Creamy, Crunchy AND Organic: PNUT BUTR Discusses New Album and Missoula Concert (Interview)

Lindsay Blair, known to the electronic music community, as PNUT BUTR, is a Missoula bass music producer. She’s been somewhat quiet the past few months, but is bursting back onto the scene as she prepares to unveil her new album Fireside with her first live performance at The Wilma when she opens for Beats Antique and Axel Thesleff on February 13. Keep reading to find out more about the album and learn how a lucid dream led to this young producers’ rad musical moniker.

What’s the story behind your name? Should people be thinking crunchy? Creamy? Organic?

I hope people think “creamy, crunchy AND organic” when they think of my music! The concept of “PNUT BUTR” came to me in a lucid dream I had just before some of my first shows as a newbie DJ on KBGA College Radio (about 5 years ago). I found myself in a spectacular treehouse positioned just above the canopy of an evergreen forest. The sun was just setting, and the sky around me was the most perfect shade of purple/pink. I felt the energy of this dusk penetrate my heart and soul. It filled me with appreciation of “balance, transition states and middle ground.” I looked down at my hands and noticed a large marijuana cigarette smoking between my fingers. It was wrapped in a Peanut Butter flavored paper, and I was enveloped with essences of sweet, salty, savory. Everything clicked. I woke up and knew I was “Peanut Butter” after that dream. To me, “Peanut Butter” is the most wonderful convergence of opposites. It is the space between creamy and crunchy. Day and night. Masculine and feminine. Digital and organic. The idea of PNUT BUTR is much larger than just me, as an individual. I prefer to think of it as an energy or concept if that makes sense!

What’s your musical background? How did you get started in electronic production?

I began studying music when I started playing piano around 8 years of age. I have always loved sound so much. I fell in love with the double bass when I started orchestra at 9. Then it was the clarinet. The bassoon. The electric bass in jazz band. I participated in every musical extracurricular available to me. Youth Symphonies. All State Ensembles. International Music Camp in the Summer. When I moved to Missoula in late 2011, I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies, so jazz and classical music fell to the side for a bit. In retrospect, it was a good thing, because it allowed me to branch out and express myself musically in new ways. My foray into electronic music began when I trained in as a KBGA College Radio DJ at 21. I had been listening to artists like Pretty Lights, GRiZ, Bassnectar, etc and began sharing my favorite tunes via KBGA airwaves. Working on the boards, I felt that transitioning to DJing with a personal mixer was a great next step. I DJed all throughout college and asked my mother for the Ableton DAW as my graduation present. She obliged, and I got right to work after I had my degree in hand!

You’re planning on unveiling your 2nd album Fireside, during your opening set for Beats Antique on Feb. 13. Can you tell us a bit about the making of your album:

Where was it recorded?

Fireside was produced and recorded in an amazing little sun room on the side of my apartment. It is the sweetest and coziest little studio! Technically, my track “Pine Crone” was produced up Hyalite Canyon (near Bozeman) using a generator, in the middle of the forest. That one is a gem. I hope to produce out in the woods more and more.

How does the songwriting process work for you?

Personally, I cannot produce without some sort of organic/environmental inspiration. Usually I walk in the woods, very quietly, until I can “hear” a sonic concept come to me. I always carry a notebook and write down what sorts of sounds and textures I hear. Then I get home and prepare! I find the samples I need, synthesize my basses, pads and textures from the ground up in VSTs like Serum and Massive. Only once I have all of the puzzle pieces I need do I begin arranging and mixing. It’s a long haul of two or three 9-10 hour days to get everything precisely how I want it.

What were some main inspirations for the album?

The mountains are always my first inspiration when it comes to composing. Many of my tracks have a very “environmental” feel to them because of my love and appreciation for the natural world. Fireside is named in part for the intense forest fires western Montana experienced in the Summer of 2017. When I hiked the burned sections of the Bitterroot range the following Spring, I noticed the profuse bursting forth of life from the ashes. There was such adamant creativity that resulted from destruction, and I related to this deeply. The mountains are strong and beautiful in all of their cycles. So are we!

How has your sound changed since your first album Mega Babelodon?

In short, I’ve had so much more control and experience in creating sound since Mega. I love the ideas on that album so much! But I will admit that they weren’t executed as well. I look back on it and think “oooohh cute!” haha. I know how to throw my sound up and down, side to side, forwards and backwards now. My ideas are sharper and more cohesive! There are still similar elements to my “vibe”. Lots of wood flutes, marimbas, hip hop beats, church organs and strings. Lots of crunchy bass. But it is finally growing to be masterful. I always want to learn and improve!

Where will it be available to stream/download/purchase?

You’ll be able to find Fireside on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and Soundcloud! Release is set for Valentine’s Day (February 14th) 2019. If you want to see the first drop, come to Beats Antique on the night before and get down to that sound on Wilma speakers! I’ll have physical CDs for sale in the lobby!

Anything else notable?

Yes. Tyson “Nintendeaux” Lunn was my mixing and mastering technician on this album. He is an incredible artist and a true friend. This album would not be what it is without his love and encouragement. I am proud to call him a collaborator and kindred spirit on this project. I love you Tys!

What makes a PNUT BUTR set stand out from other DJ/producers?

The first thing may be my super sweet dance moves. I just light on fire when I hit the stage!! Damn I love to GET IT up there! There’s a lot of energy in a PNUT BUTR set, and I think that makes it easier for other people to feel comfortable hitting the dance floor too. I’m incredibly picky about the songs I play and how I mix them. Everything is prepared and rehearsed beforehand. I bring the energy up and down and weave many different electronic genres together to tell a story. Lastly, and something that is important to me, is the fact that I AM a young woman who plays and creates bass music. The EDM scene is mostly dominated by male performers and energy, so part of my aim is to make sure that my performances lend a little balance to the equation and can empower other females to express themselves openly, honestly and LOUDLY in our community.

Which artists would you say have had an influence on your sound?

Oh so many! Certainly artists like CloZee, Charlesthefirst, Beats Antique, Of The Trees and Big Wild. They have a very “natural” sound that is incredibly powerful to me. But I also love the big bass hitters like Tsuruda, G Jones, Perkulat0r and EAZYBAKED. Honestly, Edvard Grieg has always been incredibly inspirational to me too! He composed classical music based on his love for the mountains that has touched my soul since I was in middle school.

What do you think is the most challenging part of being a standalone act? What’s the best part?

Without a doubt, the most difficult part of being a standalone act is having courage to command a room by yourself. When I get onstage, everything depends on me. There’s not another person for my audience to look at, or to catch me if I mess something up. I have to be brave, and push any of my fears or anxieties to the side when I perform. The best part of being an individual act is the freedom I have to explore (without time or emotional restrictions)! I can produce, rehearse and perform without having to coordinate with anyone else. Can’t complain there!

What are you looking forward to most about the Feb. 13 set?

I’m most looking forward to sharing these tracks I’ve been putting my heart and soul into!! Only my mastering tech and I have heard them in their entirety. It will be a sweet release to finally let them out into the world.

What are your plans for the future? Local shows? Tours? More studio work? 

Once Fireside is released I’m right onto album three. Now is an inspired time for me. I feel like I could write forever! I do have shows planned for Washington and Montana this Spring and plan to keep getting my sound out there as much as I can. Submitting my tunes to larger labels is definitely a big goal of mine this year.

What’s your favorite part about Missoula?

I love how beautiful and quirky our city is. There’s something about this place that feel so energetically “right” to me. You can hike a beautiful mountain in the day and see a wonderful show at night. Friends are everywhere. We care for our environment. We’re open-minded and loving and diverse. No matter where I go, Missoula will always be my home.

What can fans do to ensure they have the best time possible at your show?

Bring good dancing shoes!

What are you doing when you’re not making music?

I am hiking, working my little business “Moss Rocket Glass” and making memories with friends!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes! I’m so unbelievably honored to be sharing my music onstage at the Wilma this February 13th. Opening for Beats Antique and Axel Thesleff is a dream come true, and I am beyond grateful for the love and encouragement I have received from the community on this project and performance. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! I love you Missoula!