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Blank and Jones- Dance Music is about looking forward not back

Author: Toby Hemming
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
German trance duo Blank and Jones, soon to grace our shores with a four date national tour talk to TranZfusion about the so called death of dance, Australian wildlife, and working with eighties Goth legend Robert Smith.

"Australia has the best reputation amongst European DJ's, we were speaking to Paul van Dyk last night, who said the crowds were crazy and the weather even better."

Arriving on Australian soil for the first time ever in November, Blank and Jones display a refreshing and enthusiastic view of the much-maligned international trance scene. Coming across more as front row clubbers than seasoned scene veterans, it's easy to forget the Teutonic duo has more than four artist albums under their belt and countless single releases under a category- defying set of aliases.

"Coming from Germany, we both grew into electronic music early, from an early age our radio played us Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys, from this we progressed to spending all our pocket money on records and then playing at the school discos, so it was no surprise to find ourselves dancing to electronic sounds in clubs."

In recent years Blank and Jones have become quite the celebrities on the European continent and in the trance scene. Besides their many television and club appearances over the course of the past year, they've performed at the annual Love Parade held in Berlin, and also extensively in Ibiza during the summer party season.

Current media hype abounds related to the death of dance music culture, with seemingly every publication and pundit declaring the scene stale and dead. As Judge Jules recently pointed out however, this fascination has as much to do with sensationalist and lazy journalism as the real scene, as witnessed worldwide every weekend.

"The British press have over hyped the whole scene, in the mid nineties there was too much hype and too much money flying around, the big names like Ministry Of Sound and Cream hyped the likes of DJ Sammi or Scooter, as 'trance music', this is going to be negative on us as, trance is now a dirty word rather than a continuation of our European electronic tradition. In Australia we are playing at the Earthcore festival in Victoria, events like this where dance music musicians come from all around the world showing the power of what we are doing"

In light of this, rather than following the 'screaming diva' approach favoured by the euro dance set, Blank and Jones see themselves as following in the footsteps of heroes Chemical Brothers and Underworld and channelling their energies more towards artist albums than one off club bangers.

"We made a conscious decision a few years ago to quit all our side projects and concentrate on albums for a long term view, the future is not too look back, but to look forward, we see dance music as a progression, a chance to experiment with new ideas, watch this space, our time in Australia, will definitely have an influence on our future tracks, all those wide open spaces…and kangaroos!"

Looking forward the boys see collaborations as the future, citing US rockers Linkin Park as an influence and sees an amalgamation of electronic and organic sounds as the way forward. Taking this to its logical extreme their latest release sees them working with long term hero Robert Smith of the Cure on 'The Forest', a cover of a lesser known Cure tune from eighties album, "Seventeen Seconds"

"We were always big fans of the Cure, since the early eighties, who wasn't- It was a dream come true to work with Robert, and it took a while to track him down, as it turned out he was a dance music fan and even had a Blank and Jones record in his collection, although he did say he didn't tell the rest of the band!"

After initially contacting Robert through his manager, the boys were disappointed to hear nothing back for a few weeks,

"Next thing we were in the studio and a courier bought us a DAT of Robert laying down the vocals, and imagine how we fel