12 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After releasing 2016’s The Colour in Anything, James Blake moved from London to Los Angeles, where he found himself busier than ever. “I’ve been doing a lot of production work, a lot of writing for other people and projects,” he tells Apple Music. “I think the constant process of having a mirror held up to your music in the form of other people’s music, and other people, helped me cross something. A shiny new thing.” That thing—his fourth album, Assume Form—is his least abstract and most grounded, revealing and romantic album to date. Here, Blake pulls back the curtain and explains the themes, stories and collaborations behind each track.

“Assume Form”
“I'm saying, ‘The plan is to become reachable, to assume material form, to leave my head and join the world.’ It seems like quite a modern, Western idea that you just get lost. These slight feelings of repression lead to this feeling of I’m not in my body, I’m not really experiencing life through first-person. It’s like I’m looking at it from above. Which is a phenomenon a lot of people describe when they talk about depression.”

“Mile High” (feat. Metro Boomin & Travis Scott)
“Travis is just exceptionally talented at melodies; the ones he wrote on that track are brilliant. And it was made possible by Metro—the beat is a huge part of why that track feels the way it does.”

“Tell Them” (feat. Metro Boomin & Moses Sumney)
“Moses came on tour with me a couple years ago. I watched him get a standing ovation every night, and that was when he was a support act. For me, it’s a monologue on a one-night stand: There’s fear, there’s not wanting to be too close to anybody. Just sort of a self-analysis, really.”

“Into the Red”
“‘Into the Red’ is about a woman in my life who was very giving—someone who put me before themselves, and spent the last of their money on something for me. It was just a really beautiful sentiment—especially the antithesis of the idea that the man pays. I just liked that idea of equal footing.”

“Barefoot in the Park” (feat. ROSALÍA)
“My manager played me [ROSALÍA’s 2017 debut] Los Ángeles, and I honestly hadn’t heard anything so vulnerable and raw and devastating in quite a while. She came to the studio, and within a day we’d made two or three things. I loved the sound of our voices together.”

“Can’t Believe the Way We Flow”
“It’s a pure love song, really. It’s just about the ease of coexisting that I feel with my girlfriend. It’s fairly simple in its message and in its delivery, hopefully. Romance is a very commercialised subject, but sometimes it can just be a peaceful moment of ease and something even mundane—just the flow between days and somebody making it feel like the days are just going by, and that’s a great thing.”

“Are You in Love?”
“I like the idea of that moment where neither of you know whether you’re in love yet, but there’s this need for someone to just say they are: ‘Give me assurance that this is good and that we’re good, and that you’re in love with me. I’m in love with you.’ The words might mean more in that moment, but that’s not necessarily gonna make it okay.”

“Where’s the Catch?” (feat. André 3000)
“I was, and remain, inspired by Outkast. Catching him now is maybe even more special to me, because the way he writes is just so good! I love the way he balances slight abstraction with this feeling of paranoia. The line ‘Like I know I’m eight, and I know I ain’t’—anxiety bringing you back to being a child, but knowing that you’re supposed to feel strong and stable because you’re an adult now. That’s just so beautifully put.”

“I’ll Come Too”
“It’s a real story: When you fall in love, the practical things go out the window, a little bit. And you just want to go to wherever they are.”

“Power On”
“It’s about being in a relationship, and being someone who gets something wrong. If you can swallow your ego a little bit and accept that you aren’t always to know everything, that this person can actually teach you a lot, the better it is for everyone. Once I’ve taken accountability, it’s time to power on—that’s the only way I can be worthy of somebody’s love and affection and time.”

“Don’t Miss It”
“Coming at the end of the album was a choice. I think it kind of sums up the mission statement in some ways: Yes, there are millions of things that I could fixate on, and I have lost years and years and years to anxiety. There are big chunks of my life I can’t remember—moments I didn’t enjoy when I should have. Loves I wasn’t a part of. Heroes I met that I can’t really remember the feeling of meeting. Because I was so wrapped up in myself. And I think that’s what this is—the inner monologue of an egomaniac.”

“Lullaby for My Insomniac”
“I literally wrote it to help someone sleep. This is just me trying to calm the waters so you can just drift off. It does what it says on the tin.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

After releasing 2016’s The Colour in Anything, James Blake moved from London to Los Angeles, where he found himself busier than ever. “I’ve been doing a lot of production work, a lot of writing for other people and projects,” he tells Apple Music. “I think the constant process of having a mirror held up to your music in the form of other people’s music, and other people, helped me cross something. A shiny new thing.” That thing—his fourth album, Assume Form—is his least abstract and most grounded, revealing and romantic album to date. Here, Blake pulls back the curtain and explains the themes, stories and collaborations behind each track.

“Assume Form”
“I'm saying, ‘The plan is to become reachable, to assume material form, to leave my head and join the world.’ It seems like quite a modern, Western idea that you just get lost. These slight feelings of repression lead to this feeling of I’m not in my body, I’m not really experiencing life through first-person. It’s like I’m looking at it from above. Which is a phenomenon a lot of people describe when they talk about depression.”

“Mile High” (feat. Metro Boomin & Travis Scott)
“Travis is just exceptionally talented at melodies; the ones he wrote on that track are brilliant. And it was made possible by Metro—the beat is a huge part of why that track feels the way it does.”

“Tell Them” (feat. Metro Boomin & Moses Sumney)
“Moses came on tour with me a couple years ago. I watched him get a standing ovation every night, and that was when he was a support act. For me, it’s a monologue on a one-night stand: There’s fear, there’s not wanting to be too close to anybody. Just sort of a self-analysis, really.”

“Into the Red”
“‘Into the Red’ is about a woman in my life who was very giving—someone who put me before themselves, and spent the last of their money on something for me. It was just a really beautiful sentiment—especially the antithesis of the idea that the man pays. I just liked that idea of equal footing.”

“Barefoot in the Park” (feat. ROSALÍA)
“My manager played me [ROSALÍA’s 2017 debut] Los Ángeles, and I honestly hadn’t heard anything so vulnerable and raw and devastating in quite a while. She came to the studio, and within a day we’d made two or three things. I loved the sound of our voices together.”

“Can’t Believe the Way We Flow”
“It’s a pure love song, really. It’s just about the ease of coexisting that I feel with my girlfriend. It’s fairly simple in its message and in its delivery, hopefully. Romance is a very commercialised subject, but sometimes it can just be a peaceful moment of ease and something even mundane—just the flow between days and somebody making it feel like the days are just going by, and that’s a great thing.”

“Are You in Love?”
“I like the idea of that moment where neither of you know whether you’re in love yet, but there’s this need for someone to just say they are: ‘Give me assurance that this is good and that we’re good, and that you’re in love with me. I’m in love with you.’ The words might mean more in that moment, but that’s not necessarily gonna make it okay.”

“Where’s the Catch?” (feat. André 3000)
“I was, and remain, inspired by Outkast. Catching him now is maybe even more special to me, because the way he writes is just so good! I love the way he balances slight abstraction with this feeling of paranoia. The line ‘Like I know I’m eight, and I know I ain’t’—anxiety bringing you back to being a child, but knowing that you’re supposed to feel strong and stable because you’re an adult now. That’s just so beautifully put.”

“I’ll Come Too”
“It’s a real story: When you fall in love, the practical things go out the window, a little bit. And you just want to go to wherever they are.”

“Power On”
“It’s about being in a relationship, and being someone who gets something wrong. If you can swallow your ego a little bit and accept that you aren’t always to know everything, that this person can actually teach you a lot, the better it is for everyone. Once I’ve taken accountability, it’s time to power on—that’s the only way I can be worthy of somebody’s love and affection and time.”

“Don’t Miss It”
“Coming at the end of the album was a choice. I think it kind of sums up the mission statement in some ways: Yes, there are millions of things that I could fixate on, and I have lost years and years and years to anxiety. There are big chunks of my life I can’t remember—moments I didn’t enjoy when I should have. Loves I wasn’t a part of. Heroes I met that I can’t really remember the feeling of meeting. Because I was so wrapped up in myself. And I think that’s what this is—the inner monologue of an egomaniac.”

“Lullaby for My Insomniac”
“I literally wrote it to help someone sleep. This is just me trying to calm the waters so you can just drift off. It does what it says on the tin.”

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