Interview with Blake Sennett from The Elected: Stepping Back Into The Light

After stepping out of the music world for three years, indie pop recording artist Blake Sennett is back with The Elected and has released his third album, Bury Me In My Rings. Sennett is also out on a U.S. tour to support the album and will be making a stop right here at New Jersey’s own Maxwell’s in Hoboken on June 26. Tickets for Sennett’s show in Hoboken can be purchased through the venue’s website or bought at the door the night of the show. Sennett’s album is out now on Vagrant Records.

So what inspired you when it came to writing Bury Me In My Rings?

I think I’ve come out of a sort of soul searching solstice, musically, so to speak. I thought putting down the guitar and music in general was super helpful. It enabled me to approach it from a fresh perspective. Maybe what inspired me was also the disappointment and the darkness of the situation from which I was emerging. There was some fear surrounding that, and I let that sort of guide me in a way. But I tried not to let it rule me at all. I wanted to acknowledge that fear and then use it in some way, or try to free myself from it.

I don’t think you can be completely free of worries, or at least I never am, but it was a meditation and stopping every time I would have those feelings and try to examine them before pushing head on into the temptress without sort of looking at the map first. So I would stop, look at that and say, “Okay, that’s what that is, let’s see what we can do to undo that, not believe that, not act on that or at least not be reactive.”

How do you think Bury Me In My Rings will be received compared to the previous two albums, Me First and Sun Sun Sun?

Well, I think in the past albums that I’ve had, there was a tendency to often save the more poppy stuff or the more up-tempo stuff for Rilo Kiley where as in this case, there was no Rilo Kiley to save it for. It probably nods towards Rilo Kiley a little more where the others were a departure. And in this case, this one’s less filtered.

Do you have a specific song off of Bury Me In My Rings that you’re most proud of?

Maybe “Time Is Coming.” It might be one of the last ones. It might be the last one? I don’t know the track listing off hand, but that one.

Any reason why?

It feels really honest. I think the more honest you can be as an artist the better. That one felt really honest, it didn’t feel like there was any bullshit there. And what I set out to do with this record was to be honest and not think about the audience, the writers, my friends, not think about expectation or what anyone would think of it, but to just be honest and do what I felt sounded good to me. You can’t always do what you set out to do, and in that case I had to.

What made you come back into the music business after the last Rilo Kiley album and tour?

A friend of mine asked me to record a couple of songs with him—he’s an engineer/producer—and I did. We had approached it in a way that I have never approached recording a record before, which is to record the writing process. And that way everything stayed fresh and nothing ever felt too canned or distilled like things can when you’re in a band and you play something 150 times preparing to make a record and then go recording them. Sometimes it loses its organic quality and often it gets better when you do that, but in this case I didn’t want to worry if it was better or good. It felt good, emotionally and artistically, so I thought, “Great! This is something new that I’ve never done before.”

I think repeating yourself over and over again is the bane of all artists. I think it drives artists crazy and I’m no different. I mean if you’re repeating the same shit over and over again you may as well work for any number of jobs that you probably set out to avoid when you decided to become an artist in the first place. So I didn’t want to repeat myself and my friend Jason and I have devised a new way to try things, and mostly he did in a way. So that’s what made me come back; seeing a new perspective that I hadn’t ever thought of. I guess that’s what ultimately drew me back, and I was having fun, it was great! I remembered that I love music, always have and always will.

What are you looking for the most on the upcoming tour?

Camping. We’re going to do some camping on the tour. We’re going to try things in a new way. I think we’re going to do it in a way with much smaller bands. I think that’s going to create something more interesting and intimate without being boring and acoustic. I think we’re going to keep it sweet and rhythmic. I’m looking forward to trying new things and approaching things in a new way. That’s what I’m looking most forward to.

Would you say that this album and tour is bringing you into a new light in your life?

A little bit. If you’re searching for light then everything brings light into your life, and I’m searching always. It’ll bring new light into my life. I think also, I want to bring light into the tour.

What do you have planned after this tour?

Doing some recording, writing, doing some living. Moving to Mexico, I don’t know. Hopping aboard a gale and flying with the wind and see what happens.

With recording most of the instrumentals on the album yourself and producing the album, at any time did you feel overwhelmed?

Of course! I think that’s my personality, but I tend to feel a little overwhelmed once I get past the middle point. I’m not a good finisher, so I think it was helpful to have my friend Mike Bloom come in and call in the relief pitcher, which is why his name is last on the produced by because he was the eighth and ninth inning guy. He always is. Well, on the last record he was there more the whole time, but this time he was the closer. He’s my fucking angel. Without him I don’t think shit would’ve ever left my bedroom ever, with respect to The Elected. He’s a beauty, sometimes you need your friends to help pick you up. It’s important to acknowledge that. I want to be everything and do everything and not need help. It’s good to be able to ask, and even better to have someone say yes.

Speaking of friends, how have your friends reacted to the album?

They’ve been incredibly supportive. In the past two to three and a half years I made a bunch of new friends. Because when you’re around the same group of people over and over and over again, doing the same thing over and over again, it’s harder to make new friends. If you’re in an office job and you’re around the same people everyday it’s hard to make new friends. It’s no different touring in a band for 10 years. In the last couple of years I’ve made some new friends and to look out and see a bunch of those people there, I thought, “Oh that’s neat!” My life has changed and that’s beautiful. If it doesn’t change, then something is wrong.

What track do you think was your personal best and what took longer than expected to record?

“Babyface” took a long time. It was fucking five minutes at one point. It was a matter of cutting it down and down and down. And my personal best as a recording feat, maybe “This Will Be Worth It.” It’s pretty lush and has some cool stuff in there.

And what about performance wise?

That’s so hard to say, I think “Trip Around The World” was a one shot deal. I just sang it once, and that’s how it is on the record; there is no punching in or anything like that. Anytime you can capture that, it’s kinda cool.

What is your favorite thing about being on the road?

I like hanging out with friends, I surround myself with people I love and I get to be with them. I think that’s my favorite thing about being on the road. It’s a road trip, I love road tripping.

The Elected will be playing at Johnny Brenda ‘s on June 24, the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on June 25 and Maxwell’s in Hoboken on June 26. More info at