The Blow is Melissa Dyne and Khaela Maricich. A shape-shifting entity, The Blow has taken various forms over time and manifests in an array of media, employing popular music as a vehicle for broader explorations. Operating between contexts and genres, the duo works with sound recording, performance, installation, writing, and physical media, aiming to address and expand the limitations encountered within each framework. Their self-titled album The Blow, released in 2013, was listed among the top-ten songs of 2013 by New York Times, and was NPR music editor Bob Boilen’s #1 album of that year. They have been curating WOMANPRODUCER.com, a multi-platform archive of female music producers, engineers and sonic innovators, since 2014. Their performances have been presented at The Kitchen, The Wexner Center, Artists Space, The Warhol Museum, On The Boards, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as in traditional music venues such as The Henry Fonda Theater, Great American Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, and The Gramercy Theater. They live and work in New York City.
ENERGETIC STRATEGIES (FOR RIGHT NOW)
2018: Energetic Strategies (For Right Now) was a series of tutorials for strategizing a survival in the condition of atmosphere which existed in the United States in 2018. It might have been titled “The Abyss Part 2: How to deal.” The tutorials offered strategies for managing the shock of omnipresent violence in the air, which was of course not a new violence and to many it was no shock at all, in this place which was founded and built piece by piece with little units of violence from the very start. To many, however, it was a revelation, a new crack in the door leading to a potential deprogramming from the fiction that we had been living in a good place to begin with. The strategies were energetic in nature, methods of acknowledging or not acknowledging what is present in the psychic and historical environment: acknowledgement is a strategy towards accepting and fixing what is fucked, tapping into the magnetic core of the center of the planet and allowing gravity to inform a reinstatement of reality, but it’s neither necessary nor inevitable. Energetic Strategies (For Right Now) was toured throughout the United States and Canada.
THE BRAND NEW ABYSS
2017: The Brand New Abyss) was a response to the political and cultural atmosphere present in the United States in the year after the election of 2016. The statement we wrote about it then still feels like an accurate description of the time: “Does the air hurt your brain, and sting your sensibilities? Does it come in like a shock and keep seeping in, never leaving you, never leaving you alone, disrespecting your boundaries and confusing you until you sort of more or less forget that it’s happening (you never forget that it’s happening, it’s just too hard to talk about very often).” The performance was toured throughout music and performance venues in the United States and Canada (and seemed to make less sense in Canada, where the veneer of status quo was more firmly being held in place).
2014-2015: “Unplugged” was the two of us performing on stage together with our sound production rig, disassembling and reconstructing material from the extended catalog of Blow songs. Developed slowly over the course of years, the system we built for producing music is a mothership of modular synths, ancient samplers and other audio gear patched together in a web of interchangeable cables. Melissa conceived of this system as an answer to the question of what it would look like for the two of us to produce multidimensional electronic sound outside the algorithmic limitations of recording software; “Unplugged” was an attempt to get our hands on a rawer form of electrical material and to exploit the emotional capacity of frequencies existing off the grid. The performance was presented in music venues across the United States and Canada. (photo by Colin Self)
2011 – 2016: Between 2011 and 2016 we took up temporary residence in a series of timeshare vacation resorts around the Eastern seaboard, installing our sound-production system and the sphere of our creative environment into the unfamiliar surroundings. The project was a practice of contending with the abstract challenges of space in more literal terms, taking the larger question of where one might feel welcome to exist and to create and confronting it tangibly, in specific and not-necessarily welcoming places: can we write an electronic bass line in an 80’s style Poconos townhouse with neighbors on either side? Can we remember our creative impetus when we are far away from community and context? What form do creative materials begin to take when loosened from external influence and support? Documentation of our tenure in these vacation sites takes the form of photographs, videos, and the influence upon the compositions themselves. A video of our stay in Atlantic City is visible on our video page and there is an essay about working in condominiums on Khaela’s site. (photo collage by Khaela Maricich).
THE BLOW: THE BLOW
2013: The performance THE BLOW: THE BLOW, alternately titled We put it together so we could take it apart, was the live iteration of our first album as a duo, “THE BLOW: THE BLOW.” We performed from opposite sides of the venue, Khaela on the main stage and Melissa on a stage in the middle of the space. Sandwiching the audience between us, we treated the performance as an intimate conversation, to which onlookers could be privy. THE BLOW: THE BLOW was performed at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Kitchen, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Artscape Toronto, and other venues across the United States. (photo by Matt McDonald).
SONGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE
2009: Songs For Other People was our first active performance collaboration. It presented a narrative that straddled the border of fiction and non fiction, offered as a between-song monologue confessional told by Khaela and framed within a landscape of lighting and soundscape installed and controlled by Melissa. Working from the premise that The Blow had been hired to ghostwrite for a tabloid starlet whose lesbian romance made headlines in 2008, the show was an exploration of the tenuousness of identity and the need for someone or something bigger to project oneself onto. Using lighting, shadow and depth as painterly tools, Dyne created an array of tableaux, inside of which Maricich performed the narrative from a morphing continuum of characters. Songs For Other People was performed at The Warhol Museum, The Wexner Center, Pulse Miami, Joe’s Pub, as an opening act for the band Vampire Weekend, and in venues throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. (photo by Melissa Dyne).
2006 – 2008 Paper Television was a series of morphing narratives based on the songs from the Blow albums Poor Aim: Love Songs and Paper Television. The performances took the form of songs interspersed with narrative, and were the first Blow performances in which Melissa Dyne participated, playing an invisible role, controlling and manipulating the sounds and holding an unspoken conversation with Khaela from the back of the theater. Both albums center thematically on the juxtapositions that occur between people who are attempting to love each other; they were written as attempts to illustrate the abstract shapes formed by relationships and to make words for elusive feelings. The narration of the Paper Television performances was designed to reanimate the invisible dynamics that gave form to the songs. The monologues changed and grew slowly over the course of this period. Paper Television was performed at On The Boards, Great American Music Hall, The Wexner Center, Irving Plaza, The Gramercy Theater, Emo’s, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and other venues across the U.S, Canada, Europe and Australia. The albums Paper Television and Poor Aim: Love Songs were made in collaboration with Jona Bechtolt.