[Interview] Blanke Kicks Off Earth To The Stars: Emergence Tour In NYC

This past weekend, Australian DJ / producer JP Orchison, known by his stage name Blanke kicked off his 2024 tour in New York City’s Webster Hall. One of the most versatile artists on the scene, JP’s been able to capture the attention of audiences all over the world, and has been a main contributing factor to the rising popularity of drum & bass in the US with his alias ÆON:MODE. 2023 was a year of rebuilding for JP. Coming off of a huge touring year in 2022, Blanke put in intense work in the studio between playing festivals like EDC Las Vegas, Lost Lands and Lollapalooza. The Earth To The Stars: Emergence Tour is the result. Blanke was joined in New York by EDDIE, Riot and Sadbois, and the event showcased a huge array of bass genres that kept audiences enraptured. Like the previous iteration of The Earth To The Stars tour, Blanke also opened for himself as ÆON:MODE. The amount of work that went into lighting production and sound design was also evident.

2024 looks to be a big global year for Orchison, making his debut at Ultra Miami as Blanke, debuting at Tomorrowland Belgium as ÆON:MODE, as well as making appearances in Asia and India. It’s amazing watching him work his magic behind the decks and his energy is infectious. Make sure to check out the rest of his tour dates here and catch his upcoming EP Emergence in March.

We were able to sit down with JP before the show and ask him a few questions about his tour, his ‘Emergence’ EP, and creative process.

Welcome back to New York! We’re so happy to have you here with us JP. It’s a big night. New tour, new EP coming soon. Do you know when we can expect the EP: Emergence? So far we are loving the lead single ‘Heaven!

JP: Thank you so much! I love it here. Yeah, so we’ve got ‘Heaven,’ which just came out. ‘Heavy Heart’ is coming out this coming week. And then the EP will be out in March. We don’t have an exact date yet, but it will be for sure in March. Just a few more weeks! There’s some other exciting stuff coming before then as well. So it’s going to be a big first quarter of the year of music.

That’s amazing to hear! It’s interesting that you say March, because one of the things I have been wondering about is how this is your first stop in the tour, but your next stop isn’t for another month in Chicago! What’s going on there?

JP: This tour was planned differently [since] I had a few concerns due to how the last tour went. It’s because of the two sets per night that I do and how taxing it was for me. By the end of the three or four months, I was just — mentally and health wise — all over the place. My hormones were super out of whack because of a crazy sleep schedule. And I was touring alone so it was kind of a lot. So this time, I was like, “if we’re gonna do both sets at night, we need to have it not as crammed together in the same sort of way.” So, yeah, I’ve got this one (New York) for the start of the tour, and I’ve got a week off and then I go to India with Illenium.

Speaking of ILLENIUM. Are you sad you’re not at Trilogy LA this weekend?

JP: No, because I was at the Denver one. And at that one I got my fill there and was super happy that I got to play with Will (William Black), that was awesome. Incredible. And it was like down the road for me. So I was happy. It was so convenient and I had no trouble going home after (JP lives in Denver).

I love that. Sleep in your own bed. Unwind at home. So then, I am curious, how you do you usually come down from your first set of the night and then go back on for another set?

JP: You don’t! You don’t want to come down. I always wondered that too [in the beginning] like, should I be like trying to relax in between? [But quickly realized]: No! — no, because if I relax too much after going hard for my D&B set, and my actual big set is supposed to 45 minutes later, I can’t come back up in energy. It’s way harder than coming up for the first time. So I just try to keep active, keep walking around in between.

Oh yes I can totally relate. I DJ too and one time I opened and closed for J. Worra but the second set was unplanned so I had already fully relaxed and was more than a couple of cocktails in so it was so hard to jump back on the decks.

JP: Oh man yea, I stopped drinking on tour because I need to keep a level head. I need to be able to come back, at the end of the weekend and be like, “okay, time to get back into [studio] work again.” I need to be creating because there’s just so much to do. And if I’m like hungover for like three days after a tour weekend…I’m not 21 anymore!

Oh gosh, jump on to Ableton on a Monday and the lines start wobbling cause you’re so hungover that sounds awful!

JP: Exactly!

Ok then, speaking of Ableton and production, what has been your favorite part of the creative process for this EP?

JP: Delved into a few different elements I like. I found a bit of a line that I wanted to sit in for this EP, which was kind of nice. I definitely tried a couple of different things here and there. I really wanted to incorporate more guitar work, more influences from like, metal that I’ve been listening to a lot recently. I grew up with metal, but I’ve never really incorporated into my music, and I wanted to sort of try and blend that in a bit in my own way, because I know there’s a couple of other guys — Sullivan King and Phase One — that are doing a similar sort of thing. I don’t necessarily have a vision to sound anything like them, but incorporating it into my own way adds more like a live element to a couple of track. ‘Heaven’ has got some guitars in there. There’s a track I can’t wait to play tonight that’s got a full metal breakdown. It’s awesome.

I think the EP blends really well and it’s some of my best work for sure. My production level at the moment is really, really good. I’m confident with what I’m doing and moving forward for this year, I’ve got some really cool stuff lined up that’s in a similar vein. Feeling very confident about like this EP and me as an artist / as a creative and the growth behind all of that. I feel like I am in a very good spot right now. Over the past year (2023), I haven’t fully felt on the rails with where I wanted to be. And yeah, this feels like I’m going in the right direction again.

And do you think part of that uneasiness had to do with you really jumping into D&B a lot and then opening yourself as an artist in two different genres?

JP: I see what you’re saying. But, thankfully, the D&B stuff has felt separate in its own way. It hasn’t really influenced the Blanke stuff much at all. I’ve always felt quite good in the in the drum & bass space. Like I grew up with that as well and it’s only now that I’m really starting to be able to express that in my own creative work with the with the side project fully being its own thing now and all of that, which has been really exciting. It is really good to be able to have that extra creative outlet. Blanke is quite diverse in itself, but doing the D&B inside of Blanke felt like — I wouldn’t use the word forced, but it didn’t feel like the perfect fit. So having two projects and being able to have this broad spectrum of music to explore and create is definitely helpful.

I mean, I’ll just say it. You were the person to get me into Drum & Bass. For a while, I didn’t quite get it. I was like, “yeah, this is this is cool but not for me.” But that EDC set where you just kind of switched into it that that really blew my mind and now I am a convert!

JP: Awesome! That’s definitely been the aim with these sets. Because I kind of understand that Americans haven’t been exposed to it a lot. So their idea of drum & bass isn’t really what drum & bass necessarily can be, because it is quite a large, broad genre, like any genre is. There are facets that not everyone will know about. So I’m like, “trust me, listen to this specific type or more danceable main room type of D&B that I am curating and hopefully you’ll kind of understand that there is so much more to it and way more accessible than what people first thought of it.” The curation of the sets that I’ve been doing over the past year or two has been aimed to make this music more accessible. A lot of it is what I do is not pandering necessarily — but I know that because I come from the American dubstep world in America, I know the sounds that will help them into D&B a little bit better than most. There’s a way to incorporate EDM that Americans will know into D&B that still pays proper homage to its roots in the UK and all that sort of stuff.

Totally! I think Dimension and Sub Focus and those guys are doing a great job too with what you just described, breaking out in the US. They just announced a bunch of new shows and can’t wait to see it. I don’t think I’ll be in New York when they’re here though, so I’m a little sad. I’ll be in Miami for Music Week.

JP: Oh no! But definitely, definitely go and catch them when you can. Obviously, they’re my peers when it comes to making the kind of drum & bass that is very friendly to Americans. But a lot of the cool, more jump, heady sort of D&B is actually starting to get into the US now, which is really interesting. Like the sound can almost in a way could be likened to like riddim, so all the riddim heads that just love these fucking crazy, like obnoxious noises are really getting into it.

It’s really starting to catch on. More and more events are popping up all over.

JP: I just did an event with DNBNL in LA.

In the Dave and Busters!

JP: Yes!

You know there’s one here in New York!

JP: We gotta get Brownies and Lemonade on that!

Alright we’re coming up on time here and the show is about to start, so one more question! What is the biggest event you’re looking forward to performing at this year?

JP: Oh man, that’s tough. Let’s see, this is going to be my first year playing at Ultra. I’ve been to Miami and Miami Music Week for like years and years. So be able to actually be a part of the festival and be on that lineup is insane. Tomorrowland as well, just the sheer size and scale of that event. I am excited to see all the production aspects and that sort of stuff.

Ahhh I am missing you for Tomorrowland since we’re doing weekend 1 and you’re weekend 2!

JP: Oh no! There’s so many other artists though so you’ll be in good hands! The lineup is huge.

Please record your set so we can listen afterwards! Well thank you so much for your time today, can’t for your sets tonight. It’s been such a pleasure.

JP: Have a great time, thank you for coming!