"I've been gone from Santa Fe for a long time," Dylan Blanchard says. "I moved around a bunch, to Denver, North Carolina, Delaware; but when I came back to Santa Fe, this was where I made most of my musical connections…"
He trails off, remembering the past.
Recently, Blanchard has been all over the place. Once a student in the contemporary music program at the College of Santa Fe and a member of bands like the massive indie orchestra Apple Miner Colony and indie rock quartet Babbleshack, he has since gotten married, picked up a job at Meow Wolf and joined post-rock band Future Scars as keyboardist. But throughout all his moving and bandmate adventures, he's been writing his own solo material which is now set to be released as the 7-inch single A Ghost in Arroyo Hondo (Just One of Many) on local label Matron Records this weekend.
"Writing came and went in phases," Blanchard says. "I don't have a routine, I don't know when it's going to happen, but when I came back I reconnected with [local producer] Kabby Kabakoff—we made a record together when we were students at the College of Santa Fe—and I hadn't done anything by myself since college. We thought it would be a fun experiment to go into his studio for a day and see what happened."
What happened was a blissful pop gem that feels like a dash of '80s pop met a journal entry examining death and loss. Ghost recalls a time, ages ago, when Blanchard and his college friends would travel to Red River, New Mexico, always stopping in the Arroyo Hondo area outside Santa Fe to pick up some homemade absinthe from a man whose name Blanchard can't recall. A man who Blanchard says died well before his time.
"I could point out his house to this day, but I can't picture his face," Blanchard says. "But you know how sometimes you meet someone and you have this experience like you know each other? It was years ago and I'm still reflecting on it—it was years ago, and if I'd tried to write a song at the time…"
He trails off again, but what he's thinking is clear: Blanchard has matured as a songwriter. Usually happy to back up musicians he likes in their projects, he's come into his own more and more. In addition to the new 7-inch, he says he has enough material to put out more recordings and that he wants to explore the solo route more often. We hope he does.
"It's a kind of pleasant-weird," he explains. "I'm excited to be doing it. It's definitely nerve-wracking, but there's a part of me that's always wanted to do it."
A self-proclaimed fan of "pop music that strikes me as a little off-kilter," Blanchard says that he aims for layers during the finalization of his compositions. "I don't necessarily write with that in mind," he says, "but when I'm arranging, that's when I start to think about the textures and effects. I want it to sound like rock, but not as predictable as you'd expect."
No wonder Matron is in Blanchard's corner. They'll release the single this weekend at a show that also features Future Scars and Denver-based indie act (and recurring Santa Fe visitors) Rubedo.
"I've been wanting to do more vinyl releases," Matron founder Eliza Lutz tells SFR, "and I find it very interesting when a talented musician so often in the background is crafting their own songs; I was attracted to the push-pull of [the song] being catchy but having darker themes."
The show also serves as a tour kickoff for Blanchard and Future Scars, who hit the road for a regional tour shortly after. As for the new single, Blanchard says it was "like a pipe dream of mine—as a bucket list checkoff I can at least be like, 'Hey, I made a record.'"
Dylan Blanchard Vinyl Release Party with Future Scars and Rubedo
7 pm Friday July 6. $13-$15.
1352 Rufina Circle,