Blake O’Connor drops by THEAUSSIEWORD.COM for a one-on-one chat.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember! But it wasn’t until I was about 14 years old playing my first gig when I realised that you can make a career out of this, and as soon as I found that out there was no way I was doing anything else! It was around the same time that I began writing more songs, mostly about my life and the journey of getting through high school.
I remember always trying to find other artists songs that would say what I was feeling, and when I couldn’t find the right song I would write my own to say exactly what I wanted it to say!
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
Listening to songwriters like James McMurtry and bands like the Tedeschi Trucks Band continually inspire me to want to make great music. Hearing the best of the best do what they do is an easy way to drive me to work harder!
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
One of my goals is to have the Red Rocks Amphitheatre as a regular show on my touring schedule! It is such a breath taking venue!
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I have just kicked off a brand new tour! Going from Western NSW all the way to Cairns QLD. I can’t wait to play CMC ROCKS, I’ve been wanting to play this festival for so long so it’s going to be killer!
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
I began recording the first half of my new album ‘FINDING LIGHT’ in August of 2020, and due to the pandemic we had to postpone recording the second half. As much as it was inconvenient at the time I’m glad it happened. It would be 18 months before we made it back into the studio to record the rest and in that time I wrote a whole catalog of new songs that ended up making cut on to the album instead! So if everything had ran smoothly from the start, the album would’ve been totally different! Everything happens for a reason!
The way best I would describe my sound is a fusion of Blues, Country, Soul and Rock! With my influences ranging from John Mayer to Chris Stapleton and The Allman Brothers to Etta James!
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
I don’t have a set way I write songs, it always changes. But I write the most when I’ve have a strong feeling about something, whether that is an experience that has bought joy or sadness its always the strong emotions that gets the inspiration flowing!
Success, what is the secret to it?
I don’t know if anyone knows the exact recipe to being successful but I think working hard plays the biggest part!
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
It’s hard to beat playing the CMA Fest and the Blue Bird Cafe in NASHVILLE TN.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
The people that inspire me the most are the ones that have forged a path of making old school music modern and popular again, and that is a path I want to head down myself.
Artists such as the Tedeschi Trucks Band ooze feelings of Stevie Wonder and the Allman Brothers, Chris Stapleton is infusing the old blues of Freddie king with the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings, and Nathaniel Rateliff brings the soulful vibes of Wilson Pickett with the melodies of Nina Simone!
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
I see myself playing bigger shows on a bigger scale! Touring a lot more throughout Australia and internationally!
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
My favourite part is being on stage with my band! You can’t beat the buzz you get when the band locks in and everything aligns on stage, it’s just MAGIC!
My least favourite part would probably be catching up on emails…. But I don’t think anyone enjoys that haha!
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
The Teskey brothers would have to be up on top! Those guys are uber talented and Josh Teskey’s vocals are just phenomenal.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
It is really exciting to share my records out to the public! When you’ve poured so much effort into something, all you want to do if show everyone, and its really rewarding when you hear how much your songs means to people! Having the use of social media now just expands your audience to the world! Being able to connect with fans from all over the globe is something that has never been so easy!
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
All I can do is tell my story and make the music that is true to me and hope the world comes with me!
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and the highway men so there would be nothing cooler then performing with an original outlaw!
Randy Newman is also on the top of my list! You would’ve heard his material on the Toy Story Soundtrack, that soundtrack is my childhood and his songwriting and musicianship just blows my away!
It would be amazing to work with Derek Trucks, he is my favourite guitar player and to collaborate with him would be surreal!
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Play as any gigs as you can! Practise any chance you get! Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
A massive thank you to all who listen to my music and buy tickets to the shows, without you guys I couldn’t do what I love! The best way I find interacting with my followers is on the social media, at the live shows and the signings after, it’s always amazing to hear how much my songs have meant to people.
Any last words?
It would mean the world if you checked out my new album, it means so much to me and it’s something I am so proud to show you guys!