My good friend and promotional partner Brandon Rosenbluth’s production company BL4CK M4G1CK is presenting ITAL / Stellar OM Source in Berlin tomorrow. In anticipation of this show, he interviewed both Ital’s Daniel Martin-McCormick and Christelle Gualdi of Stellar OM Source. Read the former below.
How does your songwriting process differ when you’re working together with Damon in Mi Ami or other collaborators versus producing alone?
Songwriting with Damon is very jam-based and collaborative, and when I’m solo it usually involves a lot of computer-based sculpting.
Which excites you more?
I dig them both but recently have been really into the solo zone, probably because I’ve been doing it so much. The more time one spends with a particular setup or configuration, the more possibilities one hears in it. No surprise then that the solo jams have been taking on more and more of a live aspect in songwriting, moving quickly away from the (exciting) tedium of Audacity hyperediting.
How did your music evolve from your noise rock background in Black Eyes to making psychedelic dance music?
The Dischord scene that Black Eyes came up in is now largely defunct, but around 2001, when the band was getting going, it was still going strong. ’90s groups like Fugazi, the Ex, Nomeansno, Bikini Kill, etc all loomed large in the cultural landscape and were super relevant to the overall musical discourse. At the same time, the new crop of DIY bands who were coming up (in DC, Q and not U, El Guapo, Orthrelm, and in other cities, Black Dice, Wolf Eyes, Lightning Bolt) were casting a wide net in terms of influences, conceptual approaches, and relationships to sound. By the mid 2000s, drone, new age, noise, techno, electro, hip hop, and tons of other genres were blurring together in new, exciting ways that went waaaaaay beyond the ‘punk-funk’/electroclash axis. So Black Eyes kinda straddled the line, both existing within an established paradigm of politicized/angular/experimental punk and also moving into the new idiom of the modern, post-everything underground.
The transition to Ital came after a long period playing in rock and noise-based formations and wanting to see how my sensibility would translate to something more akin to techno or whatever. I knew two things going in: I didn’t want to do some kind of ‘dance rock’ hybrid or whatever, the tracks had to actually be tracks, and also that I didn’t want to sacrifice my voice for some pointlessly formal genre exercise. So Ital basically absorbed all the work and exploration of my ten-plus years playing in bands and such, but tweaked the means of creation.
You’re collaborating with Hieroglyphic Being for Unsound Festival this year, which is really exciting! How did this come about?
I first got in touch with Jamal last year when I was putting together the ‘Culture Clubs’ 12”. I was hoping for a remix and honestly did not expect him to write back, but he said he was inspired and actually had something ready the next day! His music is a huge inspiration, of course, so unique/raw/exciting, so of course I’m thrilled to be collaborating with him.
You moved to Brooklyn from San Fransisco not long ago and shared a flat with a bunch of other awesome musicians. What it’s like to live together?
Right now I am homeless, storing my stuff at my girlfriend’s (video artist Aurora Halal) place, but up until recently I was living with Slava and Brenmar in a total shithole of a place. It was great. Brenmar is a phenomenal DJ and a total hustler and it’s insane watching him work. Slava is a rare peer who I feel consistently challenged by, I always feel like he’s a step or two ahead of me. And he makes his tracks so effortlessly, it’s pretty fucked up. Every time I’d hear him jamming, it’d be something new and always on point.
Has it led to any jam sessions or potential future projects?
Slava and I were considering collaborating at one point but honestly we’re both pretty busy and it can be hard to make time to even walk across the hall to jam! But they are both big inspirations.