Music Interview

Blank

By Kim Mercil
Introduction by Mike Ventarola

BlankIn today’s electronic dance music scene one would be hard pressed to find anything from the Artoffact label that wasn’t simply outstanding. Adding to the label roster is Blank, an electronic dance band from Italy who initially had their start in the Goth underground. Upon recreating their sound, interest and passion for the electronic scene, it didn’t take Artoffact very long to sit up and notice the dynamic quality, obsessive beats and infectious floor movers that this duo was able to create.

The essence that separates Blank from other bands is the fact that they incorporate a multitude of influences and styles in their music without skipping a beat. Clearly, one need only put on any track from Blank to find a dance floor or house party erupt in a frenzy of flailing fun.

Blank also provides song downloads for free on their web page (www.Mechanoid.it). A listen to any of the provided tracks is sure to make a life long fan out of new listeners rather quickly!

dM = der Mate
TM = The Maze
KM = Kim Mercil

KM: Your birth names are Davide Mazza and Riccardo Mattioli. How did you come to call yourselves "the maze" and "der mate?”

dM: Firstly, thanks for this interview, and greetings to all your readers! You know, our nom de guerre exist since the beginning of our project. At that time, it was necessary to us identifying some way our brand new parallel self – right into the electronic dimension – and we chose those names. They sound similar to our civil names, but in fact their real meaning – as the real meaning of "Blank" – is a secret to the world, and will remain.

KM: For a decade you played in a Goth-rock band called Headrops. Why did it take you so long to realize you would rather be doing electronic music?

TM: Hmmm... basically, we started with a Goth-rock band also because we had absolutely no idea about how to make electronic music and serious electronic gear was extremely expensive then. But we already loved electronic music. During those ten years, we gathered experience and information, slowly moving towards electronics. In the beginning, it would have been just a side-project, but we were so tired of playing Goth-rock, that Blank pretty soon became our main project, and Headrops simply died.

KM: Being from Italy, how would you compare the Goth scene to the electronic scene there? On the flip side residing in Parma which is in the Northern part, how would you describe the electronic scene in Southern Italy and Sicily?

dM: As usual, Italy is not the place to be for electronic and gothic music. We've some nice gigs every year, some guys organizing some nice evenings, but it's hard for the scene to grow and improve seriously. In the last few years we've seen more and more guys interested in electronic music, coming from a gothic basis (we come from there, too), and this is maybe a sign of the times... Of course, you can find the majority of electro happenings, bands and labels in the Northern part of Italy, but we've seen interesting things happening in the South, i.e. under Rome. I can think about the Minus Habens label from Bari, which has a great catalogue of electro-industrial (Pankow, Front 242, FLA, etc.), and to the wonderful Gothic fanzines printed in Naples from the early Eighties until the end of the '90s.

Artificial BreathingKM: From your first promo 424C414E4B to your second one a year later Brain Trigger, these gained you enormous attention rather quickly everywhere. What do you feel was the biggest reason for this?

TM: Well, I don't know exactly. But there are several different reasons. First of all, our promos were available for everybody to download at no cost. At the time there was the big Napster uproar and our songs were legally available. Second, I still think those promos were damn good and well produced, not bad at all for a couple of Italian newcomers. Many DJs and fanzines were more than happy to support us and the word spread. It was such a fantastic surprise for us.

KM: How do you feel the composition differs from your debut EP Overhead(1) to your debut full length Artificial Breathing(2)?

dM: We can say we composed the two issues basically in the same period of time. The larger part of the job was done to build up the album, which is a picture of our first years of activity. We tried to arrange a quite solid and complete bunch of tracks which represented Blank as we were in 2003. For the single we had a slightly different approach: we just finished the album and we had to create the card to launch our work. We wanted it to be straightforward and Yolk of Artoffact gave us great support, pushing the remixes from awesome artists such as Moonitor, Tim Schuldt and Implant, which we love and respect.

KM: Where did the title Artificial Breathing derive from? How do you feel it pertains to the music on the CD?

TM: We wanted a title with a nice sound and a nice concept. I started thinking about the themes we were wanting to communicate, and the feelings we had about the songs we just created. How to express electronic music, artificial sounds, dance beats, intense atmospheres, personal lyrics and the freshness and the tension of a debut album? I came out with a bunch of strong images and after some thoughts, we picked up Artificial Breathing which I think is very meaningful and beautiful.

KM: Do you feel you have limited yourself musically by creating only dance floor oriented tracks for DJs to use?

TM: You tell me. Personally, that's what we want to do right now. We get easily bored by slower tracks. We usually skip the slow tracks when we find them in the albums we like, and our purpose was to make a 100% dance floor oriented album, where each song could be a potential club hit. And we think we did it. We love our album! Lots of people seem to appreciate, not only DJs.

KM: Why did you feel that the Canadian label Artoffact Records was the right one for Blank?

dM: Well, we were contacted by a few labels after our first demos, but we didn't feel they were that excited about us. It seemed just like "okay, let's talk, but don't expect much"... Artoffact was the most professional and supportive one by miles, and Yolk is a really good guy to work with. He's sincerely helping us do the right thing, but leaving us free to choose our own way to create. Furthermore, we were impressed by the outstanding quality of Artoffact releases and we like all of the artists signed to it (Headscan, Massiv in Mensch, Psyche, Netz...). So, why not to join the crew?

KM: You have stated in a previous interview about playing live is "always involving the audience as an active part of the show." How does Blank accomplish this task?

TM: That's not an easy task! We don't have a very elaborate show. In the beginning we wanted to create some video to enhance "the live experience," but it seems like everybody is doing it nowadays, so we worked on the opposite: a very basic, intimate show, where I like to sing as close to the audience as possible, and I want derMate to play his keyboards that close as well. Then we start those heavy beats and try to make the people dance with us.

KM: You have also stated that "Blank has a personal style that is difficult to compare to others." With that, how would you describe Blank's style?

OverheaddM: We come from '80s English Gothic and Italian Wave, from '90s Staalplat Industrial and German electro; we enjoyed early Goa and Trance. We could say Artificial Breathing is a fast-paced straightforward EBM piece of work, but we really put many other influences in it – it is an album to discover one track after the other, and anyone can come up with a different definition for our music.

KM: How did your project Blank and Moonitor (Sebastian Komor of Icon Of Coil) happen to create Uturn 3: The Dark Side of the Beat?

TM: U-Turn is a series of dance floor oriented split-CDs invented by Artoffact: it features an Artoffact artist and a guest, challenging themselves with extremely danceable songs, aimed strongly at the DJs. When Artoffact proposed us to be a part of this amazing series, and to share the job with Moonitor, we were more than excited to do it and Massiv in Mensch and Rotersand gave us two absolutely amazing remixes... I think this is a fantastic release, so it was really worth doing.

KM: What can Blank fans expect to see from the band in the future?

dM: In the last few months, from the end of the working on our debut album, we have begun to improve our style: our composition and production skills are growing and we are writing down our dance floor oriented tracks with a different and more mature sound. Our next album will surely hit hard... we're currently totally amazed with our new tracks! Stay tuned!

(1) Reviewed in Legends #141.
(2) Reviewed earlier in this issue.