join me but he was always like, 'no I don’t like playing guitar', but now he’s so cool with it.
GW: Younger or older brother?
PB: He's three years younger.
GW: Do you have same band line up now as when you started?
PB: The original bass player and drummer aren’t in my band any more. The bass player was complaining that he didn’t like the songs but he wasn’t making any effort to make them better.
GW: That’s annoying. What about the drummer?
PB: We went on tour with Surfer Blood our first drummer wasn’t able to come so the drummer we have right now joined for that tour and he played it was so much better. After the Surfer Blood tour we tried to get the old drummer back but it didn’t work. It’s quite like falling in love with someone else and you're trying to tell your boyfriend what he should do to be the same. But now the second drummer is leaving.
GW: You’ve fallen in love but have to find a new drummer...?
PB: Yeah it's terrible.
GW: How are you going to find someone?
PB: I’ve been to lot of band nights. I’ve also been to a schools for music kids. It’s difficult. We have to find someone who has a lot of time and don’t have an enough money to pay anyone.
GW: What's it like starting out in a band in Holland? Is there much government support?
PB: They have a certain amount. They pay your van rent and your gas for two tours a year which is better than some countries I suppose.
GW: That sounds great. Do you think people starting out bands in Holland realise how good some opportunities are for bands there?
PB:I guess but in the Netherlands there is only a certain level you can reach and you can’t really go further. It’s annoying because you just need to move or play shows on different country.
GW: Do you think times are changing in the Netherlands though - I'm noticing a fair few great bands emerging?
PB: Yeah they are but I think in Netherlands the mentality is when you grow up you want to be a footballer, or a DJ or a lawyer. The UK is band, football player, or lawyer. A lot more people play in bands so I think it means the number of quality of bands nights in the UK is that much better.
GW: You've toured a lot in the UK this year. Where do you like most?
PB: I haven't been everywhere but I really like Glasgow and Manchester. Both those cities are packed with venues. Our van broke down in Glasgow and we missed three shows and spent six days there which was traumatising but the city is great. I like London too but I think it’s a bit too big so I haven’t cracked that yet. But our show at the Sebright Arms was great. We have 250 RSVPs for a 170 cap venue. I’m quite sceptical- and so is my brother - we thought that no one would show but it was packed and a great night.
GW: Your video for 'Babies Are A Lie' also reflects a fondness for the live scene in London with Shame, Sorry, and Goat Girl making appearances in the Holly Whitaker directed video.
PB: Yeah we just asked Holly if she wanted to make a video it’s what she came with. It was fun there were a lot of bands in there that I really like.
GW: Lyrically, I feel like you've gone to another level recently. Do you feel that, too?
PB: Yeah definitely. When I started making the songs I was 18 now I’m 21. That makes a difference. I listened to different bands than I did back then. I think that makes a difference. I think everyone changes over time.
GW: What process you take when writing songs? Do you see yourself write to a theme for your debut album or…?
PB: I'm not sure. I can't see a reason right now. I mean I'm in a relationship and if that fell apart that might become the theme but I don’t really do themes. What I do is start by writing songs with nonsense lyrics and singing a few words that sound right. I pick up the words that work really well for the melodies. Then I start writing the lyrics at the end.
GW: When are you most inspired to write?
PB: I find nice ideas and get inspired by that and really enthusiastic and want to finish the songs. I get inspired by something I make myself. But because I write as much as I can – even when I’m in a bad mood – there are times when things aren’t coming together. It’s difficult to find the right moment.
GW: What's next in terms of releases?
PB: We’re going to release an EP and I want to start working on an album. I’m not sure if we release it in 2018. I want to wait longer. I think there’s no one waiting for an entire album. I’m finding the right sound for the album when I think it’s right I will make a very good album. That’s my plan.
GW: Do you think you will make the record then sign to a label?
PB: Yeah that’s what I want to do. Right now my view is that I only want to release it on a really cool label – I want to try and release it on Rough Trade. That’s what I’m aiming for.
GW: Quite different from your musical beginnings for sure. You started on a lute, right?
PB: The thing was my dad bought it, I didn’t play it at first as I wasn’t interested in it. Then one dayI saw that there as a competition in Amsterdam for songwriters. And it was impulsive. I had never made a song. I said to my mum, 'I want to do this'. Then I came up with concept that I want to make 2 minute songs on a 3-string guitar. That’s what I did. I ended up in the semi-finals so I had to make a lot of songs to fill up a 30 min set. After half a year of playing it I thought it but something I want to do and want to be in a proper band.
GW: All the best with it. Look forward to catching your show at Eurosonic