❉ We Are Cult’s Ange Chan catches up with the darkwave electro duo to find out what makes BlakLight shine…
“I wanted to put out an album that touched people’s souls with the music, melodies, and lyrics, and I think that we achieved that. The success that we have had on this first album exceeded my expectations. The bar is high, and I think that we will exceed that with our next album.” – BlakLight’s Adam Collier
Darkwave electro band BlakLight have just released a new release consisting of remixes of their 2020 single Unknown Love from the debut album Music in the Time of Uncertainty, released in November 2020. The comprehensive set of tracks include diverse remixes from fellow synth peers NITE, Hollowlove, Matthias, Sea of Sin, Darwinmcd, Obsession of Time and their own ‘Stripped’ version. The impressive ten remixes range from soothing melodic ballads to full on hard-synth treatments.
The BlakLight duo are formed of vocalist Brian Belknap (Mind Machine) and on synths and programming, Adam Collier (Full Frontal Disco, MDA and Crush333). They have made an impact on the synth scene in the last twelve months with their highly infectious melodies and synth treatments to produce edgy synthpop tracks. Their cover of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes is a track to look out for in particular.
The original single of Unknown Love is a progressive radio-friendly track with nods to both A-Ha and Depeche Mode but with a contemporary feel. Lyrically, the song touches on the common theme of the idea of being in love. The track has a European element to it (which is interesting as the band hail from the West Coast of America) and which is sure to have a universal appeal on the synth scene, and beyond.
The pair have only met a couple of times, but they find that their song-writing process is not tenuous at all, as they work extremely well together and are definitely on the same wavelength.
We Are Cult managed to catch up with the duo to ask them what makes BlakLight shine…
Who are your influences, both modern/older?
Adam: Alan Wilder, David Bowie, Trent Reznor, Vince Clark, Marc Almond. Just to name a few. My list would be quite extensive.
Brian: David Bowie is still everything. The past few years I’ve been inspired by a lot of Nine Inch Nails and Gary Numan, while Prince and Suede are always on my mind.
Whose records were you buying when you were younger? And whose do you buy now?
Adam: So many to name. Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, Soft Cell, Devo, Fad Gadget, Nine Inch Nails, Erasure, Adam and the Ants. This list would be extensive as well. I currently only purchase independent artists’ work. I would name them, but I don’t want to leave anyone out!
Brian: Then: Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Echo & The Bunnymen, New Order, O.M.D., Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, etc.
Now: Actors, Boy Harsher, Cold Cave, Klack, Matte Blvck, Panic Priest, Soft Kill, The New Division, TR/ST, VH x RR, etc.
What is your song-writing process – music first, or lyrics?
Adam: I write the music first and then send an mp3 to Brian to see if he feels anything from it to write a melody and lyrics too. I really don’t start with anything in mind. Everything is done by feel and I never know what I will end up with. The music directs me, and the end result is a cohesive set of songs that reflects my feelings at the time.
Brian: I’ll listen to each new song a few times to get a feel for it, then I start humming along and the vocal melodies usually come pretty quickly. I’ve been using Adam’s working titles as jumping off points for the lyrics. Nearly all of the song titles from the album used Adam’s working titles.
You formed during the global pandemic – what steered you into making that decision?
Adam: I am always writing music. I asked Brian to sing on a song that I had for another project as a one off. I really like the vibe of what we did and ideas for more songs just started flowing. I was lucky that he liked them and agreed to work on more.
Brian: Once we got the ball rolling, we found it incredibly easy to work together, and have not seen each other in person since we formed just over a year ago.
How does Blaklight differ to other bands you’ve both been involved with?
Adam: The main difference for me is that I haven’t had to compromise anything. We both have a common interest and a common goal. It really is effortless.
Brian: In my other band, Mind Machine, my bandmate Brian O writes all of the music, lyrics and vocal melodies and sends me a finished track with his guide vocal. Then I come in and do my best to make it my own. This is the first time I’ve been involved in the creative process.
What are your next steps musically?
Adam: I want to continue as BlakLight for as long as Brian wants to. I am also going to start releasing music under a different project utilizing multiple vocalists. I have a couple of songs that are almost ready to go and more out there in the demo stages. The music for this project is more pop oriented.
Brian: We’ve got a good thing going, and we have no plans to stop now. Mind Machine will also be releasing something later this year, not sure if it will be just a single or two, but our next album is underway.
Which synth equipment do you use to achieve your sound?
Adam: I use Logic Pro X and several soft synths by Waves, U-He, Lennar Digital, and Synapse Audio.
Brian: No synths here!
Which is your favourite original track that Blaklight have written?
Adam: I like all of them equally actually. They all mean something different to me at different moments.
Brian: It changes from day to day, but my favourites as of this moment would be Isolation, since that seems to be the one that touched the most people, and I have a soft spot for The Sound.
Where is your largest fan base?
Brian: Spotify says it’s the U.S, Sweden, Germany, U.K. and Mexico. It’s been amazing to chat with fans from all over the globe.
Did you achieve what you set out to achieve with your first album?
Adam: I wanted to put out an album that touched people’s souls with the music, melodies, and lyrics, and I think that we achieved that. The success that we have had on this first album exceeded my expectations. The bar is high, and I think that we will exceed that with our next album.
Brian: I honestly had no expectations going into this, as it was meant to be just a one off, that thankfully spiralled into something more. But I never would have anticipated the reception the album has received.
How will this change for your next one?
Adam: We already have roughly 10 songs for the next album already. I haven’t changed the way that I write the music. I try to be as honest and vulnerable as possible and I think that people can sense that.
Brian: Working on the second album, I do feel the need to push myself harder to make it something special. And I think we can make it happen.
WAC: We look forward to that happening. Thanks for talking to us guys. It’s been illuminating! Good luck with the remixes.
❉ ‘Unknown Love: The Remixes’ by Blaklight is available on Bandcamp from 12th March 2021 as a Digital Album (Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more) or Compact Disc CD + Digital Album package. https://linktr.ee/blaklightband
❉ Ange Chan is a freelance writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. She was also prolific contributor in the anthology collection Me and the Starman, (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and is a lifelong lover of music, having first been published in the 1980s music press. As well as being a frequent contributor to the pop culture website We Are Cult, she is working on her long-standing third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots.