Daniel Blumberg: A Brief Tale of Reinvention

Yuck are hailed as one of the greatest lo-fi fuzz bands of our generation. They succeed in blending firm ‘90s roots, reminiscent of Pavement and Sonic Youth, with memorable hooks and melodies that fill the listener with a sense of warmth and bliss. Their self-titled debut was given stirling reviews, including four stars from Q and Mojo. One particular review in The Guardian can be quoted; ‘all hail Yuck’. Undoubtedly, Daniel Blumberg was an invaluable member of the four-piece, writing most of their songs and sighing his poetry above them. Something of the way every track’s vocals felt almost as though they were recorded on Blumberg’s phone felt enticing; the questionable recording quality has always been part of Yuck’s allure. Blumberg, however, has recently decided to call it a day and has parted ways with his bandmates to “focus on other things”. No doubt these “other things” will involve music; he’s been in bands since the tender age of 15, fronting noisy indie five-piece Cajun Dance Party with soon-to-be Yuck bandmate Max Bloom. Hormonal, adolescent, and sporting a curly mop that could challenge Yuck drummer Jonny Rogoff’s impressive ‘fro, Blumberg was the voice of Cajun Dance Party. Arguably the most quintessentially indie indie band ever to exist, CDP only released one album in their five-year term of togetherness. The Colourful Life generally received positive reviews upon its release in 2008, with audiences feeling drawn to Blumberg’s whisper-to-cry vocal style and the jittery dynamic of the music. Before long, however, Blumberg tired of teen angst and wailing, and left CDP and his adolescence behind in 2009. He discussed with us the moment when he realised that CDP wasn’t for him: “When I was 17, I got really depressed and my friend introduced me to lots of amazing things. I heard Bill Callahan and I got into Neil Young and then I got into Lambchop and Smog. I thought, fuck, what have I done? [Cajun Dance Party] is so shit! That was the strongest feeling of embarrassment that I’ve ever had in my life. It’s only just started to wear off.” Thus he quit, and the rest of the members disbanded the following year. He and Bloom stuck together to form Yuck…though not before Blumberg released a Japan-exclusive album as Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Can we possibly detect a pattern forming?

Yuck was a huge step forward for the pair. They scooped up Jonny Rogoff and Mariko Doi to complete the line-up, and dived straight into the pool of noisy, ‘90s-esque garage indie that had previously been dominated by My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo. Not only did they dive, they all but blew the others out of the water. Self-titled was a hit, and Yuck were starting to become recognised for their nostalgic sound. Fickle Blumberg, however, pulled another CDP and left in early 2013. Max Bloom sidled into the vocalist position, and the band carried on to release their second album, Glow & Behold, in September 2013. Alongside Yuck, Blumberg dabbled with a couple of side projects, most notably Oupa (also known as Y u (c) k). Oupa took a more laid-back, airy and acoustic approach to music; a place to pleasantly unwind in a bubble of reverb and echo. Sadly, we’re somewhat given the impression that Oupa has been lost and forgotten; its SoundCloud last being updated over two years ago. However, worry not, dear readers, for Oupa is not Blumberg’s only side project. Not long after leaving Yuck behind him, Blumberg reinvented himself as Hebronix. Hebronix sounds like essentially what it is; an established artist taking uneasy steps in an entirely new direction. This new direction most certainly paid off, though; it might be critics’ favourite of Blumberg’s ventures so far. Slant Magazine described it as “a kind of weightless beauty above and beyond anything else in the Londoner’s repertoire”. You may have noticed something of a pattern forming; Blumberg’s seeming obsession with reinvention. Aged 24 and he’s already released 5 debut albums, and he won’t stop there. He said to The Guardian about life after going solo: “I was so sick of everything after Yuck. We made this record, and the other guys did interviews towards the end, but I felt like it was just sapping my soul away. When you’re just sitting in a van for the whole day and you speak to someone on the phone about an album you made eight months ago that you have no connection with, it feels ridiculous and horrible,” Daniel begins. “It’s a privilege for someone to be interested in your music and to have this opportunity, but it became the opposite of that.” We can only speculate as to where Blumberg will end up in the future, but it looks like Hebronix is an excellent move for him, and critics certainly agree. One thing is for sure; we won’t be seeing a repeat of Cajun Dance Party.


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