Interview with Aviv Geffen
What is making new Blackfield album special for you? Why would you recommend people to listen to it?
It’s because I really believe together we have made a special sound and special songs. You cannot define what is Blackfield about, like genre: it’s not metal, it’s not pop, it’s rock, it’s something combined together really nicely and it’s very rich and if you like the Floyd, Radiohead and this kind of stuff, I think you’ll like new album.
So, this is about special sound, right?
Yeah, and I think I never heard this kind of things like Blackfield and got many music styles united.
You guys record your albums in England and Israel…
…and how does the collaboration between you and Steven usually happen?
We’re recording most of the songs in England, and I got the house in London also, and we’re together there luckily for the most of the time. I prefer the stage life, the live shows than the studio and Steven is more like studio guy, he’s like the sonic architect, and I’m the one who brings the songs, because all the songs, most of them are mine. So, there’s a perfect blend between us.
And what is the most enjoyable thing when you’re collaborating? Can you remember any funny stuff happened between you and Steven?
The thing is my dad is…
(on the backstage photographer is falling from the ladder, everyone’s laughing)… you wanted fun… my dad is Russian, so a lot of my melodies are inspired by Russia and sometimes Steven tells me it’s a bit Russian, too Russian…
How does the process of splitting lines both of you singing look like? Noting that you have very similar voice timbre, it seems to be a very difficult task to divide the lines between you and Steven.
We are trying to sing all the way together. If Steven is on the front, I will be behind him, and in the songs I am on the front, he gonna be behind me. The combined vocals between us works really nice, and we try to stick with this sound.
One track from the new album, which is, from my opinion, very very different to the others have been produced by Trevor Horn, why you guys decided to bring him into production instead of doing it by yourself as you usually do?
Because it’s the most poppy song that we had. And for us Trevor Horn who produced my solo album for us is like a genius, and to have him on board on the third album of Blackfield it’s like a dream.
Why not record the entire record with him?
Because we can handle the rest of the songs. The other songs are too mellow, but this song – we thought it’s gonna be perfect to have him with us.
In 20th century Great Britain was imbued with music, giving birth to a lot of great musicians from Beatles and Elton John to Faceless. What do you think Israel can provide to world music and what can be the chemistry of music consisting of Great Britain and Israel?
Not many. The stars in Israel just started to write in English and go abroad I think I’m the first one who actually did it, you know. I left my ego, because in Israel I’m a big star, and I tried to break through which I did and so it set a new movement in Israel to go abroad.
What do you think the collaboration of Great Britain musician and Israel musicial could bring to the world?
Like Blackfield? On the third album I mixed Arabic guitars with Steven guitars which is metal so this is blend songs and works really nice together.
Did Steven infect you with his passion of 5.1 mixing?
No, I hate it.
You hate it?
Boring. Dix. Dix shit.
So, that’s why Blackfield was never mixed to 5.1, right?
Oh, no. Yeah.
You have excellent songwriting skills for Blackfield, do you have any ideas for the new project or for the Blackfield development further?
Yeah, I’ve already started to write a new album for the next year for Blackfield. Now I am in my studio writing as much as I can and… next year, hopefully.
Is this the first time you’re in Russia?
No, the second one. I played in Hebrew, like 7 years ago.
This was the solo?
Yeah, this is the first time with Blackfield.
So, this is the first time with Blackfield and second time in Russia… Have you been introduced to any piece of Russian music?
Do you have any opinion on that?
Kino, you know? Kino.
So you like it?
And Vysotsky was put in Hebrew. All album of Vysotsky into Hebrew. It was amazing.
This is great. Any other rock bands or pop music?
Oh… this is undegroud music, you know.
I like it.
This is very interesting. This band is actually from the city where I came from and this is very special because every piece of music which comes from Saint-Petersburg is very special because it’s quite different to other cities.
There is a song by Kino called “Cigarette”.
Very good song.
Yeah. Any final words to the Russian fans?
I’m very excited to meet for the first time the Blackfield fans from Russia. And I love country, really.
Yeah, I’m half-russian, don’t forget it.
Steven Wilson also contributed the answers to the several questions asked separately.
You’re a big fan of 5.1 sound mixing and not so long ago you did even review of several records… Have you listened to any of Depeche Mode ones, which are considered one of the best now, and what can you say about them?
Unfortunately I’m not that familiar with Depeche albums, I’m not their big fan, so I never heard anything in 5.1. What would you recommend?
Oh, they all are quite different. Kevin Paul, who did all the 5.1 mixing for the remasters series, tried to make it all the way closer to what original producers can have done it. But I will surely recommend legendary Songs of Faith and Devotion”, “Ultra” and “Exciter”, last two are exceptional.
Okay, “Ultra”, “Exciter” and “Songs of Faith and Devotion”…
In addition, you can try “Violator” as it all is filled with the famous songs, like “Personal Jesus”.
Oh, yeah, “Personal Jesus”.
Do you remember that guy from Facebook, who was complaining about loudness of your track Harmony Korine, and you even promised to send an unmastered version… that’s me. (laughing)
(smiling) Yeah. Have you listened to it?
No, you never sent it. But I believe that unmastered version is kinda the same. Still what is concerning me a bit is as this record sonics are overcompressed dynamically even before mastering, why not make the recording dynamic itself? It was not a big deal earlier in 80s and even 90s anyway…
Well, it was made according the standards of this time. I can say that my new solo album, Grace for Drowning misses it, the record was done very carefully, the result is completely uncompressed and it sounds very very dynamically. I believe that the loudness war is more or less over, so the things started to change.
You love to approach the music you make like it was the 70s, with all these rich vinyl editions, books and long records, which is hard to listen track by track. Have you ever thought of doing an album using the old analogue tape recorders, like for example, Beatles and Rolling Stones did?
No, I doubt I will ever do this kind of stuff. Because in order to make it analogue, you must clearly know what you do. Ok, Alan Parsons or other sound engineers of those times like…
Yes, Geoff Emerick, they knew what they are doing and I don’t. You know, when I come to studio I simply don’t know how will I do this or that, I’m not that good and I’m not 100% sure of what I am doing, so I think I’ll stick with digital way of music creation, it’s much easier for me.