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Blood Cultures on Why They Won’t Answer Questions and “Beneath the Moon and Me” [Your Focus Determines Your Reality]

Moby was in a state of despair at the juice bar.

“Oh Moby! What’s gotten into you this time? You need to stop reading your book reviews online. You’ve got no voice, Moby, I’ve always said that!” 

“Oh no, no, no, it’s not that,” he said. “It’s this damned Blood Cultures! Those hooded Bushwick geniuses, I don’t know how they do it. They won’t explain their approach to modular synthesis, they won’t just DJ their live sets. Did you know the arrogant bastards have the audacity to transpose all of their songs to be played with a band in a live setting? Frankly, they’re making me look bad. And if their commitment to their own virtue isn’t enough, I’ve heard rumors that they’ve been having coffees and running around Brooklyn with my dear Natalie!”

“Moby, you’ve lost it!” I said, sipping a $20 smoothie. “Listen, I’m supposed to chat with Blood Cultures myself later today, I’ll press them for you, but you’ve got to promise to lay off Portman, she’s busy researching Alan Dershowitz’s next book for him and you two have never even dated. Leave the poor girl be.”

“Oh fine,” Moby replied. “But they won’t tell you, they believe the mystery of it all allows the music to be consumed in a more direct fashion. They’re quite resolute in that regard.”

“Caio, baby!” Moby blew me a kiss, nearly hitting a cyclist in his Tesla on his way out of the parking lot. 

Blood Cultures later denied knowing Moby personally, “I feel like Moby’s chill, but Eminem really bashed him in the 90’s,” they said. We quickly moved on to more prescient topics. 

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Blood Cultures’ new single “Beneath the Moon and Me”, and its visual companion, directed by Sam Kristofsk, is an anachonistic mind fuck. Blood Cultures juxtaposes analogue tonality with modern composition that jars the listener while remaining in control, cradling them in the nostalgic comfort of physical instruments. At least, I assume so: if they wouldn’t tell Moby, why would they tell me? Blood Cultures doesn’t talk about the how, or the who, because that isn’t the point. I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate my over-intellectualized breakdown of the track either. It kills some of the magic, and that’s what Blood Cultures wants to preserve. More directly they say, “I try to avoid talking about that stuff because I don’t really think that people want to know” 

“You get punished for questioning the status quo, and that’s shitty…that’s where innovation comes from: questioning why we do the things we do.”

There’s a duality in the way Blood Cultures talks about things. Simultaneously curious about music and the world at large, yet evasive in answering questions about themselves and their process. Duality is displayed in spades in their music, “Beneath the Moon and Me” being a prime example; but rather than answer questions on the subject specifically, they prefer to offer their general view on things. We didn’t talk about what synthesizer they use, we talked about why one would even ask a question about gear. We didn’t talk about their earlier projects, we talked about them growing up and discovering music. Instead of talking about their politics, we talked about asking questions. 

“You get punished for questioning the status quo, and that’s shitty…that’s where innovation comes from: questioning why we do the things we do.”

“I don’t have a problem if you believe in something, but if you believe in something to the point that you’ll never question it, then you’re a fundamentalist.”

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Blood Cultures is in the business of questions rather than answers. They say the point of modern art is to question what art is, and Blood Cultures is a postmodern band. They question all kinds of normative music tropes. How often does somebody say, “Oh, you need to be on Tik-Tok.” Social media and public persona have become critically important to the industry. Live shows are seamless productions, where backing tracks and mixing boards ensure everything sounds just like the records. Blood Cultures is a largely electronic project that plays different versions of every song live and wears black hoods whenever they’re in public. It still works. 

Blood Cultures doesn’t talk about the how, or the who, because that isn’t the point.

Major labels are reactionary institutions, they don’t know what’s good until somebody does it. They turn around and try to recreate it through a team of A&R people and salaried producers and songwriters. But magic happens when honest people believe in something for exactly what it is. Blood Cultures, if nothing else, is honest. Obscuring identity, process, and belief systems–in effect–strips away all the external factors that influence the way you experience the art. What’s left is the naked creative product, the songs and visuals laid bare. 

I love analysing art, understanding the effort (or lack thereof) that went into any given piece; I get off on romanticizing the artistic process. When Blood Cultures said they don’t think people really want to know how the sounds are made, I challenged them with, “what if the process allows somebody to appreciate the product even more?” I wanted to see if they would actually tell me what gear they used. Their response was obviously not to tell me–never trust a journalist with sensitive information–but to ask, “is art the process or the product?” They answered their own question with an observation on the nature of reality: “it’s subjective.”

“...are we going to be okay? If you look at the big picture, we were already okay.

As a pre-fascist Louis Ferdinand Celine once said, “Anybody who talks about the future is a bastard, it’s the present that counts. Invoking posterity is like making speeches to worms.”

“Are you optimistic about the future? Do you think the coming times will be good?” I asked Blood Cultures anyway. “In a lot of ways, who cares what I think.”  

They continued, “Ultimately it’s incalculable, you’ll never be able to break down the science of cause and effect that governs the universe and governs human existence, why we do the things that we do. That’s impossible for me to try and understand… and be able to give a clear answer on something like, are we going to be okay? If you look at a big picture, we were already okay. Things are the way that they are and there’s no alternative. There’s not a world where the pandemic didn’t happen… It’s like living in reality versus living in fiction. You can create your own fiction and say oh man if only I had a second chance to impress that football coach I would have gone pro. Sure, you can live in that fantasy if you want to. You can say things are going to be worse because nobody is going to recognize your football talent… In a roundabout way I think things have always been okay, even when they weren’t.”

Whether or not Blood Cultures believes it or not, we really do care about what they think. We value artists for their cultural antennae, their ability to ingest culture and spit out work that speaks to some truth we always knew but couldn’t articulate; “…they create this new color that was always in my mind, I just didn’t even know it,” as BC puts it. Naturally, somebody who is so sensitive to the world around them would have some interesting things to say about it outside of their music, but when Blood Cultures plays live they tend to not say anything. “There’s no fat,” they say. “We try to trim as much of the expository stuff as possible, because at the end of the day we’re not…” they pause for a moment, choosing their words, “I’m not that funny… there’s a conscious effort to have this space between the audience and us.” 

I’m tempted to admire the commitment to obscurity, the forced distance between the consumers of music and the musicians, until I remember it’s not forced at all. There is no commitment to obscurity, Blood Cultures is just being honest. They put forth what they feel is important, nothing more, nothing less.

There simply is what there is, and up to this point there is no person behind Blood Cultures, there is just Blood Cultures.

It feels healthy. In an age where we are so constantly bombarded with people’s intimate details, where somebody’s identity is so important to what they can say and what they cannot, it’s a good feeling to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Not that one is better than the other, but that there is a choice in the matter. Can you separate art from the artist? What if the artist separates the art from themselves? Ultimately these are decisions you can make for yourself. You don’t need an infographic to tell you what you can and cannot do, what is acceptable to feel or not feel. 

To close, I’ll leave you with some final, poignant thoughts from the enigmatic Blood Cultures: “You are what you fixate on. If you think the world is terrible you’re not wrong, because you’re a human. The fact that you exist is insane. The fact that you can think and reflect on your life is the craziest thing that has ever happened in the history of time as far as we know it… The fact that you can even exist and think that life sucks, that’s kind of beautiful…”

“Beneath the Moon and Me” is a beautiful track out everywhere today. Listen and watch the video here, and always remember, your focus determines your reality.

Look where they won’t tell you / is what I would advise / to get what you never wanted / the need to change your mind 

Look where you don’t want to / It’s there that you will find / the answers you don’t want to / the need to change your mind 

All photographs courtesy of Oskar Theriault

Editors Note to Moby’s Legal Team: Under the current parody law you cannot dispute any claims made in this article because, well, satire. Hell, you can’t even deny that a Moby may or may not have said all of those things when a certain writer ran into him in a certain grocery store in Silver Lake.

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