SR0022: BLANKA BARBARA
The Poland-born, London-based DJ, Blanka Barbara, brings her melodic techno vibes for SR0022. A classically trained pianist, she instils her love of storytelling into her mixes.
“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”
― Tom Waits
Why melodic techno?
The aspect of harmony and melody in electronic music is crucial to me, as well as being able to search for a deeper meaning within music and myself while listening to it. Does it tell a story? What is the journey it’s taking me on? Which emotions does it make me feel? Knowing the answers to these questions was always important for me and, in time, it made me equally demanding towards the tracks I am choosing to perform or mix.
If I was ever asked by some non-existent committee, with headquarters for instance at Beatport, to rename the genre, I would probably go either with “melancholic techno”, or “inward-facing dance music”. It feels like a natural continuation of what deadmau5 started in 2007 with Faxing Berlin – not exactly deep house, but harmonically rich with sharpish house-inspired percussion and a hidden EDM charge within.
We, as humans, will always need music to accompany our thoughts about what troubles our soul or what is the cure to our sadness, about the future of the Earth or about distant galaxies. Not all melodic techno tracks are equally deep and thought-provoking of course, but this trance-like shamanic beauty is a definite common denominator.
If Placebo were creating dance music they would probably end up with #melodictechno
When performing or mixing electronic music, the question I inevitably ask myself is “how do I write a symphony using all these miniatures?”
I view a single performance or a single mix as one uninterrupted journey. It’s similar to writing a novel, which comprises of chapters: each track is a chapter and, when put together in a certain order, they comprise a Mix. A novel has a beginning, an ending, has surprising twists, keeps the reader engaged and in the end leaves full of emotions and ideas.
Merely creating a seamless mix using tracks by different producers is not enough. For me, the goal is to produce an emotionally enriching experience, which only works when the right words are put in the right order.
Art is craft.
Classical music was everything to me during my teenage years. I was a pianist, playing Rachmaninov preludes, completely in love with Chopin and Debussy, performing recitals all over Poland, where I’m originally from. I loved it! Loved the complexity of the music, the richness of emotional charge, loved the storytelling through the piano, loved performing for the audiences and at historic venues.
My teachers and mentors brought me up in the atmosphere where musical art is craft. Behind every performance there are hours, days, weeks of practising the piano, listening to recordings and reading the score, understanding what the composer intended to say and how I, as a performer, ought to communicate that message to the audience. “When they listen, what do they hear?”
Everything matters: from entering the stage to receiving applause into your heart and enjoying the journey throughout. Be honest with yourself: simply playing an instrument is not enough – knowing why you do it and communicating it with your whole essence is the first step to success.
I guess the lessons I learned are firmly embedded in my attitude towards music and life in general.
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