Hello Planetdamage and welcome to Brutal Resonance! Let’s start off with something basic to get our audience to know. What are your top three albums of all time and why?
PlanetDamage: Hey, thanks for letting me into the arena! So this one’s basic? Oh come on, I have an #inspirational24 on Instagram and THAT was a hard one, so cutting it down to three is a challenge on its own! Okay, let these three be..."Too Dark Park" (Skinny Puppy), "Tactical Neural Implant" (Front Line Assembly) and "Revelations 23" (Mentallo & The Fixer). Back in high school I got a mixtape full of great music that led me to industrial fanzines and rec.music.industrial.. and these three albums are the foundation stones that I started out with (and there was the amazing combo of Leaether Strip’s Solitary Confinement and Underneath the Laughter to go with it!)
Planetdamage, as far as I can see, started in 2016 with the EP “Snapshots of A Surveillance Manifesto”. The project seems to always combine the themes of cyberpunk dystopia with modern day events which, sadly, seem to become more and more realistic with each passing day. What was the overall goal of Planetdamage when it first started? Did you want to spread a message or create damn good music, or intertwine the two?
PlanetDamage: The main goal was to make music and get better at it, it still is. That’s reflected in the production, I guess - lyrics always end up being the last thing to think about, after the music’s done. There are exceptions, of course, but this is 99.9% of the time. So maybe doing an instrumental release isn’t that far away.
Your next EP that came was “Angst”, a three-track release that came at the end of 2016. I found it interesting that a live, ambient version of the song was released on the EP. What prompted you to make this version of the song?
PlanetDamage: Insomnia and my frustration at fumbling with modulars! Seriously. I was messing around a lot with this app called Caustic (by Single Cell Software) and came up with a nice combo of a chord progression, arps and some drums - and this is the result of one-hour sessions, all between 3am to 4am, every single night for a couple of weeks. Took it to Bitwig, made a whole song out of it (I was listening to a lot of Dreamfish at the time, so that might have been an inspiration as well) and then decided to make a more dancey version out of it.
Ambient is sort of my go-to music while working and I do feel that there is an increasing number of moods and situations in the future that can be described better with ambient than with anything groove-based. Tensions that can be described better with a drone than with a gabber kick destroyed beyond recognition.
After a remix released, “Stray Signal” was the next EP to be produced by you. Continuing to tackle the themes of how humanity abuses technology, how was the message in this EP different than your debut?
PlanetDamage: "Stray Signal" was the point when I said technology is not the problem, people are. This obviously leads to long treatises about the complexity of keeping crowds at bay, problems of decreasing baseline intelligence and all that, so this is more like a level 2 grief counseling, and not a level 5 acceptance of “Yeah this is not going away” where "Relapse Protocol" is. Also, 'The Lesser Folly' was also a bit about how sad I was over the series Person of Interest coming to an end, because that was the best and smartest cyberpunk show I ever saw.
Your next EP was “Hi Rez Lo Life”, a four track EP that featured retouched versions of both ‘Vex’ and ‘The Mark’. What did you learn since the songs first released that made them worthy of a touch-up?
PlanetDamage: It was more due to new gear, I guess - better set of monitors (thanking Billy Cosmosis and a lot of psy/goa subreddits for that), a Launchpad Pro and a bit better know-how, so I started tweaking my then-favourite older tracks into bouncier and more fleshed out versions. (Krisztián of Black Nail Cabaret helped out a lot on that EP so his mojo is definitely in the touchups!)
Earlier this year we saw the release of the “Scraps” EP, a song which banged out some frustration over the events of 2020. What was the main focus of this song? What were you targeting with this song?
PlanetDamage: I got hooked on the videos of Ken “Hiwatt” Marshall and was messing around with a technique he showed about sidechained radio/speech recordings - I don’t even know why I get surprised when people tell me that track sounds way too much like Skinny Puppy! So I had this groove and I had the basic catchy chorus of the breakbeat version and I wanted to merge the two. The lyrics, just a collection of little text fragments from my lyrics fragment book. This was finished around March or April, I think - first wave of lockdown, when a lot of us realized that watching those ten thousand reels of post-apocalyptic shows and crisis movies an all that haven’t prepared us one bit about how a real-live situation like this goes down. I guess it was not about targeting, more like taking all the frustration out and packaging it in a way so that others could go and try to relate to it.
Your latest release is a full-length album titled “Relapse Protocol”. Let’s start with the cover art; a wire-framed head takes center place of the piece. Who made the artwork and how does it correlate to the theme of the album?
PlanetDamage: Yeah, that’s the artwork of Richard Besenczi, we’ve been working together since the Vex video. He’s a really talented guy with a lot of cool experimental ideas and he’s not coming from industrial, either, which is a really great thing, as he has a different grasp on things. I sent him the album and asked him “How does this music make you feel?” and he came up with this version. I think we’re both pretty curious about what kind of sense people will see into the positioning of the red parts inside the head.
There are eleven tracks on the album in total, however, you added two additional forty-minute mixes (one instrumental, one with vocals) to the download on Bandcamp. To you, what is the quintessential way to listen to this album? Broken up or in the giant, non-stop mix?
PlanetDamage: The mix. The background story behind this format/structuring is that the guys from the local Fekete Zaj Festival asked me to play a gig for them this August, and that was before the whole pandemic. I knew I had 40 minutes to play and I knew I was going to play after sundown, so I wanted to turn this into something very danceable - and this sort of ruled out the classic song-after-song setup for me. So I said, okay, I gonna make a 135BPM non-stop thing, will add all the most-played tracks according to my Spotify and last.fm data and spice it up with a lot of half-finished tracks. Obviously I needed to do a touch-up on all the old tracks as well - and well into creating this, I was like, “That is as homogeneous as it gets, this is an album right here.” So I basically pulled it all together into 40 minutes, the intro was basically only there to pull the crowd from the drinking stalls to the stage. And this was the instrumental version, all the vocals ended up on top of it at the very last stage, during two or three sets of home recording. Took it to the stage, played the gig, I enjoyed it, apparently the crowd loved it too, took the material home, made some changes and the album was born. So it’s the mix version that really feels okay to me, I just cut it up to tracks, because I wanted to upload it to streaming services. (A buddy of mine actually gave me a good idea, he played this album in the background during his Cyberpunk RED sessions and he said a bar-perfect loopable version would be nice, so I actually do have a version now which can play endlessly from track 2 to track 11.) Some will surely be bummed about not having full tracks with beginnings and ends, but hey - this is a mixtape, there’s a reason I’m calling it one.
This is a question that is always called tough-to-answer by bands. It’s that very same reason why I like asking it so much. So, what is your favorite song on the album and why?
PlanetDamage: Most probably the vocal breakbeat version of 'Scraps' (with 'Regret Gunner' or 'The Mark Mk3' being the close second). Why? Everything came together as intended on that track - vocals, lyrics, the audio tricks that I used from Ken Hiwatt Marshall’s tutorial videos, the mood, the vocal chorus comeback at the end. People tell me it has a different feel to all the other tracks and as this is the last track on the album, it closes the whole release on a higher note and frankly, that is something I do like a lot. But, yeah, of course, there are little technical bits and pieces in every single track that I do like and I could highlight them as well.
You never seem to run out of ideas when it comes to music. So, what’s next for Planetdamage? Any new singles, EPs, albums, or remixes in the works? And, Covid-19 allowing, do you have any plans for live shows?
PlanetDamage: Hey, thanks, that’s great to hear! There are a couple of things in the pipeline, remixes and collabs are planned, a new release is under way.. and if all goes well, there will be a cool reveal in December! Liveshow-wise, we’ll see - there might be online gigs, sure and I would love to go on stage to rock out… but at this stage everything is so much hectic and uncertain that I really don’t know. Also, Cyberpunk 2077 is coming out in a few days’ time, when I am writing this, so who knows, maybe I will get some damn good inspiration out of it and come up with new ideas! Damn, did I fucking learn to be afraid of CDPR’s yellow notification screens!
What other themes of cyberpunk do you think you’ll cover in future releases? You seem to have covered the big ones, but what’s next?
PlanetDamage: Ticked off the big ones? Well, cyberpunk tropes are a bit of a cliché now in 2020 with that long-ass list of movies, comics, books and games brainstorming over everything, so I guess this is a very spot-on question. I know I would love to work on some cyberpunk soundtrack music - rendering how a city might feel with music, without lyrics is something I would love to do. I want to steer away from repeating myself as much as I can, so this is high time for something… else.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you for your time. I wish you the best of luck and leave the space below for you to mention anything I may have failed to ask about. Cheers!
PlanetDamage: Thank you - I’d like to say thank you and to Brutal Resonance for keeping the spirit alive in these troubling times. You definitely haven’t failed to ask anything, so I’d just love to thank the readers to have actually read through this. Stay sane, stay safe, double-check everything you read and please disregard the recently revealed name of Baby Yoda. ROCK!
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I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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