Photo: Recording Academy
James Blake On 'Assume Form' Collabs: "A Dream Come True" | GRAMMY Museum
Shortly before GRAMMY winner James Blake treated 300 or so lucky GRAMMY Museum guests to a lively conversation and acoustic piano performance, the British electro-soul artist caught up with the Recording Academy. In our Behind The Scenes conversation, Blake spoke about his empowered 2019 album, Assume Form—which is currently nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2020 GRAMMYs—and how he chose the epic collaborator list that includes current Best New Artist nominee Rosalía, André 3000, Travis Scott and Moses Sumney.
The "Retrograde" singer also shared who inspired him to pursue a career in music. (Spoiler alert, the answer is really cute.)
Watch our exclusive Behind The Scenes video with Blake below, and read on to learn more about the late-2019 GRAMMY Museum event, including what five songs he performed.
"They're just all some of my favorite artists, so it was a dream come true, really, of a collaborator list," he told us. "I've been lucky enough that some of the people that I listen to also listen to some of my music and were happy to oblige to part of it."
"I think they all brought something really unique and we were on the same wavelength when we were making the music, so it feels natural, it feels kind of organic, and I'm so happy and honored they were able to join it."
Blake also shared how influential his father, the senior James Litherland (Blake was born James Blake Litherland), has been to his own music. Litherland is a life-long musician and played with the late-'60s U.K. rock outfit Colosseum. In 2011, Blake covered and reimagined his father's song "Where to Turn" on "The Wilhelm Scream," featured on his 2011 self-titled debut album.
"Over my career, there's been a running theme of coming into the foreground…with every reveal, comes some kind of risk," Blake told GRAMMY Museum's Artistic Director Scott Goldman, who moderated the event. "If Assume Form was anything, it was not only a version of songwriting clarity but also emotional clarity. It was the most clear I'd felt in a long time, so it was a good time to make an album."
He also dove a bit more into the album's collaborators, praising André's musicality and his "heady-ass verse" on "Where's The Catch." "His verse is f**king genius and I couldn't have written that." Blake also shared his love of Spanish nu-flamenco queen Rosalía, who brought her otherworldly vocals and fierceness to "Barefoot In The Park," noting that working with her felt super easy and natural.
After the in-depth conversation, Blake made his way over to the piano for a soulful performance that opened with Assume Form's "Are You In Love?" and closed with his "favorite song ever written about a relationship:" Joni Mitchell's "Case Of You," which he covered on his 2011 EP, Enough Thunder. In between those two heartwrenching love songs, he treated fans to "Love Me In Whatever Way," from 2016's The Colour In Anything, "Overgrown," from his 2013 album of the same name, and "Vincent," his 2017 Don McLean cover.
Don't forget to tune into the 62nd GRAMMY Awards on Sun., Jan. 26 to find out if Blake will take home the golden gramophone for Best Alternative Music Album. GRAMMY.com and CBS will be your ticket to find out all the winners and watch all the fun on GRAMMY day—see you there!