Beacon of Hope Beckons - Blanka Barbara's New EP on her Label Rabbit Records
What is the inspiration behind this EP? How did you come up with the name?
Curiously, ‘Beacon of Hope’ was supposed to be the name of the whole VA release comprising 15 tracks released last year - the first one ever for Rabbit Records. We decided to go in the direction of the ‘Portal’ instead, a gateway that transports you to different dimensions.
The emotional charge of the original “Beacon of Hope” track, part of the VA, was poetic, serious, humble. The complex harmonies made it melancholic, ominous even. I gave the title right after I found the pads you hear at the very beginning and started conjuring the chords. The melody line given to the sound of bells was really underlining the magical and hopeful atmosphere of the whole track.
At the end of 2021 I decided to ask a few open-minded producers to remix, rethink the original in their own unique way, give the original material and the title its “second life”. I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result.
How did you decide on artists who would remix? And what do you think of the end result?
The main goal to achieve was “musical diversity” to further enhance the uniqueness of the release as a whole. Producers coming from very different musical backgrounds were contributing to the EP, and what a treat to have Retroid bringing breaks with affectionate atmospheric elements, Haen with re-imagined out-of-the-box progressive house treatment, Marcelo Ignacio & Max Effe putting their heads together to conjure this deep summertime vibe full of sunny and carefree emotion. One of the most diverse EPs in Rabbit Records catalogue so far for sure!
What fascinates me about remixing is that it often offers a different approach, a different way of looking at the original material. Giving the remixers freedom, I feel, is always necessary, and incredible things are born out of this notion of letting artists show off their personalities on their own terms.
An instrument or device that has been monumental in this EP? And why?
Truth being said, I am not fully a hardware geek just yet. Most of the magic happens digitally and using plugins. “Beacon of Hope” does not feature vocals, like in “Threnody”, but has a special instrument for me personally - Piano. Similarly to “Obscure Light of Dawn” or “Days Don’t Stop For No One" this instrument plays a crucial role in bringing the whole mix together. Piano is the motherboard of my productions, melodic and harmonic guiding star, which other elements surround. In a way, a certain parallel can be drawn between my way of classical symphonic composition and electronic music production. The ideas come when improvising on the piano, the harmonic ideas are tested there, the character and colour palette is defined, which later dictates the instrumentation and behaviour of other instruments in the orchestra. Dave Brubeck famously said, “It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.”
A release on Rabbit Records, how does it sit in your discography?
I originally launched Rabbit Records mainly to showcase my own tracks, long before melodic techno and progressive house were occupying my mind and artistic goals. The label saw my growth from experimental electronica into the world of respectable DJs and opened doors to other possibilities. The very first releases featuring remixes ‘Stars Shine’ and ‘Heaven’s Promise’ were a compass of some sort - in addition to the unusual originals and creative remixes, I produced my own Renditions, more suitable to be played in clubs. And those new Renditions had a much better response from the audience and DJs, so it was only natural to stay in that direction and grow.
I’m striving for Rabbit Records to be a diverse label. To focus on various genres and let others express their unique feelings through music here.
How soon are we expecting your next release?
Quite a few exciting things are in store for sure! Especially June sees some wonderful things which I wouldn’t want to give away too much about. One of the significant releases will be on Amber Long's Modern Agenda, where I take a more philosophical approach with the music and the message is an appeal to humanity to open their eyes, to be affectionate, to feel empathy towards other human beings, respect each other, and accept the truth however hard it may be. We have grown a lot from our past experiences as humans, we are now more connected than ever before, so let’s embrace that knowledge.