There will always be a strained bond between the Internet and the musical community. Whether it's the file sharing issue
or the questionable degree of accuracy to message board content, Internet denizens haven't always generated the most enthusiastic
responses from musicians themselves. But one who has learned to use the web to his advantage is Bryan Black. With connections
to seemingly everyone who's anyone in the industrial community, Bryan is probably best known for critically acclaimed work
with haloblack. Currently on the verge of releasing an album from electro side project XLOVER, Bryan speaks with Rock Star
Journalism about his work, using the web to promote it, and why he might just have a future in erotic filmmaking...
You once described one of your earliest projects, working with Prince's live shows, as a learning experience. What would
you say was the most important thing you took away from it?
A great appreciation for dedication to one's work. Prince lives and breathes music. What he does is not calculated and
not solely based on furthering his career. There are very few artists left with integrity of this kind.
I've also read that you worked with George Clinton. In what capacity was this?
A friend of mine was recording a new album for George at Paisley Park Studios. He asked if I could layer some sounds
onto his tracks to give the mixing engineer more options to choose from when mixing. I think a few beeps ended up on the
record. I didn't even tell him about my music as I was still finding my sound then.
Critics seem to focus on the hard, cold side of your work that was displayed on much of funky:hell. But some of the tracks
on throb have a more warm, seductive vibe. Was that something you consciously worked for when creating your most recent album?
Over the past few years, I've explored melody and different instrumentation with my music, so it was only natural to incorporate
this into haloblack. I will always produce music that is stripped down and raw. With :funkyhell: I think I explored the
mechanical industrial rock sound to full effect. At the time, I was listening to the jittery, robotic sounds of Autechre
and longed to hear this kind of aesthetic applied to industrial rock. For the new album, it was all about conveying emotion.
What would you say is the biggest change in your music since you first released decay?
Melody. On the first album, I tried to avoid 4-note progressions (Pretty Hate Machine), in favour of 1-2 note melodies
(MBM). I liked to keep things monochrome. Melody adds so much colour to a song, and I didn't want to distract the attention
away from the robotic pulse of drums and synths.
You've been through your share of labels. How has it been working with Dark Cell Digital music as an Internet distributor
This is my 3rd haloblack album, and the first not released through a major distributor. Ironically, it's been the best
received release. It's easier to find as it's available all over the Internet. Also, working with a small, independent label
who were passionate about the music meant the album was presented to the world in the best way possible.
Is getting some sort of US distribution, other than the Internet, something that you're interested in?
Yes. Right now we've been doing lots and lots of press for UK and Europe. I haven't done any press in the US. In the
past, my records were all over the US and ignored in Europe. Now, it's the opposite. I'm not sure what the scene is in America,
but I know I've got lots of fans there who like the new album. Trying to convince the music press to check us out is much
more difficult now that I'm based in London.
The Internet seems to have been useful for you to provide information about your music. However, the Internet is also
a place where a lot of misinformation gets spread. In what ways has actively participating in the very outspoken Sick City
message board been a positive or negative experience?
All positive. I like the fact that the people on thesickcity.com are honest and very passionate about their beliefs.
It's like a relationship; you need to give, in order to get. If ignored, their wrath is something comparable to a woman
When you first moved to London, what was the biggest difference you saw in the European musical community?
Appreciation for electronic and dance music. On TV, you have car advertisements with Aphex Twin's music in the background.
In America at the time, dance music was only for "ravers." In Europe it is part of society in the way R&B
is in the US. It's no wonder the UK have produced labels such as Warp, Mute, 4AD, etc.
Being based out of England now, how closely do you stay in touch with what's happening in the US music scene?
Only through the Internet. I occasionally check up on Prince's movements and check out Rolling Stone if I'm incredibly
bored with time to kill at the airport. Otherwise, I'm clueless. I've no interest in the nu metal or indie rock that's on
MTV. I like some of the Outkast album. But for me, no one, not even Prince, can touch Prince circa 1980-1988.
To a certain extent, the US industrial scene seems to be sliding toward the EBM/synth-pop area. Is this something that
interests you, given that you've spoken about the need to move away from guitar-driven industrial?
I like industrial rock. I don't care for industrial metal or EBM that much. There's something about the sound of early
NIN, Ministry, Meat Beat Manifesto and Nitzer Ebb that is missing in the current scene. I'd rather just skip the aggro element
and listen to pure electro if I had to choose. Not because I don't appreciate aggressive music. I just don't like the way
it's being incorporated at the moment.
What would you like to see happen with the current industrial scene?
A return to innovation and more bands with the songwriting talents to help the scene grow. I always like albums that
challenge the listener in new ways.
One of your other projects, XLOVER, could be placed in the electro genre. Having also worked with one of the top names in
electro, Felix da Housecat, is this an area that you would like to pursue further?
Yes, it's what I'm doing right now. We just performed in Munich with DJ HELL last week. And today I'm recording a new
song with Felix for Playboy magazine. Next month, we finish our album and go to Berlin for some shows. It's an exciting
genre because it's not limited in many ways. Musically, it can be as hard or poppy as you want, and as long as it's good,
and you apply the correct amount of eyeliner - it's appreciated.
How close are you to completing the XLOVER album?
Weeks away. We've written about 3 LPs worth of demos. Once that's finished, we're producing a new band with Felix called
The Neon Fever. I've been in the studio for over a year writing. Now I want to get out and see the world and meet people
and play music.
Supergroups often do not hold up to the sum of their parts. But you've been involved with two, h3llb3nt and Schwein,
that seemed to resonate with people. Why do you think those worked?
I think it's exciting to branch out and try new things with other people. This excitement usually finds itself encoded
into the music, which is why it works. When you collaborate with fellow musicians, you are always trying to do your best
work in a light competitive manner. And the thought of merging different talents to create a bigger result is very enticing.
H3llb3nt had more of a lighthearted feel than haloblack. Do you find yourself still wanting an outlet for that kind of
Yeah, I've got XLOVER to fill that void. With XLOVER, I can be as quirky and fun as I want.
Is h3llb3nt officially defunct?
No. We're all waiting for the right time to get together.
You've done music for several video games -- Blair Witch Project, Rebel Moon. Any plans to work on more games in the
I'm not a big video game freak; I wish I could just sit down and play a game. But I haven't got the patience. I'd rather
score a film.
Do you have any visual art projects in the works now?
No. Music has been the biggest distraction. I almost see myself more as a filmmaker than a musician, but I need time
and space to experiment with the medium first. I'm hoping to direct some music videos to get comfortable with my ideas first.
I still think someone has to make a beautiful, artistic sex film. Surely, there is a market for this? Someday, I'll have
You seem to have a hand in nearly every industrial project going. Is there anyone you would still like to work with?
I'm always up for the odd collaboration with the right person. I've always wanted to have FLOOD produce something of
mine. I appreciate the work of many musicians, but don't always see the point of collaborating just out of respect. If I
lack a particular skill, I'll look for someone to fill the void. It just turns out that I've been lucky to work with some
really talented people.
You've worked with Jared Louche and Raymond Watts on a few different projects. What qualities do these individuals have
that make them good partners for you?
They both have amazing energy and passion about music. It's always easy to work with them, and we are always very productive
when we get together. They are like little children filled with an endless imagination.
I know you've got some dates coming up in England. But, as you pointed out, a lot of your fans are in the US. Do you
have any plans to tour in America?
Yes. I'm probably going to get there first with XLOVER. The way it's going now, XLOVER is going to be a heavy, explosive
show, hopefully good enough to satisfy the haloblack fans. I'm really looking forward to returning to the US. I'm not a
big fan of the whole guns, god and government scene (thanks George). But I have the best memories from touring in the US.
Keep an eye on xlover.net and thesickcity.com for more.