BLACK ORCHID INTERVIEW
Can: First, let us read the history of Black Orchid Productions. How/when/why you start such a production label?
I have started approximately 6 years ago as a small distribution service. My aim was a promotion of Slovak and Czech bands abroad. I was strongly influenced by doom, death metal… in the begging, that's why some of my first releases were in the similar tone ( I mean mainly Sarcastic MC and compilation tape). In my opinion metal began to decline about 4 years ago and it wasn't influencing me much at that time. I was more interested in experimental music, industrial, ambient… As long as these styles were more or less unknown in Slovakia, releasing such things seemed to be attractive. The reason why I run label and distribution service is that I come across a lot of miscellaneous things that otherwise would not be obtainable. Label is alternative one can get in touch with music.
Black Orchid is somehow beyond the boundaries we got used to. What's your comment about my compliments.
Many people ask me why I release so big variety of styles from ambient, through gothic and dark rock to electro-metal, industrial… My effort is not a presentation of these styles because many labels are better in promoting than me… I am concentrated on groups & projects that are new within the original style. Projects that in fact push the border of borderless styles…
How are your relations with metal heads. How they react when they first hear your releases?
I am not in touch with many metal heads. Although there are some exceptions. I think that they are more open especially to gothic and dark ambient and maybe harsh industrial. I'm happy that metal is not so conservative as it used to be. It's style with a big potential and many possibilities.
You are strictly stick to tapes rather than CDs. As I know, you have released only one CD. Why? Is there any special reason like "I hate CDs" or "I'm a nostalgic boy"..
I release tapes because it enables me to release bigger amount of interesting titles. I think being only CD label is quite different because it requires a lot of money. From my point of view it's better to release 10 tapes per year that 1 CD and then be afraid whether I sell it or not. You have to think of things like will I get it back or do I have to release more popular bands. But of course I would like to release more CD's in the future as well as some 7´´Eps. Undoubtedly, CD as a medium is perfect.
How do you choose bands which you co-operate and product the releases? I think it should be rather challenging.. [Don't forget that, your answer would be a clue for the possible bands reading this magazine whom you will co-operate..]
At first I used to choose bands whose productions I've heard. I was lucky that I managed to release some famous names and than so label became more famous. That's why I could support good bands from Eastern and Central Europe. Later bands began to send me promos themselves. Now I can choose what to release. If somebody who's reading these sentences is interested in releasing something just let me know. I would like produce more split tapes/CDRS, so there's enough places.
Your works and productions are rather "futuristic", in general. As you probably know, Slav people have a great background of futuristic works. I can counts numerous futuristic Slav painters..
I'm trying so that the cover and the whole form of a tape reflected the music. Most of the groups usually send me material for cover. Only a few covers are for 100% my own production. Yes, I think Slavic people have some futuristic tendencies - including the film (Tarkovski) and literature. But music has been developing differently. I can see influence of the past. A lot of bands are influenced by gothic, neo-paganism, folk… To tell the truth I haven't heard many progressive Slavonic bands.
How is your popularity among your population?
It is quite good, but it should be better, of course. I am more "popular" in the foreign countries than here in Slovakia. But it's probably caused by the fact that I am the only label, which is dealing with f.e. experimental music and also there aren't larger magazines or radio shows dedicated to this type of music here so people aren't very familiar with it. But I see that things are going better than before…
After the seperation of Czechoslovakia, as far as we see, Slovakia could not achieve high standards as Czech did. So, in terms of musical creations, how did the things change in Slovakia after the separation?
As far as Czechoslovakia has separated only 3 years after the fall of communism, I can't compare. You've probably meant the metal scene where Czechs are of a big quality (Forgotten Silence, S.S.O.G.E. …). But if I compare electronic and experimental music, I must say that there are not so big differences. There's a quite strong electronic scene in Czech with well run in labels orientated mainly on ambient influenced with jazz and dub. Well, in Slovakia there's stronger gothic and industrial scene. Although we don't have a lot of bands here, there are some really excellent. For example, I consider The Last Days of Jesus to be the one of the best gothic rock bands in Europe. Problem of Slovakia is presentation and segmentation. Many people do a very good music, but nobody knows about it.
Let's talk about your band mindMap.. How are the reactions you got so far? Have you ever performed live, if 'yes' how?
With mindMap I've released demo CDR "faces", demo CDR "live:subterra" and we have a new 4 tracks promo. We've got to people's consciousness with faces. There was a good reaction to it. Subterra is a one-hour live set that served mainly for promoters, but finally I released it under black orchid. (The review on it you can read in this number of Sonic Splendour). A new promo is out only for a month, but there's fantastic reaction to it. Yes, we do play live sets, once a month usually, but it depends. We use Multitrack recorder (Roland VS-880 EX) and play main tracks from it and mix with help of Music Groove box (Roland MC-307) and minidisk. At the latest live acts we had a singer as well.
Moreover, what are the future plans of mindMap?
We are in touch with some Czech records, but we'll probably release album at home by one quite well developing label. You should find us at several compilation (f. e. on elegy#5 released by EE tapes). We would like to produce 7´´Ep single in the near future and the album with remixes. And to play live acts a lot, of course.
Write down your 'top10' please…
At the moment I'm fond of these albums: Einsturzende Neubauten "Strategies…III.", Daniele Brusaschetto "bluviola", R.U.N.I. "il cucchiaio infernale", Dream Into Dust "the world we have lost", Amon Tobin "supermodified"… but if went to the past, I would like to wrote down for sure - Tiamat "deeper kind of slumber", Skinny Puppy "last rights", Anathema "silent enigma", Das Ich "egodram", Orbital "in sides"…
Can you make money from underground music business?
Very complicated questions. It depends on how one thinks of underground. You can understand it as out of mainstream music or as certain form of contra culture. Underground in my opinion is an alternative to main stream. For me underground is communication, co-operation and getting to know something new. I don't find a label as a source of big income. I make some money out of it, that's ok, but that's not important at all. I'm glad when I have enough to release a new artist.
Personally, how do you predict the future of yourself & Black Orchid? Have you ever thought quiting everything and settling down an quite and easy-going life?
Next year I am gonna finish university, and I will see how everything will evolve. I´d like to continue with label and mindMap as long as it gets. I'm so deeply in it that it's impossible to stop now.
Do you like Asimov -cult science-fiction novelist?
I have read only a few short stories written by Asimov and pretty long time ago. Actually, I rarely read sci-fi. I'm more interested in magic realism and present European modern prose.
Do you believe in UFOs and Aliens.
I've read about 20 books about UFO, but to tell the truth I am rather sceptical. Of course, I believe in existence of extraterrestrial life, but using flying disks seems to be strange. They are too terrestrial, I think.
Any last words or comments…
Thanks a lot for the interview and interesting questions. I´d like to greet all my friends in Turkey, mainly Mutlu from Illuminations zine. 4 years ago I've visited Antalya and I liked it a lot. Everybody who would like to co-operate with me is welcome. Get in touch !!! Emil Matko, Zelena 2/C, Banska Bystrica, 974 01, Slovakia; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Balcony/6458