A Chat with BLOOODHOUND
NOTE: This article contains imagery and explicit language that some may find confronting or disturbing.
When I try to articulate why I listen to music, I usually start by focusing on a single genre, album, or instrumental melody that has stayed with me for years. In the music that affects me the most, these elements often contain a quality I am unable to put into empirical terms. Why did it resonate? Why does it stand out?
What was it that prompted me to mention ‘Helter Skelter’ over ‘Barracuda’? ‘All Caps’ instead of ‘Best Song Ever’? There is something intangible, even indescribable, in these songs. It’s not that they have anything necessarily in common, but the feeling they prompt that makes them stand out. Physically, it’s characterised by goosebumps and raised arm hair.
The elusive BLOOODHOUND has been the chief instigator of these feelings as of recent, epitomising the precise reason I listen to music: because of that sensation.
Bursting onto the music scene seemingly out of nowhere with 2019’s 451208WISH, BLOOODHOUND gave their cult following a glimpse into an unprecedented fold of shadowed electronic hip-hop mastery, carving out a sound of their very own. This was followed by 12965WISH in early 2020, a similarly enigmatic venture that delved deeper into the contrasts of airy electronic riffs, all-too-honest vocal samples, rhythm-laden interludes, and pounding bass.
Following the recent release of HOPE, a tightly-bound EP of murderous proportions, we caught up via Zoom to discuss their music. ‘Texas’, who handles production, was joined by a friend referred to only as “Mom,” and the recondite Misscandy, the aesthetic face and muse of the project.
HOPE presents a new side of what BLOOODHOUND has to offer, structuring itself according to the continuous cycle of life and death. Contrary to prior releases, the localised vocal bites take a back seat, with samples of 911 dispatch calls and newsreels used to uphold the thematic backbone. The first track ‘U.S.C. 1111’ introduces us to this change, a creative feature Texas says emerged from a long-time interest in true crime.
“I’ve loved true crime for my whole life. As young as I had the internet I would look into true crime cases, and videos, graphic content, shit like that. I was often trying to find the things that people would hide, like exclusive things.”
HOPE features audio taken directly from evidence submitted in the 2008 trial of Jodi Arias for the murder of Travis Alexander, appearing in subsequent tracks ‘peace’ and ‘2008.’ The case garnered worldwide media attention, particularly due to its length, lasting until 2015. Texas, however, aims to avoid the vacuum of sensationalism.
“I treat it all respectfully, I don’t get unnecessary pleasure or enjoyment out of it, I think I get comfort in seeing things for what they truly are. I try to look at some of the events without a moral compass, without seeing anything necessarily negative. I’m not feeling any type of way about it, I’m only seeing it for exactly what it is.”
Objectivity remains an integral part of Texas’ creative process, both in delineating what samples to use and in being able to continuously interact with conventionally taboo subject matters.
“When you get to viewing things that are graphically violent or sexual, you feel a conflicting desire to look away and to keep staring. When you’re presented with things like that, that are very raw — people would not usually go out of their way to find images like that because it makes them feel bad or they morally disagree with it — but when it’s presented to them, they will feel a strange desire that they can’t look away.”
Texas likens this feeling to the element of his music that I couldn’t put my finger on – the part that gives the sensation. This sentiment is intentionally harnessed within BLOOODHOUND, the sheer amount of time Texas has spent with viced material generating a significant degree of desensitisation, feeding further into his objective approach.
“I collect the samples separately. I’ve already done most of the research in a lot of respects, like I’ve got a fucking massive database of this shit in my head which I just go through, but I learn new shit obviously. I fucking go deep bro.”
Specific sources were not mentioned, but the sentiment remains true.
Akin to his sustained interest in true crime, Texas has remained active in the musical realm for a number of years, both in performing and producing. Despite an affinity for electronica, BLOOODHOUND found its roots in drumming, as seen in 451208WISH’s seminal ‘11.11.’ However, it was in high school that Texas first started using software to make music.
“I started using GarageBand when I was younger, then moved on to Logic Pro X when I was in Year 10. I’ve never liked music with drums that much, I prefer electronic music. I would often even drum like electronic music when I practiced.”
As well as drumming forming the foundations, Misscandy, the sample vocalist and covergirl, plays an integral part within BLOOODHOUND. Featured in every video published for the project, she sees her role as metaphorical.
“I say the vocals. I’m the star of the show. It’s all very me, is that right of me to say? It’s a very congruous wavelength.”
Despite having a lesser presence on HOPE, the vocal samples provide a distinct stylistic feature to BLOOODHOUND’s sound; an inner monologue of affirmation to the ethereal calamity. The outro of ‘natural life’ embodies this: “Stop. No stop. Hide it. Drop your phone in the fucking water.”
These adages prompt the figurative personification of the unsettling feelings, nay, sensations, conveyed through the music, manifesting in the form of Misscandy herself.
“It makes sense for me to be the cover of the album. The thing is, you either like Texas’ music or you don’t like it, and people either really like me or they hate me, so in that way it makes sense.”
Throughout our conversation, ‘polarising’ emerged as a key descriptor of BLOOODHOUND’s music. Texas remains aware in production of how their music may be received, however, it doesn’t drastically influence the finished product. The discussion of public release remains humbly cognisant.
“I think to some people my music is very abrasive. I make it for myself, so it doesn’t have the listener in mind necessarily, but there is obviously part of me that knows it’s going to be on a public platform.”
Despite how BLOOODHOUND may be received by some, respect of the listeners, subject matter, and an exploration of the self remain central to what Texas represents.
“I guess my relationship with the listener would be one of trust. Especially when dealing with real-life scenarios, a trust in not misrepresenting things, and in being objective.”
Alas, the source of the sensation still remains unquantified, even by the artists themselves. For Texas, it may be the feeling of a personal journey and subsequent completion that imbues the music with a genuine air.
“Production is the only thing that I can do all day without stopping. For eight or nine hours, and for many parts of my life, it’s all that I could do. Now I still do it because it’s inputting effort into creating something. It gives you a crazy sense of satisfaction, and reflects on how you felt in the moment. It’s a special process.”
For Misscandy – and myself – it still cannot be put into words.
“Texas does something really cool with his music. No-one else can do it like this. Cunts are making music and doing some weird shit, he has an ear for it and can actually do it. It’s like Crystal Castles, nobody else can make it like they do. You can’t describe the feeling, it connects with a deep part of you that you can’t talk about.”
HOPE is out now on all streaming services.