Podcast 156: Marc Ash [Blacksilk Records] - IT
In this episode we have Marc Ash as a guest, he is an artist born in Italy, the creative mind behind the Blacksilk label. He is also part of the Clan Destine Records and Return to Disorder roster.
TF: Hello Marc ... where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes? And what were your influences?
MA: My musical journey began quite some time ago, I started playing classical piano when I was a child and went through a lot of different genres over the years. If I had to pick the most important ones I would mention industrial music, seen more as an approach to constant experimentation than in musical terms; it’s a genre that never settled on any kind of rules but constantly rediscussed its own nature.
On the musical side, my biggest influences lie in the synthwave (also happily rebranded minimal wave), something I discovered about ten years ago that radically affected the way I create music: I always try to include some form of melancholic melodic elements into my tracks.
I started playing techno and electro around 2012 while I was living in Milan. Right after my beginnings as a DJ at new wave parties, I started a party series called “Crimewave” where we were trying to combine 80’s- wave elements with akin electronic sounds. At that time I discovered Bunker records and Sandwell District, that have respectively been my electro and techno reference models until now.
TF: Why do you think artist migrate to Berlin? What is happening now in the city?
MA: Despite gentrification and rising rents, Berlin still retains the reputation of a safe haven for artist, where a thriving nightlife and a relatively low cost of living compared to other European capitals allow artists to live off their own work. For almost a century Berlin has been a city of artists. Now some people are seeing a profit and started to capitalize on this image, transforming the electronic music scene in a steril tourism industry. I find it disgusting and degrading. If there was still some authenticity left, it is now being completely sold off.
TF: Which aspects of sound do you examine recently? Is for you important the impression that your music produces on the audience?
MA: Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the audience. I mean, I am happy if they enjoy my music and dance to it, but I don’t make a case if they don’t, as it sometimes happens in places where my music or selection is considered too weird or “extreme”. This almost never happens in Berlin, where the crowd is very receptive and often interested in the music.
TF: Do you think that an excessive media exposure tends to cause harm to music? Is it more disposable than a few decades ago?
MA: Yes it does. Social media are like a cancer for art and creativity, they make people overexpose themselves to a point I often find ridiculous. Many artists just get their reward and satisfaction from the number of likes they get on Instagram or Facebook, that says it all. Music, creation and even aesthetic come second, third or even worse. It’s all about the superficial appearance, all about the silly surface. It almost feels like everyone is now trying to be a fashion influencer of the worst kind. On the other hand it is very difficult to stay completely out of social media, a handful of successful artists managed to do that (for instance Helena Hauff) and I have big respect for them.
TF: Your label, Blacksilk Records, is now built on a strong catalogue with very intriguing releases. What was the initial project ? Can you tell us more about what to expect on the imprint ?
MA: I started my label in 2016 as a platform to release my own music, but also to help other overlooked artists that I thought deserved a chance to see their music released on a physical medium. The main idea behind Blacksilk is essentially to combine my passion for electronic music with a well defined aesthetic imprint, trying to use art excerpts into release-specific imageries. This comes from my broad interests in figurative arts, having studied History of Art. It goes without saying that artworks always play a remarkable role in all Blacksilk’s releases.
At the moment I don’t have a long time strategy for my label, I’d rather have few releases carefully selected, not only because pressing records it’s very expensive, but also to prioritize quality over quantity and to give each release enough time to be bought, played and appreciated. The record market is very slow and follows weird developments that are difficult to understand, it’s often a leap into the void to invest in a new record.
TF: What’s your favourite track to play live and why?
MA: I recently ended my closing set at Tresor with “Brothers “ by D.A.F. I love the visceral, dark and seductive feeling of that track. Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade, I wonder what it was like to live the real underground in the 80’s. It must have been crazy and extremely inspiring, being surrounded by many people involved in art and music of great knowledge.
TF: Recently, have you seen any movie or documentary, or heard an album that has influenced the way you make music? What other art forms or music inspire you as a person?
MA: As already mentioned I studied History of Art, so I get a lot of inspiration from studying old and unusual forms of art, like medieval artefacts and sculptures. This interest is often reflected in the artworks for my label. Talking about music, I consider a milestone the album “ The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord” by Cabaret Voltaire.
TF: What are the future plans for Marc Ash? With whom would you like to collaborate? Are there possibilities for touring Latin America?
MA: I will definitely publish one more record this year, and another one on Blacksilk by a different artist. I don’t have collaborations in sight, at least not in direct terms. I am more of a lone wolf and rather work all by myself, although I’m sure I’m missing out quite a lot so I may change my mind about that, one day.
I’d love to come to South America! Many friends that played there praised the hospitality and the vivid interest of the scene, hopefully I’ll be able to sort out something in the near future.
TF: Thank you for all Marc.