Henry Blaeser digs deep on new EP 'Quarry'

The producer and electronic musician branches out stylistically on a just-released pair of tracks

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Henry Blaeser

For months during the pandemic, producer and songwriter Henry Blaeser devoted all of his creative energy to creating an album, waking up before sunrise and working all day on a new collection of songs. Because of a health condition, he had very little contact with the outside world, isolating at home day after day.  

But after a while, Blaeser began to burn out. “Nothing was happening, and I was second-guessing all of the music, all the material. … The thing about the creative process that everyone says — ‘You can't force it’ — it's so true,” said Blaeser, a Dublin, Ohio, native.  

The album never came to fruition, but the process was necessary nonetheless. Blaeser is a classically trained percussionist and electronic musician who more recently began incorporating vocals into his indie-pop songs, and when he listened back to the material for the record, he heard a stylistic progression. The older songs felt stale and out of date; the newer stuff, though, felt different and exciting.  

The revelation prompted Blaeser to instead release a two-song EP, Quarry, which is out digitally today (Friday, July 9).  

Before embarking on a solo music career (along with his mixing and production work for other artists), Blaeser got his start playing keys in Columbus band Turtle Island, followed by percussion work in fellow local acts Montezuma and Mungbean. “Throughout all those projects, once I started to discover making music on my laptop by myself, I discovered this new musical environment where all the politics were removed and I could totally take charge,” Blaeser said. “I realized that I had something to say musically.” 

More:The long, slow process of becoming Mungbean

Moving from electronic music to songs with vocals and lyrics required a leap of faith, but Blaeser took inspiration from other trailblazers. “My solo artist heroes, their whole ethos is that they have an atypical approach. On paper, somebody like Grimes or George Clanton, they're not classically good singers,” he said. “As long as the vibe is there, and the lyricism and the message, the sky's the limit. I didn't feel like I had to start taking vocal lessons or something to be qualified.” 

On “Quarry” and B-side “Melting,” Blaeser wrestles with issues of trust and acceptance in relationships. “I’m struggling to discern whether or not somebody is being real with me, if somebody is being fake with me, if somebody has my back. … It felt good to get that off my chest,” he said. “In the adult professional world, which I've been slowly creeping into, maybe there are just some people out there who are never going to like you, and you just have to accept that.”  

One relationship that has proven to be particularly fruitful in recent years, though, is Blaeser’s collaboration with CoastalDives, the solo project of the Receiver’s Casey Cooper, including a split 7-inch from late last year

“Casey is, still to this day, one of my musical heroes. I remember going to see the Receiver play, and I was totally awestruck,” Blaeser said. “Collaborating with him has been a total dream because he's been a mentor to me, as well, so he brings that patience and wisdom to all the tracks that we've done so far. … We're still passing tracks back and forth.”