Three weeks before the release of Impulse voice, Plini’s phone exploded with angry messages from his fans. During MTV EMAs, American singer and rapper Doja Cat surprised viewers with a version of her hit. Say like that and people quickly noticed similarities to the song’s newly added guitar solo and the title track from Plini’s 2016 album, Handmade cities.
“I received the video from a bunch of different fans,” recalls Sydney-based guitarist Plini Roessler-Holgate. “Some of them were outraged and some were curious. I looked at it and thought, ‘Hey, that is similar ‘Then I looked at it again and I was like,’ Hey, this is really similar.'”
Agreeing with his fans, he asked for more information.
“I tried to find out who the band was, but some fans researched me and found the Music Director, who claims to be a huge fan of me. So I found that he has been directly inspired, which I thought was pretty cool.
“I think there was enough outrage among the Keyboard Warriors,” Plini adds, “for this to become a problem even though I didn’t necessarily think it was a huge problem anymore. I just thought it was hilarious. Doja Cat sent me a big apology on Instagram. She said if the Music Director was a huge fan of me taking part of my song, then he should have contacted me to collaborate on it. And it was a bit like that.
“It was the perfect timing for the press campaign for this album,” he continues with a cheeky smile. “I mean, what better way to get the thousands of people who’ve never listened to instrumental prog to at least check it out because their favorite artist is making the headlines?” ”
Plini’s humble and relaxed handling of controversy epitomizes his career to this day. A guitarist with immeasurable talent and an impeccable ear for melodies, he always went about his business without fuss or drama, instead his music – and his heavy touring – has always been talked about.
He released Impulse voice at the end of last year without any label support and he collected a million streams in just 60 hours. He also sold the many vinyl pressings and lots of related products during the process. The whole of an artist who does not play with the hype and for whom “exaggeration” is not a word in his vocabulary. Quietly but confidently, he became one of the most famous young guitarists of the 21st century not out of selfishness or clever media management, but through the quality of his music and his relaxed, friendly demeanor.
“Usually I write everything except the melody first,” he says of his creation process, “then the melody is sort of the lowest common denominator. Once I get something in a silly time signature with chords all over the place, I’ll think of the simplest thing I can layer on top of it to remind myself it’s a song, not a math exercise.
This is why his music resonates so well. For a musician qualified as a virtuoso in his
craft, a title that can often lead to a derivative acrobatic overbid, the music of Plini
is sweet with melodies and ripe with accessibility. Even when the flips and the tricks
come, they’re still inherently musical and feverishly addicting.
“A lot of the music I listen to is very harmonically simple and that’s what sounds good to me,” he adds. “I have a lot of simple progressions, but for each chord I’ll find a new way to play that chord that I had never done before and at that point I put it in a new place, it can. sound a bit more abstract. And then there are some parts that were more just trying to figure out how to get as weird as possible while still being nice. But I try to make as much room for moments like simple melodies as I have moments of, “Look at that sick lick.”
Plini’s music has always been wild, but tastefully varied. Again Impulse voice, an album born from a most unusual 12 months, takes action in so many different directions. Much of this diversity can be attributed to having a lot more time on this record.
Says Plini: “I appreciated having the extra time to work on the music. I tend to be a little optimistic with my time management, so it was ultimately a positive thing, just in terms of having a lot of extra time that I didn’t think I had. It took maybe six or seven months in total, rather than the three I had originally planned, and I had a lot of fun with it. I let everything rest; go into a lot of detail with everything and make it sound exactly the way I wanted it before you put it out.
“I’ve listened to so many different music over the last few years,” he continues, “especially a lot of electronic stuff that has started to creep into my music. I was just like, ‘Damn, I’m going to put a dance beat in this section that I love’, or ‘There’s going to be a 19/8 disco beat and we’re going to make it as musical as possible.’ I would learn from experience.
Plini’s days were divided between tinkering in his home studio and taking the air from his instrument. “Fortunately, living in a very beautiful part of the world where the weather is usually good, I could just walk around with my headphones on when I wanted to get away from writing,” he says.
The album’s press release cites that podcasts were an important part of what went through his headphones on these walks, but Plini assures us. Program this was not always the case. “Don’t get me wrong,” he smiles, “I’ve also listened to a lot of Meshuggah records. I know some people don’t like listening to other music while they’re working on their own stuff because they want to prevent anything from creeping in, but I’ve found it almost to the opposite. So besides podcasts, which I thought was something to keep my brain doing new things, I was listening to a lot of different music and it really helped me in the process. I would find a little production trick that I wanted to use in this song, or a structure that I could use to help with this song that I’m stuck with at three minutes.
So listening to all this music was a constant research process.
What is even more impressive than the diversity of the record is the ease with which Plini switches from one style to another. For a musician whose horizons already stretched far beyond what the naked eye can see, Impulse voice now reaches distant galaxies. Featuring his most delicate playing as well as his most frantic riffs, the album explores so much between these extremes. From saxophone and electric harp solos to 90s dance escapes among its archetypal melodies with sweet and smiling teeth, Impulse voice is a celebration of musicality rather than self-flattery. Its variance helps give it greater reach, but the guitarist also makes all of these different genres feel like soul mates rather than bitter rivals.
As the dust settles on the drama Doja Cat, Plini once again welcomes the idea of metal and pop kissing each other, for the sake of the music and for the sake of the world:
“I think it’s great that a whole minute of Doja Cat’s arrangement is guitar solos,” he smiles. “And I hope more and more pop songs will be rearranged in different ways. Then all we need is that to happen with metal songs as well. Eventually, we won’t have genres anymore. and it will be a happy and happy world.
This article originally appeared in Program # 118.