Studio M was very fortunate to speak with both Aviv Geffen and
Steven Wilson about the origins and future of Blackfield, and how
their working relationship produced one of 2004ís most impressive
Tell us about the origin of Blackfield and
how you first got to know each
Aviv: I first heard
Porcupine Tree back in 1995 and for me it was one of those moments
that Iíll never forget. I invited them to play in Israel (Tel Aviv).
I told them I was very popular here, so they checked me out on the
web and agreed to come here for 3 gigs (of which I was their guest).
Later, when I was living in London, I gave Steven a CD with a few
demos. He really liked them, so he wrote lyrics for one of my tunes
(Open Mind) and gave it back to me. And that was the first step for
Steven Wilson: My main
motivation was because Aviv became a very great friend and I wanted
to bring his songwriting talent to the English speaking world, as
until then only the Hebrew speaking world were aware of
What inspired you to want to work with
Aviv: I think he is an
amazing artist and producer. To be honest, I'm not into prog rock
and sometimes itís hard for me to hear Steven's 45-minute guitar
solos. But I think that at the end of the day we're talking about
the same things. I consider myself as a new hippie, like a flower
child with poison in my thorns. I feel like I'm the only rebel in
Israel: I'm talking against my government, against the occupation
against the settlers, etc. I refused to serve in the army (which is
very hard when my cousin (Mozes Dayan) used to be the security
minister. I arranged a peace rally with Izchak Rabin (he was our
prime minister) in 1995, which brought over 300,000 people- then
someone shot him in front of my eyes. But this just gave me more
power to fight against my government, and I became to be the
spokesman for the young people in Israel. Anyway, Steven doesnít
include political issues in his tracks, and this is the only
difference between us.
So far the release has only
been in Israel- how has the reaction
Aviv: Itís doing great here!
We will have a gold album (20,000 copies) in Israel very soon! But
the big game will be outside, in Europe and the
What tracks did you bring to the
Steven: I only brought
Blackfield and Lullaby to the project, which were two songs that
didn't seem right for Porcupine Tree. The rest were Aviv's songs, or
collaborations between the two of us.
I wrote the text and music for Pain, The Hole In Me, and Hello. I
wrote the music to all the others expect Lullaby and Blackfield.
Cloudy Now, Glow, and Scars were written by me and were released in
Israel before Blackfield. Steven translated them to
This has been a long process of bringing the
CD to fruition, and yet it sounds like it was recorded in 2 weeks-
to what do you attribute
Steven: Because it was!
Although it was recorded over a long period of time, we probably
only spent 3-4 weeks on it in total, over a period of nearly three
years. When we got together the Blackfield music came very easily
How was working with Aviv different
than the numerous other collaborations you're involved with? Is it
closer to No-man?
really because we didn't write together so much. In No-Man myself
and Tim really do write together in the same room. Blackfield was
more about Aviv coming up with music and the melody in Hebrew, and
then I would write an English set of lyrics. However when it came to
the recording, it was again the opposite to No-Man because with
No-Man once the song is written Tim very much leaves me to create
the arrangement. But in Blackfield, both myself and Aviv contributed
to the performance and creation of the sound (except on a couple of
songs where I played and sang everything).
are you proudest of?
Aviv: Pain and
Summer. But I kinda like them all.
really like Summer, Open Mind, Cloudy Now, Lullaby... actually I
like them all as well. None of them were difficult- the whole album
went down almost effortlessly.
The track that sticks
with me the most is Pain. Can you share a little (more) about the
circumstances surrounding that track. Lyrically, it is kindred to
Porcupine Tree's "Buying New Soul" - are you familiar with this
Aviv: Pain was written about
the ugliness in deserting people in friendships, when you figure out
that love canít rescue us from our loneliness.
know each of you wrote lyrics, but tell me a little more about how
the songs came together. Which track was the most natural in its
Steven: For me "Cloudy
Now", because I actually made it as a gift for Aviv's birthday. It's
a very famous song of Aviv's, and I never intended that it would be
on the Blackfield album. I just did it for fun, but it came out so
well that we included it.
The breakbeats on Scars
work really well and are something we've never heard from you (short
of the occasional decade-old No-man
Steven: That's all Aviv-
yes, they work very well.
There seems to be more
restraint on Blackfield than in any of your previous releases. You
can hear several of these songs wanting to blossom into epics, but
you keep the reins firmly gripped on them. Do any of these tracks
exist in longer form, and will they ever see the light of
Steven: Not really - Aviv's
approach is very much about the 3 minute song, so any of my
inclinations to introduce longer solo sections, or have the tracks
extend beyond that were quickly squashed. But I have to say that it
was really interesting for me to work in this way for the first
time, and to limit myself to creating great music within the
confines of the 3 minute song format.
The lyrics are
very dark, and seemingly personal. Do you actually experience as
much of the emotional turmoil as you write
Steven: I've spoken about
the "dark" side of my work before - the words are a catharsis for me
that means I can exorcise much of these aspects from my personality.
But of course many of the things I write about are inspired by
feelings/emotions I've had, otherwise I would not be able to write
convincingly about them. The lyrics on Blackfield are more direct
and perhaps not as sophisticated as I would normally write, but that
is something to do with the discipline of working with Aviv and the
Blackfield project - to keep things simple and direct. Perhaps
that's a good thing.
Aviv and I both share similar
songwriting concerns/themes so in many ways Blackfield did feel like
a continuation of some aspects of Porcupine Tree. For example you
pointed out the lyrical similarity between Buying New Soul and Pain,
which shows that although we are very different as people there is a
strong similarity in the way we see the
Aviv: My lyrics are dark because my
life brought me to be in the dark many times.
Aviv: I donít believe in
stones and holy places. The question is not "Do I believe in god",
the question is "Does god believe in me?" Life in Israel made me a
sad person. I canít stand the thought that the government rules
other people lives, the occupied territories are like a cancer in
Israel's body. The world has become colder and faster, and a stupid
cowboy is running the whole show. I feel like I'm living on the
other side of CNN.
What is your personal philosophy
Aviv: I am god and god is
Could you talk a little about the idea behind
Cloudy Now- especially the We are the fucked up generation outro. Is
this also a political
Aviv: It's the most
famous rock line in Israel, it means that our generation is fucked
up! This line made me famous overnight, but it's not a political
How is our generation fucked up, and is
there any way to fix it?
generation is fucked up because of AIDS, Bill Gates, George Bush,
techno and trance music, the wars, Al Queda etc. It's not the 60's
or the 70's dude, we are the garbage of the century. I donít think I
can fix it, all I can do is sing out all my
Would you agree Steven that this is your most
accessible work? How would you react to the idea that it is also
your most impressive?
Definitely the most accessible thing I've even been involved in, but
I still think it sounds very classy. Whether it's the most
impressive or not is a matter of opinion of course, and depends on
whether you like the more mainstream song approach. I guess at this
point although I'm really pleased with the Blackfield album, it's
hard for me to say whether it's among my most important work. Time
Do you plan to perform Blackfield songs
either solo or with Steven? What is the status of US and UK releases
(Blackfield) will perform in the US and UK and the rest of Europe
sometime after the album is out worldwide around late July. We
cannot wait to tour with those tracks, there's a lot of Blackheads
Steven: Itís difficult to say
anything about touring at this stage - I think it's going to be
tough with Porcupine Treeís commitments.
What is the
status of US and UK releases for Blackfield? Can you tell us about
some of the tracks that will be added to the new
Steven: There will be a 3
track bonus CD EP with 2 songs left off the album, and a live track
from Israeli TV. Plus the video to Hello.
expect there to be more Blackfield releases in the
Steven: Yes, I'm sure there
Aviv: We are definitely going to
record more albums!
How would you describe Blackfield
to someone who had never heard it?
Classic melancholic songs with a lush and warm
Aviv: Like Radiohead but better.
It's hard to say it's a classic rock and epic album- it's kind of
ELO meets Pink Floyd- very 70's in a way. It doesnít sound like
anything else because Steven and I are coming from such different
cultures. I believe that gives the album a very fresh flavor. I
think the world has become smaller, and for all the music seekers
like me it's nice to discover new bands like Sigur Ros, Bjork,
Blonde Redhead etc.
For others just getting to know
your music, where would you suggest they start? Will you do any
other English language albums in the
Aviv: I suggest that they
wait for the Blackfield album.
Marillion, Paatos, the
Death Metal projects, and everything else. Do you ever feel
Steven: Yes! And it
just gets crazier every year.
How bout a juicy tidbit
about the new Porcupine Tree album.
It's the best yet.
How much will the success
of this release dictate future releases, tours,
Steven: Success or lack of has
never really made a difference to me to whether I continue with
something or not.