No, what Ark Noir play on their debut is not new. But it's pretty damn close. The Munich quintet consists of Moritz Stahl (saxophone), Sam Hylton (keyboards), Tilman Brandl (guitar), Robin Jermer (bass) and Marco Dufner (drums). At the end of June the debut album "Tunnel Visions" will be released, whose nine tracks convince with unusual ideas, sounds and arrangements. They all have an avant-garde jazz and fusion touch and the same basis: electronic beats and lots of effects. eclipsed spoke with drummer Marco Dufner about the background of the band.
eclipsed: You're still a relatively young band. Please describe your career so far.
Marco Dufner: The band was originally formed in December 2015. We all got to know each other while studying at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Munich, although we have known each other since our early youth. The idea for the project came from our saxophonist Moritz Stahl and our bassist Robin Jermer, who lived together until recently and wanted to form a band together. We played more fusion jazz in the beginning and only after a year later our keyboarder Sam Hylton joined us and everyone bought more and more effect devices, our sound gradually developed in the current direction.
eclipsed: Your music isn't exactly the kind young people listen to in general. How did you come up with this music?
Dufner: Basically, the audience at our concerts is rather younger. So there are quite a few young people who listen to such music. Especially with regard to currents such as Brainfeeder from Los Angeles one can see quite well that especially in the electronic field more experimental music can polarize without being mainstream. But in the end our music developed naturally and over a longer period of time. Everyone in the band is interested in a lot of different music and is also hungry for new influences. The line-up, which at first sounds very much like a classical jazz quintet, and the individuals of the band of course also contribute significantly to this.
eclipsed: Your music doesn't really fit into any drawer. How would you categorize them yourself?
Dufner: In the broadest sense, we play new music that has a strong electronic influence. One could say that we make instrumental beat music, which is improvised and at the same time also incorporates various influences from many other genres. But you can't really put it in a drawer.
eclipsed: How is your music created? Composition? Improvisation?
Dufner: Meanwhile, our pieces are mainly created through sketchy pre-productions on the computer, which we then work on together in the rehearsal room through improvisation and experimentation. This process enables us to increasingly use electronic sounds and beats as the basis for the pieces, while at the same time leaving plenty of room for joint development.
eclipsed: What is the basis of your music: melody? Rhythm? Sound?
Dufner: Electronic sounds and beats are certainly the basis or the starting position of our pieces at the moment. As soon as we meet together in the rehearsal room, all three factors play an important role.
eclipsed: Does the music originate more in your head or in your stomach? And vice versa: Do you make music more for the head or for the stomach?
Dufner: Definitely for the stomach. Even if our music is very experimental in some places, I would still describe it as atmospheric and danceable. It is improvised and arises from the moment. Since everyone in the band has many effect devices and is always on the lookout for new sounds, we follow a very intuitive approach. The trigger is always the tuning of the sounds and grooves. At the same time we also want to offer our audience something unusual and challenge them here and there. But it is precisely this diversity that is the exciting thing about it.
eclipsed: If someone says that sometimes your music sounds a little hectic or nervous, what do you say?
Dufner: Basically, we can already understand these statements. This is super individual in the end and has a lot to do with the listening habits of each individual. Our music is certainly no 'easy listening' and challenges the listener as well. Nevertheless, I believe that the repetition of the beats, the visuals and the sound aesthetics can also make you travel along very well - if you like.
eclipsed: Do you feel like sound pioneers?
Dufner: I wouldn't say pioneers. The way our music sounds or how we compose is constantly changing and we also like to be inspired by many other artists. But I would say that we have found a sound in the meantime that characterizes us.
eclipsed: You also perform live quite often. How does a comparison of Ark Noir live with Ark Noir in the studio turn out?
Dufner: When you listen to our album, you can compare the sound with how it sounds on stage. The energy level live is definitely very high and we have also tried to bring that to the record. Especially the mixing and some produced layers distinguish the album from the shows and contribute to the aesthetics of the album.
eclipsed: In Munich you organize the "Tunnel Visions" concert series, after which your album is named. What's it all about?
Dufner: "Tunnel Visions" is a festival series that we launched in March 2018. The whole thing takes place three to four times a year at the Milla Club in Munich. The aim of the festival is to draw attention to the growing Munich subculture and to offer a platform for national and international artists of the same niche. The aim is to bring together young artists who are active in a similar musical genre and at the same time to initiate a contemporary and exciting music event. Since "this genre" can hardly be named, however, a large variety of different music is nevertheless offered. There is also a very mixed audience. The special thing about "Tunnel Visions" is certainly the aesthetics of the event, which is taken up not only on musical but also on various other artistic levels. We always have a special stage design, visuals and light staging with us.
* * * Interview: Bernd Sievers