Black Wands Lights Up The Dance Floor With New Single “Myth”
Electronic music curated by black chopsticks – real name Alex Maya – is a club-oriented cinematic whirlwind that is both fleeting and grounded. Glistening synths and swaying arpeggios reach for the stars as focused, precise percussion keeps listeners glued to the dance floor. But despite its wide international appeal, this sound has only recently been introduced to the Colorado mainstream, with artists such as Lane 8 and Above & Beyond playing big venues like Red Rocks.
As a Denver DJ, Maya backed many of the top players in her genre, including Jeremy Olander, Matt Lange and the late i_o. His track “Revenant” has also been played by trance music icons in Cosmic Gate on their wake up your mind radio programand his “Candlelight” was shot on the Anjunabeats around the world Podcast.
Now, Maya has just released her new single, “Myth”, on the famous His future from Egypt label. It’s an ethereal progressive techno dance floor, with rippling, distorted synths and dark, industrial undertones.
We spoke with Maya about the release and how the sound is slowly but surely being integrated into the Colorado music conversation.
West word: Describe your genre of music for people who may not know it. It’s pretty new to American ears.
Black chopsticks: I like to call my style of dance music “melodic and progressive”. It’s a mix of progressive house and trance, with techno influences as well. I use the typical floor four rhythm, but place a lot of emphasis on melody and chord progressions to guide the listener through the story of my songs. Within these genre guidelines, I like to paint a cinematic image, whether it’s dark, epic, energetic or light, beautiful, cold – it just depends on how I’m feeling at the moment.
I use a lot of analog sounds in my tracks – TR-909 drum samples, vintage synth emulators, Moog-like mono bass lines – that hark back to the early days of electronic music in the 80s and 90s and he give this retro character.
What, apart from your genre, influences your sound?
I draw a lot of inspiration for my music from films and cinema. Whenever I watch a new movie or show, I often rush to my DAW [digital audio workspace] and start writing music, trying to translate how it made me feel. I imagine a certain type of scene in my head, like writing a soundtrack or a score.
Musically, I feel like everything I’ve actively listened to throughout my life has in some way influenced the artist I’ve evolved into today. As a child, I was exposed to a lot of world music, like Latin and Afro-Cuban dance, and also Motown by my parents. I learned guitar in high school and went from post-hardcore rock band to folk singer-songwriter in college. However, I always had an ear for electronic music, as I experimented with writing beats on my computer along the way.
What brought you to this sound originally?
I discovered dance music in the early 2000s, when my sister gave me this trance and progressive compilation album entitled Dreamland 2000. It featured the scene’s iconic DJs – ATB, Chicane, Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto and others. I had never heard anything like this before and fell in love with the energy and composition of these songs. It wasn’t until years later that I was proficient enough as a producer to start writing this type of music myself.
I fell deeper into dance music during the EDM boom, and eventually discovered Above & Beyond and their radio show group therapy, which really opened my eyes to the diversity of progressive house and trance. That was not all, “Everyone put your hands up, jump 1-2-3!” They played emotionally and intellectually complex songs – dance music that is not always upbeat and fun, but heavier, darker, catchy…sometimes even eerie, menacing and brooding. This darker side of dance music is really what started to resonate with me and shaped my current sound.
FSOE is an internationally recognized label; however, it’s not like it has appeal in the US, where the sound is in its teens. Yet often producers in Colorado aim to get those labels rather than just self-publishing or finding a US label. Why did you decide to get on these labels and waive royalties on your music, when they couldn’t connect you to shows in the United States?
It’s a very interesting question. For me, it’s a priority to release music with a label that already has a massive following for my style of music – a place where I know my music will fit in and reach potential new fans. Labels like Future Sound of Egypt are internationally renowned and considered by some to be legendary in the world of trance and progressive dance music – so I consider it a huge honor to have them to support and present my music. They also have a promotional network that reaches the best DJs and radio shows in the world for that genre, so there’s a greater potential for my music to be supported by those outlets and reach even more people.
Personally, it’s about reaching as many listeners as possible, more than I could collect on my own. I think most artists would agree — but we don’t create for the money; we create for expression and to connect with others in ways that words never could. So when it comes to royalties, at this point in my career, I’m more concerned with building a fanbase and connecting with as many people as possible. Ideally, the more my audience grows, the more live performance opportunities would present themselves. I would say that there are still promoters in the United States who deliver progressive acts, although these shows are not directly supported by the record company.
Black Wands’ “Myth” is now available on Future Sound of Egypt; post it here.