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Music

Anything but Blasé

Elan Blasé leans into wide-ranging musical interests for Tanglewood Blur

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ZONEKIDD 2
  • Zonekidd 2

Some of the most interesting local music is apparently being crafted in closets in Layton, at the fingers of Elan Blasé and his group of musician and producer friends. Two years post-high school were just working time for Blasé, who—being a homebody—took the time during the pandemic to finally and quietly finish his first album, Tanglewood Blur, a startlingly good release that touts high production values and the rarity of a young artist who trusts himself.

The 21-year-old Blasé has been interested in music since third grade, growing up with it all around him from both church and his father's rap group. But being a zoomer, he also grew up experimenting online. "As I grew older, around, like, the third grade, I would go on YouTube and download beats and make cover art for them, and post random features on random beats," he says, detailing unique "collaborations" he'd made, such as Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz and Ariana Grande. "I didn't know how they would sound on the beat, so I just started writing verses and that's where I was kinda like, oh, 'I want to make music.'"

And from that tender age on he did, saying offhandedly, "I didn't start putting out my own music until my freshman year of high school."

It was around then that he ended a teenage prejudice against another local music-head, his now-friend and collaborator Miah Summers, who offered the olive branch of sharing some of his own beats with Blasé. Blasé also started working regularly with other friends on production, mixing, mastering and creating album artwork for various projects and collaborations. He found a kindred soul in the beat pack maker Coop The Truth out of Toronto, who contributed beats that Blasé has worked with since. Somewhere along the way, he started doing more of all of it on his own.

In 2019, Blasé released the EP Blue Sage Blvd, which was just a detour on the way to Tanglewood Blur, released late last month. Tanglewood was the thing Blasé leaped to after an even more tangled project—a rumination on self-love gone awry created under a different name—fell apart after he graduated high school in 2018. "Tanglewood was all over the place," Blasé says of the beginnings of that project. "So me and my boy Phil sat down and we were like 'Okay, what if we just turned every different mood that we have for this one album into like, EPs.'"

That approach worked for a while, including the creation of Blue Sage Blvd. But there came a point where Blasé "snapped out of it." That is, he shook off the urge to make his ideas cohesive and organized, like the music he was loving at the time—J. Cole's return-home narrative 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Neo Soul and R&B jams, groovy jungle and even Lil Yachty's 2020 release Lil Boat 3. "I wanted to put out music that was truly me," he says, "whether that's soulful stuff, the poetry, the hard beats, the pop songs, the love songs—I just wanted to do everything."

Leaning into his wayward influences and urges instead of shutting them down turned into, ironically, a very cohesive album after all. Tanglewood is only a messy blur in that it reflects what Blasé calls the "ego death" of moving back home to Tanglewood Drive in Layton and going through the chaotic motions of "coming of age." But for fans of woozy experimental pop R&B and hip hop, it calls to mind favorites like Tyler. The Creator, Toro Y Moi or Frank Ocean (mostly in that Blasé is a fan of employing clunky dispatches from his voicemail box). There are some real hitters on the album like "Mansions," "Gelato" (featuring the curiously slanted delivery of Kid Furey) and "Honest," with every other track swinging from startling intensity to lackadaisical gravity thanks to turns of absurd spoken work clips and warbling synths, beats and guitars, respectively. It certainly is a young musician building off of what has come before him, but it's good in its own right, and a stylish standout compared to a lot of other music coming out of Utah right now.

Blasé seems to halfway realize that, especially on confidence-oozing tracks like "Negus," but there's a constant humble refrain in his work, questions aimed more at himself than anyone else. "Bloom Poems" meanders softly as he asks over and over, "What's it gonna take for you to know that I'm serious about this rapping, these lyrics and all my passions?" Go to Apple Music to listen to his stuff and find out for yourself just how serious he is.
https://soundcloud.com/mehkai-jones
Twitter: @elanvintage

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