James Blake on missing clubbing during the coronavirus pandemic: “You may only realise the importance of something once you can’t do it any more”

James Blake has spoken about his “yearning” for the return of the clubbing scene, which has been broadly shut down in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

The live music and nightlife sectors have been decimated by the pandemic, with lockdown and quarantine measures forcing the closure of many venues, clubs and festival spaces throughout the world this year.

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Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read, Blake was asked about how he felt about releasing his recent ‘Before’ EP — which sees the London producer, DJ and musician reembracing his love for dance and club music — during the pandemic.


“I don’t know about you, but as soon as this pandemic hit, one of my immediate yearnings was: ‘OK, I can’t go to clubs anymore,’” Blake said, before going on to describe clubbing as a “release” that he misses more than anything at the moment.

“You may only realise the importance of something once you can’t do it any more,” he added.

James Blake Big Read 2020
James Blake (Picture: Jonathan Weiner for NME)

Blake also said that he has taken some comfort from the enduring sounds of “four-to-the-floor, house or techno, [which] connect you to something that’s completely incontrovertible”.

“You can’t argue with the appeal of that beat,” he said. “Anything you put around it is dressing, and what you’re locked into is that groove, and the nostalgic feeling of where that takes us.”


Blake also spoke in his Big Read interview about his intention to release a new EP of music in the coming weeks to swiftly follow up the ‘Before’ EP.

“On the next records I want to be more inclusive of the ‘Before’ side of me and the ‘CMYK’ [EP, from 2010] side of me – and all of it,” he hinted in terms of the direction of the new music.