Off the back of her recent release on Dimensions Records, we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to speak with ever-inspiring Lady Blacktronika. The 1-on-1 between her and longtime contributor Emma Stevenson covers everything from inspirations on her new album to issues of gender in music.
E: It’s a real pleasure to hear thoughtful experimentation through your production as The Lady Blacktronika – there’s certainly no steadying in your development as an artist! Across the years, though, your vocals have maintained deep soulfulness and heartfelt feeling – it’s really become integral to your sound. Is this something you strive to remain true to?
LB: It certainly is. Two of my main personal tenants when it comes to this music, especially house and it’s off shoots, is to remain true to the roots and maintain authenticity. I like house tracks that have something to say, even if it’s just one line repeated. So long as that feeling is conveyed.
E: From what I can gather, your FEMANYST alias is an adventure into deep-set affection for oldschool, hardcore-style techno. Is this where your interest in music begun?
LB: Not entirely but certainly in part. I began listening to house music and techno before I even knew what techno was, but once I discovered hardcore techno it became an obsession for sure. What hardcore gave me as a queer teen in the 90s was a sense of strength. It helped me move through the world with a shield of resistance. Listening to Dutch & German Gabber and hardcore helped block out the vocal intrusions of homophobia & people who wanted to make me aware they thought I was weird because I didn’t conform to societal norms.
E: Has representation of harder styles in your production, do you think, come through your relocation to Berlin, with its audience’s ears generally eager for heavy-hitting sounds?
LB: Again I would answer this with a bit of a yes and no answer. I have always sort of incorporated my love for techno weirdness in all my music to some degree and hope to always do so. However, when it comes to me beginning to seriously focus on harder techno sounds it was a combination of finally being in a city where this music lived but also I was hugely motivated by what I wasn’t hearing on the dance floor. I got sort of frustrated with wishing that techno DJs in Berlin would take a risk, give a throw back, drive up the BPM or do something at all risky. Techno has become formulaic and boring. Techno should never be boring it should shock and offend, both the senses and conventional thinkers.
E: You’ve recently celebrated the release of your first vinyl-pressed album, ‘A Lonely Space Program’. The eleven-track affair is stunning, from start to finish, but certainly carries a sombre tone in parts. Can you tell us about the context of this work?
LB: Ultimately it’s partly an apology letter and a tribute to love gone wrong. I’m happy that people have picked up on that theme. It’s certainly not a hopeless feeling I hoped to convey but there was a lot of sadness in my life at that time. It’s a time capsule of sorts. Emotionally I have moved on but it’s good to be able to look back and have this vinyl record standing testament to a love & friendship that once existed.
E: Your most recently released track is ‘Can We Still Be Friends?’, which came out a few weeks ago as part of a compilation series for the team running Dimensions Festival. The three-part series –Dimensions Recordings: An Introduction – seems to stem from special ethos, with the Dimensions team noting that the featured tracks come from artists who act as inspiration, of sorts, to them. How do you approach contributing to a project like this?
LB: Individually actually. They approached me about this track and wanted to feature it in this compilation series. I can say while I had nothing to do with their process I am more than happy with the company my track has throughout the entirety of the series.
E: The last few years have seen a solid spike in the number of gigs you’re taking on plus the distance you’re travelling for them. How have you found this shift, as a touring DJ?
LB: All at the same time loving it and wondering how more experienced women than myself handle it with such ease. It’s a challenge but it’s a rewarding challenge.
E: On touring, do you have any plans to visit us in Australia anytime soon?
LB: None as of yet but hoping future endeavours will bring me down under very soon. I’m eager to visit though my Aussie friend I had over this evening told me it’s a 24-hour flight, so yikes, but I’ve had to do that via train, bus and plane to climb down out of the mountains of Northern California for Eastern Canada. HAHAHA
E: What lays ahead of you for the rest of 2017?
LB: I am full steam ahead with work on new techno productions, continuing to push boundaries while looking back at the rich history of techno. I just want it never to be said I rested on convention when it comes to music production and presentation. So in 2017 I hope to continue that and I am going to be focusing on my fledgeling techno label, Dark Carousel.
You can listen to more of Lady Blacktronika’s productions here.
Her latest record as part of Dimensions Records’ An Introduction Part 2 is available here. It also features Byron The Aquarius, Dj Aakmael & Marcos Cabral.