"Blaise it up"
an interview with Blaise
Do people tell you what they think of your name when they first meet you?
Yes, most of the time they’re straight up just like “You mean like to… *smoking weed motion*.” And I’m just like yup exactly ahaha. Most people say it’s a pretty cool name, especially how its spelt Blaise rather than “Blaze” and it can also be a fun conversation starter. Starbucks is one of the funniest; sometimes the servers are like can I get two tokes with that. People also often ask if my parents were hippies ahaha.
Blaise can conjure up images of fiery reds and 420. What do you think about these connotations?
Obviously I embrace the connotations of my name being linked to smoking weed. It's funny and I don’t really mind and can lead to some great puns like “420 blaise it”. Fiery reds too, I think the links with fire and burning are pretty cool (whilst trying not to sound like a pyromaniac) and fun.
You’re studying at UCLA but are originally from London. How do you find the difference in youth culture between Britain and America?
The cultures are very different, personally I’d say youth culture in England is better, but that may be slightly biased. Culture here is crazy, especially binge drinking and greek life like fraternities and sororities. I have a house in Bel Air that is literally devoted to partying and anything goes in there, but I just feel people are more chill with things like drinking in England. People here are brought up in different ways. For instance, if you have a j people are chill, if you have a cig people come up to you and tell you you’re going to die. Also, as most people here won’t have drunk much before university, there are just so many messy nights as they learn their limits and are more prone to doing stupid things.
Everything in America is a bit too commercialized, particularly raves/clubbing. There’s emphasis on unity in England, whereas here if you’re not a girl or in a frat you won’t really have a social life; parties are both exclusive and sexist. Raves/clubbing are such a big part of first year that people miss out on here. I also feel the influences are different and people are just naturally more mature in England thanks to the independence given to them at the age of 18. In terms of fashion, people in England kill it over people here.
We Wikipedia-d North American frat houses and it came up with the oldest being from 1845 in Arkansas. Could you tell us a bit about life and culture in your frat house?
My frat Zeta Beta Tau was founded in 1898 and was originally a Zionist Jewish fraternity but was made nonsectarian in 1954. It’s a top house here at UCLA, which means we not only just throw huge parties and have top social connections, but also have some of the best brotherhood and philanthropic opportunities. For instance, last week I was on Venice Beach Boulevard helping to hand out 500 meals to the hungry and homeless, which we prepared, with my brothers. Obviously there is a big emphasis on brotherhood in ZBT but also on diversity and acceptance. That being said, life here is mad. We have events almost everyday, from huge parties to throwing 500 plus person tailgates outside the Rose Bowl Stadium before our American football games.
Are the frat house initiations/hazing/goating myths true? What is the worst thing you’ve had to do?
Not really. Most houses abolished hazing many years ago (along with ZBT), so most of those stories come from before the 80s. We run a newly initiated brotherhood program where we learn about the history and values of the house, but other than that and obviously [me] being lowest in the hierarchy of the house there isn’t anything bad.
Do people often tell you they love your British accent?
Hahaha yes, lots of people just want to listen to me talk. It can also be annoying as people here can't do British accents to save their lives but for some reason think they can and like to impersonate me. Also, getting asked if I’m Australian or South African all the time it’s just like come on, that’s the same as me asking them that.
What do you miss most about home?
Friends, family and the little things about London. Just day-to-day things; restaurants, places we’d hang out and also the style and shops. Just generally the culture and history of England as everything is so new here. Also the nightlife!! Clubbing isn’t massive here because of our ages, but it's not good anyway compared to London. There are no Fabrics or Lightboxs and also the music is similar but different. I miss English music a lot, we kill them on that front too. People just listen to hip hop or bad EDM here.
What was the first gig you went to?
The first gig I went to that I remember was probably Reading Music Festival in 2008 when I was 11. I went with my parents and cousins and saw the Killers and Bloc Party. It was so much fun and since then I’ve been going to festivals or concerts every year really. Also, when I returned to Reading as a 16 year old (as most of us do), I still remembered the wonderful smells of the campsite…
And lastly, what do you think about when you think of the colour red?
When I think of the colour red it makes me think of warmth, fire, danger and love.