20 years of Blue Desert – the continuous pursuit of great music
“Westcoast music” is a descriptive term for a rather broad music style and aesthetic characterised by a focus on catchy melodies, clean vocals, strong harmonies, high production values and often meticulous arrangements and instrumental contributions. While this sub genre falls within the Pop/Rock category of music, it will sometimes contain elements from smooth R&B, Soul and Jazz as well. The genre developed in the mid-1970s often featuring artists located on the west coast of US. Interestingly the term “Westcoast music” was invented and used by us music lovers – for many years artists and record companies were oblivious to us applying the term to relevant artists and albums.
Blue Desert was born out of friendships largely based on a common passion for Westcoast and other great music. We met in record stores in and around Copenhagen seeking out treasured albums and/or at concerts with favourite artists. It started with issuing a well produced printed magazine aptly named “Westcoast”, which was released once per quarter. The magazine contained record reviews, articles and interviews with artists (i.e. Peter Mayer, Stephen Bishop, Marc Jordan a.o.). An essential album in the genre (“Blue Desert” by Marc Jordan) provided us with what we thought was a most fitting name.
This led to a short lived music society of sorts named “Danish Friends of Westcoast and then Blue Desert was set up as a website. So here we are… a whopping 20 years later. While we occasionally might feature albums and artists only on the verge of our beloved music genre, Blue Desert’s backbone is and always will be Westcoast music. While our love and passion for music has not changed, our hair and waistlines have gone through a few involuntary alterations. Alteration does not suffice however when describing the development within the music and recording industry the last 20-30 years.
Westcoast music is rarely heard on the radio, nor promoted by the record labels. Recording companies stopped taking chances and nurturing talent. It is all about selling millions and millions of albums by only a few artists. Or simply selling and promoting individual songs; frequently the art of making an album is discarded. Single tracks fit audio streaming better in an age where the attention span of the customer has become shorter and shorter. Small recording budgets often means “smaller” production values and technology now allows musicians to simply email in their contribution instead of feeding off other musicians being in the studio at the same time.
Mature artists rarely make money from records but from live gigs – funny how it used to be exactly the opposite. More and more Westcoast artists rely on self-funded or downright “private” releases. The rapid growth of social media has fortunately helped our favourite artists in spreading the word and promoting their work. One could in fact argue that in recent years artists are taking back control …getting their work out regardless of the ignorance and lack of support from the record companies.
More recently the (initially ironic) term “Yacht Rock” – linked to an online video show – has helped direct a bit of renewed media interest towards some of the artists and Westcoast albums we hold so dear. The conclusion: Great artists and great music cannot be suppressed for long.
Neither can Blue Desert be suppressed. Thank to the old gang, who started it all and all the guys who helped along the way Claus Peter Rasmussen, Søren Berzant, Carsten Weide, Sune Schack, Morten Lauridsen, Björn Söderqvist, Gabriel Raya, Michael Kratz and many others.
And a big thank you the readers from all over the world and finally a big thank you to all the wonderful artists for their talent and their support over the years – they are of course the very reason for Blue Desert.
And finally: Thank you readership and fellow Westcoast music lovers. Remember to support the art of music and its performers – buy the music!
All the best
Henrik Bohm & Kenneth Bremer