Ciarra Black is a producer and DJ based in Berlin by way of Brooklyn. Born in New Jersey, her initial tastes were informed by the local music scene in neighboring Philadelphia, attending punk, noise and dance music events from a young age. It was there she formed the duo Appetite with Jane Chardiet (Ascetic House) and began DJing at local underground dance venues. She moved to New York in 2012, quickly becoming a sought-after booking at venues such as Bossa Nova Civic Club, Trans Pecos, Good Room and various warehouse raves throughout Brooklyn. In 2013 she began her monthly event series “No-Tech”, which later developed into a label showcasing underground techno and experimental electronic producers from New York and throughout the U.S. Her live hardware sets are one-of-a-kind improvised soundscapes – rhythmic and noisy, visceral and heady, channeling her influences past, present, and future into a sound that is truly her own. Friday, 30th November 2018 sees Ciarra Black perform at the Easterndaze x Berlin: Total Black x Exiles x T+U showcase at Urban Spree. Ahead of the event, Black filled out our 11+3 questionnaire.
1: New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the diner capital of the world.
2: North Jersey is the car theft capital of the world, with more cars stolen in Newark then any other city. Even the 2 largest cities, NYC and LA put together.
3: The honeybee, apis mellifera, is the New Jersey state bug.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Music production for me generally feels like a projection of what is going on in my mind at the moment, a form of communicating my mental and emotional state. I guess releasing that into a form of communication is the inspiration.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid and also sang in choir and things like that (in New Jersey, where I’m from). In my early twenties I learned to play drums and started getting into noise/experimental and synth music. I played in some bands and noise projects (including my duo with Jane Chardiet, Appetite) and started acquiring hardware synths, drum machines and samplers. It was around 2011 that I started hanging around techno producers while living in Philadelphia and realised I really wanted to play hardware techno. I moved to New York and played alone in my room for a few years until my friend and producer Nick Klein forcibly booked me on a show in 2014. I played my first live techno set in the living room of a punk warehouse a bunch of my friends lived at in Brooklyn, and the rest is history <3
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
This is always too difficult a question for me – so here are some of my 5 favourite albums in 2018:
Hiro Kone – Pure Expenditure (Dais Records)
Drew McDowall – The Third Helix (Dais Records)
E-Saggila – Dedicated to Sublimity (BANK Records)
Isabella – Whistle (Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)
Wetware – Automatic Drawing (Dais Records)
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Despite being an experimental/electronic and techno producer, I don’t associate it with “the club”. My love for Berlin is definitely more about the spirit of the city itself rather than what is happening inside of the club. I’ve only lived in Berlin for a year after moving from Brooklyn, so I am still very much getting acclimated with this city. I think aesthetically the architecture and history is what stands out to me most, it feels unreal, almost magical at times. My favourite view is that from the Ring Bahn, passing through so many different residential neighbourhoods, graffiti, and some really nice vegetation as well.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I live a few blocks from Tempelhofer Feld, so that is usually where I go when I need some space to think. Or sometimes Treptower Park.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
It is difficult to imagine, but I was always interested in becoming a public defender.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Realmz – Mindfold on Sonic Groove. Incredible record — industrial techno project from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I have been a fan of for a long time.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I think it would be cool to work with a filmmaker in the future doing sound design work/scoring.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Unsound Dislocation Festival in Yerevan, Armenia. I DJ’d in a Soviet Era Printing house!
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Hardware gear is the backbone of my creative process as I started as more of a hands on musician. I only use programs like Ableton to record, but am slowly making the jump to integrating it more into my setup.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have 5 siblings — a twin sister, a younger brother, 2 step brothers and a step sister. We’re all within a 5 year age range of each other. All of my siblings are supportive of what I do but only my twin sister has seen me perform. She has seen me play live twice in Baltimore, where she lives.
Photo © Magdalena Krzyzanowski