Although it’s his debut album, Blank Disco is no where near a newbie t0 the music scene. After a 15 year break the man is back with an album that will take you on a journey! Blank Disco was kind enough to answer a few questions of ours and don’t miss the free download of track ‘NYC’ in the post!
Planet Notion: Blank Disco got its start in 2009, but you’ve been doing music since the ‘90s. What styles of music where you doing before? How has that influenced your current project?
Blank Disco: I think my first influences actually came from the visual arts. Since childhood, I had always been drawn to the clean, uncompromising productions of modernist art and design. In the same way, I immediately identified with the machine aesthetic and abstract functionality of the music I was hearing from DJs like Colin Dale in the early 90′s- this really felt like a home-coming and I was hooked. I’ve been meddling with electronic music ever since. I had set up a basement studio in Holloway for a project called Dystopia when a close friend and musical collaborator’s girlfriend started doing some work with Luke Slater. I ended up having talks with his label at the time, GPR, who were interested in our stuff and work began on an album. Fate, however, had other ideas and fatherhood necessitated a big shift in priorities that meant music-making was abandoned temporarily. It turns out ‘temporarily’ meant 15 years but eventually I just couldn’t keep away. In some ways, From Zero has been a homage to the kind of beat-driven, abstract techno and electronica that has inspired me ever since those early days, and was something I had to get out of my system.
PN: Many tracks were weeded out of your debut album, in attempts to find the perfect set for the record. How many tracks did you recorded in total?
BD: Too many to count! It’s less a sense of ‘weeding out’ and more about finding the tracks that run together to build the whole album. I came to see From Zero as a journey that moves from the frenetic and grinding escalation of the opener ‘NYC’ to the slowly phasing static in ‘Last Transmission’. This created a dual demand to build on the feeling that broken structures underpin everything, whilst retaining a strong sense of musicality.
PN: Is it difficult to do away with a track, and how do you decide which should stay and which shouldn’t?
BD: I’m pretty ruthless in shelving material, although it tends to be put on the back burner to be reviewed on another occasion. Ultimately, I suppose I trust my instincts but I do sometimes look for a second opinion, especially from my collaborators at Subexotic Records. What’s been really interesting is the degree to which different people respond to different tracks. I’m sure all the reviews I’ve seen pick out different tracks for mention- I like to think that demonstrates how strong the album is overall, although it also goes to show how subjective the whole thing is anyway.
PN: What’s the one track you would never do away with? Why?
BD: That’s hard to say as it pretty much depends on my mood. Maybe ‘Where Are They Now?’- it’s entirely constructed from synthetic bleeps and tones and yet somehow sounds ancient.
PN: Your music has often been compared to landscapes and that it really inspires a place to the listener. Was that your intention? If so, what place were you thinking about?
BD: I’m very interested by the sense of place that music can conjure up, whether it be a film soundtrack or the ability to conjure up personal memories. Funnily enough, when I was working on the final mix-down of the album’s opening track, there was a TV in the corner of the studio playing the New York monster movie ‘Cloverfield’. I felt the music went so nicely with the images that I renamed it ‘NYC’. The general metaphor of a vibrant yet dystopian cityscape seemed ideal in setting the mood for From Zero and it’s fair to say that variants of this continue throughout. Having said that, I’m interested in highlighting how we interact with incidental patterns in any landscape around us, whether man-made or not.
Download ‘NYC’ here:
PN: Specifically, it feels like the landscape is one of urban decay. Since you’re based in London, is that a response to your surrounding? Do you feel London is in a state of decay?
BD: Without wanting to sound too bleak, I would say that it is the nature of our existence that everything is in a state of decay. I don’t think that’s a particular reflection on London, and I also don’t think it’s something to become morose about. In a sense, ‘From Zero’ is about coming to terms with this and actually seeing the poetry in it.
PN: Were there any albums or musicians that were really inspiring during the process of making From Zero?
BD: In addition to some of those sounds I grew up with in the 90′s, one of the things I really wanted to explore was the sense that a particular recording can take on an almost physical presence and significance but also a nostalgic sense of loss as the sound fades away. I’m sure this has been inspired by listening to all kinds of stuff over the years- diverse things that come to mind like Wim Wenders, The Ink Spots and documentary works such as The Conet Project.
PN: Your music is very cinematic. Would you ever consider doing a soundtrack? If so what kind of film would you want to do?
BD: Definitely. I tend to conceptualise music visually, so I’d hope it would be an interesting extension of the way I use sound. I’d love to work with any up and coming directors who are keen to tell stories in an interesting way. Actually, I’ve just been approached by the director Neil Rollins (Little City Pictures) who’ll be using my track ‘Falling Water’ in his forthcoming short film called ‘Friday Night and Saturday Morning’. Neil looks to be an exciting talent so I’m really looking forward to seeing how that turns out.
PN: What’s next for Blank Disco?
BD: I’m busy working on some other projects with Subexotic Records at the moment, one of which is called Ninths, as well as developing the live work. As far as Blank Disco is concerned, I plan to put out another album next year. All in all, the last couple of years have been such a fantastic opportunity that I feel like an excited kid – I just can’t wait to develop things from here and carry on making music.
We also have the video for ‘Even Numbers’!
For more info on Blank Disco he’s on facebook!