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Leona tickles the ivory in the musty stained room. Her fiery hair is curled in a dirty bun. It’s falling all over. It’s in her hazel eyes. Stuck in her lashes. Brushing against her freckles. The warmth around the piano vibrates with every drop of the hammer. She’s been doing this for ages. Her songs set fire to the China by the dining table. The velvet curtains sweat. The checkered wallpaper begins to peel. You’ve never heard music like this. She’s home grown Minneapolis trumpet bones. Learned from her mama to wrestle the piano’s hand, tell it who’s boss and never to come ‘round here again. The piano stayed. Now, the neighbors kick and holler at one in the morning because there’s too much steam pouring out the windows.

Henry Ashcroft (a.k.a. The Blank) – producer, photographer and auditory portrait creator – doesn’t know it, but “Leona” does exist outside the sound waves. At least, that’s what it feels like after hearing the track’s piano trail off. It feels like the passing of time in a novel–there’s still more to her story. Why is The Blank an artist on the rise? He’s 17 years old and his story has just begun.

“I can remember being like 4 years old and listening to ’90s hip-hop and just being moved by it. At about 10 years old I learned the guitar, and that’s when developing my own music became a big thing for me.” 

When you listen to his beats you’ll instantly notice the track’s signature fuzzy, gritty synths. You might think, “You know, this sounds like Mount Kimbie meets James Blake meets Burial meets some fuzzy hip-hop joint,” and you’d be pretty on point. Though, there’s something more intimate, immediate, about Ashcroft’s production. It’s unkempt. It’s unwrapping at the seams. The bass hits and unravels like it’s a baseball that’s been smacked unconscious out of the stadium. It’s no surprise the young producer grew up listening to early house records and UK garage tracks, because his music seems like it’s grown from the same mold.

“In the early stages I was trying to copy James Blake with a lot of my sounds, trying to mimic his synths and offbeat drum riffs. And I developed from there. After about a year of developing I figured I would start to work on something totally different, something new.”

It didn’t take long before The Blank started to craft something new. Tracks like Clouded and Dreaming attracted hip-hop heads because of its snappy percussion and smashing bass. Its wonky, off step rhythm and building structure played to those who fancy downtempo electronic music. Now, he’s grown a niche following on SoundCloud, befriended fellow Perth dweller Ta-ku and has an EP coming out with Darker Than Wax. The Blank’s story is only in its beginning stages, but it’s time to start paying attention. His narrative is just about to get good, damn good. With future collaborations in the works (Ta-ku, Wabz and True North) and a nine track EP to look forward to—well—you fill in the blank.

Where to find The Blank: