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Not too many musicians have discovered steam punk for themselves, but amongst those few Maduro has to be named prominently. His album “Fin de Siecle” must be rated as a milestone for the steam punk movement. Hailing from the Washington DC area, the artist who calls himself Maduro blends textured dark world fusion electronic music with breakbeat and breakcore elements. His work has been popularized by renowned belly dancers performing and teaching to his work around the world and thus has often been categorized as a bellydance electronic musician. That he does much more than just that, he tells us in…
by Marcel Bieger and Konstanze Winkler
What did attract you to Tribal Dance in the first place,
how did you become notice of these dancing girls?

About 9 years ago Asharah introduced me to belly dance and I became interested in the music and culture.  Soon most of my friends were dancers or musicians associated with dancers. I was already recording dark electronic music on hardware (sequencers and synthesizers) and I was giving it all away for free to DJs.  About 5 years ago my dancer friends ran out of new music to dance to - so I thought I could make a contribution. I started making songs for friends and then uploading songs for free on the internet; I was soon surprised to get record label offers. I have been labeled as a belly dance musician given my affiliation with dancers and marketing to this audience but I've also been pleased to find Maduro fans who are not belly dancers as well.
Please tell us something about your latest album “Reveries”, how does it differ from the five other ones preceding it.

All of the albums I've released have had a particular sound or theme, which has been intentional. In the past I've spent a lot of time on experimental sounds and complex drum programming but for "Reveries" I wanted to spend more time on melody and ethnic instrumentation. I wanted more space and reflection in the music, but I wanted the album to show a wider range of sounds. I also wanted to do more collaboration with artists I admire so I have a track featuring August Hoerr who is amazing accordion player and also a track with an amazing electronic music artist named Deft Key. The album took a long time to record and it was written during many life changes from late 2008 to 2010. The album is ultimately about yesterday and thinking about the past, missing friends and family who recently passed away, and it is about that place we all sometimes go when we need to reflect and dream.

Your last album “fin de siècle” is held in very high esteem by steam punk dancers, they love to dance to it (nomen est omen). Did you plan then to do a steam punk album and are you following this trail further?

I wrote “fin de siècle” shortly after the album "Siege" was released. In fact it only took a few weeks to complete. I noticed a lot of people were listening to music with old carnival and circus sounds, brass and marching sounds. Instead of recreating this sound I wanted to do something different. I decided to compose most of the album around actual Thomas Edison phonograph cylinder sounds from the early 20th century, mostly around 1903-1909. These samples were broken up and rearranged and I composed new music and progressions using 100 year old sounds. I'm not sure that this has been done before in electronic music so I feel this is my most unique album.  

I thought of doing a full-length album but ultimately decided on a short 7 track EP as a taste. There is a scratchy circus or dark cabaret quality to the album.
I didn't intend for the album to be "steam punk" but people who are into the steam punk subculture admire late Victorian or turn of the century technology and aesthetics so this is a close match. I can understand how it would be popular by steam punk dancers.

I've actually thought of doing another short album based around Weimar German Cabaret sounds from the 1930s. This would be chopped up and rearranged with heavy sounds. In fact, I released a song under my side project name "Darkened" called "Weimar Dream" which uses samples from Berlin cabaret from the 1930s. I'm actually obsessed with this time period and sometimes think that if I had lived before it was during this period.

I love Germany. In 2008 I visited Krefeld to see the Maschinenfest festival and I felt at home - it was like a pilgrimage. I hope to play live in Germany someday in the future. I rarely play live. I get invites to play at festivals around the world but I prefer to just spend my time recording new material and to let my music stand on it's own.  If I do play live in Germany I will let you know. But I do have a confession - I have fantasized about doing a dark dance show in Berlin as a tribute to Weimar Berlin cabaret with original Maduro music.  But perhaps this is just a daydream, a reverie.
What did you do before creating dark electrical music,
even before making music?

Before I made electronic music I was playing guitar in a punk rock band briefly. Before I was creating music I was writing poetry, comic books, and I was helping produce a student radio show for writers (the first in the US).  

What are your future plans – maybe including touring Germany?

I have been running a record label (Octofoil Records),  promoting new dark electronic music artists and I've been recording music under about 4 different names. You can also find my music online and for download as "Teleoptyk" and "Darkened" for example. I thought when finishing "Reveries" that perhaps this could be my last album as Maduro. I felt that there was some finality to the release. (OCTOFOIL)
Photos: © Stereovision Photography & OCTOFOIL RECORDS
Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler
It took a long time to finish and complete the album. But I don't think I could stop recording now. The connections and friends I have made in this community have inspired me to make more music. There is this symbiotic relationship. I've put out a lot of albums in a short period of time - a lot of people are just discovering my last album "Your Devices" that I recorded with Boston-based artist named Notecrusher. I'm currently taking a short break from music but I will be releasing new Maduro material next year perhaps.
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