In an upstairs room of The Roxy Theatre last Friday, Sept. 14, Davey Havok and Jade Puget sat on a bright turquoise couch, relaxing until showtime. As the electronic act Blaqk Audio, the duo was neither nervous nor hyper: they were excited about the night’s concert, part of the West Coast tour for their new album, Bright Black Heaven.
A few hours later, the two would be entertaining a packed crowd, with Havok dancing across the stage and Puget standing behind a setup emblazoned with the band’s logo.
Bright Black Heaven is something of a different beast compared to Blaqk Audio’s previous album, CexCells. After releasing their debut, the two worked on a new album for their other act, AFI, before returning their focus to Blaqk Audio. The new album is much more uptempo than the previous one, and there is a bit more of a dance focus.
“To us it’s, ‘Here are the songs we wrote,’” Puget said. “I guess when you think of CexCells, there are a lot of slow songs, relatively, but it’s just how it came out. There was no plan for that.”
The new album also touches on themes that CexCells did not, such as betrayal, affairs and indulgence.
As Havok said, “The commentaries are completely different between those two records.”
Havok also said he didn’t set out with a lyrical focus or structure in mind when beginning to work on Bright Black Heaven. Instead, the words came out of the development process, specifically with the music Puget created. Havok listened to that, and then started writing.
“With Bright Black Heaven, that transcendence that can be achieved through the mundane or through music that I’m hearing or we’re creating is what led me in that lyrical direction,” he said.
In the process of recording the album, the duo recorded more than 30 songs. Though the final product only has 12 songs, some tracks ended up on special releases of Bright Black Heaven or were released online: Havok and Puget don’t like to abandon what they’ve worked on.
“We could do an EP, [or those leftover songs] could be on the next record,” Puget said. “Anything we usually finish is something we like.”
Part of the duo’s enthusiasm for Blaqk Audio comes from being able to do live shows. Their sets include songs from both albums — and their show at The Roxy featured an Erasure cover during the encore — but both members have a few songs that they especially love to perform live.
“‘Bon Voyeurs’ is really fun,” Puget said. “‘Say Red’ is probably the fastest song I’ve ever written. In fact, it’s probably too fast to dance to.”
“Yeah, it’s happy hardcore,” Havok added. “‘Everybody’s Friends’ is one of my favorite songs. And I really really like ‘Cold War.’ We open with that and I think it sets a nice tone for the rest of the evening and the record.”
Outside of their own music, Havok and Puget are fans of a number of acts in the electronic music scene, from older bands such as Depeche Mode to more modern musicians.
“I love the poppier side, the mainstream side of dance music, personally,” Havok said. “Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Kaskade and Afrojack, I think they’re great.”
Even though Blaqk Audio explored dance music more in its second album, the duo doesn’t see itself as really being a part of the electronic dance music scene. Unlike much of EDM, according to Puget, Blaqk Audio doesn’t often create dance loops, instead using song structures for its tracks. Also, unlike much of EDM, Havok performs live vocals at each show.
“We’ll do a fast song, then we have a slow song, like a normal band. That doesn’t fit in [other kinds of electronic music] at all,” Puget said. “Like, Underworld is something that has a live vocalist but there’s so many things about us that aren’t that. We love that thing, but we love what we do too.”
But despite the differences between Blaqk Audio and those other electronic acts, the band does not think that anything needs to change, or that one subgenre within the electronic scene should become the standard or only subgenre.
“I don’t think there’s anything missing from dance music or electronic music. Really, less so than ever before,” Havok said. “With the resurgence of electronica here in America, we haven’t really had such an acceptance of the general genre since the early ’90s. There has been such a greater expanse of different artistry within the greater genre. And we’re hearing so much progress in all the little different niches of music, none of which we fit in at all.”