Beth Jeans Houghton goes by the alias “Du Blonde” and is not only an awesome musician, but also works in photography; comic books and illustrations. I had the opportunity to ask her a bunch of questions about herself which she has kindly answered for us here.
She was super fast in answering these questions, however, I have taken a long time getting them published as this site has been going through reshuffles. So at last here it is – my interview with Du Blonde.
Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a musician and artist from Newcastle. I make records, comics, videos and sculptures.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
When I was a kid I was really into 60’s pop and soul, then I moved onto glam rock, psych and garage. But always the standards like Neil Young, Bowie, The Mamas & the Papas. I went through a big ‘Love’ phase, especially their records Forever Changes and Da Capo, and also Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. But really if you could see what I listen to day to day it varies from ‘Poison’ by Alice Cooper to William Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
I had a mad crush on Michael Palin when I was 6. I think the people who inspired me were the ones who seemed to be relentlessly doing what they love, travelling and creating worlds to live inside of. If I could anthropomorphise a whole company i’d say Disney. Those movies helped shape my imagination when I was a kid. They were enthralling and they made me think. Before I could understand it I was trying to figure out how they made those illustrations move. Then there was the musical aspect. ‘The Lion King’ for example introduced me to Elton John and Hans Zimmer, whereas ‘Fantasia’ introduced me to Bach and Stravinsky.
What was the first album you remember buying?
Britney Spears’ ‘Oops!… I did it again’ was the first record I bought with my own money from an HMV in Calgary. I was 10 years old, wearing a strappy mini dress and foam platform sandals. There were children playing in the streets in huge outdoor paddling pools and I thought it was just the best.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I think I was getting the urge a long time before my head caught up and I realised it was something I wanted to do. I went through a phase of trying to sing opera around the house when I was a kid which was awful. I used to make a lot of costumes and I had dreams of creating things but it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I realised I wanted to, and could, write music if I put my mind to it.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
My mother taught me a lot about standing up for myself. She was always supportive of me pursuing what made me happy while at the same time giving me an understanding of how hard you have to work if that’s what you choose to do. She gave me the ability to dream and approach those dreams practically.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
The proudest i’ve felt is sitting in the back of a van with a group of people I love, travelling along a road, knowing that somehow I was blessed with a life in which I can do just that. The freedom to do what you love on your own terms is infinitely more valuable than any cheque or accolade, and I hope I can continue to do that for the rest of my life.
What is your favourite book?
‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach, and Richard Brautigan’s ‘In Watermelon Sugar’.
What is your favourite album?
Joni Mitchell – Ladies of the Canyon
Frank Zappa – Over-nite sensation
Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
fIREHOSE – Ragin’, Full on
Big Star – #1 Record
What is your favourite film?
The Royal Tenenbaums
What is your favourite TV show?
I binge-watched Stranger Things in one night and ate so many cashews that I had to ration my water so I wouldn’t have to leave my room and I was prepared to pee in a bottle. But also, The Wonder Years, Gilmore Girls and The Simpsons.
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
Grease is fucking great. But in terms of soundtracks, ‘Man on wire’ turned me on to Michael Nyman. I thought American Hustle had a really great soundtrack.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Well it isn’t an album but right now i’m listening to the audio book of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography which is great. I have a few playlists I alternate between which include things like the Rolling Stones, Aphrodite’s Child, Karen Dalton, Rush and Simon & Garfunkel. When I’m stressed I listen to Peals’ record ‘Walking Field’.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’’e only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Right now it’s ‘Visions of your reality’ by Ultimate Spinach.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t start smoking. Trust your instincts more and don’t back down when they’re being put into question. Don’t worry about the boys that don’t worry about you.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If I could go back in time I’d ask my Grandma to teach me how to knit the socks she made.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?
I’m working on a new record right now which i’m excited about, I made it out in Oakland with some really great people and i’m playing more guitar and producing which is really freeing. I’m also putting together issue 2 of my comic book ‘Butt Hurt’ which includes a lot of vomit and a guy who tried to woo me by comparing me to a game of Jenga.
Could you tell us a joke?
I can tell you about the time I ate a prize-winning square Hula Hoop worth £100,000 in the dining hall of my primary school in 1996.
Thank you, Beth
A big thank you to Beth for taking the time out to answer these questions and giving us some insights into the lady behind the frickin’ awesome music.