Q&A with UK-based Deep Blue Sea, blend retro senses and sounds from the heyday of the Blues Rock Boom

"Music was shown to have power. It could speak to the world more clearly and more honestly than most politicians. It showed us, from the early days of the 60s blues boom to the Live Aid event, that people could come together to effect change, to enjoy love and peace, to communicate all over the world."
Deep Blue Sea: Power & Passion
A London band - but London's a big city...From the wild west west London.. the London Borough of Los Angeles, an astonishing vocalist – Dregas. From the frozen north north London.. the London borough of Stockholm, a funky master of rhythm and groove - tougher than an IKEA manual - Amanda on drums. From sunny south south London.. the London borough of Santiago De Compostella, a master of so many guitar styles he leaves audiences dumbstruck, the amazing Iago on guitar. And from inner inner London.. the Royal London Borough of Hartlepool, Graeme on bass - he played bass with Tenpole Tudor and is an established songwriter. Some highlights from the last months... Deep Blue Sea signed a 3 album deal with All About Blues Music Ltd for an internet-based 3 part graphic novel "Blues In Buckle" - Deep Blue Sea is providing the soundtrack for the novels. Deep Blue Sea streamed live in Soho on Facebook - hitting 75,000 views. Recorded their debut live album "Live It Up" at Harpenden R&B Festival in May 2018. The album reached the top 10 in the IBBA radio playlists for July and August 2018. Signed to Razor Edge Records in 2019 and recorded their first studio album "Strange Ways" released on 24 September 2019.

Iago: The band’s highly skilled guitarist Iago’s approach alternates between the gleefully sloppy strokes known to any fan of the blues and the more polished, expansive craftsmanship of rock guitar’s most disciplined stylists. Full of surprises but always predictably explosive, Iago is the guitar player the blues needs now. A breath of fresh air who combines the best of the genre’s past with an eye toward the future.

Dregas: As the band’s sole American, lead vocalist Dregas brings a unique set of influences and experiences to Deep Blue Sea. Beginning her classical piano training at the age of four, Dregas lists influences as far ranging as Ludvig Van Beethoven, Aretha and Bad Religion.

Graeme: As with any solid bass player, the contribution of Graeme to Deep Blue Sea’s sonic attack is both understated and vital. His steady bass figures serve as the glue to a band of wildly disparate elements. His lyrics - at once contemporary yet reminiscent of Dylan, Cohen et al from the 60s heyday blues-rock add to the bands' ability to communicate on many levels. Graeme isn’t shy when expressing the band’s ambitions. He lists ‘touring bigger and better venues’ as a goal for Deep Blue Sea and adds “We believe we have something worth saying — musically and lyrically, things that can connect and engage with people — have fun with them and give something.’

Amanda: It is something of a cliche to refer to a strong drummer as the band’s anchor. But in Amanda’s case, ‘anchor’ is too stationary, too sedentary a metaphor to describe the role she plays in Deep Blue Sea’s sound. A better metaphor for Amanda’s approach on her instrument is as Deep Blue Sea’s engine. She propels the band forward, sometimes with reliably steady thumps and other times with choppy, dance-inspiring stabs.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Amanda – I think it gave me a different view of freedom. An option to be a bit different and outrageous, which was more appealing to me than following the norm. Music has guided my life choices since I started playing and I sort of built my life around it. It wasn’t intentional at first, it just sort of happened because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. With Blues and Rock there’s no holding back which allows for an incredible freedom on stage, and when the audience feels that too the roof is on fire!

Dregas - yeah, music has taken me all over the USA and now here I am in London. Music is an international language - we might have different accents - but within the world of music - we're all together and able to create something unique. Music colours every memory, every moment. The best things you can recall will have a soundtrack. Take all of the influences with you on your journeys and let them grow into new flowers.

Iago - within Deep Blue Sea we don't like to create too many "categories" - good music is good enough! It was that simple. Good music brought us together - the journey goes on - hard times and good times - music makes things better. Making music is our journey.

Graeme - what they all said.

How do you describe 'Deep Blue Sea' songbook and sound? What is the story behind band's name?

Graeme - the story behind the band's name is complicated.

A good few years back, I was working my way through South America - back packing. I got a job as a handy man in a brothel in Sucre, Bolivia. I ran errands for the Madam for whom I got board and lodge. One day, we got raided, most likely because she wasn't paying the protection racket operated by the chief of police. I didn't have any permit papers, nothing, so I jumped out of a first floor window into an alleyway and cracked my leg badly. I managed to crawl away and for about six days I hid in a barn in a farm yard where a farmer's daughter brought me soup and bread til my leg got better. It was only after being there for those days that I realised the farmer's crop was poppies and his daughter had taken a shine to me. These two facts put together were a bit of a death sentence. In the still of the night, I stole a horse and bareback, rode for three days and nights until in the early morning dawn of the fourth day, I came to Salar de Uyuni and looked down on the mirror of the sky and saw everything crystal clear in that instant.

I guess that's not really why the band is called Deep Blue Sea - but it is why I walk with a slight limp.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Iago - you are cordially invited to our next gigs, jams and studio sessions - please bring lawyers, guns and money!!!

It's something you have to experience up close and personal. Of course, we'd love to come over to Greece and make new memories there too.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Graeme - the past is the past is the past - we all have different pasts - they inform our presents and point to our futures.  We all have taken music from various pasts - we have all experienced different pasts - and these we are putting into our collective future with the music we create. So, we use the term "Retro" to describe elements of our sound - because we look back to the days of guitar based blues rock - but for us - there's four different inputs into that amplifier and only one output. We put in our own personal feelings - they get blended and stirred - and out comes Deep Blue Sea. Be fearless in the creation of music.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Amanda – I am an active member of the Musicians Union and feel very strongly about musician’s rights and the value of our work. I’d like to change a lot of things, but if I’d have to pick one right now from the top of my head, it would be to change the underrepresentation of women holding senior positions in the music industry.

"Within Deep Blue Sea we don't like to create too many "categories" - good music is good enough! It was that simple. Good music brought us together - the journey goes on - hard times and good times - music makes things better. Making music is our journey." (Photo: Deep Blue Sea)

What does to be a female artist in a “Man’s World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Dregas - have a listen to the lyrics to the song "Don't Say I Didn't Warn You" off the new album, Strange Ways. The status of women varies across the world - never mind music - there's always more to be done - happily in this band - we're all equal - but that just means we all have to carry Amanda's drums.

What is the impact of Blues n' Rock music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

Graeme - in the 60s a lot of barriers, walls and divisions were tore down. Music was an important element in that. We saw great change. Music became a call to arms. Dylan, The Stones and many others wrote angry songs that kids picked up on and said "No!, we ain't putting up with this no more". In the 70s punk (The Clash and the Sex Pistols and others) picked up that flag. Some songs in the 80s actually changed things. "Free Nelson Mandela" "Feed The World". Music was shown to have power. It could speak to the world more clearly and more honestly than most politicians. It showed us, from the early days of the 60s blues boom to the Live Aid event, that people could come together to effect change, to enjoy love and peace, to communicate all over the world.

Since then? Discuss amongst yourselves....

but if I could just say one thing about Deep Blue Sea, to us our music is Retro because we remember how music makes a difference - so listen to No Pasaran, The Well, Strange Ways - read the stories on the website. We are not just about a style - this is what we believe in. Communicate, come together, share understanding. Make the world a better place. This is what we are about. Probably gonna get shot for this - but hey!

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Dregas - ok - Hogwarts. Yes I know it doesn't really exist, but neither does a Time Machine - and if we're talking fantasy here - I'm going to Hogwarts for the end of term celebrations - gimmie a Butter Beer.

Amanda –Well, if Dre's going to Hogwarts, I'm definitely heading to a Galaxy Far Far Away. I want to fly the Falcon, do some Jedi stuff, overthrow the Empire, escape a space slug and cuddle Ewok babies.

Iago - I don't need fantasy worlds - just take me back to Santiago de Compostela, I'll find one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, I'll get a glass of the best Galician wine and a glass of the finest Galician coffee liquour and I might be gone for some time. 

What were the reasons that started the band 'Deep Blues Sea'? Where does band's creative drive come from?

Graeme - The drive comes from the 4 of us enjoying playing together. It starts from Amanda's infectious smile as she starts whacking the living daylights out of the drums - it goes in to the bass end - out thru the top end of Iago's lead guitar and into Dre as she belts out the vocal - pogo-ing as she sings. We are a 4-wheel drive band. That's why we can go off-road!! 

Do you consider the Blues Rock a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind? 

Iago - we don't think of ourselves as "Blues Rock" - we play music - whatever feels right - there's no rules. There are great blues bands out there, great blues rock bands out there and great rock bands. We don't really do the labels schmuck.

Did Beethoven consider himself a classical musician or a Goth?

We think of our music as retro - because it remembers a time when music seemed to matter more. When perhaps there were less distractions - less noise. When everyone is shouting, you can't hear a thing (The Well). So, we're about creating music that matters, playing to people who listen and react - a communication bond is made - we're all in this together.

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