Behind complex messages and sinuous metaphors, art expressions usually deliver different states of mind. The more visionary the artist, the deeper into subconscious would art resonate with our Selves. Even when the rational part of our brains cannot grasp the artistic performance in its wholeness, the subconscious kicks in to bring us into the here and now we’re all looking for, often without being aware of this search.
Whether live or recorded, listening to Mischa Blanos’ multi-layered compositions has always triggered a hard to describe in words state of mind. Both gentle and dynamic, like two apparently different dancers that eventually find themselves attuned to the same rhythm, his music found the perfect balance between classical piano and electronic instruments. After all, exposing a classically trained musician in his early 20s’ to Berlin’s underground culture couldn’t turn into a different result.
From pure neo-classical albums like City Jungle to electrifying performances where the piano is enveloped into 4/4 beats, Mischa’s music is nothing less than constant explorations. Ebb and Flow, his most recent album, released at his own imprint, Longcut Records, is an unexpected take on ambient music, acting both as a meditative tool and as a sonic odyssey. Talking about Longcut, there’s more to come in the future: a release with his good friends Vlad Caia and Cristi Cons under the Amorf moniker, followed by a Solo Piano album in winter.
Intrigued by the state of mind induced by Ebb & Flow, we asked Mischa Blanos a few questions and he was kind enough to offer us a rich description of his vision on the underground culture, as seen from different musical angles. Bonus: his own mind relaxation techniques and a Sci Fi movie script to accompany his music. The album is available here.
Photos Credit: Chris Scarlat
How did you start experimenting with classical piano combined with electronic music?
I am a classically trained musician, studying piano since I was seven years old and all my school years were spent in music schools with lots of classical auditions and competitions. My teachers predicted for me a beautiful solo career as a pianist performing classical music. And honestly, for the longest time, I thought that was the only path I should pursue.
But the allure of electronica caught me off guard. Unfortunately, my teachers weren’t too thrilled about it. They saw electronic instruments as unworthy and a waste of time. Can you believe that? But their skepticism only fueled my rebellious spirit and made me more determined to explore this uncharted sonic landscape on my own.
So, I took it upon myself to dive deep into the world of keyboards, synthesizers, and software like CuBase and then Ableton. It was a game-changer! It opened up a whole new universe of possibilities. I was absolutely blown away by how seamlessly electronic elements could blend with classical music, giving my compositions fresh dimensions and textures that I had never imagined before.
To find inspiration and immerse myself in this newfound passion, I embarked on a pilgrimage to Germany when I was 22. First, I landed in Hamburg, and then I made my way to the artistic hub of Berlin. Oh yeah, the underground clubs there were mind-blowing! They were buzzing with experimental and electronic music, and the techno scene in Berlin is just legendary. It was in those clubs that my vision solidified, and my project started taking shape.
What began as a mere experiment driven by curiosity soon turned into something much more significant—a harmonious blend of acoustic and electronic elements that became my signature solo project. It was like my personal manifesto, breaking free from the confines of traditional classical music and venturing into uncharted territories of creative expression.
Somewhere hidden is the existence of a parallel realm, a realm of pure consciousness and tranquility
The energy received from the piano strings vs the energy coming from 4/4 patterns. Which one do you like best? Or is it a combination of these…
I don’t really have a favorite between the energy of piano strings and the beats of 4/4 patterns. To be honest, I find both incredibly captivating in their own unique ways. The energy I receive from the piano strings is something special. It’s like having a direct and intimate connection with the instrument. I can feel the vibrations, unleash expressive dynamics, and add subtle nuances to my music. It’s a deeply personal experience.
But hey, let’s not forget about the magnetic allure of 4/4 patterns! The rhythmic drive and pulse they bring to the table can be absolutely mesmerizing. They create this enchanting groove that gets people moving and holds their attention. It’s like a musical heartbeat that keeps everything in sync. So, for me, it’s not about choosing one over the other. I love to explore the combination of these elements in my compositions. I strive to find a balance between the raw and organic energy of piano strings and the electronic charm of 4/4 patterns. It’s in that sweet spot where I can truly express myself and create a musical experience that resonates with both my classical roots and my passion for electronic sounds.
Walk us through your live performance setup.
During my live performances, I typically use a setup that incorporates both acoustic piano and electronic elements. I have a grand piano on stage, which serves as the foundation for my performance. To capture the full essence of the piano, I utilize a piano magnetic pick-up called Helpinstill, which delicately captures the vibrations of the strings. Alongside the piano, I have various electronic instruments, such as synthesizers, samplers, and effect processors. These electronic components allow me to manipulate and augment the piano sound in real-time, creating layers of textures and effects. I also use MIDI controllers and other devices to trigger and control electronic sounds. The setup is designed to strike the balance between the organic beauty of the piano and the boundless possibilities offered by electronic instruments, a dynamic interplay between acoustic and electronic sounds.
Ultimately, my aim is to craft an unforgettable and one-of-a-kind experience for the audience.
Is there an underground culture when we talk about contemporary classical music?
Yes, there is indeed an underground culture when it comes to contemporary classical music. While classical music has a long-established tradition in concert halls and academia, there is a vibrant and diverse community of composers, performers, and enthusiasts who are pushing the boundaries of the genre. This underground culture often embraces experimental approaches, unconventional instrumentation, and innovative compositions that challenge traditional norms. It thrives in smaller venues, alternative spaces, and through online platforms, where artists can connect with like-minded individuals and explore new avenues of expression.
Do you feel that Romania’s neo-classical music scene is as thriving as the electronic underground?
Well, when it comes to the music scene in Romania, the electronic underground scene definitely takes the spotlight. It’s much bigger and more well-known compared to the neo-classical scene. The electronic underground has exploded in popularity, attracting a massive following both locally and internationally. It’s gained recognition on a global scale and has a massive presence. On the other hand, the neo-classical scene is also growing, but it’s still relatively smaller in comparison. It’s expanding slowly but surely, with its own dedicated fans. Moreover, something really exciting is happening with the younger generation of classical artists. They’re traveling abroad, experiencing diverse music scenes, and breaking free from traditional teachings.
Any chances for Romania’s contemporary classical music to become as influential as its electronic underground?
Well, you know, it’s hard to say for sure what the future holds, but there’s definitely a chance for Romania’s contemporary classical music to make a big impact like its electronic underground scene. As the lines between different types of music blur and people become more open-minded, contemporary classical music from Romania has a shot at capturing larger audiences. But, here’s the thing: it’s gonna take support from the music industry, the media, and the fans to make it happen. We need to keep pushing boundaries and finding new ways to make classical music relevant and exciting. In my opinion collaboration between classical and electronic musicians could be a game-changer. Also, this growth involves the vital role of public institutions. By providing funding, resources, and platforms for performances and collaborations, public institutions can help nurture the growth of the genre. They can create opportunities for classical musicians to showcase their work, reach new audiences, and build their careers.
When public institutions step up and show that they value contemporary classical music, it boosts its status and helps it gain recognition. So, yeah, their involvement is pretty important in taking Romania’s contemporary classical music to the next level of influence and getting it on the radar just like the electronic underground scene.
Clubbing is a wild and exhilarating experience that brings me right back to the present.
If your new album Ebb and Flow was a motion picture soundtrack, what would be the perfect plot for this movie?
Well, I’m very fond of science-fiction movies, so I would think of a dystopian future where humanity has achieved great technological advancements but at the cost of losing touch with their inner selves. Somewhere hidden is the existence of a parallel realm, a realm of pure consciousness and tranquility. There has to be a battle, yet a silent one, where a group of people battles advanced AI systems to uncover this realm.
Through their journey, they discover that true advancement lies not only in technological achievements but also in reconnecting with one’s inner self and finding harmony between the external and internal worlds. They bring back this newfound wisdom to the dystopian society, inspiring a movement of introspection, mindfulness, and artistic expression.
You mentioned that the album induces ASMR responses for the listener. Can we use the album as a tool for relaxing our minds?
Absolutely! “Ebb and Flow” is all about helping you relax and unwind. I wanted to create an album that could serve as a tool for calming the mind and providing a sense of tranquility. Whether you’re looking to take a break from a hectic day or just need some downtime, “Ebb and Flow” is here to guide you into a state of relaxation. So go ahead, put on the album, and let it work its magic in soothing your mind and helping you find a moment of serenity.
What technique do you use to empty your mind and bring your Self back into the present?
Well, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve. One of my favorite ways is to head out into the great outdoors. I love going hiking and biking in the mountains, just me and nature. There’s something magical about being surrounded by trees, mountains, and fresh air that helps me find my inner peace and quiet.
But here’s the surprise twist: another way I empty my mind is by hitting the club! Clubbing isn’t just about dancing and having a good time for me. It’s like a reset button for my mind. It’s about being in the moment, soaking in the music and the energy of the crowd. It’s a wild and exhilarating experience that brings me right back to the present. They’re my weapons for getting rid of the mental clutter and bringing myself into the now. For me it works like a charm!
Besides you, name an experimental classical music x electronic music act we should check.
If you’re looking for some exciting experimental classical music x electronic music acts, I highly recommend exploring the roster of artists who release on Gondwana Records. The label features a diverse range of musicians and producers who are pushing the boundaries of these genres.
Your favourite Ebb and Flow track