NJIT Alumnus Ian Blancaflor (Information Technology, ‘20), released his newest self-produced EP, “DIVE,” this past month, adding to his list of published tracks during his time at NJIT. Under the name Ian Bla, “DIVE” can be streamed from Spotify and Apple Music, among others.
Blancaflor began his journey with music in middle school, copying songs by The Beatles on the piano everyday. His early interest in music gave rise to recording. “I started actually recording stuff in 2014. But that was all, meme, joke stuff, like it was really dumb,” Blancaflor explained, taking inspiration from influencers like Filthy Frank, who incorporated music into comedy sketches.
While attending NJIT, Blancaflor began really working on his music and released singles and his first EP, “Out of State” in 2018, referring to his experience moving to New Jersey from his hometown, from the island of O’ahu in Hawai’i. Blancaflor reflected on his choice to attend NJIT, “a lot of kids have lived in Hawaii their whole life, and want to check out other places, especially in mainland America. Most people wanted to go to California or Washington, but I wanted to be around New York. I thought New York City was pretty cool… I generally went to a lot of concerts in NYC,” said Blancaflor, who further explained his experience making friends after a BROCKHAMPTON concert. “Having met these people through a common interest, regardless of how I feel about BROCKHAMPTON now, was really good for me and inspiring,” to begin recording music professionally, he said.
Blancaflor’s future albums also drew inspiration from his surroundings and experiences in college. “Edit Profile,” released in 2019, “was more about internet presence and parasocial relationships,” Blancaflor said, and how he observed one-sided relationships between influencers and their fans. His second album, “green wave,” released in late 2019, “was about leaving college. It was bittersweet. A lot of the songs on that album are about how I’m leaving a particular place, but this won’t be the last time you see me. That’s the theme throughout the album,” he said.
Many of his albums were recorded in his dorm room, including recently released EP, “DIVE,” recorded in his dorm after the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020.
But Blancaflor’s legacy can be traced across all of campus, too. “I actually recorded a lot of ‘green wave’ in WJTB’s studio. And the last song of the album I recorded on the piano in the Campus Center Atrium.” He laughed, explaining, “there were these people that were sitting by, and I could tell that they wanted to play, and I was like, ‘I’m so sorry.’ It must have looked so funny, because I had my mic setup over the piano and everything. They probably thought, ‘what the heck is going on over here?’ They didn’t say that to my face, but I imagine that’s what they were thinking.”
“DIVE,” featuring four tracks, has less of a theme than past albums. Blancaflor explained, “I guess ‘DIVE’ is just me experimenting with more stuff outside of my past tracks,” particularly drawing inspiration from a range of different artists, from Car Seat Headrest, to Weezer, Mitski, Charli XCX, 100 gecs and even Rihanna. “I don’t try to make one particular sound,” said Blancaflor. “If I had to put it down to one genre I might call it alternative R&B. But it really depends.”
Blancaflor noted, especially during these times, “breaking out as a musician is a super difficult thing. I think generally most creative art fields are hard to break into to the point where you can make profit… luckily [in college], I feel like I was privileged in that I was able to just focus on school and music and I didn’t have to work at the time… But I definitely want to continue with music in the future: without a doubt.”
“For a while, I used to be afraid of, oh, what if people don’t like it?” Blancaflor explained. “Or like, what if nobody cares? And I still get into that sometimes. It’s really annoying because, like, really, who should give a shit? I should just make whatever I want to make. And that’s the end of that.”
Regarding Blancaflor’s best advice he could give to entering musicians, “I think the biggest thing is to just go for it. I think the hardest part of a lot of things is like just getting started. Like, whether that be an album, or even your homework. You don’t want to spend more time thinking about it than actually doing it. And I think that just getting started is the biggest step.”