Q&A with Konrad Black, Playing at Glass This Saturday

In the murky underworld of minimal techno, Todd Shillington a.k.a. Konrad Black has made a name for himself through perseverance and continuous innovation. A highly sought-after producer and remixer, this Vancouver native now operates out of the seminal Berlin scene and his Wagon Repair label has emerged as a global touchpoint for cutting-edge new techno. His performance this Saturday night at the Glass "Black Valentine" party comes on the first leg of his debut 2009 US tour and coincides with his new March release for the Berlin Watergate mix series.

We had a chance to catch up with Black, asked him about his artistic development, production M.O. and what the future holds.

New Times: You are known for your atmospheric yet bass-driven

signature sound with roots in drum and bass. Tell us how you first got

into music production. How did you transition from those roots to your

more techno-based current style? Were there specific influences or


Konrad Black: I first got into the production end of this business simply by

wanted to be closer to the music... same reason why one starts DJing. I

wanted to create as well as play the music. It's a logical progression.

Just as was my musical progression. I have always been into the same

kind of sound... whether it be the RZA or DJ Premier in hip hop, Ed

Rush and Optical, Dillinja and Lemon D, Photek in Drum and Bass, or

Maurizio, Plastikman et al in Techno. There has always been a common

denominator in the sound that has carried me through different genres.


Rumor has it that you are an avid lover of analog owning a formidable

hardware studio where you produce all your music. Do you strictly use

only analog equipment for production, and if so, why? How do you feel

about software-based music production tools and what (if any) part do

they play in your work?

KB: I am a big fan of analog synths

and outboard gear, but I'm not totally adverse to digital equipment. I

just personally prefer the sound of analog keyboards, and definitely

specific ones are good for specific sounds. I

use certain keyboards more for basslines, and others for atmospherics.

There are a lot of good software synths out there as well, especially

if you run them through a nice high-end limiter or compressor.


In 2005 you relocated from your native Vancouver to Berlin. What drew

you to Berlin? What exactly is it about that city that has made it the

current capital of techno and cutting-edge electronic dance music?

KB: I actually moved in Halloween 2005. I didn't intend on

moving there initially, but was in Europe for a 3 month tour, and was

based in Berlin during the week. While in Berlin, I had other expats

such as Troy Pierce and Magda remind me of what I would be going back

to in Vancouver vs. what was going on in Europe. That was enough for me

right then and there to decide to stay!


You have already had opportunities to play for American audiences in

NYC and LA before this debut 2009 US tour. How does the experience

compare to playing for audiences in Europe?

KB: Hmmm... I've found it really depends on the city. Also, in

Europe you often have experiences with clubs that are quite underground

yet larger in capacity, and that go quite late. This brings a

whole new element to the experience, and in North America you don't

find so many late late clubs. But again, my experiences in LA and New

York have been amazing as well. So in the end it really depends on what

audience you have for the evening!


Your current US tour coincides with taking the reigns of the Watergate

mix series, with WATERGATE03 - KONRAD BLACK set to be released March

2009. Tell us how you got involved with that project and what it's all


KB: Well, I play at Watergate in Berlin quite

regularly so they have asked me to head up the next CD in their mix

series. It will be the 3rd in their series, the first by Onur Ozer,

second was Sascha Funke and mine will be the third. It's an honor to be

asked and I look forward to it's release.

NT: Your are known

for your keen interest in visual art, having designed and produced all

the artwork for your Wagon Repair releases. How did you get into visual

art and what are your influences and inspirations?

KB: An interest in art in general, aural, visual, whichever it may

be, has been with me as long as I can remember. I mean they are all

tied together in one way or another. As far as visual influences go, I

love the work of Glenn Brown, Jörg Immendorff, Joseph

Beuys... the list could go on and on. All these artists, in my mind,

like I mentioned earlier about there being a common sound to the

different producers and genres that I'm into, these artists all have

something aesthetically similar that ties in with that sound and

feeling that I'm interested, and vice versa.

NT: What does the future have in store for Konrad Black and the Wagon Repair label?

KB: Well, I'm currently working on my album, and more releases

from Cobblestone Jazz, Modern Deep Left Quartet, The Mole, Mike

Shannon... more weird deepness to hit the dance floors and the headphones for 2009!

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