Techno producer and eyewear designer Bryan Black has an obsession with sound and graphic design. His music career gained momentum when he landed a gig as sound designer and keyboard tech for Prince at Paisley Park Studios. Also one half of acclaimed duo MOTOR, he started Black Asteroid in 2011 with his ‘Engine EP’. The debut EP was quickly signed to CLR Records becoming an instant hit and was a precursor to what soon became known as industrial techno. Byan’s creative collaborations with renowned American fashion designer Rick Owens and Michele Lamy only add to the mystique of Black Asteroid…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I’m now settled in Brooklyn, after some time in London, Berlin and Tokyo.
Could you go a bit into your childhood for us and certain moments that formed the person you are today:
The film Purple Rain really hit me when I was young. The movie and soundtrack changed my outlook on life. I guess that’s when I started dreaming of being a performer. Otherwise, the suburbs in the 80’s was so much fun. I remember my first computer and spending days programming little games on it. Eventually I used computers to make music, so it all worked out.
We would love to hear your story about being a sound designer and keyboard tech for Prince at Paisley Park Studios:
My first “job” in the music industry was working for Prince at Paisley Park Studios, but it was the album Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails that inspired me to start a band. I spent a summer learning samplers, synths + sequencers, got heavy into industrial music and started my first band, Halobback. I learned a lot from Prince, his work ethic, and innovative use of guitar pedals and drum machines, etc. This could be why I’m always mixing industrial type music with pop elements. Prince and Nine Inch Nails defined my youth for sure.
Tangiers featuring Michele Lamy really resonates with us, how did your working relationship start with her?
I discovered that my music was being used in a Rick Owens runway show (Naska SS2012) on YouTube. I got in touch with Rick and we became friends more or less. Rick and Michele later invited me to Venice Italy for a week, to live on a barge. We setup a studio on the boat, and that’s when I recorded Tangiers with her. Asap Rocky was also hanging out. I have been visiting Rick and Michele every year in Paris since.
How did you get your start in fashion and creating designer sunglasses?
The first runway show I did was for Raf Simons. When I was working with my band Motor, he chose a song called “Sweatbox” for a runway show around 2010. However it was the Rick Owens collaborations that really got me sucked into the dark fashion world. Rick Owens contributed images for many of my singles and my album, Thrust. I believe music isn’t complete without a visual element. I also collaborated with Guidi, to produce a leather 12” sleeve, made of horse leather. I am always looking at new collaborations. Valley Eyewear <(CLICK) approached me about doing a frame. I always wanted thick, large square black sunglasses, that I could wear on stage or in everyday life, so we came up with the Black Asteroid frame together.
How would you self describe yourself as an artist, your talents and beliefs?
I was a graphic designer before techno, so I appreciate the visual side of music. I try and make a music video for all my singles. Musically, the industrial sound has been imprinted in all my music, so I approach techno from a more live performance/noisy perspective, even playing guitar on some tracks. I think between the crazy stage antics and the vocal driven records, I’m an oddball in the techno world, which is absolutely ok with me.
Would you consider yourself a Techno DJ, or are there other sounds you experiment playing with?
I was always more of a performer. I came from playing in bands, so I never really aligned myself as a DJ per say. I like the freedom of traveling and performing solo, so it made sense to DJ and when I can I bring some instruments with me to add to the mix. Sometimes I invite vocalists to perform with me as well. Black Asteroid – Thrust (CLICK HERE)
The world is unified under one giant umbrella when it comes to this horrible pandemic. How has it affected you personally?
In the first month or so, I was really creative and enjoying the time home to read books on astronomy and produce music. I already have a new album done, so that’s good but the darkness set in after a couple months. The uncertainty and the horrible trajectory of the US and to an extent, the world, I think now I found a balance and am just trying to make the best out of a shitty situation.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
A deeper dive into what is really beautiful, having an independent voice which I think is very attractive.