South by Northwest: A Conversation with Reign LaFreniere of Bluphoria

By Brent Thompson

Photo Credit: Jena Yannone

With a recent relocation, two new singles making waves and its first holiday song (“When The Snow Falls”) available, it’s an exciting time to be Bluphoria. The Oregon-based quartet – Reign LaFreniere, Dakota Landrum, Rex Wolf and Dani Janae – now calls Nashville home and recently released the singles “Walk Through The Fire” and “Set Me Up” from its forthcoming full-length album on Edgeout Records. Produced by Mark Needham (Fleetwood Mac, Imagine Dragons, Mt. Joy, The 1975), the album finds the band effectively blending its pop, rock, psychedelic and blues influences into a unique style of its own. Recently, LaFreniere spoke with us by phone from his Nashville home.

Southern Stages: Reign, thanks for your time. We are enjoying “Walk Through The Fire” and we are looking forward to the full-length release in 2023. On the new album, how did the body of material take shape? Are these newer compositions, older ones or a mixture of both?

Reign LaFreniere: A majority of the songs were written a year before the recording except for “Set Me Up,” which was written a month or two before we went into the studio. Our next single coming out was written four or five years ago. I said, “I like this song – if I don’t put it on the album now, it’s never going to get on there.”

Southern Stages: When you record a song that was written several years ago, do you continually tweak it or does the recorded version stay true to the original version?

LaFreniere: There are a lot of tweaks. Originally, the song had a whole jam breakdown and it was six or seven minutes long. We just kind of cleaned it up a bit. A lot of our writing has been getting more concise over the years. We try to figure out how to make them concise but still fun and unpredictable.

Southern Stages: If you will, talk about working with Mark Needham and how that partnership was formed.

LaFreniere: We were looking for producers and our label was helping us shop around. He reached out to us and said he’d be interested in producing the record for us because he liked the demos on there. He was the fifth member in that whole production. He added this element of experience that none of us have. He was also great in the sense that he didn’t push for anything – he really let us put our ideas into the songs. It was great to have that freedom and support.

Southern Stages: How do you feel about the music industry climate in the age of Spotify, satellite radio, Youtube and TikTok?

LaFreniere: I think it’s a double-edge sword. You can get your music out easier, but it’s easier to be lost in the crowd. I’m just along for the ride and I’m excited to be able to tour. I just want to put my head down and do the work.

Southern Stages: We understand that Bluphoria has released a holiday song, “When The Snow Falls.” What can you tell us about it?

LaFreniere: We’re required to make a holiday track and the last couple of bands on the label covered one. In the middle of summer, I thought I might as well write a new song. I had this melody in my head and we put a classic blues swing thing on it and had fun with it. I even did an Elvis talking breakdown in the bridge [laughs].