Having become the toast of the deep house scene with a Justin Bieber-sampling affair recorded before they had even met, it’s fair to say that British duo Jacob Manson and Adam Englefield, aka Blonde, didn’t exactly have the most conventional of starts to their promising career.
Inspired by artists as varied as Mount Kimbie, James Blake and Stevie Wonder, the Bristol-based pair’s partnership began in 2013 when fledgling producer Manson sent a track under the guise of Thieves Eton Messy, a YouTube channel-turned-mini empire run by Englefield specialising in garage and house.
Impressed by what he heard, Englefield invited Manson to remix a song for his own Beluga project before they pooled their resources, albeit in separate studios at the opposite ends of the country, to give the Canadian pop brat’s “Beauty & The Beat” a classy electro makeover on their first single, “Be Mine.”
After finally meeting face to face, the duo decided to pursue their Blonde alias further, and after honing their sound on the likes of “Foolish” (the kind of slinky electro-soul affair that Sam Smith dealt in before he turned into the male Adele) and the sun-kissed house of “Higher Ground,” they landed a deal with Parlophone Records.
Comparisons with fellow 20-something UK duos Disclosure, Gorgon City and Bondax inevitably followed, but as shown by their breakthrough single, “I Loved You,” Blonde possess a poppier sensibility. Featuring an enchanting guest vocal from rising star Melissa Steel, the UK Top 10 hit evoked the melodic mid-90s club anthems of Livin’ Joy. Their new single, “All Cried Out,” a collaboration with former Glee star Alex Newell, also offers a similar Italo house vibe.
Of course, Blonde’s debut album, wisely scheduled to drop just in time to soundtrack the summer, will reveal whether they have any other tricks up their sleeve. But for now, their retro-modern output still holds plenty of appeal.