Blood Donor is the summer-sounding, sample-laden, upbeat, electronic pop musical child of ex-Otherkin front man Luke Reilly, who, after the band’s split in Summer 2019, embarked on his own singular artistic journey.
When debuting a new sound and a whole new image, it is important to not overthink such a launch and remove any superstitions or worries that might be floating around. Early in 2020 Blood Donor was introduced, Reilly’s new moniker in music, with a debut single on Friday 13th March. What’s the worst that could happen?
Under The Son
“I remember thinking months in the lead up to the single like ‘awh yeah Friday the 13th, who gives a fuck about superstitious stuff’… and then this great tragedy befell the world,” laughs the one-man-band. However, even with this unavoidable and unfortunately oh-so-familiar spanner in the works that is a global pandemic, it still didn’t stop the Meath native from gaining a BBC Radio 1 Future Sounds nod.
The transition from the sweaty tops-off rock band of Otherkin, to the bright and coloured pop solo project that is Blood Donor was although a sincere shift of sails, it has been overall a liberating and welcomed change.
“Definitely, you would miss meeting up in the rehearsal room, but ultimately it’s a process I’m enjoying. When you’re working on something yourself… and this sounds pretentious… it’s just a pure distillation of exactly what you want to do. You don’t have to worry about other considerations. You’re just making exactly what you want to make, at a given time. So that’s been really, really freeing.”
"I’m still making music, I’m still having fun, I’m still alive… everything else is just a bonus."
The trial of such a switch comes even more evident as Reilly talks of the prospect of stage performances: “When I was in Otherkin and we did live shows, I always considered that they were kind of our strongest suit. All the songs were so fast, it was that kind of music that lends itself to rowdiness. There was a persona that you could inhabit on stage that I just won’t be doing when I’m Blood Donor.
So, it’s going to be a different experience for me in terms of how I sing to people, how I act on stage…. how I move! I haven’t even thought about that one. I’m not going to have a guitar with me that I can stand behind, so it’s going to be a challenge. But I’m really looking forward to doing that. I like to put myself out of my comfort zone.”
It’s clear from the newest video Under The Sun that there is a worthy selection of creative moves to bust out on stage. Although, a full choreographed live show may not be the most practical endeavour for the self-confessed owner of “two left feet.”
“I was going to do a live stream recently and I was trying to think how I could incorporate that [choreography] into a live performance, because in the video I’m moving forward and back, but also side to side. So, it would be kind of tricky to stay in one place but do those moves. But I’ll crack it eventually, I think it would be really cool. Even though I’ve never danced before. Still can’t dance. I can roll my shoulders, that’s about it!”
Aside from the quirky majesty of the music video, the song tells the story of the identity crisis suffered after the split of the previous band and the dejected feeling that comes with such a departure from a truly distinctive lifestyle of a touring musician.
“I was like ‘who the fuck am I?’ Because loads of people are defined in some respect by what they do, which really shouldn’t be the case – but it’s very easy to do that. I was a bit like ‘what do I do now?’ But then I just kind of got over it. I’m still making music, I’m still having fun, I’m still alive… everything else is just a bonus.
“Obviously, looking back I’ll be like ‘I can’t believe I used to do this crazy shit for a living’ but that’s just life, things keep on moving. I’ll always want to make music and put out music. So as long as I’m doing that, well then I’m staying true to what I’ve always wanted to do.”
He continues: “Part of our thinking when we split up Otherkin was we didn’t want to be that band that are ageing and not going anywhere, clinging on to some dream we had when we were 15 years younger. That for us was a sort of sadder eventuality.”
"2021 is the year I’m gunning for.”
While the lo-fi bop of Under The Sun and the infectious debut Bienvenue completes the current short discography of two singles, it is promising to hear that an EP is in the wings and an album soon after.
“The plan is to put out the EP soon and then keep releasing. Maybe a few singles after that and just get the album out at some point in 2021. Then live shows, vaccine permitting… I’d love to get out and just play some gigs! But if not, live streams. I’m really looking to step it up a gear… or kick it up a gear-?… I dunno, what do you do with gears? Anyway, 2021 is the year I’m gunning for.”
With a clear identity and a keen focus on good song writing, the stage is set for Blood Donor: “I think the songs will speak for themselves. That’s always been the focus for me, just make good songs and hopefully it will resonate with people and they’ll react.”