thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview.
Hey It Sounds Future, thank you for having me on board.
For those who don’t know so much about you yet, can you please introduce yourself and your background as an artist to our readers. I think you work under different project names too?
I’m Gianclaudio H. Moniri, born in Rome in 1985. I’m half Italian and half Iranian. I’ve started to release music when I was 18 under the name of Kaeba. In 2008 I’ve formed the band Plaster, originally comprised of Giuseppe Carlini and me. We used to play our music in underground clubs and festivals here in Rome, then we moved to Berlin and our audience started to grown. After a short period, we released on Kvitnu, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Touchin’Bass and some smaller labels. As Plaster we also played in several international festivals around the world. In 2014 Giuseppe left the project, so I remained as a sole member. In the meantime I published music as Kaeba, Clouds After Rain and my born name as well.
Some of your biggest influences are?
My background is mostly based on Rock music, I’ve studied guitar since I was young and I play electric guitar and bass. My first love as a child growing in the ’90s was for Nirvana, Oasis and many other bands that in that period were usually transmitted by MTV. Over the years I’ve started to appreciate Progressive Rock and Fusion bands. I had a big impact with electronic music around 17 with bands like Future Sound Of London, Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack etc. Then I deeply went into the experimental side of electronic music, discovering artists like Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Biosphere and labels such as Raster Noton or Leaf. At the moment I love to listen to Soundtracks and 80’s synth music.
As Plaster, you have a special album – „Blends“. Special, because it´s not a compilation and not a solo release but has a lot of different artists and you as Plaster are involved in each track. What was the idea behind it?
Everything started during the first Lockdown in 2020. The strange period we all lived, led me to think a bit out of the box. There have been many compilations during that months but I wanted to make something different, so I started to work on a collaboration Album. Due to this new aspect of life, I’ve found fertile ground with the artists involved. In a moment where we all were separate, my intent was to keep connections alive.
How did you select the participating artists?
To be honest, everything came from the sounds I was making for this project. It’s hard to explain but I knew that the samples, or the sessions I’ve sent to a specific artist, could have stimulated her or his creativity in some way. Of course, I was aware of their sonic characteristic, and I know all of them personally. In some cases are very close friends, so for me was not very difficult to relate the sounds to the artists.
How did you work out the actual recording process in general – and for the individual tracks because you haven’t been in studios together?
None of the tracks have been developed together in the studio, unfortunately, but technology helped a lot during the process. In most cases I’ve sent a bunch of samples, unfinished tracks arranged through Ableton Live or recorded synths improvisations. I was very picky to select the material because I didn’t want to have an album that sounds like a compilation.
The technical process has been very simple, I’ve sent the material, the artists send me back the tracks for having feedback or so, then if it was all good, job done. Otherwise, I reworked the tracks received and send them back to the artists for final adjustments.
How long did it take to have all tracks done?
To keep all the things together, it took 9 months more or less.
Which track was the most difficult to create?
Ironically “Hymn To The Darkest Era” is the only track where the process was inverse to the others. In fact, in this case, Ciccarelli and Michelangeli sent me the stems for mixing and experimenting with them. Due to the particular and acoustic nature of the song, we worked a lot to find the right balance with my electronic elements, and it took several versions before achieving the final one.
Which was the funniest or most memorable track creation process for you?
“Gnawa” produced with Luca “Pixfoil” Spagnoletti, has a special feeling for me. Luca was my teacher in electronic music when I was a student. We have mutual respect for each other, so making something together has been way more important than any school’s exam. I don’t have any particular anecdotes for it, but the only technical stuff that can be interesting is that the flutes in Gnawa were not foreseen at the beginning. I’ve just resampled some flute phrases played by Luca on Circuit#5 and arranged via the sampler in Ableton Live. Nothing spectacular, but I liked the idea to maintain the same mood for both tracks.
It is impressive how you managed to have this cohesive sound all the way through the album with all the different artists and their individual sounds. You couldn´t know what each will deliver, record individually beforehand, right?
Exactly – no idea at all of the final result, but as explained before, I was meticulous in selecting the material to send to the artists. I spent a lot of time also on making the final tracklist, which has been very tricky for finding the balance between the tracks.
What was your recipe?
A good taste, ahahahahaha : ) no special recipe or trick. I just believe that this album is a big step for my musical path and I’m grateful to all the artists involved. I couldn’t imagine something like this 10 years ago or so.
What’s your connection to the Eklero label the work is released on?
Calogero and Daniele (Khymeia) are the guys who run Eklero and we’re good friends. I think it’s one of the few labels in Italy which still prefer experimental dark sounds rather than straight techno, and this is very respectful in my opinion. When I’ve talked to them about this project, they were very enthusiastic, so everything went smoothly. Big support also came from Andrès Rincòn a very young talented guy from Colombia who took care of the visual aspect of the album. I don’t know why, but everything worked very smoothly and almost effortless.
The album is digital but also released on CD which is rare these days. How did this happen and how is it working out?
We planned to release very limited CD copies, and luckily I have a small fan base that follows my music, so we thought for that hard-core people. Also, Eklero sent a copy of the CD to every artist as a “thank you” for being part of the album.
We have ongoing very difficult times. How is the situation in Italy at moment and for you?
Hard question. The situation here is bad, but not that bad as a third-world country, so we’re all dealing with the government decisions and trying to do our best not to get lost. I’ve seen a lot of friends losing their jobs comprising of my wife, and the art world has been very penalized after all. What’s makes me very disappointed is that in 1 year the Italian government didn’t found concrete solutions to revitalize our economy. Locking down in my opinion is not a solution. With fixed numbers of people, many activities could have opened earlier (of course with all the precautions possible) and maybe some of them could have survived.
How are you dealing with this unpredictable future?
At the moment my only strength is my family and outdoor sports. I’m working on self-discipline and eating healthy food in order to not get lost in the catastrophic vortex that the media claims every day.
Which projects you are working on at moment?
At the moment I’m involved in some bands project, one is with the singer Max Alto, we just finished a 4 tracks EP of dance/rock songs and the other project is about producing the electronic elements for a Rome-based band, but I can’t unveil details.
Which upcoming release can we expect from Plaster?
After Kvitnu (which has been the label I’ve released most of my music) closed in 2020, I’ve received a couple of offers to reissue some of my albums. I’m working on it but it’s all under construction, and again, I can’t reveal the details.
Thanks man and keep up the good work!
Our Wednesday selection:
Plaster & Collaborative – Blends (Eklero, LKTRCDA005)
„Blends“ is not a compilation, Blends is not a solo release but „Blends“ is the fifth full-length album by Plaster.
The idea behind this work is very simple but intriguing at the same time. During the first lockdown in Europe, Plaster aka Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri decided to share with several artists and friends, united by the common path of electronic music, own sounds, personal libraries and project ideas.
At the beginning it was just an embryonal workflow like „let’s see what happens“, but soon Gianclaudio understood that something concrete was born: an album of unique collaborations.
The artists involved are (in alphabetical order): Brando Lupi, Cluster Lizard, Andrea Ciccarelli with Ambra Chiara Michelangeli, Franz Rosati, Grischa Lichtenberger, Khymeia, Lakker, Marco Bonini, Mingle, Retina.it, PixFoil and Vera Di Lecce.
All these musicians have orbited at „Klang“ (Rome), the renowned club where Marco Bonini and Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri were the artistic directors.
Gianclaudio‘s says: “Through my work at Klang, I had the chance to consolidate some old friendships and make new ones. For me „Blends“ represents a wonderful walk with deep conversations with musicians I admire.”
Despite the album comes from different artistic approaches, there’s a powerful cohesion through the sounds and tracks themselves. Deep low frequencies, dark tones, metallic textures, even acoustics instruments, voices and well-arranged melodies.
Thanks to Daniele Crocenzi and Calogero Aquilina, the guys behind Eklero and Khymeia, Blends is released as a limited CD and digitally, embedded in the visual work of Andrés Rincón.
Tracklist: Plaster & Collaborative – Blends (Eklero, LKTRCDA005)
01. Mingle & Plaster – Wolfpack
02. PixFoil & Plaster – Gnawa
03. Cluster Lizard & Plaster – Outer
04. Ciccarelli / Michelangeli & Plaster – Hymn To The Darkest Era
05. Vera Di Lecce & Plaster – Let‘s Go Obsessed With Reason
06. Brando Lupi & Plaster – Rolling Strobes
07. Franz Rosati & Plaster – Validation And Inference Of High Resolution Invocations
08. Lakker & Plaster – Barriers Of Lights
09. Retina.it & Plaster – Covered Stones
10. Grischa Lichtenberger & Plaster – 1120_30_re 0620_211_re_0620_04_lvrs_1
11. Marco (uBIK) Bonini & Plaster – Aka CNTRLVX
12. PixFoil & Plaster – Circuit#5
13. Khymeia & Plaster – Entropy Of A Static Clock