Most people know Malta for its beaches and welcoming Mediterranean weather. However, there is also a nascent techno scene emerging from the small island. We took some time to speak to one of the forerunners in that scene, Maltese DJ/producer Hail Blk. He also curated an explosive podcast episode for our 115th instalment, featuring tracks from his self-titled label. Read on:
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What is the story and purpose with Hail Blk?
Hail Blk started as a fresh start for myself. I wanted to create a platform where I could publish my own works. I intended to release my own material at first, but then after meeting with lots of talented new artists here on the island, I was intrigued by certain creative approaches and ideas of fellow producers. So each year, I pick a new artist that I see fit for my vision and concept, and work through a release on vinyl. I decided to stick with vinyl-only releases as it gives a certain element to the sound and label in general. The fact that we live and come from a small island makes it really hard for some artists to be noticed at all so a part of the label’s purpose is to give a voice and image to these new artists.
The sound in the podcast is very energetic, “dirty” and repetitious. Is this the kind of techno sound we can expect from the label in the future?
Yes, in fact most of the releases will be targeted for dance floor use. Most of the Hail Blk releases will be raw, distorted and energetic, but there is place for experimentation such as the BLK002 by Llimbs , that reflects slower bpm techno with heavy beats immersed in dark industrial noise echoes and repetitive, oscillating sounds; with moments of brooding introspection. As I said previously, the label will be showcasing different aspects of techno. Personally I feel that its good to have a good mixture within the label catalogue.
In your statement, you say that you want to challenge and re-model the cognitive perception of time and self-consciousness – can you please explain to our readers the meaning of this? How you will do it with the music?
That statement refers more to the concepts of each release, the first release was more related to the space in between the drum parts, the hypnotic elements occurring throughout the tracks. It was meant to create such a hypnotic effect that the listener just drifts away. And the distorted percussions sometimes become too much, to the point of disorientation. It’s a mixture of feelings blended smoothly. Also the Llimbs release has a unique story to it: the tracks have a certain feel, with the slow-paced beats and the pads drenched in Fx and the grotesque percussion stimulating an industrial vibe — with a hint of peaceful feeling layered underneath all that intense drama. It’s like watching a movie.
You hail from Malta — how is the scene there? And has this affected your sound?
Well this is a delicate question. I will try to lay it out as it is. This island has always been bombarded by foreign acts, the scene for partying is good, we have a roster that never ends, all big names come here. Top-notch festivals, professional organizers, keen music enthusiasts and so on. It’s really good.
But from a label perspective, it’s a bit delicate. There is not so much space to showcase new artists or to even perform a live and be fully appreciated. The situation is changing for the better over time, but at a really slow pace. That is why I started this label in the first place, to push our music outside the country, even regarding sales and such. There is not enough of a local following for techno to even cover 100 releases. The island is really small so you need to push outside; that’s why we keep it as hobbyists and music enthusiasts and all of us have common jobs because the situation here is as it is.
I love my country but when it comes to local electronic music, it has always sucked big time and that is the unfortunate truth.
Regarding the effect it has had on our sound: all of us have been inspired by travelling and listening to other foreign artists performing their music, and most of us have different musical backgrounds. It’s a nice blend of different elements put together 🙂
Tell us some future plans, and what you want to do with the label
Next up is BLK 003 by Avid.Sequence, an 18-year-old kid that makes some really good techno. In fact, I just received the test press and it sounds massive. It will also include a remix by Hail Blk. Next year a Hail Blk release is also planned and the launch of another new artist is in the pipeline. Will also try to fit in a label night on the island, if the circumstances will permit. I will try to keep a good pace with releases throughout the years, maybe get some gigs abroad. Will see how things pan out.
Nothing much to add, keep an eye out for new releases , there will be more stuff coming out and hope y’all enjoy the podcast 🙂
We’d like to sincerely thank Chris a.k.a Hail Blk for taking the time to speak to us so candidly about his work. And for putting together a great podcast to introduce the world to it. Listen, read and most importantly, enjoy.