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Blackest Ever Black?

We caught up with the man of many aliases, Sumatran Black, to discuss his expansive cinematic sound, ‘The Dark Zone’, and the voyage ahead.

Words Jack Smith Published 06.05.22

The fact that no genre or adjective can fully describe Sumatran Black's sound - Necro Chill? Interstellar electronic? … Ambient? (God forbid) - speaks volumes for the prolific artist's versatility. With at least five aliases and counting, his oeuvre of work demands fervent introspective listening whether it's stargaze melodic, despairing void or any celestial navigation besides. There’s no sign of letting up either, with a host of new music on the horizon and a brand new radio show ‘The Dark Room’ propelling listeners even further into the abyss. We caught up ahead of his debut Noods appearance to speak about the scene in Turkey, curious inspirations, and future music.

Catch Sumatran Black’s guest mix on Midnight Manoeuvres, Sunday 8 May 11pm - 1am.

JWelcome, Peter. How’s life on your side of the world at the moment?

PThat's always a difficult question to answer when you live in Turkey. There's a beautiful chaos here but sometimes it gets too much. I guess I'm used to it by now. I'm very lucky because I have a really nice dedicated space for recording and working and that has really helped with my sanity.

JSumatran Black, Haram Tapes, Black Box Memories, Ataşehir, Camomile Dawn… seems like you enjoy the flexibility that comes with having many aliases.

P+ and now Heldentenor.

JWhat can you tell us about the scene in Istanbul currently?

PI have some very close friends from the Istanbul scene whose work I follow closely and pay great attention to. However, in general the scene remains quite insular and dominated by a few cliques and gatekeepers. And part of the problem lies within myself because I have a love-hate relationship with ambient music in live performance situations And so I have withdrawn a little bit from the live scene in Istanbul.

JYou recently started hosting a new show called The Dark Zone on Room Radio. How has the new platform been treating you?

PWell, I’m co-director of the station so I hope I treat myself well. The show is going well, and it gives me an opportunity to listen to and share lots of other dark ambient music.

JWhat is keeping you inspired right now?

PFinding inspiration is never really a challenge for me. I find it in all kinds of strange places. Obscure YouTube videos, art house cinema, my city, and my friends. Most of my inspiration comes from non-musical areas. Recently, I've been working on the new Sumatran Black album and that whole process has been really enjoyable. I don't wanna give away too much about the project but it is inspired in part by a 6-hour YouTube video about Tokimeki Memorial.

JTalk to us about your guest mix for Noods, what was the idea behind that?

PThe idea for the mix is very simple. I wanted to give a taste of all of my ambient projects but do it in a way that works together as a whole. And that whole should evoke some kind of emotional response in the listener.

JWhat’s in store for the rest of 2022?

PA new Sumatran Black album and a new Camomile Dawn EP for sure.

JFinally, how do you usually spend midnight?

PWell, I'm always awake. Most of the time I'm working on some music project. Now and then I have been known to watch a movie or two or partake in some Xbox.