LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Hugo Selles: Psychic Equalizer was originally started by me alone. I wanted to drive myself away from the classical music studies and make something else. It has changed quite a lot since then – almost ten years ago now, time flies… While Adrian Ubiaga and I have been friends for many years, I met musician and sound engineer India Hooi and guitarist Carlos Barragán when I was living in Denmark. We are like a family now. We are really close despite the distance. I love that, even more than the musical evolution of the band!
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
Hugo: It’s been particularly difficult for us as a band. We are not the typical band that plays gigs in their hometown and try to rise from there. We are living in Denmark, Spain and UK. We had to cancel all of our plans for last year, which was really depressing as it’s not particularly easy for us to arrange everything. The thought of splitting up was laid on the table. There was a moment when none of us could see light at the end of the tunnel. But we are in good health and there’s obviously nothing more important than that!
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
Hugo: That’s right. Somehow we found the energies to record more music! Now I can see that was the best decision we could have ever made. Ironically, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, these new songs we are publishing now wouldn’t have existed. Of course, making this record while managing to stay afloat financially has been a tough challenge.
LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it mean to you, why did you choose this genre?
Hugo: Actually, it would be hard for me to define our genre. I know there’s hundreds of styles and labels and there’s probably one for our music. I guess progressive rock is the most suitable one, as we gathered elements from rock, classical, jazz, ambient, world and metal. I don’t think we chose the genre but it was more of an evolutive process throughout the years of existence of Psychic Equalizer.
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Hugo: We decided that each of us would work on some ideas and then show them to the rest. We also worked in teams, so to say, during the compositional process. But at the end, we all arranged and produced every single song. Except perhaps the last one, which was practically finished when India sent us a demo, the rest are the result of a tremendously collaborative work.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Hugo: Honestly, I think this is the best we could have done in our current situation and I think it is the best we have ever done too! Of course there’s always things to improve from the compositional point of view, the performance, the mix… There’s always things to improve. But right now, I think we have brought the level of this band much higher than it was before and I’m particularly proud of everyone’s input.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
Hugo: We are releasing ‘Revealed II’ on March 19th. We have started sharing some snippets and some lyric videos are coming. So far, we are getting really good vibes from our fans, friends and press. Also, the amazing session drummer we have worked with really loves our music – and that’s a great bonus! Let me say, by the way, James Knoerl is the man. What a shame we live so far away, otherwise we would recruit him!!!
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Hugo: We’ve played a few concerts in the past indeed. Due to the geographical complexity of our band, not as many as others would have. But we’re really looking so much forward to putting all of this music live – we cannot wait!
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
Hugo: I believe we’ve all done a great effort with this EP and my most sincere hope, and surely my band mates agree with me, is that it gets the recognition it deserves. I don’t know what the future will be like and I rather not think much about it, I’ve learnt my lesson from last year.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Hugo: The lyrical themes in the EP deal with the darkest side of humanity, about how awful we can be to each other. We have found a new lyrical depth. There’s tragedy in general. I guess when writing, we were influenced by the pandemic, but we are also very concerned about the future of our society. That has definitely been something we have focused on for the last couple of studio releases. India and I are the writers in the band, although some of the concepts or ideas are given by the others.
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
Hugo: It used to be only me. But for the last two albums/EPs, everyone has been working on that aspect. The most important thing is that each of us can now be more focused on what he or she is best at.
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Hugo: We could make and endless list. We are four people with rather different musical tastes, although we have points in common. I would say classical music is one of our biggest influences. Well, in fact romantic music and twentieth century (“academic music”??). Sorry, this is my constant battle with the term classical music – I really don’t understand how can there be a thousand million words for different types of rock and then four centuries of musical history are labelled under the same term. Anyway, going back to your question, I would say Dream Theater is of great inspiration, but also Alan Parsons and Stratovarius. I know Carlos likes Intervals a lot and he would kill me if I didn’t mention them haha…
Lady Obscure: I like them a lot too J Aldo DT and Parsons too J
Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Hugo: Both are exciting and enjoyable in their own particular ways. Although right now for us, being on the road is what we are really craving for.
LOMM: What first got you into music?
Hugo: The four of us have something in common. We’ve all started playing an instrument since a very young age. Six in my case, I think India was four and I cannot remember about the others. But we all went into studying classical music and that led to other genres later in our careers.
LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
Hugo: It’s actually very interesting that you are asking this question because it wasn’t until quite recently that I started to think about the magic of being a musician. Being able to read a score by Beethoven and make it sound with my hands on the piano, jamming with other musicians or improvising something completely different. It’s just so special, I cannot describe it with words. Of course, there are things not to like, especially nowadays with the constant uncertainty, but I couldn’t imagine my life without music.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
Hugo: I cannot reply for the others, but I do love nature and I hate what’s being done to it. So I guess I would spend more time dealing with that.
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Hugo: Streaming. There was this amazing opportunity to still bring tons of music to the world and roll the dice of power towards musicians. But we ended up with Spotify and alike. I don’t see much of a change. Although, I must say, Bandcamp is actually doing a great job, I believe it’s one of the few platforms whose owners really care about artists. Ironically, I really prefer digital format in music. The sound quality can be outstanding, better than any physical format – sorry everyone, facts are facts. And I find it’s so handy to have so much music in one hard disk driver. But instead of that, what is being offered is MP3s surrounded by adds all the time. There’s no context at all, as there used to be with vinyls or CDs. And of course, if you’re a musician, especially an independent one, it’s not like you have a choice. If you are not in, you don’t exist.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Hugo: Music, no doubt.
LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?
For us as a band it’s still to come. Next time we are on stage is going to be absolutely memorable, that’s for sure!
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Hugo: I cannot tell honestly. I don’t mean to sound vain at all. Of course I’ve had great moments, but for me being a musician is a continuous process, you must always improve. Not only technically as a performer, but even more mentally or psychologically as a musician and human being. So what I think is a milestone today, might be overtaken tomorrow.
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Hugo: James Knoerl again, please! And they say dreaming is free right? John Petrucci?
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
Hugo: With Psychic Equalizer. I don’t think we need to tour with some other band at the moment. We need to work it out for ourselves and perhaps in the future feel confident enough to do such thing.
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
Hugo: Night of the Prog. It has to be the most amazing progressive rock festival in the whole world.
LOMM: I hear you! Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Hugo: Well, as I said earlier, we all four have different tastes. I consider myself pretty open-minded so I don’t think there’s any controversy: Dream Theater – Octavarium, Pat Metheny Group – The Way Up, Anathema – Falling Deeper. I could add a lot more, but those are the first few ones that popped up to my mind. If the others would add theirs to this list, it would be absolutely eclectic.
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
Hugo: I used to have more CDs. Quite a big collection actually. But after moving several times, I just kept the ones I was more emotionally attached to. I was never a fan of vinyls, although I used to listen to some back in the day. My parents have some of the greatest LPs and I discovered Neil Young or Pink Floyd thanks to them. But truth be told, I’ve never enjoyed that constant noise. I know others find it charming, I just find it very annoying.
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Hugo: Adrian and I are from northern Spain, from a small beautiful region called Cantabria. India is from Australia and Carlos from Colombia. I wish I could answer to that question, but I haven’t been very connected with the scene here. Even though I’m back in my homeland, I’m still living in my own bubble. I guess it’s a classical pianists’ thing.
LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
Hugo: Hahaha, I don’t know whether it would be a total disaster or a success: Freddy Mercury, Liam Gallagher, Kathryn Prescott, Sergei Rachmaninov and David Attenborough, why not! At least I could take care of the sangría, so that would be good!
LOMM: What is your weirdest memory in your music career?
Hugo: That one time when the roof of the studio we were recording in fell and within minutes the whole place became a hot water pool. Insane.
LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Hugo: I have pretty much received very nice things, such as flowers, paintings and poems. Nothing weird fortunately. I think Carlos once received a kalimba, or was it someone else? I can’t remember. Anyway, not weird at all, pretty cool in fact!
LOMM: If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?
Hugo: I have said it many times, and the rest of Psychic Equalizer too, whether it’s to family, friends or our followers on social media: thank you!
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
Hugo: I think they’re going to like ‘Revealed II’. So just… Enjoy it!
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time!
Hugo: THANKS TO YOU!!