Lords of Metal
Arrow Lords of Metal

Bioplan – interview met Andi Kravljaca

Andi Kravljaca: “Music should be something you share because sharing experiences results in empathy ”
Andi Kravljaca is een muzikale duizenpoot. Hij is vooral bekend als zanger van bands als Seventh Wonder en Aeon Zen, maar met zijn eigen project Bioplan speelt hij alle instrumenten en is er geen zang. Zoals hij zelf zegt is de gitaar eigenlijk zijn eerste liefde en dat heeft hij inmiddels op een drietal EP’s laten horen. De laatste in de rij is “Arcade Dreams’ en de kwaliteit die van de muziek afstraalt is reden om de beste man eens naar zijn beweegredenen en motivatie te vragen.
Berto Ι 8 juni 2023

How are the reactions to the new album so far?
The reviews are quite good although some are less positive but you learn to deal with that. Something that jumps out as a comment is that some say it is too electronic for the metalfan and too metal for synth lovers but that’s how it goes, you know. Overall I am quite happy with all the comments.

How long did it take to write and record Arcade Dreams?
Writing took some time over a couple of months during lockdown and the whole Covid thing, the recording on the other hand went relatively quick as I played, recorded and produced every instrument myself. So I got to determine the workpace and everything myself.

Looking at the album title and the graphics on your Bandcamp- page it must have been a real trip down memory lane with the arcade game theme? And did you come up with the term ‘djent synthwave crossover’?
No, Tom from the label cae up with that and I think it is quite accurate. It comes closest to what the songs sound like and what I wanted to achieve with combining the eighties with a more modern style of playing. I grew up in the eighties, musically and culturally speaking at least so that is my base. I wanted to combine the past and the present in this new project and I think I accomplished that.

How do you give an instrumental song a fitting title? Or is it the other way around, is their first a title and then music?
It can work both ways, but writing and naming an instrumental song is mainly a game of associating. Like with the song ‘Robot’ and creating a sound that comes close to whatever your associating with that word. In this case I was thinking about the fact that automation takes over on every level in our lives and tried to find the music that fitted that idea. Besides, you never have to justify the title of a song to anyone as opposed to a song with vocals and lyrics.

How did you get in contact with music and especially heavy music?
Well, my mom is classically trained, so we have that to start with. And my dad is an old rocker so I was always in contact with music from all corners of the musical globe. I got in touch with the classical pieces by Mozart etc. but also the Beatles and Stones and stuff.

You are especially known as a vocalist, what made you decide that it was time to start Bioplan and make instrumental music?
I have been playing guitar for many years but never came to recording with it. I wanted to play in bands and guitarists were on every corner of the street but vocalists were harder to find so I went that direction but at some point I wanted to record my guitar playing and make that the focus.

How did you come up with the name Bioplan and what does it stand for?
Funny story and it shows that bandnames can come from everywhere. In 2018 I was in a hotel with a cinema in it and when I was in the elevator I saw the word ‘bioplan’ and that word means cinemalevel in swedish. I just thought that it was a cool name for my project.

The artwork is amazing as well, how did you come up with this?
A guy named Daniel Ignacio came up with the amazing image of me playing guitar on a hill and transcending that into space and there is even an image of a Soyouz missile in the corner. It is with these kind of details that makes the cover so amazing.

What are your musical  influences and especially as a guitarplayer?
I cannot dismiss Yngwie Malmsteen, being from sweden, you cannot go around him, his shadow is everywhere. Reb Beach for his unique style of playing, Kee Marcello, Michael Lee Firkins, left and right. His country style playing like Firkins is even on the EP. Not actually the country music but his style of playing, the picking has been an enormous influence.

Is the 70’s are the best era for music or the 80’s?
You know, every decade has its corporate thing, you had the fashion thing like grunge in 90’s, there was hair metal in the 80’s, it really is the McDonalds method which means that everything is the same but with a small different ingredient. Every era has it good bands and bad bands but music will always evolve and change and have its admirers and haters. If anything, music is so much a personal taste.

I can hear parts Devin Townsend, but also parts eighties guitar shredding from the Varney-label, like Tony Macalpine. Can you relate to that?
Totally, you can hear two sides of me and my historhy. The left channel is totally shredding, on the other side you van hear a more modern sounding playing. It was enorous fun to make this happen in the studio, exploring sounds and stuff.

Are you planning to promote Bioplan live?
No, the music was not written for that kind of setting. I think a lot of backing tracks would be needed and a ton of musicians which makes it financially not viable to bring it on the stage. And it really comes to life with headphones on anyway.

You produced this album yourself I presume, is producing something you would like to do more often, for other bands as well?
Absolutely, producing is one of the favourite aspects of the business. I love tinkering in the studio, making myself and others sound better, trying new stuff, and trying sounds and noises to enhance the overall sound of a song or album. When is a song done? When you say it is done basically, adding and removing parts and putting them back and in the end you have a finished song.

What is progressive music? Well, being progressive means pushing boundaries, in every way. If you  copy a progressive band like Symphony X, you are not automatically progressive yourself. It is only the label that you get that says you are progressive. But you’re not really. Pushing boundaries is being progressive, the musical ones but also the personal ones.

Do you need a label nowadays with the internet and social media?
Not really, or even a manager as well. Just when you get really busy you might need one. I find it great that I can use the label as a way of checking new ideas and songs, they have lots of expertise and knowhow so they can tell me if I am going in the right direction or stuff. I need someone to ask whether it is any good and what he thinks of my music. But in general I think you can do it all yourself.

Do you have a plan for where you want to be in five years?
The main thing is building a portfolio, my goal is to attract attention and work as a guitarplayer for whoever needs me really, or sing or produce, or do studiowork or go on tour. I use Bioplan to put me on the map as a guitarplayer and build on that. AS a musical omnivore I am open to anything that comes my way.

How much practice do you need in order to play a seven string guitar?
Simply put: a lot. Definitely more than with six strings I can tell you that. What is the added value of two extra strings? It gives you an extra channel to build up your sound, it makes your riffs and overall sound sound bigger and it can really improve your playing. It is maybe a bit technical but with high sounds and low sounds and layer upon layer it creates better music

Sweden is the birthplace of a lot of bands and musicians, not only in metal but other kinds of music as well. What do they feed you while growing up that results in Sweden being such a fertile ground for music and musicians?
Because of the system in Sweden, you actually get paid to practice through study groups and bands. In a way the government pays you to keep of the streets and of the drugs. It gives you an opportunity to explore and develop your talents  Secondly:parents support you from day one, they say you can be anything you want to be. You want to play the bassguitar? OK what kind of bass do you want. They will not be telling you to cut your hair, get your head out of the clouds and get a real job.

Is the EP the new LP? I mean, nowadays bands release more and more EP’s instead of full albums. Is that the result of the shorter attentionspan of kids nowadays? Can we blame the internet for this?
I am not sure if we have to play the ‘blame’ card. But I really think the album is gone. I think bands should be releasing four songs every three months, just to hold the attention of the listener. Going back to the original vinyl is a bit of a nostalgia trip and it is for those who really like the sound of it but I don’t think the hype will continue or take over digital releases which is far more easy to produce and it costs less.

Is music pure entertainment or is it also a way of sharing your points of view on social or political issues or even trying to convert people? Or as Frank Zappa put it some years ago I believe: do politics belong in music? And what do you look for when listening to music yourself?
Difficult question. On the one hand where would we be without people like Bob Dylan who is really prolific as a lyricist with a clear opinion on things. But on the other hand music for me is really fun and I want it to make me smile and happy. I don’t really like listening to depressive sounding music like Tool for that reason, it should be uplifting and be a beacon of hope, not confirming the current situation we all live in. Turn on the news and your world turns dark and gloomy, music can change that and that is what I prefer. But there must always be bands and musicians that put social and political issues to music.

And then the question I guess is difficult to answer: Internet: is it a blessing or a curse?
A blessing for sure, making connections possible that before were very hard to realise. Talking to people, knowing what is happening in the world. On the other hand, the downside that really worries me is that the internet is making you think in labels. If you like something the internet will shove another five similar things down your throat. It is making you listen and look at things that they (companies) want you to look at and listen to. It slowly makes sure that people no longer think and investigate and for themselves. Everything is labelled and boxed for you, that really is a scary thing.

Is there a common theme in all your musical endeavours, something that defines you as an artist?
That is a really good question, I have never thought about that at all. I think that, if you want an answer now, that the common thing would be FUN. Everything I have done up until now is about making fun, for myself but also making it fun for the listener. Nowadays the overall feeling you get from the news and people around you is depressive. Music should be something you share because sharing experiences results in empathy and we can use a lot more of that.

Are there any other musical styles that you want to explore? What artist would you like to work with and write songs with?
Anything really, I would love to write songs with some of the old greats before they are dead, but also I want to discover what new thing is around the corner, new young bands that do things I never thought was possible, I want to learn it all. I am a musical omnivore.

Social media