By Kim Mercil
Introduction by Mike Ventarola
In todays electronic dance music
scene one would be hard pressed to find anything from the Artoffact label that
wasnt 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 didnt 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
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.
KM: 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
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
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?
dM: 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
KM: How did your project Blank and Moonitor
(Sebastian Komor of Icon Of Coil) happen to create Uturn 3: The Dark Side of
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
(1) Reviewed in
(2) Reviewed earlier in this issue.