The symphonic instrumental djenty genius of Mark Pyjama and Pyjama Planet are back. After presenting the new song “Storm The Gates”, now it’s time to present the new video for the song, one that you can check it out below in a World Of Metal exclusive. Also below you can get to know more about Mark and his work on Pyjama Planet and also Pyjama Planet Studios: by Fernando Ferreira, photo by Matt Keeson
Hello Mark and welcome to our World Of Metal. We can say that you’re a perfect example of the description of a 21st century musician is or have to be. Guide us to when and how you entered the music world. How did it happen the magic spark that began your path?
Thank you for having me! It’s wonderful how no matter what country or culture we are from, we all speak the language of Metal. A 21st century musician you say… That’s an interesting point you have raised. I guess it depends on what that musician’s goals are, but if that person wants to be a busy, content, and money-earning musician, there needs to have been some adaptation.
I remember seeing my world in sounds as a child. Everything had a rhythm, and everything had a tonal placement in my throat. I remember mimicking machines, animals, and nature, and would often repeat those sounds for days on end in my throat. My father played the guitar, and my mother played a small Yamaha organ that sat in our living room. From a young age, I would experiment with the instruments and would spend hours making noise that made no sense, but was all part of my aural development. It wasn’t until the age of 5 that I had that magical moment. I witnessed a kid in my pre-school stand up in class one day, pull out a violin, and start playing.
I sat there open-eyed, confused and amazed, at this strange new musical sound that wasn’t made by one of my parents at home, but sounded more like the things I heard on the radio and on my parents LP’s. From that moment I was hooked.
Was there a metal scene when you were starting out that influenced you or was mainly from abroad the major influences on your musical personality?
I was a late bloomer when it came to performing Rock or Metal live, let alone even writing it. Blink182 and Sum41 were strong influences of mine as a teenager, and would be the strongest gate-way bands I think that had a influence on my shift in music taste, after the “what your parents make you listen to in the house” period of childhood.
I only picked up the guitar around 15 years of age, but immediately joined up friends and would try and write music together or just hash out some badly performed covers. This was at school, and we were lucky enough to have an awesome music teacher who championed music experimentation. So he would let us use the music school hall to practice at night after class. We’d drink coca-cola, order some pizza, and make even the most awful punk bands sound even worse with our covers. It was fantastic! An absolute rush, and a feeling I’ll never forget.
My interest in Metal surfaced at the age of 19, in 2004. This was my first year of University. At this point, there WAS a Metal scene in Cape Town, South Africa, but I was unaware of it. It took me 6 months to discover it with the help of a friend of mine who asked me to join his University Rock and Metal radio show (at 6am in the morning).
My friend and I eventually hosted the Afternoon Rock and Metal show and would have bands and guests every week come and chat to us and then play fun little acoustic versions of their metal songs. Through doing so, we found the band called The Doppler Effect. And man did they fucking rock hard as hell. Fast riffs, catchy melodies that stuck in your head, and clean and scream vocals. The full package! Plus, their bassist at the time ran around on stage in pink butterfly wings, which was the most metal thing I had ever seen. I love contrast, and pink butterfly wings playing metal was just perfect.
Again I’d have to pay respect to my fellow radio co-host, William, who introduced me to Metal. First it was In-flames, then Metallica, then Trivium. Some old, some new, but all had their own unique flavour that clicked with me.
Pyjama Planet is your solo project but it is also the name of your studios and also your samples company. I want to get into that each one but before I’m curious to know what came first?
Between my solo project, music studio, and sample company, Pyjama Planet the solo project came first. It was a concept that I felt best fit the type of music I was trying to make, which was flamboyant, symphonic, cosmic melodic-metal. I imagined bright luminous colours, and a lonely planet spinning for eternity. A world where magic and the obscene were rampant, and my mind could wander wherever the music took me.
So let’s start with the studios. When did you begin producing and what is the impulse that made you pursue that aspect of the music business. What is the style of music you prefer to make?
The word ‘producing’ can have many meaning nowadays, but for me it means 2 things:
1. Producing my own original music, whether it be for recreational reasons, or for my work as a composer for Video Games and TV shows.
2. The Mixing process. Mixing my own music became a necessity due to the amount of music I crank out, both recreationally and for work. As soon as I learnt to hold a guitar, I started learning how to record it in various ways. First I put a karaoke microphone into the body and recorded that onto a tape. I’d then play it back and jam over it with some weird abomination of notes. Next I found a cable to plug that microphone into my Dad’s laptop.
Now I suddenly had a digital file. Using the basic programs that came with, what would have been, Windows 98 or something back then, I started manipulating, and blending sounds and had shown myself that I had an obsession with sound, music, and the capturing of it. Through school I played 4 or so different instruments, and further taught myself how to use simple recording programs that I could find on 2nd Hand PC Magazine CDs at the local market.
After having a few different friends and producers record and produce my various bands’ albums, I took all my learnings and experimentation and produced my own full length solo album, which was Max Chops in 2016. Despite studying Film and TV and becoming a Cameraman and Director for my first 10 years of working, I still was always more concerned and obsessed with how everything sounded. Music and Sound became an obvious choice of career path when my Film Career ended.
You also give original music writing services. Is this something challenging? And when doing this kind of assignment, do you feel some kind of pressure to go out of the comfort zone of the sounds you like to do on Pyjama Planet or is there no boundaries?
This is the best part of being a musician! Being paid to work on music that stretches your repertoire. I really do love writing music for Video Games and TV Shows. It’s difficult to take direction sometimes and be told WHAT to write and WHERE, but without this direction I would probably end up writing heavy symphonic music for every project I was hired on.
My musical training is based in both Classical (Violin and Piano), and in Jazz (Saxophone). Without this training at school I don’t think I would’ve been able to write music in the way that I do. Most of the music I write for ‘work’ is either Orchestral, Electronic, or a combination of both. Some of the earlier pieces I wrote in my career were for Animated Corporate Videos, and in animation, there really are no boundaries. The pieces I wrote stretched from piano and orchestra, to cartoon theme tunes, to electro swing.
My current project is a Video Game called GlitchPunk. It is being developed by DarkLord Games who are based in Poland. This game also has made me dig deep and research new production techniques and writing styles. I’m both writing the music for the game, but also doing a lot of the voice acting for the in-game radio stations and DJs. I’m having to bring all manner of ‘skills’ to the table to be able to pull this one off, and it couldn’t be more fun.
My foundation in Music Theory, Aural training (training your ear to recognise pitch, chords, and key changes) is almost 100% responsible for me being able to turn my passion into a career, and I have my parents and music teachers to thank for that. At the age of 6, when asking my parents if I could start the violin, it wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t championed the idea and saved up to buy me one.
How about the audio plugins and instruments? I guess they get handy when working in a studio but was your own music that made you give that push to try creating your plugins and VST instruments or was the various projects that made you want to do that also?
Yes, you are correct. I started making my own instrument plugins to speed up my writing process. At the end of 2019, I built my first big composing template in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and it was here that I realised I had a few things missing.
I wanted a way to be able to capture and write music with the physical instruments I had on hand but didn’t always have the time to set up or pickup and use.I had also begun recording sound effects, and had discovered a way to turn these into actual instruments and Synth pads. It was such fun using all of these new tools I had created that I decided to place them on my website, some for sale, but at this point mostly for free.
My current Video Game composition project has utilised every single product that I have online, and more that I built but never uploaded to my website.
What is the VST/Kontakt instrument that you want to make but didn’t have the chance yet
One year ago, a peer and I recorded a percussion library on my farm. We have not had the chance to actually develop it yet due to other work requirements, but this is the one I’m most excited about, and most disappointed hasn’t come to fruition yet. The percussion library was recorded inside a small circular metal building, about 3 meters wide, and mimics a massive orchestral percussion ensemble.
The trick, however, was that we didn’t use drums. We used buckets. Actual plastic and metal buckets from my garden. We recorded all of the buckets with a variety of velocities, meaning that we recorded them really soft, and also really loud. It’s loud, it’s heavy, but at the same time sounds unique. This library will not only help our own compositions, but will hopefully be an awesome addition to some of my website’s users.
And last, but in no way least, Pyjama Planet as a musical expression of yours, how did it started. And by the way, and let me try to guess, is Pyjama Planet’s name connected to the fact that maybe that’s the perfect work outfit ever? This coming from someone who works at home …
(Laughs) Again a great question, and one I really enjoy answering. Music has a visual representation in my mind, and so when I was writing and listening back to the music I was writing in the formation of Pyjama Planet, I kept seeing luminous colours and a planet without a Sun, but enough radiation to emit light itself. And thus the actual Planet was born.
The story goes …
“In a distant quadrant of the known universe, a solar system lost its sun, and the radiation that spilled from its destruction infused its orbiting planets with perpetual, brilliant phosphorescence. Deep at the centre of this broken system of still-orbiting worlds spins Pyjama Planet. It is a beautiful world of strange, glowing creatures, iridescent flora, and a scattering of resilient, radiant, pyjama-clad humanoids. Drifting amidst a sky of perpetual night, this world of myriad light has found a new way to exist, a planet with no star that has discovered infinite ways to shine.”
You have a new song out, “Storm The Gates” that really shreds major arse. And by the looks of the video, that will be released on 5th February, you’re having a real blast – is this how you see and feel music? Good fun?
Precisely. Such fun! I write my music for me. It’s what I want to hear, and so this Music Video for Storm the Gates encapsulates exactly how my own music makes me feel.
It’s not too dissimilar from the video I released in October of 2020 for the first Single off Madjenta, “The Prelude” (Music Video available on YouTube, as well as the Single on all streaming platforms).
The First single was flamboyant and over the top, but it’s filled with tonnes of emotion. Because it was 6:40 in length, I decided that the 2nd Single we released had to be in complete contrast. And thus, Storm the Gates being a hard fast and short song, was the obvious candidate.
This is the second single from “Madjenta”, that it feels it will be a great album, When can we expect to see it out there?
I am SO excited for this album to release. It feels different to my other body of work, but it still has the Pyjama Planet feel. The goal of this album was to make a more groove-orientated collection of music, rather than a technical guitar album. Hence there is more focus on the rhythm section and the ambient sounds than on the guitars. The album sounds big. I’m using a large portion of my composition template for it, and am really delving deeper into the Symphonic element this time.
Like so many things during this current Pandemic, this album has been delayed a few times. Partly because of my own mental energy, but most in part because of my current workload. Ironically now that I am a full-time musician, I am not able to write my own personal music as much anymore. The album is now expected to release mid 2021.
The world is plunged into the Covid 19 pandemic that threw music business into a precarious state. How did it affect you?
Adaptation. I had to adapt. No longer could I go for meetings to meet new clients in my neighbouring towns, looking for work. I had to now look Internationally for work, and I started a Music Sample business.
Fortunately both of these directions have worked for me, and I do encourage those fellow musicians who are struggling to take a look at your skill set, and see how it can be applied to a now more physically static, digital world. If we do not adapt and grab the internet by the balls, we shall not persevere.
Peace and love – Mark Pyjama
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