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93X presents

THE BLUE STONES — Hidden Gems Tour

JJ WILDE

Thursday, February 06
Show | 8pm // Doors | 7pm
$9.37 + fees
21+ SHOW

THE BLUE STONES

When Tarek Jafar and Justin Tessier formed The Blue Stones, they were facing uncertainty about who they were and where they were going. But they did know they wanted to make music together, and so they did, writing songs over time and eventually releasing their debut album Black Holes in 2018. As confident and self-assured as they are, that record was very much about the pair finding themselves, both musically and existentially, and deciding to pursue the rock’n’roll dream by jumping into a black hole of the unknown instead of choosing a more ordinary life-path.

“When we wrote that stuff,” explains Tessier, “we were both finishing undergrad degrees. That album was us trying to figure out who we were. These new songs are more about how we know who we are, but they’re also us learning to come to terms with the dark side of ourselves.” The band drew the attention of producer, Paul Meany – the creative force behind alternative rock band Mutemath, and who recently worked with Twenty One Pilots, producing their fifth album, Trench. Needless to say, getting Paul involved provided the pair with a huge sense of validation.
 “We jokingly suggested him,” chuckles Tessier. “We were shooting for the stars, but a week after our management approached him we found out he was into the band and into us as musicians.”

Working with Meany didn’t just lead to The Blue Stones exploring – and creating – music in a different way than they had before, but it also led Jafar to approach and tackle lyrics in an entirely new light. Combined with the band’s nuanced and layered approach to their sound, it makes these songs resonate with a powerful emotional intensity. The band will release multiple songs as singles leading into their highly anticipated sophomore album release in 2020.

The first of those is ‘Shakin’ Off The Rust’ – a song, as Jafar explains, that very much serves as a mission statement for their renewed sense of confidence and newfound identity.
 “There were times along the way where I felt I wasn’t good enough,” explains Jafar, “or that I didn’t deserve any happiness or success. This song is about battling those thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great.”

That much is clear from listening to the songs that the pair have recorded so far. While ‘Shakin’ Off the Rust’ is probably the closest to the sound the band inhabited on Black Holes, it also represents a clear and profound evolution – it’s more textured, more layered and, yes, more confident than anything on the first record. That’s an idea the pair – Jafar on vocals and guitars, Tessier on percussion and backing vocals – have woven into the fabric of the other new songs.

Take, for instance, the restrained, layered, hip-hop-inspired vibes of both ‘Careless’ and ‘Make This Easy’, two songs that would be hard to imagine the band that made Black Holes recording, but which make total sense in terms of their new outlook and approach. Although The Blue Stones were always more than a blues-rock duo, that’s especially true now.
 “When we record,” says Tessier, “we really like to dive into a lot of different sounds and use a lot of different instruments that sort of break the boundaries of what a blues-rock duo is.”


”It’s not a conscious thing, though,” adds Jafar. “It’s more an amalgamation of listening to a lot of different types of music over years and years and soaking in that influence subconsciously. And that shows in the songwriting.” One other difference with this record was Jafar’s lyrical approach – something that was inspired by Meany’s presence during the sessions. “I never really focused on lyrics before,” admits Jafar. “They were secondary to the music, and I used them just to help the melodies, but now I’m focusing a lot more on what I’m saying and how it’s coming across. When we sent Paul the demos and we started to have a little bit of a conversation back and forth about it, he shined a spotlight on the lyrics and really opened my mind to the narratives of these songs. And I just took it and ran with it.”

The result was not just that The Blue Stones truly discovered who they were while writing these songs, but they’ve crafted something that shimmers with such purity and truth – musically and lyrically – that you can’t help but be swept up and carried off by these songs and what will eventually form the as-yet-untitled album. They’ve redefined who they are, but at the same time ensured they kept their identity intact. 
“Even though some of these songs sound different,” says Jafar, “at the end of the day we stayed true to who we are as The Blue Stones. So even if the songs border on a different genre, you’re still going to get us, because it’s still us writing the songs and performing the songs. We have a vision that we’ve been focused on since we started this band and that hasn’t changed. I want the fans to really enjoy and connect with these songs.”


“We both just tried to serve the music the best way we could,” adds Tessier. “And that was by taking out the ego from them. I really want these songs to capture people’s attention. I want them to understand that The Blue Stones are a force.”

When someone asked JJ Wilde to choose between music and a relationship, there's only ever been one answer: music. Music has permeated every part of JJ Wilde’s life since childhood, and it’s something she’s held closely: an unwavering connection she’s fought to foster. But in 2018, Wilde came to a crossroads. At 26, she was working three jobs and had resigned to the idea that music might not work out for her, but she continued writing because that’s what she was born to do. By then, she amassed over 500 songs, some of which became the basis for her debut EP, Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands.

Wilde may not have had a clear vision of what exactly Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands would look like, but she knew how she wanted it to feel. “Before the writing trip I had thought about what I had to say, what my message was and that was to give an unfiltered, unapologetic point of view on my personal experiences, and really anything. I just wanted it to be raw,” says Wilde.

In just eight days, Wilde compiled the EP in what she recalls as an “intense experience.” Those eight days, she had essentially been preparing for her whole life. Wilde wrote songs because it was something she felt she had to do, but she didn’t realize what the songs could become until she started creating Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands. In the beginning of the process, Wilde wrote two to three songs per day. “It’s like all the writing I had done before, all my experiences both musically and personally had lead me to this point where I could say it all,” she says. Recording the EP was also the first time Wilde had been as hands on with writing the instrumentation as well, which she did for guitars, drums, bass and keys alongside producer Frederik Thaae.

Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands is, in fact, a raw, unapologetic view of the world through the eyes of a 26-year-old woman. With her debut single “Wired,” there’s an urgency in Wilde’s gritty vocals as she mulls over her own mundane routine wishing for a life she doesn’t have. “The Rush”, Wilde’s brooding ode to doing what’s wrong, even though it feels right. “The rush, the lust, you can’t trust,” Wilde wails. Heartbreak is laced through the EP’s four songs as Wilde recounts pouring her soul into a relationship instead of herself on “Gave It All,” and recalling an ultimatum she got from an ex about her dedication to her career. But Wilde finds hope on the Springsteen-tinged anthem “State of Mind,” “seeing hope through a broken lens.”

Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands is a culmination of Wilde’s journey: raw, rough and full of brutal honesty. “I wanted to tell people who I am, so they could enjoy it...or not.”