The newest craze brings us Blank from Italy, a group who's quite well-versed in the techno/EBM bastion. Minimalheads should pay attention to the U-Turn 3 split they did with Moonitor. Before the millennium they did goth, now they talk EBM and Zaripov. You can't beat evolution.
THE DOSE: Your career dates back to the Goth-rock group Headrops that gradually gave way to your current formation Blank and a more progressive electronic sound. Looking back, how do you evaluate those days?
theMaze: Well, of course our previous experiences, no matter how young, naive or not-so-professional, have helped us becoming what we are, and we look at them as extremely important in our musical evolution... We gained experience, skills, grown up to the people and musician we are now. And we have lots of stories to remember and tell. :)
THE DOSE: What were key moments in that period, what made you the happiest then?
theMaze: Hmm, I'd say that going to professional studios to record our demotapes surely were surely key moments because that's when we started getting in touch with professional production technologies that gradually intrigued us until we developed the Blank concept. Also, we've done a couple of gigs in front of 1000 people, as opening acts for major bands, and that's always an overwhelming feeling that stays with you forever.
THE DOSE: In one of your earlier interviews you mentioned that you got caught with the electronic music explosion of the 90's when Gothic got more and more stagnant. Don't you think there's a strong wave of stagnation nowadays in the electro scene? How about the progressivity of electronic music?
theMaze: Trends are everywhere, and it's just too easy to jump into someone else's train, that means that lots of bands try to imitate successful projects rather than developing their own style; while that's a bit sad, I think it's pretty normal and common, and yes, I agree right now there aren't that many bands who dare doing something personal and prefer staying within "safe paths". I'll add that you should do the music you enjoy, and it wouldn't make much sense to do something different only to follow or not to follow the trend. Anyways, if you pay attention, there is still a lot of interesting and groundbreaking stuff that comes out - you only have to find it between the way too many harsh projects out there. ;)
THE DOSE: You call yourself techno-trance flavoured EBM. What does EBM as a genre give you specifically that no other genre can?
theMaze: I don't know exactly. The need to move, the energy, the dance factor mixed with industrial influences? It's the classic EBM of F242, Nitzer Ebb and FLA (and Pankow, in Italy) that really started our love for electronic music, so... we probably have some EBM in our DNA.
THE DOSE: We have heard so many different definitions of EBM that it's getting really dizzy. Without referring to specific bands, how would you define the EBM sound?
theMaze: Ohhh, this is a tough question. Let's start from the beginning: F242 used this term to define their style; that was...? stomping beats and punching basslines, shouted vocals... some kind of aggressive dance, like... industrial-contaminated electropop. That was the beginning. After that, the term has been used to include so many different styles, from synthpop to powernoise, that it's not so definite anymore, and the edges are all blurred. But it's not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to be specific... only a few bands make real EBM now... but it's pretty okay, music evolves, influences mix together, genre names are not that important.
THE DOSE: You guys are interested in Zaripov's work about algorhythmic music composition.. what is it that got your attention in it and how do you exploit his philosophy?
theMaze: Well, the Man-Machine/Tactical-Neural-Implant concept always caught our attention. From Turing to Zaripov, many tried to face this: can machines act like men? are men sort of machines? We like to think our project is a translation of these concepts, someway; the subject may be a little overused now, but it's always intriguing. Where do emotions and conscience lie, why do we feel feelings, can robots and machines feel? Zaripov tried to make computers write music, and successfully, to some extent. When you write songs using a software sequencer, sometimes you're tempted to think, "damn, I need an idea, why doesn't this machine write this part"... and indeed it would be useful, and surely interesting. I have written some parts starting with mathematical / symmetrical structures rather than melodic ones. Lots of composers used to do that, including J.S. Bach... Does it mean music created this way is cold and without emotions? I don't think so. Robots have hearts...
THE DOSE: You're a major player on the Italian scene. Can you showcase it to the readers a bit - what is there to know about it, what's trendy now, which clubs should tourists visit for a good night out, what Italian bands should we listen to first after BLANK when we want to check out your country's projects and bands?
theMaze: I don't want to disappoint you but the scene in Italy is still small and struggling; that doesn't mean we don't have clubs, or bands (indeed, I think some italian bands are among the best out there: Syrian, XP8, Babylonia, Adam and many others, I apologize for not naming all of them, not counting estabilished 'superstars' as Kirlian Camera or Pankow), but still, it is not easy to find places to play and people that are really interested in "supporting the scene". However, the most important and crowded clubs can be found in Milan, Bologna, Vicenza, Rome and Naples, there are a few regular nights that are really, really interesting (check out Decadence in Bologna or La Nuit DeSade in Tuscany...) and a few people who work very hard to promote these kind of events. If we compare the current situation to a few years back, we really can't complain. But there is still a lot to do...
THE DOSE: The way how the "industrial" scene evolves, it seems that the more productive and more quality names like Blank, Moonitor, Implant, Delobbo, etc. are shifting to sounds that also coincide with better sales and could easily achieve a critical status when mainstream emergence and a new boom could happen. How would you react if this underground got hyped and would turn into something much more huge?
theMaze: I am not sure that those choices will result in better sales, frankly, but I'd surely appreciate that! Right now, it seems that whoever tries different approaches from the current "trends" is not really considered too seriously from the insiders, while breaking into the mainstream realm is still something that only a few ones can achieve. We live in a difficult world, and to break through takes talent, hard work, connections, patience, a bit of luck and the right timing. Not easy to combine all those! Having said that, our style was never a deliberate choice, we keep on doing whatever we like to do, and whatever we like to hear... and we'll keep on doing that as long as well have fun. Of course, it would be cool if the largest media networks suddendly started to look a little more at the indie/alternative scenes instead of sticking to pop/rock realms... but well. You can't have anything. ;)
THE DOSE: After the electro/techno boom of the 90s, the emphasis from creating new musical genres apparently shifts to decoding countless sub-genres and no real breakthrough like as it was with jungle, drum'n'bass, garage or rave. What comes next? Do you foresee any new musical breakthrough in sound and composition?
theMaze: From the 70's on, there's always been a "next big thing" in electronic music and we think someone will come, in a near future, that will step ahead from the masses... maybe not today. The multiplication of genres is a direct consequence of the electro boom you mentioned. 15-20 years ago, only a few people were really into electronics... nowadays, you can see it by yourself. But we are sure this doesn't necessarily slows the electro evolution!
THE DOSE: What is the best channel for marketing Blank nowadays? Official label marketing, community sites, sneaky mp3 snippets sent out to p2p networks, etc?
theMaze: Another difficult question. In the current, hard situation, anything will do, really. I must say that community sites as Myspace or Vampirefreaks have been and are an enormous promoting channel, because it's really amazing how the word can spread to different people all over the world in virtually no time, and it's also a way to get in touch with other artists, promoters or whatever you may be in need of. So, it's wonderful how you can be listened by people, how you can establish contacts and connections, talk to everyone, which is surely fine. Not sure all this helps increasing that much your CD sales, which is always the big survival problem for small bands and labels. But all of these channels, if combined well and with some work, can help a band being noticed and go on...
THE DOSE: In terms of production, albums are dead, songs are the basic units of music now. Please comment.
theMaze: If you mean "concept" albums, I can agree with you: the times of albums like "Elizium" are gone. Surely MP3s and digital music have helped this process; and also, the constant need for "fast-paced" songs suitable for the dancefloor, rather than for home-listening. But I think there are still "proper albums" out there... In our case, we wanted to shift the concept from content to form, we wanted our first album "Artificial breathing" to be straightforward and fast, and we did it. We could say that form is the core of that album. And we also have nice ideas for concept albums that we'd like to develope one day. We'll see... :)
THE DOSE: Pick any one composer from the musical history you'd like to work with..
theMaze: There are too many great artists around... Maybe Martin L. Gore or Bernard Sumner as a composer, Flood or Rhys Fulber as a producer... Oh, well, there are so many more... a long list.
THE DOSE: ..and pick one classical composition of one classical composer you'd gladly rework.
theMaze: Well, if I got the question, anything by Vivaldi or Monteverdi could work, but I think I'll never try to destroy their -almost- perfect works. ;)
THE DOSE: You embark on a galactic voyage with one CD, one book and one favourite visual art product - what would those be?
theMaze: CD: "Unknown Pleasures" by Joy Division or "Darklands" by The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Book: "Il deserto dei Tartari" by Dino Buzzati or "Watchmen" by Alan Moore.
Visual Art Product: "Composition VII" by Vasiliy Kandinsky or "Lavender Mist" by Jackson Pollock. Well, can I bring my iPod as well? ;)
THE DOSE: What do you guys do when you're not busy with Blank, what do you spend your time with, what jobs do you have and how do you kill your stress with?
theMaze: derMate is a mechanical engineer and I work as a programmer for my Region's Environmental Agency. Both these jobs are quite demanding and us leave only a few time to dedicate to what we love doing, which is quite boring on most standards, I'm afraid: we have our homes to care about, books, movies, hanging out with friends, our computers; I also care about all public relationships and part of the graphic concept for Blank, so you can often find me online. Of course Blank is also the way we work out all of our lives stress, we've said it before, we'll say it again: music is not a hobby, a passion, or a job, but mostly a need.
THE DOSE: What is the best/hottest techno/cyber fashion thing that caught your eye this year?
theMaze: the new iPods are the coolest thing. ;)
THE DOSE: You're signed to Artoffact Records. Can we expect any more label-specific contributions like another Uturn?
theMaze: Oh, I'd definitely love that, the Uturn serie is AMAZING, but I'm not sure it had the success it would have deserved and not sure about the future plans of the label on that matter.
THE DOSE: And what upcoming releases can we expect from you?
theMaze: We're making the final touches to our second album. I hope it to be released soon and to have an online single available before that. I really really can't wait for these to be released because it's been really way too long we haven't released anything new. Other than that, we have a couple of remixes and tracks to be released, hopefully soon. Still waiting for confirmation though, so I'll wait for official statement before revealing the details. Sorry... But you'll definitely hear from us SOON!
THE DOSE: Thank you so much for this interview once again. Do you have any final message to the DOSE readers?
theMaze: Keep on reading the DOSE and support the bands you love!!! :)