Packing up and leaving a country you call home to start a new chapter musically and close another one, is not something many musicians can do. But Maltese duo Alexandra Aquilina and Daniel Borg have managed to do just that. Despite their indie-rock background, BlackFawn (as they now call themselves) have delved into the world of dark, sinister electronics. Naturally, Indie Current decided to catch up with the duo to discuss their new direction, their recent move to Berlin, and, of course, the name behind it all.
Indie Current: Now that you are a duo, was it a hard process to get used to after having played in a four-piece for so long?
BlackFawn: When we took the step to becoming a duo, we suddenly had more freedom. We began to write and finalize songs quicker and experiment with styles and sounds because we weren’t dependent on other people’s time schedules and idea of what we should sound like. Now that we are on our own, without a band to bounce ideas off, we’re actually working harder.
IC: You recently moved to Berlin. Why did you choose that city, music-wise?
BF: Berlin was love at first sight, not just for its musical scene but also for all the cultural activity going on. It is an inspiring city to live in and its affordability has attracted many outcasts and artists making it a very interesting conglomeration of individuals.
IC: How is it for you guys as musicians adapting to the Berlin lifestyle?
BF: Berlin is very laid-back and loves to party. The general attitude to life is very similar to that back home. It is still, however, a big city and it takes time to find like-minded individuals to share your music and experiences with.
IC: What are the obstacles you are finding over there?
BF: The toughest part till now has been settling down, finding jobs and apartments and going through the endless German paperwork system. There are so many people moving here, that everyone is looking for a job or a flat, making even finding a simple waitressing job difficult.
IC: Is there any help for artists like yourselves in the city?
BF: There is artist funding similar to what we are used to in Malta, however, there is also artist assistance with regards to paying artist taxes and insurance. Designer tax rates, for example, are much lower than professional tax rates. We find this to be a very good move on the part of the government as it encourages artists and musicians to take their craft more seriously and treat it as their profession. It also encourages people to take up such creative jobs.
IC: You have changed your sound from what you started out as. Do you think this was a vital move you needed to make to be somehow “different” or was it part of a growing process?
BF: There wasn’t an actual moment where we said this is what or who we wanted to sound like. It just happened as a result of our collective musical influences. Essentially, the result is more experimental noise and psychedelic sounds that fit into a traditional song structure, juxtaposed with Alexandra’s sweeter and poppier vocals.
The evolution seemed so natural for us that we actually performed for a year with our new songs and set up, but with our old name. In the end, however, we felt that BlackFawn better described our sound—dark and sweet.
IC: What are the future plans for BlackFawn?
BF: We are currently working with Jonas and Janne at Kaiku Studios on a couple of tracks, which we are planning to release online in the near future.
IC: Has Berlin influenced your sound as BlackFawn?
BF: Ultimately, there will be some form of influence, even if it is not obvious or direct. It’s a different environment and you’re given the chance to listen to a wider spectrum of music performed live in these awesome venues. During our last visit to Malta this summer, many commented about this influence, despite the fact that songs we performed were actually written in Malta, so maybe our musical tastes had already been changing before the move.
IC: What are your thoughts on the music scene back home in Malta?
BF: We still follow the musical scene online and it’s continuously growing. Acts are getting more interesting and experimenting with different genres and sounds. Also, many individuals are taking it upon themselves to organize more festivals and musical events which is great!
IC: How can things be changed musically over in Malta?
BF: Although many people are investing a lot of time and money to single-handedly develop the cultural landscape in Malta, it is hindered by the fact that the government is not taking the right steps towards developing Malta’s alternative and underground creative culture. It is frustrating to see that not all venues and musical genres are equally when it comes to sound pollution laws and to see so many abandoned sites which could potentially be transformed into cultural, musical and artistic centres.
IC: What’s an act you would like to open for?