Planas ‘The Long Game’ interview
DB: There’s some surprising moments on The Long Game, sounds like you have found a certain personal space to function. Was that a big factor in this album: immersion, blocking everything out?
P: Absolutely. I listen to loads of different types of music and have been involved in a number of musical projects in my career, but when I sat down to write for my album I tried to stay focused on what I felt was representative of where I was musically, rather than any musical trends or genre templates. Obviously it’s inevitable that my musical influences would find their way onto the album, but in these cases I’d like to think that I’ve put a unique twist on them, blending together instruments that haven’t been heard alongside each other, with the aim of carving my own individual sound. All my favourite albums feel like they were written in the same way so I thought it was an important thing to remember when making The Long Game.
DB: Certain images here that spring to mind from the tracks. Could you describe some obsessions that we may encounter when listening?
P: Hmmm…do you want to go there?! Well, ok: I’m obsessed with people, dark and light, David Lynch, stand up comedy, nostalgia, sex, beauty, ugliness, films, religion, atheism, sport, technology, sunshine, London, travelling… I could go on but I feel I’ve shared enough for now!
DB: Is there tracks on the album that you return to in your head that may have a significance you’d like to discuss?
P: I love ‘Rain On Me’ because we recorded it really spontaneously in a dingy lock-up in Bow. We (GDC) were hiring the space off a guy called Derek who kept getting beaten up by the locals because he ran a private car towing company. Anyway it only took a couple of takes but I think Eddie (Ed Thomas) really captured something intimate in the vocal. It also sums up a period where things were very much in limbo for the band and my own music. Once Derek turned up with a full Phantom of the Opera style face mask after having a run in with the neighbours and that was when we decided to end the contract.
‘Cry Wolf’ is significant to me because it feels like the most epic bit of music I’ve made and even though it’s 7 minutes long I think – or I hope at least – that it maintains the tension throughout.
I go back to ‘Wasabi Thunder’ because I’m really happy with the vibe I managed to create, I think it blends the UK and US sound pretty effectively.
DB: How about choice of instruments, are you 100% synthetic or do you use ‘real’ instruments or is it irrelevant and you just work with what’s needed?
P: I am by no means 100% synthetic – my background is in live music and bands, so that is at the root of everything I make and I hope is present in the feel of the tracks. For the album, though, there had to be a line of continuity in the sound and as I was listening and DJing a lot of electronic music that happened to be the path I took. Working with Gentleman’s Dub Club, Seemore Productions and with various other vocalists and musicians I found an outlet for live sound, but I’m also a big tech geek and find myself firing up synths and strange plugins whenever possible.
DB: I listen to ‘Mr Litvinenko’ or ‘Cry Wolf’ and I think of a vivid live presentation, would you like that, a vivid live show? What would it look like if you had limitless budget, say?
P: Funny you should say that, I’ve actually written a storyline and pulled together a team for a live dance music/theatre performance piece with that very idea in mind. Those two tracks were a big influence in coming up with the concept. Right now I don’t have the time to organize everything associated with putting it together. But it’s something I will definitely get round to as I think it has real potential.
DB: You’ve worked with all sorts of people, so what are some standout stories?
P: Yeah, I’ve worked with some pretty unlikely collaborators! The most memorable was probably Beyonce’s creative director Kim Burse. We had just got back from 4 days at Glastonbury and received a call from our GDC manager at the time saying that Beyonce was looking to record something for the X Factor and they needed two engineers, and could me and Eddie get down to the studio asap. So I had the quickest shower I’ve ever had, jumped in the car and burned it over to Sensible Studios in Camden. Kim was there looking decidedly tired and pissed off, and explained to us that we needed to mix a tune that Beyonce and her band had recorded during sound check at Glastonbury. The idea was to have it as a backing track for her performance on the French X Factor. We were obviously pretty overwhelmed by the situation but were determined to give it our best shot. Unfortunately when we tried to load up the session, Logic (software) was having none of it: the performance had been recorded on a bespoke desk that they use for all of their live shows, and we were staring down the barrel of 150 odd tracks. The studio only had Pro Tools LE which can only handle about half that. When we explained the situation to Kim she got straight on the phone to management and proceeded to unload a number of classic quotes, including ‘Beyonce’s pretty, but when she mad she ugly!’
It was quite an experience and was a real insight into the industry.
DB: Do you delineate between mainstream and underground as such? Or is it a case that, if you WORK on something, no matter what, you’re simply true to the craft, that it’s valid?
P: With regard to pop music, I don’t believe there is a huge distinction between underground music and ‘pop’. Pop music is just music that has been made popular by the public. I don’t believe that the public should be owed something from artists: look at Snoop Lion, I mean it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the guy’s clearly just having a laugh and shouldn’t be shot down for doing so. Snoop’s been part of a massive movement and is responsible for some amazing tunes, plus If I had the money to make a project purely for the fun of it I would be a very happy man!
DB: My album session question: any album session in history, any genre, which one would you have loved to have been at?
P: Prince Purple Rain would definitely be in the running as I am fascinated by him as an artist. He attributes himself on the album as follows: lead and rhythm guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, piano, drums, drum programming, lead and background vocals, arranger, art direction.
‘The Long Game’ out 26 November on Exceptional Blue records