Plenty of stuff is going on for the Easter weekend and what better way than to kick it off with American techno DJ Black Asteroid who plays in Mother in Old Street tomorrow night and is sure to tear the place up with some dark industrial tinged techno. A firm member of Chris Liebing’s CLR crew he’s a staple of the scene and as one half of Motor, has managed to tour and share the stage with the like of Depeche Mode, Daft Punk and Kraftwerk. Skirmish caught up with him ahead of the show tomorrow to pick his brain on everything from “EDM” to the best place to eat in London.
I suppose firstly, you most famously started off a sound designer for Prince. I presumed it must have been wicked working with such a legend. What do you think you brought to his sound at the time? Did you secretly pen Nothing Compares To You?
I think he hired me because of the noises i was making with my synths and samplers. One of his people invited my first band, Haloblack, to perform at a private party at his studio. I got the job the next day.
My first task was to dig up the 2″ tapes from the tape vault and sample different parts from all his songs so he could perform them live with original samples where needed. I learned so much from that experience, which helped shaped the music I’m making to this day.
What was it that took you from that to the dark realms of techno? I now you were already somewhat involved with in the industrial side of things with Haloblack.
Yeah, I was into acid house and alternative rock mostly until I heard the first NIN record. that kinda changed everything. I was drawn to electronic music, but i needed the energy and soul which is lacking in most dance music, so Industrial dance music was a natural sound for me to pursue, and one that I keep coming back to.
You lived in London for a few years and subsequently formed Motor How did it come about? Did you find the city helped the creative juices flow? What have you got in store for your gig in Mother on the 28th March?
When I finished working for Prince I moved to London to get a degree in audio engineering. I was always fascinated with London from listening to all the British dance and indie music. The school I attended had a multimedia program which inspired me to drop out of audio engineering and pursue multimedia/ graphic design.
I’m gonna be performing live on the 28th. Hopefully test out some new stuff and remixes I’m working on. The show is intense, I try and bring energy and performance to live techno..
I suppose Black Asteroid is still a fairly new moniker. How do you feel it differs from your other projects? Is it important to you to keep each project separate from the next or is there room to maneuver?
Ultimately all my projects are similar in that there is an industrial edge to everything I’ve ever done musically. I started Motor with a friend in London with the intention of making experimental techno. At the time techno was rather boring. So we made a big splash quickly. As time went on, the sound became more electro, even though i was contributing mostly techno elements to each album. Eventually we made this big LP with Martin Gore, Gary Numan, etc and it was time for me to get back to my techno roots. I started Black Asteroid on whim, and within weeks i had an EP on CLR and its been non-stop since. Black Asteroid is the most satisfying music endeavour without a doubt, and I have so many ideas, I can’t see myself doing anything else for awhile.
Motor brought out Man Made Machine last year which was somewhat different to your older stuff. Were you happy with the how it was received? Do you have any more plans to release together? I know Olivier has his other projects going on.
I was pleasantly shocked we managed to get a Motor single in the top 40 in 7 countries. and the tour with Depeche Mode, and Gary Numan. It was an amazing experience.. who knows what the future will bring. With Black Asteroid I’m able to fulfill the original vision I had for Motor– which was stripped down industrial techno, and that is very satisfying creatively.
Is there certain aspects of working alone or as part of a duo you prefer? Do you find one gives you a bigger release than the other?
I think Motor in the beginning was unique because we had 3 guys on stage playing instruments to techno music, when everyone was a DJ. There is some power in that formula, which cannot replicated by 1 person per say, but I have already accomplished so much with Black Asteroid I didn’t think was possible, so with all the experience gained from the previous projects, I’m now able to do something on my own that I never thought would be possible.
As a techno DJ coming from from the U.S., how do you find the scene over there at the moment? The whole E.D.M. tag is something that grates on me and must be very annoying to you and other underground DJ’s.
EDM is complete cheese. Its disgusting really and has no connection to dance music’s roots. Its just this ugly thing that popped up and will hopefully lead people to the good stuff just underneath the surface.
How did you get involved with Chris Liebing and CLR? There’s a good crew of you on there.
I met Chris after he remixed one of the early Motor single’s “Sweatbox”. Somehow I knew he would appreciate the Black Asteroid demo, because it had a similar energy to Sweatbox. I had no idea how well established or important CLR was in the scene, so it all worked out very nicely.
You’ve had some ridiculously good remixes of your stuff from the likes of Perc, Dave Clarke and Mr Jones in particular. What to you makes a good remix? Is there any you’ve refused to put out?
Me and Speedy J handpicked the remixers for my forthcoming Black Acid remix EP (release date April 4). We didn’t want the usual techno remix. He and I have this connection with the experimental/ avant garde side of electronic music which he lets me explore on his label without compromise. on my previous remix EP, I had the audacity to ask Dave Clarke because he had been the first person to support my music, even before CLR got involved, Dave was charting my Black Asteroid demos at #1 on his top 10, so I thought I had an opportunity to ask him for a remix, something he hadn’t done in 7 years before that.
I’m not really interested in making music for techno dis, I still think techno can be more than that, and its an ongoing battle which is starting to pay off and people are becoming more open to new sounds and ideas within the genre.
I know you’re busy with your a few dates around Europe and in the US the next two months but what else is in the pipeline?
I just handed in some remixes for Depeche Mode‘s next single. also in the pipeline are remixes for Houratron, The Bloody Beetroots, and an new EP of original music which I’m gonna deliver this week. Starting next week I will be in tour for 15 consecutive week/ends it looks like, but I’m gonna work in time during days off to write the debut LP and finish an EP with Dave Clarke which we started for fun a couple months back.
Any recommendations on producers to check out at the moment?
Perc, Truncate, Pinion, Mondkopf, Ryuichi Takeuchi are among my favorite techno producers. Outside of that I’m digging the new Autechre and David Bowie albums.
Finally, whats your favorite place to eat in London?
Is that a trick question? Actually Hakkusan is the best restaurant in London I know of. I try to go there anytime someone invites me to dinner and pays the bill.
Big up Black asteroid for the interview and catch him in London tomorrow night in Mother. Click here for more information.
Also check out the following release out next week
EDLX. 029 Black Acid RMX (April 4, 2013)
A1. Black Acid – Perc Remix
A2. Black Acid – Alva noto Remodel
B1. Pressure – Len Faki Repressure
B2. Hydrogen – Angel Costa and DJ Emerson Remix
Blackasteriod’s idiosyncratic ‘Black Acid’ returns to Electric Deluxe, refashioned with fresh nuances in a versatile remix package featuring Perc, Alva Noto, Len Faki, Angel Costa and DJ Emerson.
Raw analogue alchemies delivered with all the sleek and polish of its black-on-black casing made Bryan Black’s Blackasteroid debut last year a truly memorable one, consolidating all of the Motor man’s proven Paisley Park-honed engineering capabilities into a succinct and forward-facing EP. Defined by its gritty textures, fizzy white noise manipulations, and a signature mechanical hum throughout, ‘Black Acid’ achieved a uniquely tactile sound quality that gets unpacked and remoulded here by an all-star cast of modern dancefloor luminaries.
On the A-side lead track “Black Acid” gets pulled into opposing directions: first, a coarse and claustrophobic remix from the master of brutal no-holds-barred techno Perc, followed by a broken down and spitting remodel by the esteemed and ever on-point Alva Noto. Meanwhile the bass strumming and deeply groovy “Pressure” is subjected to a thundering basement edit by Berghain favourite Len Faki, with CLR remix tag-team Angel Costa and DJ Emerson closing on a ghostly reinterpretation of “Hydrogen”.