WITH JAN-DIRK PLATEK
During this interview, I change seat, place myself in front of another artist and ask him the questions I wish people asked me. Today, I speak to German composer Jan-Dirk Platek; about his latest project Dreamscapes and his views on music as career, or not.
Jan, tell us a little bit about yourself? What has happened before Dreamscapes?
I was born on 1976. I am married and I have two beautiful daughters. I started with my interest in music very early. At the age of 6, I started to create my first melodies on my grandfather‘s old Schimmel Piano. He was a music teacher at the local elementary school, so he taught me my first steps on the piano. In the early 90s, I started to play drums and played in a couple of local rock bands. I was always interested in creating music and I loved the whole rock genre; it was so powerful and aggressive. I bought my first electric guitar and I started to compose rock music on my own — It took me over 10 years to play the guitar properly! In 2006, I released my first instrumental rock demo under the name We Deserve This, which is still active today. I loved the powerful chords, distorted sounds and the raw energy of rock music. Post-rock was full of inspiration for me. In 2014, I signed my first record deal with Crowquill Records — I was so proud when that happened. They released my EP Silencer on cassette tape. In 2015, I signed another record deal with the post rock label Fluttery Records. In 2016, I discovered the modern classical and ambient music and it changed my view on music completely; I discovered the hidden beauty in classical music. That was the time when I decided to release music under my own name. I signed a record deal with GS Productions from Russia and they released my first mini album They Dream in Heaven. I am really proud of this recording because it was my first step into the modern classical and ambient genre. I really loved the more quieter perspective of composing music; silence was my very own new loud.
Now, what about Dreamscapes? Tell us about this project.
Dreamscapes was composed and recorded shortly before my breakdown because of an autoimmune disease. I felt so weak during those days and I thought that something was seriously wrong with me; There was no power left in my body and I felt kind of depressed during the writing process. It took me only a couple of days to record the EP. In early March 2020, my condition went worse and I was hospitalised. After a couple of days at the hospital, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; everything changed for me since that day. When I returned home, I finished mixing the EP and I somehow felt that this release was very special — there is so much sadness in this recording. It is the most important release in my discography. I still have tears in my eyes when I listen to “G35.0”; the title is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Code for Multiple Sclerosis.
There is a duality between acoustic and electric. Is the instrumentation of Dreamscapes a result of playing around with instruments or well-calculated choices?
It was a mix of both I think. I wanted to check out some new sounds to make my music sound wider. You can play them on piano but I thought that there has to be more in the sounding of Dreamscapes. Then I played with different settings on my Nord piano and I discovered the warm sounds there. There was no plan, I just wanted to sound different than my older releases.
You have been very prolific over the last few years. How do your projects relate to each other; are they independent from each other, or is there some sort of connection?
Sure, there is a connection between my projects. I‘m always interested in some kind of melancholy in music; you can find this element in any of my pieces.
Which is more a means to an end; composing or recording?
For me recording is more interesting because it needs more attention. Composing is like a flow which comes naturally from the heart. Recording is playing with technology. I have to be focused when recording; it is like a challenge.
How do you approach your career in a digital world?
I do not think that I have a career. I create music because it is like a drug for me. I can‘t stop it. I started in the early 90s when the internet was not a thing, recorded my first songs on a 4-track cassette tape recorder and gave the tapes to good friends. Music is my personal addiction. Today it is easier to reach new listeners but I still do not think that I have a career. I would do this even if nobody listened to my music.
So, what’s next?
I am currently working on a new single: a piano track with extreme dynamics. A very quiet part and a very loud part combined. I love to figure out how loud a piano can sound. The track is already recorded, and just needs some mastering.
Thanks very much Jan. Last one for the road — one book, one album, one film — tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
Oh, I really do not know... I do not watch films but I have one album that I think everyone should listen to: Failure’s Fantastic Planet. It is an album from 1996, and I highly recommend it!
Bouncing on Jan’s words; we should all give ourselves a booster shot of what 1990s rock used to be! Read my review of Dreamscapes.