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Interview:
Faithless' first new album in 10 years, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021

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Faithless has good reason to feel "All Blessed" right now.



With the release of the album of that title in October, the veteran British electronic group started an exciting new era. It's Faithless' first album of new material in 10 years, and its first since the departure of vocalist Maxi Jazz to pursue different musical endeavors. The remaining duo of Sister Bliss and Rollo Armstrong (Dido's brother) made a necessary pivot, recruiting a new array of singers and spoken word artists -- along with Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado and Soul II Soul founder Jazzie B -- to create an album of socially conscious tracks that work for the dance floor, on headphones and beyond.



The beats have gone on since "All Blessed's" release, too, thanks to an array of videos and remixes. The next one, a remix of "I Need Someone" by ALOK, comes out Jan. 22, and there will be five more versions of the song leading up to a June 11 deluxe release of "All Blessed." Like everyone else Faithless is itching to play live, but it’s doing more than just biding its time until then...



• Sister Bliss (nee Ayalah Bentovim, 50), says by Zoom from London that the 10-year recording break was partly due to touring to support 2010's The Dance, and then by the all-star "Faithless 2.0" celebrating the group's 20th anniversary. "I never stopped writing, but it was for different vehicles. When we decided ('All Blessed') was going to be a collaborative album, we started writing and thinking about who we wanted to write with and sending out the begging letters. It was very interesting, but it took a long time."



• While Sister Bliss was road-testing some of the tracks, including the first single "Synthesizer," during her DJ shows, Faithless accumulated a group of artists that brought new flavors to the blend of dance floor and ambient flavors that's been the group's template. "Our collaborators are very interesting, fresh young artists in our scene, and I love that Faithless can be a platform for that. It was challenging, but it makes you think in a different way about music if you have to work with people whose voices are different. You're getting to know them, whereas I've been used to working with someone I've known intimately for 25, 26 years. As the themes started to unfurl, some of the collaborators didn't work, but we took our time and got to the ones that did, and we're very happy."



• Faithless misses have Maxi Jazz in the mix, but Sister Bliss doesn't begrudge his decision to leave. "He basically taught himself guitar and started writing songs on it and just became absolutely obsessed with it and just wanted to do that. He started his own band (??) when we were doing the last tour in 2015 and was looking to invest his time and energy in that. It's a very different musical path -- a bit bluesy, a bit Steely Dan. It's in a different world from Faithless, that's the best way I can put it. I would've loved him to be on the album, but he'd given a good 20 years of his life to this, but you can't make him stay."



• If all goes according to plan, Sister Bliss hopes it won't take Faithless another 10 years to put out a new album. "We've got loads more music that could make maybe another album, if not an album and a half. It would be amazing if we could revisit those, because some of the lyrics are just amazing. I know we did at least three more tracks with Sulli Breaks that are amazing -- we just didn't have room for everything on ('All Blessed'). We could’ve made the album an hour and a half long, but you're not really allowed to anymore with...this ADD generation. So in the next couple years we definitely hope to put out another album." There were, she adds, a couple tracks recorded with Dido, which ended up on her 2019 album "Still on My Mind."



• Sister Bliss has contributed DJ sets to a couple of streaming charity events, but the virtual world does not hold great appeal to her -- especially not for Faithless which tours in a full-band configuration. "I feel the whole point of Faithless is connection with a real audience. The streaming model is better than nothing, but at the moment I'm just gonna sit tight. I lost a whole year of work, but some of those shows have been reinstated for summer (of 2021) so I hope and I pray we'll be able to do those, and maybe more -- but unfortunately it's not up to me! (laughs) But we do want to get out there again and do the new material, and some of the old material, too."

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