Black Midi Interview: Band Talks New LP ‘Schlagenheim’ & Avoiding Self-Promotion

Black Midi Interview: Band Talks New LP 'Schlagenheim' & Avoiding Self-Promotion 1

The experimental rock band will tour the U.S. within the fall.

Black Midi — the London-based four-piece that began attracting an viewers after enjoying exhibits at Windmill Brixton, a divey hangout for indie-spirited DIY musicians — is already on tour earlier than its debut album, Schlagenheim, arrives June 21 on Tough Commerce.

Though they aren’t but sufficiently old to legally purchase a drink, vocalist/guitarist Geordie Greep, lead guitarist Matt Kelvin, bassist Cameron Picton and drummer Morgan Simpson are bringing their vigorous experimental rock to Europe after which hitting U.S. shores in November, boosted by word-of-mouth and YouTube feedback which have put them on par with art- and post-rock bands starting from King Crimson to Shellac.

Not that Black Midi describes itself as such, or describes itself in any respect. In an age of music that’s all about teasing and leaking, the band didn’t do a lot to stir up its nascent success. 

“We didn’t think it was necessary to be posting as much as people do. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just we didn’t think it added anything to the music,” says Greep, 19, who was “home, chillin’ ” in London the day earlier than the tour, which launched June 10, whisked Black Midi away from house. “Also, when we first got going playing gigs, it picked up quite quickly, so we didn’t have the means or the time. We thought we’d only record something when we had absolute control and be ambitious with it. We didn’t record our sets for a long time just because we wanted to wait until we could do it properly.”

As an alternative, the group continued enjoying exhibits, delivering dissonance, scrumptious syncopation and lyrics each muttered and shouted, oftentimes multi function tune. Schlagenheim exhibits a band that performs collectively (no click on tracks right here) and stays collectively via abrupt tempo shifts, supreme agitation and actions ordinarily ascribed to classical music and prog rock — however in a fraction of the time span. It sounds free and unaffected, conjuring post-punk, jazz and even overtures for a stage manufacturing or the large display screen. Just like the band Can, Black Midi sounds unencumbered however refined, led by intuition, ambiance and rhythm. (One YouTube viewer commented about Simpson, “This drummer could literally disassemble his kit and put it back together and still be in time.”)

Upon graduating from performing arts academy The BRIT College in 2017, Black Midi discovered a fan in Tim Perry, who books and promotes exhibits on the Windmill. “Most venues are just interested in putting on bands they know people will come and see — which is fair enough; they’re a business,” says Greep. “The great thing about the Windmill is that Tim Perry has eclectic musical taste: He made his name there by doing nights of country and hip-hop. He’ll put on anything that he thinks is pretty interesting. I sent an email to him. We got our first gig at the Windmill almost a month after we finished school, so it was quite lucky, really. I didn’t have a plan or anything for after [graduating] school. I definitely didn’t think this would pan out the way it has. So to play the Windmill and for it to go as well as it did is amazing.”

It was on the Windmill, the place Black Midi finally established a residency, that it met producer Dan Carey, whose personal singles label, Speedy Wunderground, emphasizes spontaneity: a great match for a band that thrives on improvisation. Upon listening to the Black Midi, “Dan Carey got it straight away. We met up at his house and talked through it just to see if it was the right thing to do,” recollects Greep. “And when we recorded that track [“bmbmbm,” the primary tune the band ever recorded] for his label, it went very well and began such an excellent relationship, so when it got here time and we had the means to make an album, he simply appeared like the only option. I may simply inform from the best way he was speaking in regards to the music that he acquired it utterly.”

There’s rather a lot to get. Schlagenheim was recorded in 5 days, however its 9 tracks sound something however hasty. They do, nonetheless, really feel pressing, with noisy, discordant patterns giving strategy to quiet areas of melodious guitar strumming and ominous verses, then resounding the alarm at twice the velocity, then slo-mo collapsing in a pile solely to rise once more… and that’s simply the opener. A complete album of such bracing rock would probably fulfill Slint lovers, however Black Midi is just not thinking about being the second coming of any band, irrespective of how beloved, so Schlagenheim proceeds to skitter, beep, groove, shriek and even convey a tear to the attention. By album’s finish, it’s not possible to determine on a style or a specific viewers for it.

Likewise, the band admires composers and musicians who relish modifications in time signature and key. “We will listen to loads of different types of music,” says Greep. “I’m big into classical and avant-garde: Stravinsky and Bartok, and Alfred Schnittke, a really fantastic composer of the last 100 years.” 

For the group’s personal music, “we do quite a lot of improvisation, get the best fit and put different things together, like two separate pieces of music,” he says. “We’ll have things lying around for a long time and then finally find the right section to complement it. The main thing is to have it be structurally exciting. Like in classical music: to have the music be really tense, to have that constant tension and release. We’re trying to push ourselves more and more compositionally, musically, every way we can.”

That improvisatory spirit is what makes the album a thrill. It takes deep curiosity and un-self-consciousness to supply a piece that’s hardly assured to be everybody’s cup of tea — and musicianship to tug it off. “Make of it what you will, listen hard, keep listening,” provides Greep, a refreshing message that Schlagenheim transmits.

See Black Midi tour dates right here.


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