Q&A With LOMM Specials

Bioplan – Andi Kravljaca Interview

LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; How did Bioplan start? What was the event that started it properly?

Andi: I’ve been a singer in bands since about 2001, and have about twenty full-length records under my belt – but I’ve also been playing guitar for a lot longer. I’ve done some solos here and there, but I’ve never published any work where I really explore the guitar and try to tell stories that way. After doing a lot of guitar covers on my Youtube channel in 2017, the idea was born of doing an instrumental project, to write and record as a guitarist and show people that this is something I can do.

LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve? Was it clear from the get go you wanted to make the music like this or did that happen gradually as you started writing?

Andi: When I was a kid there was this big civil war in music fandom, and there were two sides – the synths and the rockers. One side listened to Depeche Mode, the other to Metallica. One worshipped Jean Michel Jarre, the other Yngwie Malmsteen. I always did both. Growing up in the 1980s as I did, I longed to make the sort of music which evokes how the 1980s looked at the future – with enthusiasm, optimism, hope. So the music came very naturally.

LOMM: The new EP has a very unique atmosphere and concept. What does your genre means to you and why did you choose it?

Andi: I didn’t really choose a genre – or I’d have done a better job. My records are sometimes too electronic for metal fans and too metal for electronica fans, but this is what the inside of my head sounds like. I’ve always been a gamer, ever since the Commodore 64 I had, and arcades are some of the fondest memories of my childhood – to the point where I have an arcade cabinet at home. So, ‘Arcade Dreams’ isn’t really about dreaming of video games, it’s about the dreams I had as a kid, WHILE playing video games. Dreams of a bright and fantastic technofuture.

LOMM: Have you ever considered adding vocals to Bioplan besides the few snippets of spoken word that are included?

Andi: No, not really – I mean if people want to hear me sing all they have to do is pick up an Aeon Zen, Nergard, Thaurorod, Nibiru Ordeal or Silent Call record. This was about closing that avenue to myself and forcing myself to tell stories without words. Bioplan is totally different to any other music I’ve ever made because I’ve had to think totally differently to make it. And I quite like being in that space.

LOMM: Is instrumental music easier or harder to promote when you look at your career so far? And why?

Andi: Much harder, to the point where sometimes you’re literally making it for yourself. The market for instrumental music is artificially limited by you an artist – most people want to sing along to a chorus, and the voice tells personal, engaging stories by combining music and poetry in a way no instrument can replace. But there is also something wonderful about instrumental music, listening to something and NOT having the words tell you the story, but making the story yourself by interpreting the emotion in the music. That does require patience and effort, though, which makes it harder to justify for someone who can just click ‘next’.

LOMM: The covid years are either behind us or still happening in some countries. Those years have taken an emotional toll on everyone and the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you been holding up?

Andi: I’ll be brutally honest and say these are the happiest times of my life. I’ve been able to coup myself up in my studio, stay away from parties, people, shows, and all the distractions of life and just be on my own, making music, tinkering and being blissfully oblivious to the world outside. I feel like I’ve had a taste of the world I was born to live in, and I am terrified of going back to how things were.

LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time with the EP that recently came out. Did that help to battle the last years challenges?

Andi: As I said, it’s been two years of pleasures for me, and not really any challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy myself and make the music I want to make, rather than the music which will get ‘asses in seats’ as the promoters like to say.

LOMM: What artists & bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Andi: I’m a huge fan of many artists and it’s hard to name just a few. On the one hand, there’s people like Alex Ball making amazing retro synth music, bands like The Algorithm who continue to show us you don’t need guitars to make metal. There’s old guitar heroes like Reb Beach and Kee Marcello, and there’s new blood like Plini and Arch Echo. There’s megaplayers from other genres, like Brad Paisley and Michael Lee Firkins, and great bands like Daft Punk which are all poured into this.

LOMM: Are you happy with your products so far? (also including the album release before) What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?

Andi: I’ve never been proud of anything I’ve ever done in my life – it’s always a struggle to listen to something I’ve made because I can tell you the 4703 things I’d have done better if I could do it again. But overall, a release is supposed to be a snapshot of who you are at that time, warts and all, and I think I’ve captured it with all the releases so far. It’s tough to mix records with four channels of rhythm guitar, and seven different synth things going on, and you have to make compromises all over the place to make it make sense. But to the people who really listen, there’s so much going on in these songs which I can’t wait for you to discover.

: How has the overall reception been so far?

Andi: Bioplan was never going to rule the world – it’s a narrow genre within a narrow genre, but I do think it’s put me on the map, at least on the fringes of the map, as a guitar player, which is what I wanted. Since the first EP I’ve had the opportunity to play guitar on records with some great people, and I look forward to doing more of that as time goes on. Aside from that, there’s a few really great people who follow it intently and I’m grateful for every last one of them.

LOMM: You are known as a singer for years and are now branching out as a guitar player. Have you ever been on a tour as a guitar player? Or is that really a studio thing primarily?

Andi: The last time I stood on stage with a guitar around my neck was in 1998, I believe. That was about a year after I had started to play – pretty shortly after that I became involved in bands as a singer and have done that ever since. I’d love to do a lot more guitar work, maybe not the Bioplan stuff because that’s instrumental, technical and I don’t even have a band for it, but to play guitar on stage as a session player or a band member would be amazing.

LOMM: Will there be live performances for Bioplan in the future?

Andi: No, I don’t think so. Partially because doing a 60 minute set of complex instrumentals which blend jazz, country playing and djent is probably a hard thing to sell tickets for, but also because there’s no band other than myself. It’s hard to make a business case for hiring musicians to play music in such a narrow genre – but I would love to take aspects of Bioplan and make them part of my playing identity in other projects and bands.

LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
Andi: Essentially, my problem marketing myself as a guitarist was that I had no back catalog, no portfolio. What I want to do is to use Bioplan as a blueprint for my playing style, my sound – and I want to point people to that and say ‘This is what my guitar playing sounds like’. Then, from there, I’d like to take every opportunity I can to present that style, either in other projects or in session work, while still doing Bioplan as my own, personal side project where I explore the line between electronic music and metal.

LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Andi: No contest, studio. I suffer from terrible, crippling stage fright. The last live show I played was about three and a half years ago and if I never play one again I’ll die a happy man – shows were always a necessary evil for me, it’s what you have to do, to get what you want. And what I want is to tinker away in a studio, to sit with my synthesizer and agonize for hours over how to set the envelope filter, or to A/B test compressors on a bass channel, or to make little production changes as you go. That’s always been my favorite part of making music – taking it from an idea in your head to something that suddenly exists. Performing it after it exists is almost a chore – I’m done with that now!

LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Andi: Both are important in their own right, but what you should never do is mix them. Do the music which your fans want you do to – you owe it to these people, who have paid for your success, sustained you through your hard times, and stayed with you. These people are your life. But – have a project on the side which is just for you. Only for you. And don’t even look at the sales figures. Assume a 100% loss and just make it because it hurts not to make it. Then go back and give the fans what they want.

LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Andi: I’ll get back to you on that one!! No, but in all seriousness, there was a review of the 2008 Silent Call record which I still remember. My biggest singing inspiration, the singer Göran Edman, appeared on a track, and the review said ‘Göran Edman also makes an appearance on the album, but it’s not clear where’. That made me smile so much. Maybe one day someone will write that about my guitar playing too, who knows?

LOMM: Anything else you think our readers/your fans should know?

Andi: Look, guys, the only reason any music of mine costs any money is because of amazing people around me, like Tom de Wit, Rich Gray, and loads of people who should be rewarded for the work they did. For me, making music is therapy. When you listen to my music, you’re my therapist – I should be paying YOU for listening to it. So for anyone who’s ever listened to anything I’ve ever done, THANK YOU – you’re the reason I get up in the morning!

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