Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Season Of Treats: It’s A Very Snowcat Christmas! (And New Year!)

Happily, for Christmas this year, there’s been a lot of activity in Snowcatland lately. First off, is the new single by Gilles Snowcat, “Bareta!” The mischievous feline artist has sung this one in his native tongue of Japanese, and with its smooth, poppy sound (complete with a couple of melodic Beatles references) it’s a lot of fun, no matter what language you speak. Amidst pristine production, first rate musicianship, and complex chord changes, “Bareta!” tells the tale of a romantic rendevouz. Gilles says the concept behind the song is “a  kind of escape, excitement, rendez-vous and secret date. And booze.” Awesome. The Snowcat’s voice sounds particularly silkier and smoother than usual in this seductive pop tune.

There’s a reason for that. By far, these are the most polished recordings by Gilles Snowcat to date. Gilles explains how this came to be: “ I had made a mix that wasn’t polished at all, it was more in the vein of ‘Mardi Gras Station’, then I sent the tapes to the label and I told them to do whatever they wanted for the final mix, which they did since they focused on the synthesizers and they even auto-tuned my voice, but I said ‘OK.’ It’s fun to have your own song mixed in another perspective. They polished it to the max, they took care of the artwork too, for once I let go of controlling everything. It’s refreshing for me to be so shamelessly commercial.”

I sent the tapes to the label and I told them to do whatever they wanted for the final mix, which they did since they focused on the synthesizers and they even auto-tuned my voice, but I said ‘OK.’ It’s fun to have your own song mixed in another perspective.” Gilles Snowcat

Also on the single is “Eleganto Ni,” a love song, also in Japanese. The style is soft jazz pop – very nice indeed. “If I had to define it, it would be hotel room music,” Gilles says, “when you’re allowed to steal the towels.” The final track is a naughty live version of “Two Kinds Of Milk,” a song originally from Gilles’ 2012 full length album, “MokoMoko Collection.”  And while the first two tracks of “Bareta!” are ready for Japanese radio, in this live version the Snowcat drops an F bomb – which only adds to the naughtiness. The track really shows off the charisma and humor of this intriguing artist, as he delivers an energetic vocal performance while Nicolas “Nikozark” Leroy accompanies him on keyboard.

Going back to his days as a founding member of Belgium’s Awaken, and beyond into his prolific solo career, Gilles Snowcat has released tunes in several languages. Which ones, I asked? “Vietnamese, which is a very interesting and musical language, and long ago I did some French songs but that’s like in a parallel world,” he says. “Vietnamese, Japanese and English match well, French doesn’t. French language doesn’t have the ability to be part of the music. I love lots of French songs but it bores the hell out of me to write some.” I also asked Gilles what informed his decision to release this single in the Japanese language?  “A call from It’s Oh! MUSIC, “ he explains. “They wanted to release something specific, and I thought it was a fun challenge, to start from a blank page with a target in mind.”

I asked the mercurial musical feline if this polished sound is a new direction for him. “I don’t waste time looking for directions. Next thing I’ll do will be something else, I don’t know what, just something meaningful and joyful.”

The Rock Star Paradox

The second gift under the tree from Gilles Snowcat this year is his new eBook “The Rock Star Paradox: How To Quit Your Miserable Musician Life By Hacking The Secrets Of  True Rock Stars.” Packed with humor, quotes, and practical advice, the book finds Gilles sharing some of the secrets that have helped him break through the noise and get heard in a very competitive business.

Tips include the rules of rule breaking, how to use the negativity of naysayers to one’s advantage, the value of having a tight deadline, using social media, goal setting, how to advance your musical career while supporting yourself with a day job – and more. There are 21 Rules to Gilles’ Rock Star Paradox in all, including reversals and cautionary principles.

“I can’t walk a place full of musicians without being asked questions on how to make it, as if I was a guru, “ he says. “So I decided to become one.” Gilles Snowcat

Gilles explained to me how the book came into existence: “I can’t walk a place full of musicians without being asked questions on how to make it, as if I was a guru, “ he says. “So I decided to become one.” I asked him bluntly: Sure, advice may help, but isn’t it really hours of practice that makes or breaks a musician? “Practice and technique are a bonus,” he explains, “although until some point they are a necessary evil. But unless you are Yngwie Malmsteen or Lang Lang, they don’t make rock stars. They just make great musicians. And even Yngwie and Lang Lang created their own persona besides the impressive virtuosity they have. Practice can be fun too, drudge work can always be fun, but it’s foolish to think that doing scales all day long will turn you into Rod Stewart.” Hah, well said!

I asked him what take away message would be: “Link your personality to your music,” Snowcat says. “It’s the very essence of a rock star. Accept that your ego is big, inject it into your music and stop giving a f*#@ to naysayers, and you’re miles ahead of your fellow complaining musicians.”


Mesmerizing “Motions” Remix From Norway’s Sienná

When it comes to cool electronica and mesmerizing dance music, Norway’s Sienná never disappoints. So how cool is it that she is revisiting her catalogue to reissue a series of remixes designed for the dance floor? Very!

“Motions” is the first in this series – with more to come. Check out the exciting new video:

I asked Sienná what inspired these new mixes: “The very best part of being an independent artist is that you can do what you want when you want,” she said. “There´s no concept of ‘need.’  I felt like I wanted to release some re-mastered EDM remixes, and I got a distribution well suited for such groovy music as well.  So simply I thought, why not! ”

Which songs are slated for remix/remaster? ” My current plan is to randomly choose one of the dance tracks I already have from my own discography, remix it, and release it – one release a month for a certain period of time. The first release is scheduled on 6th November, and the second one on 3rd December. I´m currently working on my 3rd remix/single for release in January 2018. ”

Can you tell me about the technical aspects of the remix?” I´m mainly using Logic pro x and Denon MC4000. Bit rate is typically 24-bit/192Hz. Traditionally speaking, my tracks tend to have so many layers of synths and pads, which I think is ok as production of original music. But I´m also trying to aim at distribution for live DJs this time. After performing as a live-act and DJ, I understood that it works much better to keep it simple live. So basically, my songs are going through weight-loss programs. ”

Besides the remixes, are you currently performing live, either as a solo act or as a DJ? “I´m mostly busy sitting in a studio for the remixes. And all the works around the releases like artworks, registrations, promotions etc. The sound engineering is what I´m really enjoying / eager to learn more at this moment. It should be fun to perform outside sometimes, of course. But I must give priority to something as we have only 24 hours a day. If I had to choose, I would love to produce inside more than perform outside more. It´s a phase.”

For more information:
Motion’s Remix At


Surf’s Up: The Analog Girl’s New Video For “A Circle” Brings Refreshing Virtual Heatwave Relief

With the launch of her very own Vevo channel on YouTube, The Analog Girl releases her fourth video from her groundbreaking 2017 album “Golden Sugar Crystals.”  The lyrics for “A Circle” represent moving forward after adversity , and in that spirit, the video features charmingly analog footage of surfers performing amazing feats, and sometimes failing.  After all, it’s not how many times you wipe out, it’s how many times you get back on the board that matters.

In their abstract, poetic way, Mei Wong’s lyrics reflect on the cyclical nature of change.

“And it’s moving out in pieces
As it goes through all the phases
Past and present in the future
Does it feel like it’s a circle?

No time for regrets
It’s starting to feel a part of me
It pulls as you push
I’m under your spell now can’t you see”

From “A Circle,” by The Analog Girl

Stream “Golden Sugar Crystals” at Spotify, below.

The Analog Girl’s Official Page on Facebook


Demystifying DJ Artistry: Q and A With Sienná

Norwegian EDM artist Sienná has a lot going on. Her latest album, the breathtakingly complex “Q.o.S.,” released in April, is a one hundred percent solo effort and the result of an adventurous separation from the producer and band she has worked with regularly over the years. In fact, since her migration from Japan to Norway more than a decade ago, Sienná ’s life is one of change and creative exploration. With her recent foray into DJ work,  Sienná  begins yet another chapter in her musical life.

In May, she spun some beats at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, where John, Paul, George and Ringo got their start. Sienná ’s set included Beatles’ tunes intermixed with her own irresistible hybrid of dance and ambient electronica along with house music. To hear just how amazing it sounded, check this out:

Fresh off this opportunity to perform at the origin site of her heroes, Sienná  answered some questions to shed some light on the DJ trade for . Here goes:

So DJ is essentially now a genre of music? What exactly does a DJ do?  Sienná: “A DJ mixes different sources of pre-existing recorded music. A DJ may choose to play recorded music as it is, or may divide a song into bits and pieces to mix and loop. I see that DJ music could be a genre, especially when a DJ manages to create a whole different song from the ‘bits and pieces.’ It´s based on arranging skills. You could also add extra imaginations anytime in many ways.”

“The most important preparation as a DJ first of all, is to prepare a playlist that contains an excellent selection of songs with good sound quality. And I think it helps to ‘know’ the songs well enough in advance. Then I could do something like, using song’s original structure effectively – and adding some effects to it at the right time. Or I could also do something like selecting a loop to keep the groove rolling – and mixing other songs/adding effects when suitable etc. There´s various ways to DJ.”

How much of the DJ biz is improvising, and how much is simply playing a playlist?  Sienná: “A DJ has a playlist, like you have on iTunes. A DJ may choose how to deal with the playlist. Some DJs may follow pre-programmed playlist, like some rock bands follow their set lists on stage. Although, some DJs may perform like improv Jazz bands in a way, do freestyle out of what they have on their playlists. Personally I prefer having max 2-3 songs just to start with, but no plans after that. It´s more fun this way, and also easier to watch and follow what’s happening right in front of me on the dance floor.”

“I remember an amazing DJ like Four Tet started to loop a short unidentifiable part of a very popular song first, gradually and naturally built up – and much later, he revealed which song he actually was playing. It was fascinating to experience his process – almost like music quiz – and to see how people reacted when they finally found out ‘Ah! Of course, that was the song!.’ I also remember particularly DJ Todd Terry created a perfect break at the very rightest time – he literally made ‘everyone’ (like 300 people) there to jump all at the same time. I believe a good DJ is so amazing at ‘timing’ and manages to create some magical moments like that. When it happens, you really get a boost of adrenaline.”

So when did you first get the idea to add DJing to your repertoire? Sienná: “I replaced a drum machine with a Linear Wave sampler (Roland SP-404SX) in 2012, so I could interactively control drums and some effects/loops while I sang and played keyboards on stage. My band/trio was consisted of Jazz musicians at that time. So, I could impulsively make them a space for free improvisation without striving at all. The size and weight of the sampler was extremely convenient too. I´m still using the same sampler, because it just adds more freedom and options to my DJ-set.”

So how do you integrate different types of music, or your own sounds, into the playlist of songs?  In other words, how does new music by Sienná  mix with the classic rock, or whatever sounds the audience is expecting to hear?  Sienná: “Songwriting and DJing are two separate matters for me. I´m a songwriter first of all. DJing is my way to go out of a dark studio and to perform the music outside for inspiration and fun. So my music is there, ready to be played like any other songs on my playlist. The only difference is that it´s much easier for me to use my own music, as I naturally have perfect knowledge of what´s going on within the  songs from before.”

“I personally have nothing against mixing various genres. I´m focusing more on ‘grooves.’ It was fun mixing The Beatles with house music though. Their music I think is quite psychedelic especially after the album ‘Revolver.’ So I coincidentally found some weird guitar loops that worked well on my live mix.”

What interesting equipment do you have? Do you have synths or trigger pads or anything else that let you improvise? Sienná:  “I have a tiny handmade Theremin that my father made for me once, and I can use it anytime. But normally I use just Denon MC4000 connecting to a Macbook Pro with Serato DJ, Roland SP-404SX and sometimes also to a microphone. If I perform as a live act, I could also bring my E-Mu Shortboard in addition.”

The DJ biz has evolved from what was previously a couple turntables to what it is now. Is Beck out of date, “two turntables and a microphone?” Sienná:  “Oh I love Beck! But no, I cannot see anything is out of date. It´s said that the very first musical instrument was the human voice. It´s not outdated to sing, is it? Or how about an orchestra? I think good music is still good regardless of the selection of methods. An instrument is just a part of serving its creative purposes. Time changes, so as circumstances.”

The list of Beatles’ tunes Sienná spun into her set at the Cavern Club on May 31st:
Tomorrow never knows
Helter Skelter
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Paperback Writer
Day Tripper
Back In The U.S.S.R
I Am The Walrus

Thanks, Sienná !



Slovenian Music News: Summer Update

We are glad to report that one of our favorite Slovenian electro-punk bands, Kontradikshn, is busy touring  this summer. Since the beginning of July and through October, frontman Petar Stojanovíc and the boys will hit stages in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Ukraine. And they seem to be loving it. In July, Stojanovíc wrote, via email: ” Yes, we have a lot of dates for this year, can’t really wait for all of them! This weekend we already had first open-air experience and it went great!”

In addition, Stojanovíc told me that the band is currently writing and recording songs for the follow-up to their debut album, “Reframing.” He writes: “We recorded 4 new tracks – raw drums, synths and guitars and are planning to record 6 tracks more in August so the new album is already in the pre-production/recording process.” That’s excellent news!

In related Slovenia music news, Karmakoma frontman Enej Mavsar recently told me about his new guitar punk band, Suzi soprano (lower case spelling intentional). Find out more about this exciting venture at .



Uplifting “Mountains” From The Analog Girl Delivers Inspiration, Majestic Views

Electronic music diva The Analog Girl just released her new video for the single “Mountains” off her fourth album “Golden Sugar Crystals,” – and it’s a stunner. While glorious images of majestic mountains are displayed, affirming positive messages also appear, from the likes of Rumi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , Jack Kerouac, and ABBA among others. Coupled with the melancholy, warm analog beauty of the tune and the gorgeous images, it’s a worthwhile way to spend four minutes.

Aside from their universal meanings, the uplifting quotes in the video have personal meaning to The Analog Girl, aka Mei Wong of Singapore, who worked her way through tough times while creating the recent album.

She writes, via email: “I picked inspirational and lyric quotes that particularly lift my spirits during dark times. Through the writing of ‘Mountains’, I also came to realise that the universe is so much more than what’s harbouring inside our minds and that we shouldn’t be held hostage by people’s intimidations and one’s own fears. I sometimes write in a visual manner, and as I revisited one of my all-time favourite tracks ‘Eagle’ by ABBA, I pictured myself soaring through the limitless skies above what seem like treacherous (but at the same time, kind and protective) mountainous terrain. And that imagery is reflected in both the lyrics and music video.”

I sometimes write in a visual manner, and as I revisited one of my all-time favourite tracks ‘Eagle’ by ABBA, I pictured myself soaring through the limitless skies above what seem like treacherous (but at the same time, kind and protective) mountainous terrain. And that imagery is reflected in both the lyrics and music video.” Mei Wong, aka The Analog Girl

Wong’s growth is apparent throughout “Golden Sugar Crystals,” with its reflective and personal (yet still somewhat abstract) lyrics and enchanting electronic pop songs. The lyrics to “Mountains” emphasize the “you are what you think” aspect that makes inspirational literature so useful and important:

As the sun begins to shine upon the earth you’ll start to know
The world beyond you
We can fly across the universe and wave our fears goodbye
If you know how to

Too much to make it last
Too little to be found
It’s all within your heart
Just open up and see this

Too much to make it last
Too little to be found
It’s all within your mind
Just open up and feel this
(Mountains, The Analog Girl, © 2017)

Since releasing “Golden Sugar Crystals,” in addition to overseeing the production of videos (she created the video for “Mountains” herself) she finds her tunes in high demand on digital platforms. She writes: “I’m really enjoying the release of my latest album. 5 years since my last album is a long time. Didn’t realise the landscape has changed that much. I have a whole lot of support from my distribution team as they have an office now in Singapore and it’s been so much fun working with them, Apple Music and Spotify. Streaming is such a huge thing now and it makes every release that much more timely and responsive. Keeps it fresh for everyone.”

Find out more about Mei Wong and The Analog Girl at these links:

The Analog Girl At

The Analog Girl’s Official Facebook Page


The Analog Girl’s Video “More Than You Know” Featuring Images By LS528

Just in time for summer and the full force of its heat, The Analog Girl releases a video for her super cool tune, “More Than You Know,” the second single from her latest album, “Golden Sugar Crystals.” True to the song’s 80s sensibilities, the video blends the uncertainty of romantic love with fashion, thanks to some strange images created by London-based artist Laura Shepherd, who goes by the moniker LS528 (and whose designer gloves have been worn by Lady Gaga in her video “Paparazzi,” as well as by Madonna, Kylie Minogue and others.)

The music scene of the 1970s offered a decade of glam fashion and punk anti-fashion, while the 80s brought the partnership of music and fashion to new levels while borrowing from everything that came before, presenting nostalgia and futurism at the same time. The Analog Girl’s debt to the 80s is well established; “More Than  You Know” features 80s inspired synths and beats that intentionally refer to the fashion catwalk in retro-futuristic style.

I asked The Analog Girl, aka Mei Wong, what the song is about: love, passion, infatuation? “The concept for the song is exactly what you described,” she writes. “I guess in this order of friendship, turned infatuation, turned passion (but not obsessive), and the whole unexpected / unsure feeling of falling in love, and as a result feeling all vulnerable.”

When Wong came across the video art of London-based visual artist LS528, whom she met at a 2007 performance in London, she approached her about using some of her animation for the video.

It started when I saw her online posts of 3D fashion animations that she was creating, and they instantly blew my mind.” Mei Wong, about Laura Shepherd 

Wong explains: “Discussions with Laura – It started when I saw her online posts of 3D fashion animations that she was creating, and they instantly blew my mind, and were such a great fit for my second single ‘More Than You Know,’ especially since I wrote that beat with the fashion runway in mind. I also love that they were not just straight-on fashion but embody a pop art feel, abstractness and surrealism. Also especially fitting in with one of the album’s themes surrounding the illusion of reality.”

Hear more music from The Analog Girl at the links below!

The Analog Girl At

The Analog Girl’s Official Facebook Page

“The Analog Girl’s Minimalist Electronic Pop” At Perfect Sound Forever



Sienná’s Sounds And Visions, Plus Cavern Club Gig in Liverpool

Sienná, the captivating Norwegian electronica artist, has just released her second video in two months, both from her new release, “Q.o.S.” Each is quite different, yet both are equally difficult to define—just like Sienná’s stylish musical creations. I asked her for some insight into their creation and meaning:

The first video, for the groovy dance tune “Quintessence,” was created by TrustStudios UK and released April 5. It features a rapidly-changing array of diverse images, including some jarring images, others esoteric, based on Sienná’s concept for the song. She writes: “The only request I had for the video director was to be ‘dark,’ as ‘Quintessence’ in general is related to the idea of dark energy. I like the abstract, metaphoric images that can widen your imagination with no sense of what´s right or wrong.”

I asked for more information; Sienná clarified it for me this way:  “A video with a clear story line can sometimes limit your imagination. It’s up to you how you perceive a ‘Quintessence’ type of abstract video. ‘Dark energy’ is what I had in mind when I wrote it, but not necessarily what/how you perceive it. And dark energy doesn’t necessarily mean anything to do with morality, but could just mean ‘light/dark’ or something ‘unknown.’ That´s a matter of free association.”

Aha. I get it now. Whatever your particular interpretation of it, the “Quintessence” video offers lots of sonic and visual treats that act upon the imagination in interesting ways.

The most recent video, created in India and released May 12, is for the tranquil, ambient “Iwashimizu” and based on ideas that came to Sienná while reflecting on her hometown, as well on as a scenic spot in Britain. She explains:  “The ‘feeling of being home’ came after I added some Japanese instruments to the song. I told my video director briefly where my original inspiration came from – which was me sitting by the Ouse river, looking up to the clear starry sky in a little town Lewes (UK). He had a freedom to interpret my basic ideas as he liked, but also picked up the mood quite well. “

Liverpool and Sienná’s DJ Set
In additional Sienná news, she will be playing at the historic Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, on May 31st. “It´s time consuming to tour, ” she writes. “I’ve started to spend even more time on songwriting and production, so I’m trying to focus on quality gigs instead of accepting everything and anything.  Only The Cavern Liverpool this time. Not often they let any DJs or electronica artists to perform there, so I must be very lucky. “

“I tend to say that my favorite Beatle is Sir McCartney. But I’m mostly in love with the works he did together with The Beatles. The Beatles were a pure divine magic. I wish I lived in the ’60s.” Sienná 

As The Cavern is the club made legendary by the Fab Four, I couldn’t pass up the chance to ask Sienná that eternal question, “who is your favorite Beatle?” Her answer: “I tend to say that my favorite Beatle is Sir McCartney. But I’m mostly in love with the works he did together with The Beatles. The Beatles were a pure divine magic. I wish I lived in the ’60s.”

I also asked her about the format of her DJ set. “I’m performing my own music and impulsively mixing any good grooves that I have on my playlist,” she explains. “As a DJ I feel that my main responsibility is to watch and follow what´s happening on the dance floor, so I really don´t plan anything particular in advance – except preparing for my playlist.” Sounds like a great time!

For more information, check out:




Secret Music Info: Snowcat Origins, ’80s and ’90s, And More

We know Gilles Snowcat as the energetic, polyglot creative musical force with roots in Belgium, Vietnam and Japan, for his brilliant lyrics and proficiency on several instruments, including genius level keyboard skills. But before Gilles appended his name with the Snowcat moniker, there was a younger Gilles, founding member of the Brussels-centered European/Vietnamese Hybrid “Awaken.”

Aside from traveling the world collecting experiences to write songs about (beginning in the ’80s with Awaken and culminating in 2015’s “Nama Time”), Gilles is also a sharp critic of rock music and culture. I asked him to comment on his 1989 tune “Memories of a Teenage Cat,” which was just re-released on Bandcamp in its original form, and asked him about the tune’s connection to the origins of the Snowcat persona. I got much more than I bargained for, including a lengthy critique of popular music in the 1980s and ’90s. Check out his provocative thoughts, and the classic tune below!

(Note: The Snowcat’s opinions are his alone. I for one am a big fan of U2!)

Q.  Is this the beginning of your transformation into the Snowcat being?

Gilles writes: “The Snowcat exists since he’s born, though I can locate the explosion, the big-bang that made him come alive for real early, very early 1988. 1987 was when he tried to pop out, and suddenly 1988 came and so did the Snowcat. It was exquisitely exciting, because from that moment on everything became a song. Life was a huge source of inspiration, and in return songs inspired life, and that’s how the early Snowcat grew.”

It was exquisitely exciting, because from that moment on everything became a song. Life was a huge source of inspiration, and in return songs inspired life, and that’s how the early Snowcat grew.” Gilles Snowcat

“And the music was organic, since my understanding of music was rather low, and my ambition was devouring and set up too high, so I had to suck lots of energy from reality to create what I wanted. That’s why the early songs are full of magic, they’re very much libido-driven, that kind of beautiful sadness, romanticism and mixes of alcohol. It had a lot to do with seduction too, and huge buckets of fun and spleen. Strange cocktails. That’s why I still love that early take of “Memories Of A Teenage Cat”. There was a technically much better version [in 1996] but it had lost the spark. F@#%ng ’90s…”

Q.  So what were the ’80s like for you? Please reflect.

Gilles: “The ’80s were the last decade of creativity, musically speaking. It’s the last part of what started in the cotton fields, that led to jazz, evolves into rock, then all the fusional music of the ’70s and then the synthesizers and all that crazy stuff. It was meant to be mostly commercial and still wonderfully out of control, the sounds were out of this world, the Fairlight, the DX7, all those machines created incredible moods. You like it or not, but you can’t deny there was a real substance to it. It’s the best evidence that money and art can work together pretty well.The ’80s were a wonderful boom of excesses, it was all too much but in the most superb way. An elegant decadence, a party that goes too far but if it doesn’t go too far it goes nowhere.”

The ’80s were a wonderful boom of excesses, it was all too much but in the most superb way. An elegant decadence, a party that goes too far but if it doesn’t go too far it goes nowhere.” Gilles Snowcat

“Then the ’90s came and the party was over. Like someone had decided to remove colours and taste from music, as if it was too dangerous. And suddenly safe music was born, and art should never be safe, so it was a very bad move. The ’90s created condom-music.”

“Most of the radio-friendly stuff of the ’90s and beyond are terribly boring. You hear the first chords of anything from Natalie Imbruglia or Oasis and it screams boredom, it pours safety from every note. Or Joan Osborne, you know ‘One Of Us’? Same chords.”

“Sure there was some uneventful music in the ’80s too, Simple Minds or U2 to name a very few, but it wasn’t the rule. In the ’90s, it was. It seems that no one was able to write songs anymore then. Some say the ’90s were a return to the guitars of the ’70s but it’s complete bullsh!#. There’s nothing interesting in the guitars of the ’90s, just dull chords played boringly by some idiots who got a recording contract for reasons that I don’t really get. Even those who seemed to have an attitude and good ingredients were just releasing inoffensive, safe sh!#. Look at Oasis, how come with such a good background and great ideas the result was so annoyingly normal? Yes, that’s the word: music became normal in the ’90s.”

Thanks, Gilles!

Original “MOATC” Lyric sheet:

gilles snowcat teenage cat lyrics


Sienná’s Q.o.S. : Powerful, Exotic World Beat Psychedelia

There’s something very exciting happening in new music from Oslo, Norway. Sienná, the singer/songwriter/instrumentalist/studio whiz and now DJ has gone solo for her fourth full length release, leaving her band behind, to create a new set of songs in the nu-jazz genre. She immersed herself in the studio for a couple years to create an album that’s difficult to define: jazz is really just the starting point. On Q.o.S. there are various permutations of techno, ambient, world beat, electronic psychedelia and avant-garde, and a powerful experimental impulse that makes it a joy to listen to.

From the first song, the esoteric, ambient “Yes,” Sienná’s masterful composing and mixing skills are evident; next is the electro-psychedelic jazz funk of “World Citizens,” which then leads to a set of synth-driven world beat tunes incorporating  her Japanese heritage in the form of samples of traditional instruments, primal beats and chants, and  top-notch keyboard work. The breathtakingly diverse songs are stunning examples of musical cosmopolitanism, and very unique contributions to the electronica genre.

Much like the tarot card that inspired the title, the release evokes mystical, powerful ideas. I admit I didn’t know what the title meant at first.

“It could be ‘Quality of Service,’ ‘the god of the Edomites,’ hahaha or whatever (your) interpretation  is,” Sienná explains. “But mine comes from an amazing tarot card reader from the UK whom I speak with a few times a year. She said a Queen of Swords represents my personality. And my music is a double edged sword, isn´t it? :)”

“I feel free like a bird and very happy about this. This is a completely new chapter for me. Sienná

Indeed, there is a duality on Q.o.S; many of  the songs have a strong  dance beat along with some trademark Sienná  moves like energetic funky bass and primal chant vocals — all designed to get your feet moving, while a handful of tunes represent Sienná’s reflective side in ambient, down tempo numbers that affect the heart and mind.  Both  varieties feature exotic instrumentation and intriguing samples of vocals and ethnic instruments along with mystical, wordless vocals by Sienná. I asked her if Brian Eno was a conscious influence.

“I guess so,” she says. “ I´ve been listening to Brian Eno occasionally, but I´ve been an eager fan of the next generation (like Ryuichi Sakamoto) who interpreted Brian Eno further  – so, does it make me ‘the third generation?’ I can absolutely notice where the traditional roots are originally coming from, though.”

Under Japanese Influence
As a Japanese expatriate living in Norway, who as a child rebelled against family expectations to become a musician, Sienná returns to her own roots on Q.o.S. with a series of songs that reflect her Japanese heritage. Is this nostalgia for home or an affirmation of her heritage? I asked her.

She explains: “Yes both, and the concept. Somehow I decided to make three songs relating to three major festivals around the major historical shrines around Kyoto (‘Iwashimizu.’ ‘Aoi’ and ‘Kasuga’). But I must admit, the inspiration of ‘Iwashimizu’came originally from a moment when I was in a little town named Lewes in East Essex, UK. But later, after I added some Japanese instruments etc, feeling of the song was something similar to what I feel about the place ‘Iwashimizu’- home (until I moved to Norway in 1995).”

This trilogy of tunes, as well as “Sixth Sense” (with its incorporation of traditional Japanese texts and folk melodies)  and “Eastern Plays” (which features a moving display of  taiko drums along with  vocal chants and cutting edge electronica) combine dance music with traditional Japanese influences, resulting in a long set of electronica that excites one’s dancing impulses and one’s mind at the same time. For example, the playful “Follow My Instructions” is just the kind of avant-garde dance number that’s ideal for club action.

The album is the result of years of experience on the stage and in the studio, to the extent that it represents a synthesis of music theory and performing skills that have become second nature. Sienná explains: “There´s no theory or conscious approach, except an  approach that I feel is good, true and correct for me, even though it wasn´t for most people/musicians. While I spend time with my unborn songs, I make many changes to make myself happy. So I guess you´re just listening to the result of a long process of my self-improving (if it wasn´t my self-centeredness – which I´m allowed to do so only in my music, not in reality.)”

Q.o.S . is a true solo album: Sienná is responsible for every aspect of its creation, a departure from the ensemble she had worked with on previous albums and in live performances. “Only me now,” she explains.  “We are all good friends. But the circumstances around us changed dramatically. It doesn´t make sense for me to be a part of the team anymore. I did all the work (songwriting, performing, producing, mixing, mastering and designing album cover) by myself alone. I feel free like a bird and very happy about this. This is a completely new chapter for me.”

Sienná’s setup includes heavy use of the Roland D-50, both for its sounds and as a MIDI controller connected to Logic Pro X software on a MacBook (which she also uses in her role as a DJ).  Her favorite plug-ins for Logic Pro X are the ES2 and Alchemy soft synths, and the Drum Machine Designer. Lots of samples abound. For example, the incredible taiko drums on “Eastern Plays” were achieved by using a blend of sounds from Drum Machine Designer and actual taiko samples Sienná recorded in Kyoto from 2005 to 2009.