By Zach Collier
Blake Snow is passionate about writing. A bestselling author, he’s written for publications like Wired, CNN, USA Today, and more. New to the Provo music scene, he first got in touch with us after seeing an issue of Provo Music Magazine at Sensuous Sandwich. The image of an author deepening his knowledge of local music through the written word is a wonderful thing.
As a musician and lifelong fan of literature and Sensuous Sandwich, I knew I had to talk to Snow. While I’m partial Fitzgerald, Dostoevsky, O. Henry, and Lovecraft myself, I enjoyed hearing about his love for Hemingway, Buzz Bissinger, Tolstoy, Laura Hillenbrand, Dumas, Bill Bryson, and Steinbeck. And anyone whose favorite sci-fi book is Planet of the Apes (and who thinks it’s better than the movie) is a winner in my book.
Snow, who hails from Georgia, has an affecting blend of Utah kindness and Southern genteel charm. From his office/home studio in West Provo, it was easy to talk to him for nearly an hour about music: Wet Leg. COIN. Sir Sly. Harry Styles. We had so much fun that I can forgive him for not liking Pressure Machine (just barely).
A professional writer of 20 years, Snow loves his craft. His big break came after applying to a blogging job with AOL and getting hired as a freelancer. “Many years later, I wrote my first book, which was in the top 1% of book sales that year,” he says. “Which admittedly isn’t as much as you think it would be and a lot less than Harry Potter, but the message resonated, which I’m grateful for.”
Snow made his musical debut with 2020’s Mr. Mustache after the pandemic upended his writing career and affected his mental and emotional health in a powerful way. “As a social butterfly, it was incredibly difficult for society to repeatedly ask me NOT to be myself,” Snow explains. “Stay home, stay safe, socially distance yourself.”
With the help of emergency savings that he and his wife had built over the years, he threw himself into writing music for the first time since college – nearly 15 years. “With each song I wrote, another one came to light. With Mr. Mustache, I found my flow as a songwriting and recording artist and came away with two lasting singles – ‘Turn a Corner,’ ‘Mr. Mustache’ – and a couple of proud deep cuts – ‘Shrug’ and ‘Control What You Can.'”
His latest record, Less Bad, improves on his debut. The day after he self-released Mr. Mustache, he wrote his song “Back In The Race” and the songs kept coming. “So six months later, I entered my home studio again to record 14 songs for Less Bad. Although it still touches on the theme of social alienation, it’s a much more optimistic (if not fun) album,” he says. “I think it’s a much stronger effort than my first album.”
The title track, “Sorta Social,” finds Snow embracing the idea that he doesn’t have to be the extravert he used to be before the pandemic – and that’s okay. “I can be somewhere in between. It gives the listener permission to change. That’s empowering, and I think that comes through in this song.”
I asked him how embarking on a music career has been similar to pursuing a writing career. He says there is quite a bit of overlap. “Writing lyrics and compelling sentences both require rhythm, earnestness, playfulness, metaphor, and most importantly heart,” Snow says. “Writing interesting songs and articles both build suspense and release and take the listener or reader on a short journey (either emotionally, intellectually, or both).” He made mention of how scary it can be to release something, whether that be music, literature, art, etc. Both music and literature require you to be vulnerable and to open yourself up to criticism. “But a statue has never been erected in honor of a critic, so it’s not that big of a deal,” he laughs.
In terms of differences, Snow found comfort in the fact that songs are much more formulaic. “Which I’m totally okay with,” he says. “For example, Western music only uses 12 notes. Twelve. English, on the other hand, gives the creator over 1 million words to express themselves. The challenge of music is how to arrange those 12 notes in a way that excites the listener.”
His songs “Back In The Race” and “Ricky’s Song” definitely caught my attention. “Ricky’s Song” especially. It gave me the same carefree vibes that I get from the less absurd entries of The Presidents of the United States of America. When I told Snow this, he responded with a knowing, “Millions of peaches–thank you!”
That’s not to say that he’s incapable of writing dark music. “Control What You Can” and “Alright Here” both deal with heavier themes, but he keeps his sonics upbeat at least 80% of the time.
“Presidents were one of the rare 90’s acts that didn’t take themselves seriously like the rest of alternative/grunge did that decade,” he says. “As an optimist, I prefer upbeat music. Life’s too short to spend most of it in the gutter.”
This ethos forms the backbone of his musical output, and it’s one he feels passionate about. “When I first started writing songs as a teenager and college student, I didn’t have much to say. I was trying to force the issue because I wanted it, but wasn’t doing it with heart,” he says. “After the world collapsed in 2020, that all changed. For the first time in my life, I had a lot to say both musically and lyrically. And since I’d spent the previous 15 years writing full-time, lyrics came much easier than before I became a writer.”
Blake Snow’s music is a fascinating listen. A storyteller first and foremost, he treats guitars, pianos, and synthesizers like he treats pencils, typewriters, and word processors. They’re all vehicles for emotive communication.
Each song is a sonic facsimile of Snow himself: optimistic, overflowing with observations about life and the world around him. A self-described illiterate musician, it’s going to be fun watching Snow cut his teeth in the local scene with future releases and live performances. If his past is any sign of his future, he’ll be literate in no time.
You can learn more about Blake Snow here. Listen to his song “Sorta Social” below.
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[…] was recently interviewed by the likable Zach Collier of Provo Music Magazine. He did a fantastic job capturing what my music is about. I hope you read the whole profile and […]