EMQs with PLANEPACKED

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EMQs with PLANEPACKED

Hi everyone. Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with USA based Progressive projected, Planepacked. Huge thanks to frontwoman and project mastermind, Jessica Kagan for taking part. 

What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name’s Jessica Kagan (and I use she/her pronouns). I’m a keyboardist and more recently a vocalist. Planepacked basically evolved out of my deep delves into composing after I stopped taking formal piano lessons at the end of high school. So far, Planepacked has exclusively been a solo act, though I’ve worked with session musicians and engineers to get things made. I released a debut LP in 2017 and a quick electronic-only EP in 2019.

How did you come up with your band name?

I didn’t come up with the name Planepacked – someone’s copy of the video game “Dwarf Fortress” did (read the history at https://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/Planepacked). I just made the decision at some point to make that my artist name. I didn’t really commit to that name properly until 2014-2015 or so, which was when I gradually started making more of an effort to brand and promote my work more intensively. That being said, I think it’s a good fit for the densely packed, hyperkinetic, heavy music I aim to create.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

Currently based out of New England – Greater Boston in particular. It’s not the biggest scene and I’m not very deeply attuned, but there’s plenty going on. Plenty of big acts playing in Boston, Worcester, Providence et al (the Palladium in Worcester is a favourite for gigs). One particular thing I seem to notice is that the Metal “scene” around here is especially closely intertwined with Punk / Hardcore / Emo / Screamo et al, which definitely adds local flavour.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

The things coming out soon are the “Transactinides” LP and the strictly related but separate “War Song” single. The single came out on January 28th and the album proper should release on April 8th.

Who have been your greatest influences?

In rough order of discovery – there’s a lot of classical music (particularly 20th century “impressionist” composers like Debussy, Ravel, Vaughn Williams), tracker music from 90’s video games (I’ll take a moment to shout to Alexander Brandon of Tyrian, Unreal, and Deus Ex fame) and an ever growing melange of Metal, Electronic, Prog, et al artists. My evolving shortlist of band recommendations for tracing direct influences on Planepacked is as follows: Bal-Sagoth, Sigh, Igorrr, Blut Aus Nord, Devin Townsend, Samael, Autechre, Susumu Hirasawa, and Arca, who just made the list (congratulate her)! That’ll probably be more notable once we get to the album after Transactinides, which is deep in development.

What first got you into music?

My family always had a strong musical background – my mother took piano lessons in her youth and particularly encouraged me to cultivate my own skills, and my dad is a member of a Garage Punk band called The Penetrators (the ones from Syracuse, since there’s apparently two others).

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician, who would it be?

I’d like to get a remix album going one of these days – basically, anyone whom I contract would get song multi-tracks and carte blanche to make what they see fit using them. At some point, I may have to try reaching out to the more Electronic artists on the influences shortlist and see if I can get their attention. I’ll look more recently, too – maybe the folks at the recording studio I used (Nu House Studios) would be interested in such a project?

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I’m not sure. I think the obvious gimme would be a festival that caters both to Extreme Metal and Electronica musicians, just on account of Planepacked’s style. Bonus points if they have the ability to quash omicron for the duration or more.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Fans really haven’t sent me much in the way of gifts. I can be a private person at the best of times, so I guess that if you want to show support above and beyond just purchasing my music and any merch I bring out, you could donate to some charities. I’ll take this time to recommend the Internet Archive, which is already an important part of humanity’s cultural legacy and which needs to be kept as vital as possible.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

A tough question! Were I granted such powers of necromancy and credible assurances that anyone I resurrected wouldn’t be brought back wrong / otherwise in an unwanted form… perhaps Sophie (also all dependent on her consenting to this)? I can’t say I’m directly familiar with her work – in fact, I only really learned that she existed and exerted so much power over recent popular music when she died. There’s something about that I find especially sad and poignant.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

This is a rose with a thorn – the rose being that my role as a musician allows me to express myself and create songs that I want to exist through the power of my mind. The thorn is that despite my efforts, I only have so much time and motivation to channel this part of myself. That, and the fact that I still need to sleep 8 hours a day, like my fellow humans.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Get streaming services like Spotify to pay artists more per stream and you’re at least one step closer to a more equitable industry.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

A more recent favourite – “Modern Closure” by 4mat. This is heavily chiptune-inflected electronica with great arrangements, huge and colourful chords and plenty of cool synth sounds. “Nadir” is more immediately accessible, but “Modern Closure” is worth whatever time you need to appreciate it.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, or Downloads?

The music is the important part, not so much the medium! …you got any phonograph cylinders?

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

There’s only been one live gig so far… and that was strictly an open mic night arranged by the school I get my singing lessons from. That being said, that did give me a chance to show off ‘War Song’ to a small set of the public and I can now say that I’ve technically performed at the Middle East in Cambridge! I’ll need to find a way to get more shows going.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

I’ve still got my writing hobby (biggest thing in that realm is my urban fantasy / sci-fi series, Endian Project) and I’m a web developer in my day job. Between those two, I think there’s still a lot of room for creativity and exploration.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

I think I’d like to reserve dinner parties for people I’m close with in real life. Best to protect their privacy.

What’s next for the band?

Album 3, as of yet, is in the works. It needs a name! I don’t know when it’ll be out, but hopefully it’ll take less time than Transactinides needed to release. I would like to put together a touring band at some point, but at this point, I think my other ambition (find local musicians to collaborate on a new project) is more plausible. Other than that, nothing’s set in stone.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Everything we’ve got at the moment is available through our Linktree.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

They are an ancient warrior’s specialty and perfect fuel for fighting against the Goa’uld. (I spent a lot of 2020/2021 watching Stargate SG1 and do not have a strong opinion on this question otherwise.)

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Not so much at the moment! But I really appreciate the interview, and hope everyone enjoys reading it.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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