Exciting young singer, songwriter and guitarist Blake O’Connor lifts the covers off his catchy new single, Soul Feeling. Written by O’Connor, it follows on from Willin’ & Ready, a song that pushed him back into the spotlight earlier this year and reached #14 on the national country airplay chart. Also released is the music video for Soul Feeling. It was shot in Blake’s hometown of Port Macquarie and set in the local laundromat just days before it was due to be renovated! Directed by Tim Maddren from Got Ya Back Productions (and former Hi-5 member), the video embraces 70’s era of soul music, in particular Muscle Shoal Swampers, and the fun and energy of this country-pop tune.
O’Connor is carving out a name for himself, winning the 2019 Toyota Star Maker and following up with a Golden Guitar in January 2020 for Best New Talent, a testament to his outstanding talent and hard work ethic. He has been on the road since February, playing his own tour dates for Willin’ & Ready alongside shows with multi-ARIA Award winning singer and guitarist, Diesel, with further dates to be announced in due course. Blake tells Hi Fi Way more.
How has the build up been to the new single Soul Feeling?
The build up has been very exciting! Before recording the song I was playing it acoustically at shows to try it out and I could see the joy on people’s faces – they were on their feet dancing to it. Building the song from the ground up in the studio only added to our enthusiasm for the song, we knew we had something special when the band played it. And topping it off the video clip came together and captured the essence of the song brilliantly. I just couldn’t wait to get it out to everyone! All of the love I’ve been getting from radio stations and fans just tops it off.
What is the background behind the single?
I recorded this tune in Byron Bay at La Cuava Studios with Nick DiDia and Adam Eckersley producing. It was incredible to work with a legend in the music industry such as Nick, I’ve worked with Adam a lot in the past so it only felt natural to involve him in this project as he has work with nick as well so it just made the experience very comfortable. We recorded all of the band stuff live with all of us in the room at the same time which is how to love to record, and to have Nick’s ability to pull the sounds that he does out of the instruments was another thing in itself. We wanted to dance between the lines of modern and old school vibes for this track, and I think we nailed it!
Was it great being hands on with the video clip?
Definitely! I love being as involved as I can when it comes to creative projects. This one especially! If you look closely in this clip you’ll see little ‘Easter eggs’ referencing my previous singles and other songs I haven’t yet released yet, (courtesy of my amazing girlfriends graphic design skills) which I think is a super cool way to personalise the clip even more!
What was it about the Muscle Shoal Swampers that resonated with you?
I really love that era of music. The way they approach playing their instruments, and the vibes they push through the track when recording! Not only the Muscle Shoals Swampers, but the vocalist they played for such as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Etta James, they all just sing their heart out! And that really inspires me as a vocalist.
How would you compare it sonically to some of your other music?
I think this song still very much fits in sonically with my previous songs but it also branches out to other elements that are new for me! As an artist I think it’s important to continually grow with each project and try new things because if we didn’t all the songs would probably begin to sound the same, which is one thing that really excites me about heading in to record new music!
Are you building towards an album or EP?
When I release singles I always like them to build up to something greater. So you never know… Album or EP? you’ll have to keep an eye out!
Who would you say is the biggest musical influences/ inspirations for Blake O’Connor?
I listen and gain inspiration from a whole range of different genres and artists. Mainly for me bands like The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Frankie Miller inspire me mostly for musicianship and the overall band approach. And then there’s artists such as Nathaniel Rateliff, Foy Vance and John Mayer that inspire me more as a songwriter.
How frustrating has it been trying to progress things with current lockdowns in place?
It has been very frustrating at times, but I think trying to look at everything in a positive way is the way to do it right now. Because as much as it’s been annoying to continually reschedule shows, it’s been amazing to see just how supportive my fans are at the moment, seeing all of they’re kind words of encouragement and understanding on social media has been really humbling!
Are you feeling optimistic about being able to tour this year?
I am, it only takes two weeks of no cases to for restrictions to ease. So I’m sure everyone will get themselves together and we’ll be back on track soon!
What’s next for Blake O’Connor?
I’ve still got a bunch of new music to share to you all, and a tonne of gigs in the pipeline. So I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road to play them all to you!
Interview By Rob Lyon