I never heard of Markus Midnight before he joined hands together with the Brazilian label Wave Records. This Canadian artist previously released his songs on different online platforms till he got contacted by Wave Records. The 7” “Blutgeld / Your Devil” got released in 2017 and the debut album “Fifteen Midnight Rituals” was unleashed in 2018. This work is a kind of compilation featuring songs that were originally written in between 2009 and 2017. The work is clearly inspired by 80s electro-wave music and reveals a few cool songs. The interview is an introduction to the sound universe of Markus Midnight.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: What incited you to start composing music and what have been your main sources of inspiration and references?
Markus: I’ve always been interested in making music. When I was young, I had cheap little keyboards and a drum machine that I found inspiring. I got my first real synthesizer when I was 18, a Roland JX-8P. I had very little idea of what I was doing with gear then, but I knew I wanted to create sounds similar to the artists I was listening to. I was fascinated by the soundtracks of John Carpenter and listened to lots of Skinny Puppy. I guess that was the starting point!
Markus Midnight began as a project in 2009. Prior to 2009, I worked on some really low-fi synth-pop that was poorly produced. I also played bass here and there, but I was mostly interested in electronic music.
Q: Wave Records last year released the album “Fifteen Midnight Rituals”, which also is your ‘official’ debut album featuring tracks written in between 2009 and 2017. It’s rather unusual to release a compilation as official debut full length so I can imagine it means a lot to you? Tell us a bit more about it?
Markus: I used to release songs on Myspace and Soundcloud in the early days and moved on to Bandcamp a little later. Wave Records approached me to do a compilation of some of the older songs I released online, including some newer tracks. I was surprised by the offer as I was just making music as a creative outlet. It was also great to have physical media, particularly the 7″ of “Your Devil/Blutgeld”.
Q: How difficult –or easy, was it to make a selection of 15 songs and what have been your criteria to select the tracks?
Markus: Definitely a difficult process. I have a lot of older material which people still enjoy, but I’ve moved on from my early sound. Thankfully Wave Records made some song suggestions that helped me make a list. I think we got a good mix of old and new songs that shows a progression in my sound.
Q: “Fifteen Midnight Rituals” is mixing varied influences, but remains pretty 80s-like. What fascinates you in the music of 80s electro, how do you try to re-create this original spirit and what does it say about your perception of contemporary electronic music?
Markus: I have always been fascinated by dark synth sounds and drum machines, with my entry into 80s electro being artists such as Skinny Puppy, Cabaret Voltaire, and Psyche. I also find living in a cold, isolated Canadian city has steered my interest towards this type of music.
I used to write songs using exclusively vintage gear and old sequencers where I’d have to save a song to a floppy disk. But accidentally formatting a disk and losing all my songs made me update my ways. In the end, regardless of technique, my music will reflect the era that inspires me.
When it comes to contemporary electronic music, I really enjoy dark, 80s-inspired techno and electro, like DJ Overdose and Beta Evers. I think there’s lots of great artists working with 80s sounds, and using them in interesting ways.
Q: I noticed you released several clips. What do you try to express through the clips and what’s the impact of clips today –which in the 80s were really important?
Markus: Wave Records made most of the clips except for “Poison Flower” and “Blutgeld”. I enjoy horror, sci-fi, and b-movies from the 60s-80s, so I wanted to channel some of that texture by using grainy film loops and shaky camerawork in “Poison Flower”. My friend worked on the “Blutgeld” video and it turned out amazingly well; very dark and bleak just like the song. Wave Records also did a good job of staying true to this vision for the other videos.
When it comes to the videos that have had an impact on me, Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good”, although not from the 80s, made a huge impression when I was younger. I used to be really obsessed with Severed Heads videos, too. Can I also talk about my love of Italo-disco clips? Something is so great about a singer lip syncing and gyrating on an empty stage.
Q: Do you still have new songs ready and do you notice a difference- and/or evolution in sound? What will be the next step regarding writing process, live performances, remixes, other projects?
Markus: I’m currently working on some new songs and there is definitely a difference in sound. The beats are a little heavier and the synth parts are more atmospheric.
I don’t have any live performances or other projects lined up, but one day I’ll get to Europe and play some shows. Keep an eye out in the future for some new songs.