DIVINE PLANET: Dystopian Universes

Divine Planet

I have to admit that the music Manchester-based trio Divine Planet creates is something I’ve been seeking for quite some time. Luckily for me, I was recently introduced to the band when their publicist sent a press release for their newest single “Bachelorette,” and upon hearing it I rushed into checking what else they released. As it turns out, Divine Planet debuted last year with the release of an EP titled ‘Synthetic Taste of Cherry.’ Singer Fabian Rodriguez and bassist-turned-drummer Adam Filoda spoke for Prog Sphere about the last year’s EP, the new single, and future.

Define the mission of Divine Planet.

Fab: Wow, a mission. I guess our main objective is, obviously, making music we can both enjoy playing and listening to, and sharing it with as much people as possible. Whenever someone says “hey, I listened to your song and it made me feel good”, I personally feel happy.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your last year’s EP Synthetic Taste of Cherry and the themes it captures.

Fab: It’s funny because there’s an actual concept behind it. Even before I joined the band, Alexi [Valachis, guitars & synths] and Adam already had the idea of focusing on these sort of post-apocalyptic sci-fi themes. I loved the idea, obviously. That’s why songs like “To the Wasteland” or “Wall of Lies” have so many references to cyberpunk and these super dark and gritty kind of dystopian universes. But we also tried to make something appealing out of it, even “sexy” in a way. We wanted to explore “erotism” in this “sci-fi” context, and that’s pretty much what motivated tunes like “DNA”. Fun fact: I think the artwork kinda sums up this whole idea pretty well.

What is the message you are trying to give with Synthetic Taste of Cherry?

Fab: I’d like to think of it as a statement. Like “Hey, this is Divine Planet, this is what we like, and this is who we are.

Synthetic Taste of Cherry

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Adam: Sometimes a song idea start with a jam, sometimes it’s being made straight away on the computer. At the end, all the ideas end up in Logic Pro, where we got freedom to arrange, change and improve any part. As much as we all love to play together, jam things out, it’s a great advantage to be able to sit down and see what works or not, what could be added or taken away. It also helps to get out of your comfort zone and experiment with new styles, ideas and sounds.

Fab: With “DNA” it was a bit different. Turns out that the original beat and synths were supposed to be some sort of “joke song” that Alex wrote for a friend. I liked it and, at some point, I said “hey, why don’t we turn this into an actually full song?

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

Adam: There was already a few demos in place before Fabian has joined us, as Alexis is a never ending song making machine, but it was a collective decision, which tracks will go on the EP. Songs evolved from their original form, once we all started working on them but we didn’t deliberately try to make them vary. I think it’s just the way we do things. We like variety and different approaches. Trying not to lock ourselves up into a particular style. Staying open to new ways.

Describe the approach to recording the EP.

Adam: Since our previous experiences in recording studios didn’t pan out the way we wanted, we decided to record and mix all the songs ourselves in order to get the results we wanted. It transformed into a long and arduous process of learning how to mix and record properly. It has taken a lot of hours of listening, experimenting, reading and video watching. But by the end, we got through it all and I think we all are really proud of what we accomplished as the end product.

How long Synthetic Taste of Cherry was in the making?

Adam: A loooooooooong time… It all started when we split our ways with previous members of the band. It was just me and Alexi at that point (us both have originally started the band) and we decided to keep it going. Our sound has taken a different approach to more electronic/industrial, which was the original concept in the first place. We have completely scraped everything that we’ve ever done before and started fresh. Both of us were working on new songs, while the struggle to find the singer began. After ‘merely’ 8 months, we finally did find Fabian. We all glued pretty much straight away, music and personal wise, and began to work fully on the EP. There were quite a few changes and improvements made from the original demo ideas to adapt Fab’s singing style but the creative process flow was rather fast. It was the recording and mixing that takes the most time.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Fab: Too many. I am a massive fan of Deftones, Incubus, Tool, Alice in Chains and let’s say “alternative rock-metal” in general, but I also listen to a lot of super heavy music. Alexi’s all about dark and industrial landscapes, as in Nine Inch Nails or Rammstein, I mean, it’s obvious when you listen to the tracks, and Adam’s quite into experimental rock, which is what gives some of the songs that cool “proggy” touch. I also love Taylor Swift’s early albums, but I am not sure if that was crucial for the EP.

You have a new single titled “Bachelorette,” which is sort of a next step for the band and an announcement for the upcoming release. What can you tell me about it?

Adam: Our new single is sort of a milestone for us. We are finally settled on our band’s lineup, as we previously have trouble for a long time to find a permanent drummer. We decided to keep moving forward as a trio. Me, formerly the bassist, have been learning to play drums for the last couple of years and have taken up permanent drumming duties now. “Bachelorette” is the first track I fully played drums on and will continue so on all the next releases and live show. Whole track has been produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by the band itself in our own studio in Manchester.

Fab: I’ve been living in Manchester for the past 3 years and, after all I’ve seen and experienced I felt like making this song was just… fair. I actually had the idea for the theme some random Friday, walking home after dinner. And we all know what happens in town every Friday from 7-8 pm. I just watched this landscape of people drinking, yelling, fighting, flirting, singing and puking and I thought that there was some sort of beauty in how miserable the whole thing is when you take a look from outside. Let’s say that “Bachelorette” is Divine Planet’s soundtrack for that exact moment.

How far are you from completing the work on the upcoming release? Is it an EP or a full-length release? Do you have a title sorted out?

Adam: We have discussed a few different approaches in regards to future releases and we decided to focus mainly on singles and one song at the time, rather than the whole concept of an album or EP. Main reason behind is that nowadays thousands and thousands of tracks are released every single day, whether it’s a big well-known artist supported by record label, an independent DIY band or just a bedroom recorded song. It makes it really hard to get through all that to people you’d like to hear your music. On top of that, although social media is a great tool to present and promote yourself, it also makes people’s attention span really short. With the whole information flow, rarely anyone would stop a listen to something more than 3-5 minutes. Of course, there is still a great amount of people that love the concept of an album, including myself and many of my friends, that’s why once we have album worth of material we will bring all the singles and some extra tracks together and release it as a full-album. Currently we are nearly finished with a new song to follow “Bachelorette” and started to working on another one. Few other demos are in place as well.

What is your view on technology in music?

Adam: Considering we did build our own studio and use variety of electronic sounds, I think it’s fair to say that we love technology. You are no longer limited to recording studios where you need to pay great amount of money, are time restricted and the end product might not be what you wanted or expected. It gives us freedom to spend as much time as we want on songwriting, mixing and production. Also it allows us to explore and experiment with new sounds, making our music better, giving it more depth. We got a strong idea how we want our music to sound and it’s a great advantage to be able to do it exactly as you want.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Fab: That’s a crazy complex sort of question, dude. If I had to give you a quick answer, I’d have to say “not particularly”, because I don’t think we’re trying to “educate” anybody, and our intentions aren’t definitely spreading any kind of “political views”. But, hey, I think we’ll all agree on the fact that your mindset’s always gonna leak into your songs in one way or another. I mean, I can’t write “Wall of Lies” and deny that there is an ideological component in how we describe society, or I wouldn’t sing “DNA” if I had certain sexual taboos, for example. Who you are always shows up in your creation, at one point or another. It wouldn’t be art if it wasn’t like that, right?

What are your plans for the future?

Adam: We are trying to be realistic in what we are doing. Our main goal is to get our music to people who would appreciate it. As our music got a lot of variety, I believe there’s something there for everyone. Since the days of the line-up problems are past us, we are looking to play as many shows as possible, land a few festivals, keep releasing music we love and most of all enjoy ourselves while doing all that.

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