Blue Stahli Releases a Cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”. The sole member of Blue Stahli, Bret comes from a background of fetish burlesque troupes and drag queen – fronted punk bands and believes that he is visited in his dreams by the ghost of William S. Burroughs. There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure in Bret’s world, and the music of Blue Stahli borrows from an untold number of disparate genres. The resulting blend is aggressively beautiful, vividly cinematic, and, above all, fun. Whether by furious guitar riffs, infectious vocal hooks, slick dance-floor beats, or atmospheric electronics, Blue Stahli is hellbent on making an emotional connection with the listener.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in the desert, and now go back and forth between Los Angeles and Detroit (though return trips to the land of dust and cacti are ramping up).
Tell us about the name Blue Stahli:
Years and years ago, there was an untitled abstract painting I saw that looked like the visual representation of the songs that felt the most cathartic to me (sometimes I feel hues of colors off of certain songs). It’s less about a reference to the painting, and more about the impact that art and music can have on all of us that go beyond description. It’s those times when you can’t even say why a song or image connects with you, you just know it at your core.
Let’s find out more about your stint with fetish burlesque troupes:
Ha! I was coming off a stint as the guitarist for a drag queen-fronted punk band, and was recommended to this group for doing their music. It was a hell of a lot of fun going to rehearsals and working with the choreographers, doing weird gigs around town, then heading out to Vegas for performances.
For the new fans can you let us know what instruments you play:
Guitar, bass, keys, percussion, programming and vocals. I guess you could throw “mixing” in there as well, since that definitely shapes what you finally hear. I don’t pretend to do any of that well, I just flail about until something decent happens.
Your production and chops are intense, did you have training in music/production school or self taught?
Thank you! No real formal training for this stuff. I can’t read or write music or tab, and early on, I got into programming via trackers in DOS. Then being wowed by the demoscene and what could be found on a local BBS. I’d warp and flip one-shot samples in that fun 8bit, mono world, and later would sequence stuff on a keyboard, record it in and chop it up to dump into my DOS-based bit of radness. I found my way to bigger DAW’s a bit after, which are great for live recording, but I still missed my old school tracker-based way of doing things. Klayton of Celldweller showed me some ins and outs of EQ and efficient ways of using regular DAWs. He showed me that a lot of EQ is just using your ears and your own judgement of what sounds good, rather than hard and fast rules. These days, I record live bits into a traditional DAW, then chop it all to hell and bring it back into a tracker for hexadecimal programming weirdness.
Who else is involved in your music production?
For previous albums up to ‘The Devil’, I would mix some myself and some would have final mix by Klayton after I got the mix as far as I could. On ‘The Devil’, I got the mixes sealed in as much as I could, then had Joey Sturgis and Rhys Fulber do final mix. For everything since The Devil, I’m just doing final mix myself, and then getting a new set of ears doing the mastering (Mr. Seb Komor).
How did you meet Celldweller?
I had been a fan since the Circle of Dust and Argyle Park days. When I came to the Celldweller studio, I was only supposed to be a digital audio assistant. Editing stuff, chopping things up, time correcting, etc. To learn the ins and outs of Pro Tools vs. the previous DAWs I was messing with, I wrote a song, and based off of what he heard in that song (and some of my previous stuff), Klay signed me to the label as an artist.
Has your new album ‘Antisleep Vol.04 received any interest yet for Film/TV/Video Game licensing?
It always takes a bit for that stuff to circulate. The track Sunset Neon was used in the reveal of the Faraday Future car at CES 2016 and Secret Agent Business was used in something for Kingsman: The Golden Circle (my track ‘Nemesis’ from Premonitions is also in spots for the new Kingsman flick).
What movie trailers has your music been used in?
Just a few would be Power Rangers, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Iron Man 3, Taken 3, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
You have a dynamic range of production, from vintage spy movie to dance floor bangers. You really nailed ’Secret Agent Business’ giving it the perfect balance of instrumentation and performance for the ultimate spy film. What movies franchise would you like to see use this track?
I feel like the perfect one happened in it getting picked up for the new Kingsman movie. Anything with a fun action vibe would be incredible. Dreaming big, the new Ant-Man movie would be fantastic.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing another remix for Circle of Dust, finishing up some loose film/tv music ends, then on to making the next Blue Stahli vocal album. That record is all demo’d out, but I’ll bet I wind up writing brand new material for it as well as I tumble down the production well.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
The catharsis that can thrive in the middle of turmoil and exists in spite of it, to show that there is much more than the hardship.