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Interviews > Blanche DuBois

In recent months, the music of Perth-based group Blanche Dubois has featured regularly in Neighbours and here, Adriana Begovich takes some time out to chat about them, their music and how they feel about the way its used on our favourite soap.

Firstly, can you give us some background about yourselves and the band?
We're an independent band based in Perth, Western Australia. Essentially Blanche DuBois is a song-writing duo consisting of myself, Adriana Begovich, and my sister Nadija. We invite good friends to perform on our records, tour and play live with us from time to time. We've been chugging along for almost 5 years now and although we have our ups and downs music keeps us sane so I'm sure we'll be at it for some time yet.

Blanche DuBois is the central character in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire, with a literal translation meaning White Woods. How did the name of the band come about?
We fought over names for a while - we're sisters, what do you expect? I had just finished studying A Streetcar Named Desire at school, and I had this sick fascination with the character Blanche Dubois. I liked everything she represented - femininity, confusion, lust, beauty, torture, fragility, drama, expectation, worry, pity - it's sort of everything you draw from when you create a song really. I guess when that name was thrown into the hat and I argued my case my sister just accepted that she was going to lose this argument if she wanted anything different, so it stuck! We found out later that in some French dialects it also translates to "white trash" and that adds another dimension also!

As a self-managed, independent group, how do you cope with the pressure of promotion and production whilst writing, recording, gigging and touring? It must be incredibly challenging.
It can be rather tiring but being in charge of the administrative side of things as well as the artistic side of things is also very rewarding. Over the years we've developed a thick skin and learned not to cry when someone says we're crap! We've also created a few pseudonyms for our "fake" managers/booking agents/PR representatives along the way! It's always easier when people feel they're dealing with someone else and not the artist direct. I guess one day we'll look into having someone to handle that side of things, before we do go insane, but until then you gotta do what you gotta do...

Who are your main influences?
Musically I'd have to say The Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star, Grant Lee Buffalo, The Sundays, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, The Frames, Iron and Wine and David Gray. There's many others, but I simply don't have the room!

In 2007, Neighbours returned to sourcing tracks from Mushroom Music Publishing, who you have a deal with, after a 7 year break. Were you contacted regarding the use of your music and how did you feel about it being used on the show?
We love the fact that our music is featured on Neighbours - it's a hugely popular show both in Australia and abroad so it's opened a few doors for us and has meant that we've made many new fans all over the world. It's always nice to hear your tracks on TV when you're cooking dinner!

Have you seen any of the scenes it has featured in what did you think of the use?
As I said, I'm usually preparing my dinner when Neighbours airs so it's usually on in the background! In all honesty, our mum keeps track of things! She's our biggest fan. It makes us laugh as we're usually played when someone dies, when someone is leaving or during a pash! Some bands sticker their CD's with "4-stars in XXX Magazine", we have thought about stickering our CD's with "As featured on Neighbours during pashes and pensive scenes" but we probably won't go that far! We do think that the use of the music is always very suited to the scene. The producers tend to focus on the lyrics and the story behind our tracks and sometimes they just fit perfectly, which is really great.

Are you fans of the show? What do you think of the changes that are happening?
I think the changes are good - it's good to have a refresh every once in a while especially with a show that's been running as long as Neighbours has. I can't say I'm a serial Neighbours watcher, and I don't know the characters names off by heart, but I know the main ones - Izzy, Carmella, Paul Robinson - plus, I did go to Ramsay Street once!

Your music has featured on many other Australian television shows, including Home and Away, All Saints and the track Dance Away the Day was recently selected for use on US hit, Ugly Betty. How important is the use of your tracks on shows like these to independent artists such as yourselves?
Licensing our music to TV shows is really important for us - not only is it a great opportunity for us as songwriters, but it also represents the opportunity for our music to reach a wider, global audience. People watch the shows, like the song, remember a lyric, head to google and track us down and that in itself is a lovely compliment and means the world to us. As independent artists, having our song featured on Ugly Betty is massive. The episode aired in the US on January 10 at the end of 'Zero Worship' which is the 11th episode in series 2. We are officially the first independent Australian band to be featured on the show, so we are still pinching ourselves.

How does it make you feel when you hear one of your songs on a show?
It's always a bit of a buzz - just like hearing your songs on the radio. Often the music is used in a relevant context, as opposed to just being background noise, so it's always nice to know that the people behind the show actually used the track for it's lyrical/musical merit and fitted it with the theme of the show.

In 2003, you toured the UK and your music is available to download from the UK iTunes store. Do you have any plans to release in the UK market and can we expect another tour soon?
It's definitely on our 'to-do' list - we would pack our bags tomorrow if we could! In fact, under the radar, we are currently looking into a few options for representation and touring in the UK so hopefully it's not too far away. We've made a bit more 'noise' since our tour back in 2003, so hopefully securing shows and setting up the tour will be a little easier this time round.

What else can we expect from you in the future?
We are currently writing new material and organising a few more shows across Australia. Traveling interstate is just like traveling to another country when you come from Perth on the West Coast! I could whinge about the state of our domestic travel for ages, but I won't bore you with details! In the immediate future we would like to do as many live shows as possible in Australia. In the bigger picture - the longer term - we are looking at opportunities abroad in the UK and USA. We try to make plans, but often we're "fly by the seat of our pants" kind of girls.We avoid disappointment that way and it keeps things fun so who knows what exactly the future holds...

Find out more about Blanche DuBois at their website...

Interview by Callum. Added on 26th January 2008