Avantgarde composer and performer from Vienna, Austria
Exclusive interview by Gordon Lawrence Taylor of infectious Unease Radio
Why name “Black Marine”?
I used to play in the punk band called “The Scarps”, formed in former Yugoslavia, today known as Serbia. Anyway, one day we had a rehearsal and the drummer was making some comments during the break. And then he said something about my appearance, always black, long hair…so there comes Black and Marina, so Black Marine. And it fits to my character as well as my name Marina, which is connected to the sea. Beautiful story. It was a long time ago.
You recently released a new music video in collaboration with me. And now, we have a new song from you called “Devils Dance”. Can you talk more about that?
Well, I noticed your artistic photographs and had some visions so I am happy we are working together. I think the collaboration is really amazing and I am looking forward to our upcoming new material.
First single, “The Dead Man Walk” came as an inspiration of a story that I knew. I was visually inspired by your art and my creative process started in this direction, as well as the next music video in the song “Devils Dance”. “Devils Dance” is more about the pain and suffering in life that most artist can relate, I think. I do all the mixing and producing as well as recording and editing my music videos.
What inspires you to compose? What is the process of creating a new piece of music?
People, stories, life. I can be easily inspired out of nowhere, unexpectedly, and then I would just compose day and night. But sometimes something would happen and then I would get inspired… and the result is just beauty.
The process varies from project to project. I usually play the piano and compose on the piano where the first idea would come up. Then I would start to write an arrangement in music program “Sibelius”, so that I could give the parts to the musicians to play.
I use “Logic” for recording my own songs and other compositions. I also play bass guitar and violin on my own recordings.
What was your first instrument? You play piano, but is there any other instrument?
My first instrument was a toy piano. I remember having a blue toy piano as a small kid. Then I had an electric guitar. Later I’ve got an accordion from my grandfather who bought it for me in the 80s in Russia and I still keep it. I was only three years old.
I started to play piano professionally at the age of six. I do play bass guitar and violin at home, but I use it mostly for my recordings and improvisations. I am lucky to have a grand piano at my home in Vienna.
Considering that you grew up in a country whose name no longer exist, Yugoslavia, how did that influence your creativity, or did that experience influence your art?
I think that experience is something I live with. I don’t think about that, but it is probably somewhere in my subconscious. It was a long time ago. There were several wars in the 1990s, so I guess some parts of the pain are still there. It is possible that the background of my music is those experiences.
Do you think that post-war period affected you differently as an artist? How has your classical education helped you in your own music?
I was born in the 80s, so I remember some of the happy time of my childhood. I used to play music very early, I think I was only three years old, as I saw some pictures. Post-war period did affect my art, as it affected me as an artist. I remember I was writing songs in 1993, and then in 1997 I won the 1st prize at the International Competition for Young Composers in Belgrade, Serbia. At that moment I knew that my calling is composition so I entered to the Music Academy in Belgrade, where I have studied composition and orchestration and successfully finished it by writing a piece for soprano and symphony orchestra “Self-Command-Self Control” (2010). I knew that in order to break the rules I needed first to learn the rules. It wasn’t easy. It was years and years of hard work as well as an amount of pain, because I needed to compose what they required at the Academy. But then I moved to Vienna to do more in music, so I studied electronic music during the 2011/2012 and then I flew to Amsterdam where I attended a master class and made my own instrument called “crackle box” together with other colleagues. And I knew that this is the right place for me. At this moment I am finishing my PhD programme at the Institute for Popular Music at The University of Music and Performing Arts of Vienna, Austria.
You collaborate with artists all over the world. Could you talk more about upcoming news?
The New York Ensemble “Composers Concordance” and I have a wonderful collaboration over the years, and right now I am in a process of writing a commissioned piece for soprano and ensemble which will be premiered in a concert entitled “Art of the Art Song” at Drom, 85 Avenue A, NYC on 29th November at 9pm.
I will play my own songs at the festival in Baden “More Ohr Less”, in Austria. The audience will be able to hear exclusively my new songs that I have recently composed, combined with electronics. My performance is on the 27th October 2023.
You are also a keyboard player in the “Lene Lovich band”. How that collaboration started and when?
I am very happy to be in her band and to play with such amazing musicians from England. I think I was at the right time and the right place. And as a pianist, switching to a keyboard wasn’t a big deal, but then I started to play two keyboards and it started to be really exciting and it is completely different approach of playing. But being part of the band is a big deal, so we are one happy family.
We have upcoming show in London at The Lexington on 13thOctober with full band Lene Lovich. After that, I will be accompanying Lene Lovich on the grand piano at the festival “More Ohr Less” on the 26th October in Baden, Austria. The next day, after my performance, I will be accompanying on the piano Morgan King and play few songs of his. So, we all work very well together as well as solo artist.
As a keyboard player for other bands, you appear on many songs of other musicians?
I am co-composer and orchestrator in a project “Obiman”, known for a compilation chill out/ambient music “Caffe Del Mar” from the 1990s well-known song “On the Rocks” by Morgan King. I have collaborated with many musicians, but I will mention here just a few. I appear on the recordings of a few songs of Morgan King. I also recorded keyboards in the songs “Melt” and “Love is Dead” by B-Movie band. I appear in their music video “Melt” for which we filmed a music video in Shakespeare County in October 2022. I had a lot of fun when I was in their band.
What are your other projects?
I play with many musicians, and I am also keyboard-player who can jump into a new band very quickly, as I write all the scores of the songs so I can easily play them all.
I do have a goth duo called “Your Ghost” together with singer and songwriter Jude Rawlins. We met in Berlin in 2019 where we recorded a documentary film about our band and recorded more than 24 songs in two months…so we decided to make two CDs. “Yours Ghost” and “Future Echoes”. We haven’t play live yet as Jude moved to America, but then I started traveling to London so I made a band with a drummer from Lene Lovich band, with Morgan King, called “Inception in Black”. We had few shows and published few singles and music videos together.
Your music has been used for several film projects. Do you also write music for films?
I actually don’t write music for film. It is other way around. Film directors would like some of my music that it fits to their story, and I think this is really amazing. My piece “Red Tears” was used in a short film by Jude Rawlins, USA, called “Red”, also some of my compositions were used in a short movie “Robocracy” by a Spanish film director Juan Careaga.
Before all of that I used to work with a film producer from Paris, Mar Glaz, with whom I have collaborated for years on a project called “Profusion Sound Machine” back in 2013.
Do you have influences? What do you like to listen?
I think that would be minimalist composers such as Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. I do love music of Rachmaninov. I also enjoy horror music from a (film-)composer Christopher Young. Chris and I are friends, so I can say he is one of my influences.
I am a huge fan of David Bowie, and his music and art left a mark on my artistic expression. The closest I could get to Bowie was his pianist Mike Garson, who I met in Vienna during their Bowie Celebration tour in 2018.
I listen everything what I like. I like to explore new bands, independent artists and to listen their music. But mostly, I like everything that is different! And I always love to listen rock, punk and metal. Mostly punk.
Through your show I found out for an Australian band called “Killtoys” and I think I would like to collaborate with them.
Where can we find your music and how your fans can be in interaction with you?
My music is on all digital platforms, but I prefer Bandcamp, as there is mostly everything I composed so far. https://blackmarine.bandcamp.com Also, I have Patreon, which is a great place for supporting an artist in their creativity.
At the very end, what is your favourite piano?