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In conversation with modular victim and wanna-be-psychologist Blac Kolor

by Stina Isabel Gavrilin

This weekend, the Mecca of Tallinn's clubbing scene, HALL sees its biggest festival Dark Side Of The Moon return for the 6th time. On Friday, the Smoke Room stage will be taken over by Beats From The Vault and in addition to our resident DJs, there will also be a very special live set by none other than the Leipzig based dark techno and industrial producer Blac Kolor! Here's a little sneak peek into the man's mind and what's to come.

You’ve stated that Blac Kolor would have never happened, had you grown up anywhere else besides the GDR. Do you think the environments we’re born into substantially shape our musical leanings?

I’m pretty sure that the environment where you grew up is directly responsible for the kind of music you adore or even the music you want to make. Just a theory by myself in the function as wanna-be-psychologist ;). There is probably no empirical study for that, but a different environment would have made me a completely different person and I can not imagine, that I would have the same musical leanings being someone else. But its probably not a political topic. It is just linked to the weather ;). The darker and colder it is outside the more creative your artist output will be. And that’s not a theory, it’s a fact.

So, if the former GDR would have been located on a tropical island back then, Blac Kolor would have never happened either. ;)

Some years ago, you described the album Born In Ruins as intentionally broken, industrial music telling the story about you as a happy child, and wondered why all the colour and comfort currently in our lives still keeps us unhappy. Why do you think it is that the more freedom and opportunities we have, the more desolation seeps into our minds?

Oh, I see, this is going to be a very psychological interview. ;) As said in a former interview, I’m wondering why this is the fact, why we are not happier the brighter it gets and the more we have. I can’t explain it. A million factors are responsible for that, I suppose. I think when you are not in your comfort zone, you are kinda triggered or forced to reach something, in order to make your life brighter. When you then reach something you are proud of yourself and that creates happiness. And that's got nothing to do with possessing things – necessity is just the mother of invention here. We are fed up now, we live in abundance, we don’t have to invent things to brighten up our lives, so I think as a result it’s much harder to find real happiness. But still, you are talking to a wanna-be-psychologist. At the end of the day, I have no clue, why it is the way it is.

Having lost interest in everything dark by the late 90s, what made you return to that as Blac Kolor?

Oh, this simple to answer: I’m just totally quickly bored from things. In the late 90s I was just bored by all the dark music and the surrounding culture, also considering I did dark events almost every week. I just wanted to do something else and especially the huge drum’n’bass movement back then was my chance to break out of my kinda “dark culture”. But at the end of the day my musical DNA is pretty dark and after a few years of abstention from the dark thing I just realized, that when I wanna make own music it just has to be dark music, no compromises attached. Today I’m still bored by things, even from time to time from our little subculture. But today I just do a little break form it, instead of questioning it fundamentally. I will probably do dark music until the end of my days. ;)

Are there certain things you sometimes want to express musically that don’t fit into the concept of Blac Kolor? How do you solve that?

Oh yes, there are several moments when BK is not enough to express myself. I solve that in basically two ways now. One way is to produce some different stuff, collect it in several folders on my hard drive and think of an alter ego project in the future, with no urge to bring it out until a new alter ego project would make sense. It’s produced and I kind of satisfied myself for the moment. The second way is collaborations. When I was producing my upcoming album “Weltenbrand” I found out how much fun it is to work together with people, to work on music that is much more than just Blac Kolor. And I must say, I licked blood here. There are some collaborations in pipe, where I can bring in all the stuff that does not fit in the core concept of BK. Stay tuned.

Most of those who keep an eye on your activities have probably seen photos of the spaceship that is your studio. Does that ever get overwhelming creatively or is it so that the more gear you’ve got, the more fun you can have?

No, absolutely not. More gear doesn’t automatically mean I’m more creative or make better music. A lot of gear can also be very counterproductive. When I collect ideas or just mock around I love it to have new fresh gear, to find unexpected sweet spots. But when I’m working on structured tunes, I limit myself to just a few instruments and ignore the rest. That forces me to understand the machines and not just to own them. On top of that I am also a collector. I just entered the rabbit hole of modular synthesizers and I’m just trapped in it. Totally victim here. I love it to discover new little modules always in order to find new weird sounds. The weirder the better. When I do this kind of sound research I don’t have a specific result in my head. It is just pure fun to discover machines and spending time with them. But at the end of the day, I’m not overwhelmed by my “creativity”, I’m overwhelmed how big my modular wall got. I always have space issues ;).

How much of that joins you in the live setting?

Since the majority of the sounds on my upcoming releases come from modular gear, I of course want to bring that to the stage too. But this transformation process is harder than I thought. I always want to play also old stuff live and I haven’t found the right setup or let’s say I’m not yet confident enough to change my way of playing live completely. At the moment I bring some drum machines, some synths and stuff, but no modular gear yet. But one day I want to play 100% modular on stage – this is my main goal. Maybe with one of the collaborations in the future - who knows ;).

Shows in techno clubs tend to lean more and more towards DJing. You’ve taken the opposite direction, only playing live. Is DJing completely a thing of the past for you at this point?

One should never say never, but for now I assume I’m done with DJing. I will always have the Sunday at Wave-Gotik-Treffen once a year, where I traditionally spin stuff together with Daniel Myer, but apart from that I don’t see myself in the DJ booth anymore. I’d rather invest my time in optimizing my live set and the performance around instead of seeking new music every day to be spot on as a DJ. Been there – done that.

You’ll be returning to HALL soon, this time playing in a much smaller space. How much does that affect the structure of your set?

I love it already. I’d rather play small venues. The closer I am to the audience to more energy is in the room, at least for me. I would always prefer a little club stage before a huge, anonymous festival stage. So, I will probably play much more freestyle and try to interact more with the dancers in front of me instead of holding on to a strict structure. I even produced some crazy shit especially for that performance, we’ll see how that goes in a live environment. And I’m not only returning to the HALL, which is one of my fav clubs by the way, I also return to see friends… much more worth than any booking ;).

Thx for having me BFTV again,

Cheers your BK

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