The career of Minneapolis raised Bryan Black has been a rather interesting one. Originally training in graphic design, Black’s career took a surprising turn after he was recruited by Prince to work as a sound designer after the pop veteran saw him performing as part of industrial-rock band, Haloblack.
From here Black went on to form Motor, a project born out of a desire to combat the staling of the techno scene, which was becoming all too formulaic at the time. This desire to innovate and challenge also lay at the centre of Black’s subsequent solo project, Black Asteroid, which is where he seems to have found his creative home.
With the video for his recent CLR release ‘Grind’ premiered today, and a performance at Fabric scheduled for the 22nd, we caught up with Black to discuss his live setup, recent relocation to NYC, and breaking into the world of fashion.
So first off how are things? You put out the Grind EP towards the end of last year - how has the reception been?
Great thanks, I recorded Grind with Chris Liebing in Frankfurt after a Depeche Mode concert. After two days we had an EP. Grind is always a highlight in my sets, I was surprised that guys like Tommy Sunshine are playing it. Its great when techno can reach outside of its comfort zone.
You’re playing live at Fabric on the 22nd February, can you tell us a little bit about your setup for live performances?
I usually break apart my tracks into samples which I trigger live with an assortment of controllers. This way I can go as hard or deep as I want, building a track from nothing into a big climax and then breaking it down or going straight into a new beat. I’m interested in the performance aspect in techno. The music is so bonkers, so it seems fitting to have such a physically exhausting show and have fun with the audience.
You lived in London for a while after moving in 2002, am I right in saying you are currently based in New York however? What was it that prompted the second move?
Yes I grew up in Minneapolis, and moved to London to finish my graphic design/multimedia degree, and I accidentally stumbled into techno. I ended up staying in London for about 8-9 years. We had an amazing studio in Old Street and there was so much going on, I didn’t want to go home. At one point, everyone was moving to Berlin, and I didn’t want to be another hipster DJ moving to Berlin. My girlfriend landed a great job in NYC, so we got up and left. I do cherish my trips back to London. I had an apartment just down the street from Fabric when I was living there, so I still get flashbacks of walking home from Fabric in the early morning completely shattered, ear ringing, but inspired.
It sounds like the original intention with your Motor project was to challenge and push boundaries in the Techno scene, do you think the same impulse is behind the Black Asteroid project?
Yes. Motor was an experiment because at the time techno was so boring, so we added a little punk/ rock element and it went nuts. After everyone was doing it - it wasn’t fun anymore, so we kept experimenting with different sounds.
Just after we finished the last Motor album, we took a break. During this time I was clubbing with my techno DJ friends, and again I found myself inspired to try a new take on techno, it felt like there was a gaping hole for something with more bollocks and soul/ character. And so in one hour I wrote the first Black Asteroid single ‘Engine 1’ which became this big thing so quickly.
Speaking of the Motor project, how did you first meet Olivier Grasset and at what point did you decide to work together?
We met in London through friends. I was looking for a drummer for my industrial band ‘Haloblack’. We realised we both had a similar record collection and a love of DAF. So we immediately ditched the guitars and drums and went head first into making pure electronic music, which soon became Motor.
You posted a couple of pictures taken from Rick Owens’ fashion shows on your Facebook recently - can we expect to see a Black Asteroid clothing line in the near future?
I am flirting with these ideas more and more. Rick Owens is contributing to the art for my debut album. Im working with a label called Obscur on a Black Asteroid limited edition piece of clothing. Im always looking for interesting ways to deliver music, and the physical product is very important to me.
The video for Black Acid also featured the model Nadia Shapoval, would you say the fashion scene is a big inspiration on your music?
Yes by accident I was thrown into this world. First Raf Simons and then Rick Owens started using my music for runway shows. I only discovered this on Youtube by chance.
In general I’m not into what is mainstream fashion. Its all too preppy for me. I don’t understand why everyone wants to look like a banker/ accountant. So I discovered a few designers producing clothes which are complimentary to the music I was making.
I’ve always been obsessed with packaging and design for all my releases, and this is just the next step.
Finally, I believe I am right in saying the debut Black Asteroid LP is in the final stages at the moment. Can you tell us a little bit about the record and when it will be released?
Yes, I am right now in Frankfurt mixing it down. I have another mixing session in New York soon after that, and then it will be complete. Besides the Rick Owens cover art collaboration, I have Cold Cave contributing vocals which I’m really excited about. We’re aiming for a release just after the Summer. In the meantime I have a new EP coming out on Electric Deluxe on April 7th.