There have been murmurs recently about the existence of a ‘Blessing Force’ scene in Oxford. News to you? Jeez man, where have you been? Featuring notable scenesters Chad Valley, Trophy Wife and Pet Moon, Blessing Force can loosely be defined as the elusive and enigmatic assortment of artists broadly united by an OX postcode and a commitment to a neo-shoegazing, summery, synth-wave pop. Sort of.
Floating at the heart of this mysterious Oxford milieu lie Fixers, a Beach Boys inspired, psychedelic quintet. They’ve just finished a headline UK tour and released their debut album We’ll be the Moon, garnering widespread critical praise along the way. The Guardian bestowed a deserved four stars while the Sunday Times made the album their CD of the Week.
Evidently, things are looking up, right? Well not for front man Jack Goldstein. He reflects that “Nothing has changed. I’m still as destitute as I was before, I’m still living where I used to live before. I’ve always wanted to be a musician and achieve the making of a real album, and I’ve achieved one of the things I’ve always wanted, but I’m perhaps not feeling the way I thought I’d feel.”
So it’s been an anti-climax? “No, I don’t think that’s quite the right word. We’re not the proverbial outsiders anymore; a lot of mixed messages were sent. And through a mixture of cost compromise, things did get a little bit topsy-turvy. But I couldn’t have asked for much more, and it’s nice that everyone liked the album.”
So do music critics play an important role in today’s music industry? “The role of the music journalist is not invaluable – everyone can be a music critic – but being affiliated with publications that I admire and I like means a lot.”
So how far has Oxford’s notoriously prolific music scene, as well as being the site of the emergence of Blessing Force, been a driving force in Fixers’ musical trajectory? “It’s a city I’ve lived in all of my life… there’s probably some subliminal geographical sub-culture ingrained in us. But I don’t believe in geographically mapping bands; I don’t think it’s right. I’m good friends with Hugo [of Jonquil/Chad Valley fame] and we don’t sound particularly similar.
“Trophy Wife as an entity could have existed all across the South, and do. But because they’re aligned with other bands they get thought of as sounding like [Blessing Force]. Realistically they all sound so different.”
Jack has declared in previous interviews that he would like to abandon playing live, a stance which might strike some music purists as peculiar: surely the live performance represents the pinnacle of musical endeavour, the culmination of a long artistic process finally rewarded and finalised by real-life fan reception? “Well after the show at Modern Art, [in Oxford on 13.10.12] I’d like to do [live gigs] all the time. I was a bit scared before… especially as I’m the front man. And I do genuinely enjoy recording a lot more. It’s a lot more fun, as you get to experiment.
“Now, more than ever, people want to see bands live…live music has emotional connotations. But with new music, I’m a bit dumbfounded by it. Nothing in the UK really interests me. You delve into history and it becomes more experimental; there’s so much great music.”
So what’s next for the surf pop darlings? Jack replies happily, “We’re doing behind the scenes stuff, which basically means we’re all being quite lazy. We’re working on recording, sitting back and working out how we’re going to do these new songs. I like the idea that as long as Fixers are around we’ll be releasing an album every year’.