‘Founder of #WEATNU and Electronic artist. Almark has written abstract electronic music since 1998. He had a few words to speak about We are the New Underground. Also his music, videos and future plans.’
Craig Manga – As founder of #WEATNU and the workload that entails, how do you keep your own musical identity afloat in such a sea of electronic talent? Do you time manage?
Almark – Yes, I do one thing at a time, pacing myself the best I can, it’s real discipline. I have to make myself be organized or fail. More like I work toward doing three things at once, a constant multi-task. laughs
CM- Do you see making music as relaxing, or still workload?
Almark – Music is my life, and the number one reason why I formed weatnu. When I have the time, I seize it. Just as I was going to finish a video to “Oracle” that I’ve been working on for a few days, but it slipped past me to do this interview, but there’s always tomorrow and that’s ok too.
CM- You’ve been flitting across your career from circa 98, with various tunes on soundcloud, etc. and spotted several key influences, noted by yourself. But you don’t seem to sound like any of them. You stay individual and original. Amongst them, one of my fav, Severed Heads. Care to comment?
Almark – I’ve always played to my own drummer, or in this case, “electronic drummer”. It’s kind of like I work on a new thing until I feel it becomes my own creation, I have tried to sound like other people, even 14 years ago, I gave up long ago. – laughs. The influences are there of course, and sometimes they even appear in my past works, but it always ends up different. I believe that an artist should “if they can” be original and do something crazy and new. With each song and album, I change completely, that is what happened with the past 2 albums. Though I come back and re-visit my roots from time to time. Maybe one day I’ll drag out the Mirage and make some gritty Industrial again. You were saying? Ah yes, Severed Heads! Though I had a few influences before the Sevs, I can say that Tom Ellard’s music influenced me greatly into the electronic artist I have become, but that was the beginning, in 2000, the primed moment for me; very fond memories during that year. After 2012, I started moving deeper into the rabbit hole.
CM- Almark in Wonderland?
Almark – Musically? I think I was there long ago, some of my stuff is very strange, like the Nineteen Eighty Four Show, something I feel is my greatest masterpiece, but only gains the attention of a select few.
CM- Many, many touchstones, but I hear that weaving of Industrial tropes into your work. A favorite genre?
Almark – Actually yes, I can think back to the first time I heard Industrial. In 1992 a friend in HS gave me a recorded tape of NIN Broken and Pretty Hate Machine. I played that tape to death, hearing the static quality that appears at the beginning gave me the raw intake into what Industrial really was. Later it was Ministry’s “Psalm 69, and the story continues on into 1997 when I got into Goth, EBM, Darkwave, taking me into the electronica sounds of late 90s. I was listening to Grunge/Tool/ Soundgarden/Nirvana, at the time but started turning my head to electronic completely by 2000. Thanks to Mtv “The AMP” and Stitch.com, website. Gone since late 90s. Then later groovetech.com, gone too, in 2000. I can certainly say that Industrial was my driving force and still is, into what my music has become throughout the years. Severed Heads is a prime example of weird industrial machine sounding, meshed with quirky pop tunes and I love it. Tom Ellard’s music was personal to me and untouched by the masses. I love things like that, that are untouched by the masses such as, Dalis Car, Peter Murphy, Mick Karn , RIP.
CM- If you had to put a label on such a diverse body of work, what would it be?
Almark – I call it void-music but most of the time I say abstract electronic, and since the abstract is not a genre, that makes me even more happy, I’ve been doing this for a long time. The music started turning avant-garde or electronic / avant-garde early 2013, I felt it at first then someone brought up the conversation one day about the music I write, so there we have it. I suppose it doesn’t mesh well with the masses, and that pleases me.
CM – Personal question, like many artists, musicians and poets, we are usually diagnosed with A.D.D. how about yourself?
Almark – I believe that A.D.D. is nothing more than societies way of forcing on you their standards, do this, do that, don’t think this and that. It crushes the creative spirit of a person. Like many in my age group, I too was “lied to” into thinking this. And yes teachers love to tell your parents to force feed that poison into your body. When you start to realize, it isn’t you that’s the problem, that is when you free yourself from it’s bondage. Whatever it is. Without it I wouldn’t have creativity, it’s a gift not a curse. I personally think it’s a way to tell people they are different, and there is nothing wrong with different.
CM – Sorry, tell me why I thought that?
Almark – Yes?
CM – I have it too, I call it “spinning plate syndrome”. flitting from project to project, multiple genres to pique my interest.
Almark – I mean, I have incredible focus these days, this wasn’t so when I was a kid, pills didn’t help, that’s for sure. I think it’s a gift, society views it as “un-normal”. ADD isn’t a problem, it’s a rebellion, no doctor in the world can tell us that.
CM – I believe ADD is a key addition to making interesting creative music.
Almark – I believe you are right.
CM – The melodies, do you always have to wait for them to surface or is there ever a melody knocking around in the cranium? And you just have to get them out on midi?
Almark -Yes, I must get them out of the mind, so I jot them down “so to speak” on MIDI. Lot’s of snippets are in projects that way. This gives me the edge over finishing my work, that’s how a lot of -ATD- was created. If I allow myself, then the melodies come, usually in some kind of drum beat with my hands, sometimes I take my hands and make a beat, since ableton live 9 allows for MIDI translation I did that on a few songs, even lately, A-Test may have been one of those. But sometimes I hear a melody for months in my head, I still have one from 14 years ago, never created; one day I will.
CM – You a player or step-writer?
Almark – Certainly a player, as I play by ear, which I am most comfortable with. And the music is composed, both hands on the keys. This is a dying art I might add, with the flood of Ableton push devices in the market now.
CM – Play any other instruments?
Almark – I began playing guitar in ’92, then bass. Started by learning metal then progressed into electronic and computer composition in 1998 with Fasttracker II DOS program. In 2000 I finally owned my first keyboard and just started messing with it. I still play guitar today. I dabbled with real drums once, and started to get them down, until my friend took them back – laughs.
CM – So, the process. How do you begin to build your sound?
Almark – I begin with a blank project, no effects, no instruments on the screen. By using MIDI keyboard controller and Ableton live, while utilizing VST. I find complete silence, and start to work. Sometimes the melodies come and if I sit there long enough then happy little accidents start happening. Those are the pinnacle of music, the accidents you didn’t mean to do, the timbres and elements of a deeper sound. That’s how “Thought Patterns in “Documentary” Form” was created and High Bias from -ATD
CM – Softsynths then?
Almark – Yes, I use to use hardware and software together, but in 2009 the digital transition happened with me because I was seeking a different sound, then finally through discovery I found it, now I nurture that sound.
CM – Thought Patterns in “Documentary” Form, that’s your favorite work, isn’t it?
Almark – Oh yes, there is something surreal about that album, it puts me in such a mood that I can’t explain, it brought me to the avant-garde and I plan on continuing down its path on the new live show “The vibes show” which is a setup but uncompleted from 2013. If light were any brighter, that is how I feel listening to “Thought Patterns in “Documentary” Form”, but I have a new album on the horizon, “The Scheme of Things”. I also sing, but you wouldn’t know it, with my recent tracks, go back a few years and listen to Devoted, Melancholy Heart, 1000 Machines and Sodium Penthanol and Sun Temple with Thalie Nemesis on our duo Melancholy Imagery.
CM – Listening to your stuff: I hear elements of electronic soundtrack in there. A John Carpenter fan? Bladerunner soundtrack, do u own it? Vangelis is underrated.
Almark – Oh yeah, love Carpenter, mostly “Escape From New York”. I’ve seen the movie Bladerunner but I’m not a Vangelis fan actually, I appreciate his work though. My earlier songs were touching at John Carpenter, but only a few of them. I also have a love for 80s soundtracks, Fletch, with the Faltermeyer riffs, even stuff from Firestarter, Manhunter. Those were written by Tangerine Dream.
CM – There’s a chill, nay glacial heart to your work. the drum machine beats an “erratic tattoo”
Almark – I believe in kick, snare drums, I’m not in love with the hi-hat, though I have used it quite extensively on certain sounds and albums. I create my drums by keyboard playing. If it were my world I would remove drums and make music with silence, which is something I have been thinking deeply about for years, this.. music of silence and one day I hope this journey ends up there. I can almost feel it; I think a lot. I also create music in my head, without the music, there is a lot of thinking going on for weeks sometimes. Those beats you speak of are elements of “EBM/Industrial” but it goes deeper than that.
CM – favorite Soundtracks (inc. non electronic)?
Almark – John Berry soundtracks, those Bond soundtracks are breath-taking, the man was a genius composer. I would have to say John Williams or course. I’m very much in love with composing, and even jazz, Classical. But there are some amazing scores of Williams, Indiana Jones for one, every scene. Modern soundtracks, composers like Mark Snow from The X-Files and a few new composers just showing up in the film world, but I can’t think of their names, amazing music. A lot of these types are very avant-garde and it’s good to see the world embracing such extremes.
CM- “Almark played to his own drummer”… A fitting epitaph (discuss, applied to your music and the WEATNU)
CM – Finally: What would you ask yourself as a final difficult question?
Almark – I would ask, “how deep is existence”, but never find its answer.