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Blue States

Blue States is a long-running downtempo pop project helmed by multi-instrumentalist Andy Dragazis. While the chilled-out atmosphere, breakbeat-like drumming, and occasional presence of turntable scratching on 2000's Nothing Changes Under the Sun resulted in Blue States' categorization as a trip-hop outfit, much of their subsequent output has incorporated more live instrumentation rather than samples, veering from dreamy indie rock to cinematic ambient pop. The group returned from a hiatus lasting nearly a decade with 2016's Restless Spheres, and the baroque pop-influenced World Contact Day appeared in 2022. Andy Dragazis' father was a Greek musician who had played with Vangelis in the 1960s. While living in Sussex, England, Andy started making music in the late '90s, mixing samples from film soundtracks with live instrumentation. With the help of a couple friends, Blue States became active in 1997. After playing out for a short amount of time, Dragazis was courted by Memphis Industries, a label that began issuing his singles and EPs. Between 1998 and 1999, five were released, setting the table for Nothing Changes Under the Sun, an LP released in 2000. In 2001, Thievery Corporation licensed the record in the U.S. on their Eighteenth Street Lounge Music imprint, adding bonus tracks to the original sequence. Dragazis also gained several remixing credits, including work for Hefner and Badly Drawn Boy. Blue States' second album, the sultry, cinematic Man Mountain appeared in fall 2002 (co-released by Memphis Industries and XL in the U.K., and again licensed by ESL stateside). The release included "Season Song," which went on to be featured in the cult zombie movie 28 Days Later. The 2004 full-length The Soundings saw Dragazis and the band work with more traditional song structures. Their 2007 follow-up, First Steps Into..., took a more solo-orientated approach, returning to Dragazis' electronic music roots with more open, expansive soundscapes. Sum of the Parts, a compilation of B-sides from Blue States' singles and EPs, appeared in 2009. Taking a break from Blue States, Dragazis started a more playful, surf/garage rock-influenced project called the Scantharies, and a self-titled full-length appeared in 2012. Blue States returned in 2016 with the EP Statues. Its title track, sung by Mayasa El-Mahmadi, appeared on the album Restless Spheres, which also featured Toby Jenkins (aka the Squire of Somerton) and singer/violinist Eos Counsell. Dragazis released two ambient/neo-classical EPs and a full-length, Afterimages, under his own name in 2019. Blue States' sixth album, World Contact Day, arrived in 2022. The record was inspired by the Carpenters' "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft," as well as British folk and baroque pop.
© Paul Simpson & Andy Kellman /TiVo


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