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Playgrounded

Er wonen vijf Grieken in Rotterdam en tezamen vormen ze de band Playgrounded. Die band bracht vorige maand het album ‘In Time Of Gravity’ uit en neem van mij aan: dat is een album dat gehoord mag worden. Met een vrij eigen geluid en met uitstekende muzikanten die buiten de geëffende paden durven te treden. Voldoende aanleiding om contact op te nemen met Orestis Zafeiriou om wat meer over de heren te weten te komen.

Door: Wim S. | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Hello there! How are you? Where are you right now and what are your plans for today?
Hello there my Lords. I am warm and well, sitting in the living room drinking an average espresso, listening to good music and trying to put my thoughts together to answer to the in depth questions provided from you. Thank you very much for the opportunity, to talk about some additional aspects of our album. Let’s begin!

Five Greeks living and working in Rotterdam, Holland. Please tell us the story that has led to this?
We made this decision a while back around 2013-14. We had finished the gigs and touring for our first album ‘Athens’ with George (drums) being a freshman in the band. We wanted to move Playgrounded to the heart of Europe and get more chances to tour and get in touch with the audiences of the north. Looking back I think that our biggest urge was to find a way to make the band the epicentre of our lives and activities, creating an environment to explore our musical interests. Individually we also pursued our personal goals be it musical or professional: Me (synths-programming) and Giorgos (drums) are enrolled at the conservatories of the Hague and Rotterdam respectively, while Stavros (vocals) finished the one in Amsterdam and is currently working as a composer for film and television in the Netherlands and abroad. Odisseas (bass) and Michael (guitars) are also busy as engineers.

Your first album – ‘Athens’- was released in 2013. Why did it take so long for you guys to come up with a new album?
I could take the easy way and say that we were busy with the relocation but this would be half the truth. The reasons are also musical. Even while recording ‘Athens’ it was clear to us that we wanted to reinvent the band and delve deeper into the electronic aspect of our music which we had only scratched in the first album. The change was long and turbulent, at times we were even hard on ourselves and we wanted to feel fully comfortable with the result.

What is the main difference between the band in 2013 and the band (the music) in 2017, the band (the music) on this new album ‘In Time With Gravity’?
Our music has changed, because throughout the years, we have changed a lot. Our relationship with music first as listeners and then as composers has evolved. We are looking for more ways to communicate our experiences and thoughts, we are trying to find a musical expression that fits our present view of the world. It is fascinating to know that the albums will inevitably communicate our actions in their own musical way. Therefore all the albums will be different and embody our personalities. You can clearly see that the choice of moving into another country, holds in its bag the current sound of the band. Hopefully, this unrest will calm down and reveal more qualities in our future albums.

I really like your music on ‘In Time Of Gravity’. It’s mature, it has a lot to offer, it is diverse. Obviously I hear inspiration from a band like Deftones/Team Sleep in the ‘slow’ songs, the songs that are mysterious and with a lot of electronics. And I hear a more progressive band when you play the more heavy songs. Do you agree?
‘In Time With Gravity’, as we experience it now as listeners, seems to have this musical interplay that you mention! I think it marks our transition from a pure progressive rock album, to an album that seeks unity and coherence between all its elements , with the addition of electronics. The album for us marks a period of experimentation, trying to feel comfortable within this blend. Hopefully, with more work it would be more clarified, more steady and clear in its communication.

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I really like the song 'Rotterdam' and the following triptych 'The Stranger'. Those two songs have all the ingredients that make the music of Playgrounded so special. Can you tell us a bit about the writing process of the band; how do you compose songs like 'Rotterdam' and 'The Stranger'?
We are dealing with the musical material in a specific way, moving within “boundaries” that generate the way we approach sound. The rhythmic and melodic relations between sound elements have a strong attraction, where the first covers musical gaps of the other and vice versa. They are approached as elements that play a specific role in the music and most of the times they are “gravitated” and “synchronised” behind a general idea, abstract or more concrete idea that emerges from the lyrics. This process still needs lots of articulation but it definitely influences the form of our pieces. The pieces take their initial form as projects in the computer where the basic building blocks are revealed. Then they are taken to the studio, so they can be further discussed, refined and take their final form. To be more specific, It starts with a riff, a melody, a groove. Then every element is put together with the initial idea to enhance the melody, to fill gaps within the musical space, vary its “colour” and create a certain “atmosphere”. Dynamics seem to play a vital role in the pieces, used in their extreme when the heavy and atmospheric parts interact. The “Stranger” has a strong conceptual element behind it, approached as one song but also as separate pieces that explore all the above in their own way.

Now that the album is released, what are your plans for the coming months? A lot of touring? And if so, where? Are there enough opportunities for a band like Playgrounded to perform in Holland? Or do you start working on new songs already?
Apart from the two album presentations that took place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and a small tour to Greek cities, it is vital for us to create opportunities so we can perform as much as we can. The same material, performed live, definitely adds another listening dimension which we find extremely important. We are planning to make a European tour soon, with Road Ahead bookings and others that are willing to help us in our endeavors. Holland is a place where music is appreciated and bands from all over the world perform here in great venues and conditions. The professional approach to making a live performance possible, pushes us to make our performance better. We hope to understand, appreciate and be part of the Dutch scene as it has many things to offer.

Anything you would like to add and tell our readers? The answer to a question I did not ask?
I can’t say if the album is good or not, if it has succeeded in putting all the things mentioned above, together in a coherent outcome. What I know is that it is an album that seeks to find an honest way of expressing and communicating the band’s collective thoughts. It tries to add several modes of listening , expressing several musical and lyrical layers that have inherent connections. The compositions contain “boiling” and “chaotic” modes that we try to put together. I will stop now. I tend to “protect” the album because of my insecurities. I will let you decide. It doesn’t need any protection. Enjoy the album and thanks for reading!

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