Hectic, overwhelming, but deliberate – Silkarmour is the group from London carefully layering noise and music samples to create a carefully constructed feeling of dread. Hiding their identities in two characters dressed in balaclavas, their latest single Folk tackles the spiral of human obsession, and conveys the uneasy dynamic between these two characters – one innocent and submissive, and one violent and aggressive. Using music and acidic visuals in equal merit, we chat about the spiral contained in this new track, the onslaught of sound and art on screen, and what it all means.
You’re a London-based experimental musical project and band created by Enzo Samuel. To me, you mix the chaotic overwhelming aspects of experimental music with a darker, dread-filled narrative in a strange balance of maximalism and careful, almost withdrawn, lyricism. Who are you, and how would you describe the music you make?
Silkarmour is an attempt at combining experimental sound design and new production ideas with genuine personal songwriting interlaced, always focusing on melody and harmony first.
What are the biggest inspirations for your music style, which you previously described as ‘full’?
Chanson, maximalist musicians, and innovators in the world of sound design and sampling.
Following your debut single Nervous Energy, you have performed as the supporting act for the disco-punk band PVA, the art-punk band HMLTD, and the performer Lynks. How do you translate your genre of music into a live performance?
Honestly it’s a lot of work, especially when avoiding the use of a backing track. There’s a spreadsheet with literally every part of every song assigned to each performer for the live versions, a lot of samples get used, thanks to modern technology sequencing all that stuff isn’t so difficult.
Your latest single Folk is accompanied by a hypnotic music video, featuring flashes of your own and other people’s artwork, that I read you’ve been working on for a year and a half. How does it feel to finally see this creation come to life?
It’s satisfying to see it out and [we are] proud to see the ideas come to fruition, it’s exciting to see people’s responses.
Starting with the name of the track, you’ve mentioned that it references humanity’s “ancient nature of obsession.” I can understand this in relation to the video, which spews a relentless barrage of rapid-fire visuals at the viewer in an obsessed-like state, and flicks through words like “defeatist, maximalist, precision” and “folk” itself at a pace sometimes too fast to be legible. Can you explain to us what this spiral of obsession is in relation to?
A personal feeling, in a sense the concept is that it’s satirising itself, or commenting impartially on itself as obsession and hyperfocus were key elements in the mentality of creating something as complex as this.
The music video focuses on what you call “the fashion of anonymity,” conveying the oppressive and submissive dynamic of two masked characters through hectic visuals and the premise of a noise performance that contextualises their inner characters. I read that you are referencing the 2002 documentary Tokyo Noise here, as the film creates a monologue on the future and the inner self through a barrage of noise and images . What was the idea behind this?
Noise performances have a very interesting dynamic, a lot of it is sacrificing a sense of knowledge and predictability in order to achieve a certain state of mind, that applies to both the performer and the audience. This is much like the acceptance of a state of mind that can both aid and disparage you.
There is also a rift between the idea of a noise performance and the slow balanced sounds of the music actually being played in the video, the irony is intended to draw people to observing the deeper meaning of the narrative.
Why, in particular, did you choose the power dynamic between these two characters to be so stilted?
Being lost in a rabbit hole can feel a lot like torment from a power beyond your control, that was the idea behind the intensity of the power dynamic, a sense of inescapability.
Thinking about the images in the video contextualising the characters, I wondered which of the acidic visuals related to who – the submissive or the dominant character. A lot of the imagery feels very forceful and disruptive, like the word “punishing” glaring at the viewer, and images of barbed weaponry popping up, and some of the imagery feels more spontaneous and inevitable, like stars softly falling and auras glowing. What is it about this contrast of thought between the two characters that is important to you?
There is something personal in both of the characters, in the innocence and suggestibility of one, represented by bright and soft imagery, and the other’s dominance, vindictiveness and omnipresence shown with darker violent graphics. The purpose is to illustrate the relationship so clearly that it is impossible to misinterpret, it is important to represent their dynamic because they are euphemisms for an internal challenge with obsessive tendencies.
You made a really interesting point about the identity behind an anonymous creation by revealing a face under one of the balaclavas in the video, but choosing for it not actually to be yours, saying that you wanted to “subvert the expectation that the face of who’s behind a creation matters.” Can you expand on this?
The face being shown was another way of illustrating the identity of the character as one with transparent and honest motives.
In a work designed around a form of relatability through references and narratives it would clash to suddenly bring the attention to the creator, as while it is personal, it is supposed to represent obsession that no one would ever see in someone else’s face, rather something internal and reminiscent of one's own experiences.
After the release of this single, two edits will closely follow suit, one by Black Midi’s DJ Dairy and the other by MM’99 – both being released on April 18. How does it feel to have other artists spinning their own interpretations of your work?
It feels great, it’s a beautiful feeling hearing somebody else’s ideas superimposed onto your work, like a mixing pot of ideas and emotions.
Was it always the plan to have alternate versions of this track?
No, but with the amount of stems and very subtle easy to miss sounds, it made sense to hand over the files to people and see what fun they can have with it.
What is next for Silkarmour? Do these edits hint at collaborative work in the future with these artists?
There’s a lot more to come from the Silkarmour project, releases are going to be significantly more frequent.
As for collaborations with these artists, nothing in the books but never say never!