Black Wands lights up the dance floor with new single “Myth”
The electronic music curated by Black Wands – real name Alex Maya – is a club-oriented cinematic whirlwind that is both ephemeral and grounded. Sparkling synths and swaying arpeggios reach for the stars while centered, precise percussion keeps listeners glued to the dance floor. But despite its wide international appeal, this sound was only recently introduced to mainstream Colorado audiences, with artists such as Lane 8 and Above & Beyond playing in big venues like Red Rocks.
As Denver’s DJ, Maya has supported many of the best players of her genre, including Jeremy Olander, Matt Lange and the late i_o. His track “Revenant” was also played by the trance music icons in Cosmic Gate on their Wake up your mind radio program, and his “Candlelight” was shot on the Anjunabeats around the world Podcast.
Maya has just released her new single, “Myth”, on the world famous label Future Sound of Egypt. It’s a progressive and ethereal techno dance floor, with rippling, warped synths and dark, industrial undertones.
We spoke with Maya about the release and how the sound slowly but steadily fits into the conversation about Colorado music.
Word from the West: Describe your genre of music for people who may not be familiar with it. It’s fairly 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 rhythm of the four on the ground, but I place a lot of emphasis on the progressions of melodies and chords to guide the listener through the story of my songs. As part of these genre guidelines, I like to paint a cinematic image, whether it’s dark, epic, energetic or light, beautiful, cold – it depends on how I’m feeling right now.
I use a lot of analog sounds in my tracks – TR-909 drum samples, vintage synth emulators, Moog mono basslines – that hark back to the early days of electronic music in the 80s and 90s and give it that retro character. .
What, besides your genre, influences your sound?
I draw a lot of inspiration for my music from cinema and cinema. Whenever I watch a new movie or show, I often rush straight to my DAW [digital audio workspace] and start writing music, trying to translate what I was feeling. I imagine a kind of scene in my head, like I’m writing a soundtrack or a score.
Musically, I feel like everything I have actively listened to throughout my life has in some way influenced the artist that I am today. As a child, I was exposed to a lot of world music, like Latin and Afro-Cuban dance, as well as Motown by my parents. I learned guitar in high school and went from a post-hardcore rock band to a folk singer-songwriter in college. However, I’ve always had an ear for electronic music, as I experimented with writing beats on my computer along the way.
What originally attracted you to this sound?
I discovered dance music in the early 2000s, when my sister gave me this trance and progressive compilation album called Land of Dreams 2000. It featured iconic DJs on the scene – ATB, Chicane, Ferry Corsten, Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto and others. I had never heard anything like it before, and I fell in love with the energy and the composition of these songs. It wasn’t until years later that I was proficient enough as a producer to start writing this kind of music on my own.
I fell deeper into dance music during the EDM boom, and finally 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 their hands in the air, jump 1-2-3!” They were playing emotionally and intellectually complex songs – dance music that wasn’t always cheerful and fun, but heavier, darker, catchy … even menacing, menacing and brooding at times. This darker side of dance music is really what started to resonate with me and shape my current sound.
FSOE is an internationally recognized label; however, it’s not like he shot in the United States, where the sound is in his teens. Yet often Colorado growers aim to get these labels rather than just self-publishing or finding an American label. Why did you decide to enter these labels and give up the royalties on your music, when they are not able to offer you concerts in the United States?
This is a very interesting question. For me, it’s a priority to release music with a label that already has a huge 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 see them support and present my music. They also have a promotional network that reaches out to the best DJs and radio shows in the world for this genre, so there is greater potential for my music to be supported by these outlets and to 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 words never could. So when it comes to royalties, at this point in my career I’m more concerned with building a fan base and connecting with as many people as possible. Ideally, the more my audience grows, the more opportunities there would be for live performances. I would say there are still some promoters in the US who are reserving progressive acts, although those shows are not directly supported by the record company.
“Myth” by Black Wands is now available on Future Sound of Egypt; stream it here.