Interview: Sinai Planum
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Jan : My now late uncle was a big music fan and even was a singer in a metal band. He got me into music at a very early age. He would always rip me CD compilations of hits, especially electronic music. My mother was an avid jazz listener. She had those cassettes of jazz radio programs that she illegally recorded. I remember I knew each one by heart at the end. Also my family got me little-sized instruments so I could express my three year-old fury. At 6, I was playing on my first DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)-like program called Rave Ejay which made me love audio production since then.
I don't really see myself without music. It's such an important part of my identity. I think I would probably be a more dedicated neuro-engineer, as it's what I'm studying right now.
Alex K. : Both of my parents are artists ; my dad a musician and my mom a comedian. So naturally I was pushed to learn an instrument. As my uncle was a big U2 fan I chose to learn the guitar. I took lessons on and off but my interest in guitar and music grew when I decided to try bass. I realised most of the time when I was listening to music it was the bass line that I hummed and that’s what motivated me to give it a try and I loved it immediately. I’ve grown up with music and I can’t see myself without it, there’s not a day I’m not listening to new music. As for what I would do otherwise.. I think I would be in visual art, photography, film making or something like that because it’s the second thing I do most after music.
Alex C. : I’ve been listening to a lot of music since I was very young. I can still picture my much younger self dancing and singing in the living room on the very first Gorillaz CD. As for the instruments, I had an electronic keyboard at home and started to play some known melodies by trial and error. Also, I spent loads of time playing Guitar Hero which made me discover a lot of classic Rock tunes and the feeling of having some sort of a direct interaction with the music itself. I later decided to get to the real stuff and took guitar lessons for a couple of years until I joined Jan and Loic in my first ever band experience. Same as Loic, I can’t really see myself without music as a means of expression. I probably would have been a lot more into sports.
Loïc : I always wanted to play music and especially the piano except that the lessons were full at the school where I wanted to start. So I started playing drums and I am very happy about it because today it is my most precious means of expression. It is difficult for me to imagine a life without playing any instrument but I would surely have done more sport.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We all like to see our friends and have a good time hanging out and generally when we’re not playing, we’re listening to music. Every week at least one member of the band comes back with new songs he had discovered and it never stops influencing us.
How long has your band been around?
We've been playing together for three years now, but really we’ve been the most active since 2019. The release of our first single "Burn The Hideaway" really allowed us to move forward, find gig dates and go back to the studio a few months later to record our first EP.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We have our studio in Perroy, a small but pretty little town near Lausanne in Switzerland. We are lucky because this region has a very rich cultural scene and has an incredibly high density of big festivals like the Montreux Jazz or Paléo. We don't think that the current Swiss rock scene influences us a lot because we mainly listen to bands from other countries, but knowing that there is a lot of opportunity to perform at big festivals is very motivating
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
To be honest, we've had a hard time finding the name. As we started to write our own music we realized there was a tendency for "sci-fi and spacey" sounds, as with our interests in cosmic-related stuff. So one day we were talking about Mars and looking at names of a few regions on there and that's when we saw the name of Sinai Planum. And it kind of spoke to us, we could shape our own world around it and we liked that idea. As space is an infinite expanse, it gives us an enormous amount of possibilities, both musical and visual, and this freedom is dear to us.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The perception of a good performance during a show is very personal so there is a difference of opinion within us as to which shows were the best and which were the worst. Nevertheless, two concerts stood out. The worst moment on stage was caused by a technical problem in a guitar pedal. It was a whammy and so the guitar was out of tune by a smidge and it ruined half of the show. Luckily it was at a small private festival. Soon we were able to catch up on the last tracks and the end of the show was incredible because the audience was dancing and singing. The best concert was probably at a festival that we had organised ourselves in September because we wanted to bring the culture back to life, in Covid's time. We invited a few bands to play all day and closed the evening with an open air show.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
We don't really have a favourite place because each venue is unique and gives off an atmosphere that affects each of our performances. However, there are clearly a few festivals where we would love to play such as the Paleo, Caribana or even the Montreux Jazz festival. Also, going to one of the many international festivals outside of Switzerland would be an incredible experience.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
What a good question, is the budget unlimited? We would probably invite All Them Witches, Queens of the Stone age, Foo Fighters, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Slift, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Greenleaf, Elephant Tree, Stoned Jesus, Them Crooked Vultures, De Staat, Idles and Kiev.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
It’s necessary to be very clear about the goals of each member of the group in order to have a solid common basis. That way it's much easier to go all together in the same direction and get the most fun out of it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
There are a lot of things that come with time such as not playing during breaks, being patient, having good communication within the group and also having good organisation. All these small elements are not acquired from the beginning and it takes time for things to be settled. Although we’ve been playing for quite some time and we’ve made some progress in our organising, I feel like we still have a lot to learn and that’s what makes it even more exciting.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Jan : “You don't know”, because it's an ode to positivity and a motivation to never stop. It's a very important theme for me as it's related to the way I approach things.
Alex K. : I’d have to say “You Don’t Know”. It was our third song and I just love playing it and I love the atmosphere you get out of it, very soothing yet empowering.
Alex C. : I’d say “Visions” is probably my favorite tune for now. Although the process of making this song was a long and rocky road, everything appears to finally align with how I pictured it in the beginning and what I generally like in music. Also, I feel like the lyrics and emotions are well reflected in the instrumental atmosphere and energy.
Loïc : I have a special attachment to “Burn The Hideaway” because it's the first song we composed and recorded. Being independent, the whole process of creating and recording this song was long and complicated but we learned a lot.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Jan : At the moment, “Circles” is my favourite song to play with the band. It's so much fun for me to play my parts and also singing with Alex during the chorus.
“Visions” is definitely the song that people like the most because you can easily sing along and we have the pleasure to have Tim Spörli, a skilled trumpet player and friend of ours during the break.
Alex K. : We recently wrote a new song called “Who Owns This Place” and it’s very straightforward and boogie-ish. It just makes you want to jump around.
Alex C. : In ”Rocket Fuel” and “Circles” I have the freedom to easily add some little variations to the guitar part and both of them allow me to really express myself on the vocals as well. Also, their heavy riffs really are prone to some “onstage craziness”.
Loïc : I love playing “Visions” because the chorus has a tendency to make people sing along and we adapted the ending to make it a real concert finale.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Each member is free to come with ideas or compositions that are already almost complete. We try to do everything together even if it takes more time because we like the process to be participatory and collective. We’re very inspired by what we hear during the composition period and also by the general atmosphere. That’s why most of the ideas that lead to songs come from jams we do in our studio.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
All the songs have different stories and their actual meanings are open to interpretation. I feel like the most important thing for us is to be able to pass on the overall mood and atmosphere of the song both through the instruments and through the lyrics. As for us in a more general point of view, we like to emit positive energy, motivation and show that we’re having a good time.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Obviously, and this is normal, discussion and exchange of opinions is the best way to find a consensus and to move along in the right direction. We are, above all, friends and we would like to have fun playing so it is important to have a healthy atmosphere.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We're going to release an EP on November 20th and we're already recording new tracks. We plan to release songs on a regular basis next year and continue to develop our universe. We also hope that next year will give us the opportunity to perform outside Switzerland and meet a lot of people. We really want to share what we’re doing.