Beth Jeans Houghton
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny performing at the Deaf Institute, Manchester, 2012
|Born||c. 1990 (age 25–26)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
|Genres||Pop-folk, wonky pop, psychedelic pop, freak folk|
|Labels||Mute, Static Caravan|
Beth Jeans Houghton (a.k.a. Du Blonde) is a Newcastle upon Tyne-born singer, songwriter, musician and visual artist who plays her own music influenced by psychedelic rock, punk, blues, 70s folk and soul. Her main instrument is electric guitar; however she also plays piano and bass.
Beth Jeans Houghton was born into a family of music-lovers. Her mother, a graphic designer, played bass guitar and ukulele in folk clubs, while her father, also a designer, was a Frank Zappa fan. Houghton started writing songs in her teens. At sixteen she left school and bought herself a Fender Stratocaster, which she taught herself to play.
Houghton first appeared in front of an audience in 2006; her debut release, titled EP (a limited-edition 7”), was on Bird Records in 2008. She signed then with Static Caravan Recordings, which released the single "Golden"/"Nightswimmer", produced by Adem, and her second EP, Hot Toast, Vol. 1 (produced by Mike Lindsay of the band Tunng), both of which earned acclaim from the UK press. After a year-and-a-half of performing solo, Houghton enlisted musicians Dav Shiel (drums), Edward Blazey (guitar, trumpet), Rory Gibson (bass), Findlay McAskill (violin) and Calum Howard (keys), to play live and on her first full-length record, as The Hooves of Destiny. Houghton signed in early 2011 with Mute Records, releasing her debut long-player in early 2012. The album was recorded with Ben Hillier whose previous production credits include Blur, Depeche Mode and Elbow.
After two years of "heartbreaking" delays the album Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose by Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny was released on 6 February 2012 and reached number 83 in the UK Albums Chart. "I set out to make a record unaffected by outside opinions and I was happy to watch it grow in different directions. And yes, I am happy with the results; there is not a thing I would change," she said in a 7digital interview.
Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny toured the UK and Europe extensively during 2011 and 2012, appearing at multiple festivals including Glastonbury, The Great Escape, Latitude and Bestival. In April 2012, the band performed on Later... with Jools Holland alongside Paul Weller and Willis Earl Beal.
In November 2012, Houghton and her band flew to Los Angeles, California, to record their second album at The Boat studio in Silverlake. However, after initial sessions going well, Houghton became disenchanted with the sound of the new album and the sessions were cancelled.
In late 2012, Houghton had written to Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands inviting him to do some backing vocals on the LA recordings. Although the two had never previously met, in January 2013 Herring flew from Baltimore to Los Angeles and suggested collaborating and writing some music as well. They worked on her record for a week and a half, then travelled through the Pacific Coast, out to the desert and hung around Los Angeles for a couple of weeks. They wrote a couple of songs including “Pelican Canyon”, recorded and produced by Phillip Broussard Jr. at The Boat in Los Angeles. Then about a month and a half later, Beth visited Herring in Baltimore and they drove around the East Coast.
Houghton spent the nine months travelling around America, always returning to Los Angeles which had by this point become her spiritual home. During this time, she reevaluated her musical direction, and continued to write. Houghton returned to the UK in September 2013 with the intention to begin the sessions for her second album, this time as a solo artist.
Houghton has said the decision to take the new direction came at the V&A, in the final room of the 'David Bowie Is…' exhibition. "When I was a kid, my idea of being a musician came from all these big characters – Bowie, Bolan, Beefheart… I had this moment in front of all these chapters of his life: this is what I want to do and I haven't done it for all of these years. All this stuff that was really important to me in the beginning, all of the creativity, emotional expulsion, I'd just lost all of that. It was such a sad moment, but also good – because you can't change it unless you realise", she said.
Welcome Back To Milk, the debut album for Houghton as Du Blonde, recorded in London and Los Angeles with producer Jim Sclavunos, was set for release on May 19, 2015, by Mute Records. It has garnered generally favourable reviews, with 75/100 rating at Metacritic.
Beth Jeans Houghton's first releases leaned more towards Psychedelic folk and soul, with elements of Blues, Punk and Psych Rock. However, the press's insistence on defining her as an 'anti-folk' artist, with comparisons to other female artists at the time, frustrated Houghton as she felt these comparisons bore no resemblance to her style and gave no credit to her real influences - music of the 60's and 70's, garage, punk, classical, West Coast psych etc.
Her artwork consists mostly of portraits, illustrations and paintings on canvas, but she tends to make use of whatever is at hand. Her style cannot be pinned down and she has displayed a love of realistic painting, comic book illustration, collage and sculpture.
She is a keen photographer, using both digital and film cameras. She also films and edits her own music videos using Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
In 2013 Houghton suffered from anxiety: "In the moment the nervous breakdown was actually happening, I thought, 'either I’m dying or I’m going to be sectioned for the rest of my life'." Of her practice of Transcendental Meditation, begun at this time, she said, "To now know confidently I can deal with my anxiety is such a good place to be."
- Bon Iver
- Euros Childs
- Fionn Regan
- Future Islands
- Imogen Heap
- King Creosote
- Mumford & Sons
- Mystery Jets
- Scott Matthews
- St. Vincent
- Stephen Fretwell
- EP – June 2008
- Hot Toast Vol 1 – September 2009
- "Golden / Nightswimmer" – Static Caravan, 2009
- "Dodecahedron" – Mute, 2011
- "Sweet Tooth Bird" – Mute, 2012
- "Atlas" – Mute, 2012
- Tilden, Imogen (27 March 2009). "First Sight: Beth Jeans Houghton'". London: The Guardian.
- MacKay, Emily (16 March 2012). "Beth Jeans Houghton – Freak folk's weird sister finally hits the charts". The Independent. London.
- Fox, Killian (2015). "Du Blonde: 'It was the scariest thing. I don't know how I made it through'". The Observer. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Ferrier, Morwenna (6 November 2011). "Beth Jeans Houghton: 'There's more to me than wigs'". The Observer. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Freeman, John (28 February 2012). "You Can Dance Until You Die: An Interview With Beth Jeans Houghton". Quietus. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Phares, Heather. "Beth Jeans Houghton". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- "Mute – Beth Jeans Houghton". Mute. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Newbury, David (13 February 2012). "Beth Jeans Houghton interview: "I hate London"". The Independent. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Yours Truly Cellophane Nose". www.chartstats.com. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- "Beth Jeans Houghton Interview - 7digital 2012".
- Williams, Holly (5 June 2015). "Beth Jeans Houghton interview on Du Blonde, her nervous breakdown and industry sexism". The Independent. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- Derek Robertson (22 March 2014). "DiS meets Future Islands: "My dad would always ask me when I was going to write a happy song"". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- "Du Blonde / Announces album details – Welcome Back To Milk – out 18/19 May. Announces June UK live dates.". Mute Records. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- "Beth Jeans Houghton/ Announces name change to Du Blonde, new album set for Spring 2015 & new UK dates in Feb.". Mute Records. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- "Welcome Back to Milk by Du Blonde reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Beth Jeans Houghton". Woodwork Music. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- Tilden, Imogen (26 March 2009). "First sight: Beth Jeans Houghton". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
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- "Beth Jeans Houghton". Crack. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- "Beth Jeans Houghton". Moseley Folk Festival. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- "Future Islands / Dope Body / Du Blonde @ Glasgow Barrowlands, 9 September". The Skinny. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- Alexander, Phil (1 June 2009). "Phosphorescent Burn Bright In London!". Mojo. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
- Awbi, Anita (26 June 2008). "Beth Jeans Houghton: EP (Bird)". Music Week. Retrieved 12 July 2009.