Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis surprised me very positively with their debut album “Delay and Depression”. I’m generally not very fond of synthpops group from Sweden, but I find the music of Marina Sirtis very pleasant to listen to. No one-dimensional clubhits, but good songs with a lot of atmosphere and feeling…
Martin Löfgren (vocal, programming) tells us more about Martina Sirtis.

Can you introduce Marina Sirtis and its band members in a few words?

Marina SirtisMarina Sirtis was formed from the band Innocencia in 1997. Actually the band just changed name. Me, Andr? ?berg (vocal, programming) and Anders Larsson (programming) have played together since 1993.
We all went to the same school back then and shared a mutual interest in music. It was not until 2000 that we decided to give the music an honest chance.

An unavoidable question: why this bandname? Are you a Star Trek fan?

That has really become an unavoidable question and if we had thought of that back in 1997, we would have taken another name. The name came up after a discussion about a new band name that lasted for over half a year. It is not really a tribute to neither the actress Marina Sirtis nor Star Trek. We just thought it was a cool name. On “Delay and Depression”we have deliberately avoided connections to space or sci-fi.

Is there a central theme on “Delay and Depression”? The title does not sound very cheerful…

There is indeed a central theme. We chose to make an uniform album when it came to mood, arrangements, and instruments and to some extent lyrics. We wanted to make an album that was best enjoyed in the dark and in loneliness. I think the central theme is loneliness and hopelessness.

The song which I found most noteworthy is ?Berlin?. What is your relation with this city?

We actually have very little relation to Berlin. Andr? and I have changed trains there and I don?t think Anders ever has been there. I don?t know if one should assume that the song is even about the city. Each listener is welcome to interpret the song as he/she chooses.

Many lyrics make a personal impression. Are they based on your own experiences?

I don?t think one should take the actual event in the song as based on personal experience. However, the mood is very much built on personal experience.

When listening to your album some tracks reminded me a little of Depeche Mode, and others of Wolfsheim sometimes. Are these bands influences? And are there (other) specific bands or styles, which have an influence on your music?

Of course Depeche Mode has have a great influence on our music. I think it has so on all music in this genre. For some reason it has just become ‘politically correct’to deny this. But for me The Cure is just as much an inspiration. Andr?, who writes most of the songs, is greatly inspired by Mark Almond and Nick Cave.

The list of bands that have inspired us can be made very long; Yazoo, Kraftwerk, Twice a Man… None of us has ever heard anything from Wolfsheim. When I grow up I listened to a lot of classic music, Bach, Albinoni, Sibelius… The inspiration taken from that can be heard in the complexity of the arrangements and the abundance of strings on the tracks.

I think your romantic and melancholic sound differs from most Swedish synthpop groups I know, who often make rather superficial ‘clubhits’. What is your opinion about that?

Club hits are often easily accessible and very enjoyable for the first maybe 10 times heard. However the prise one has to pay for making the music simple is that after a few times the listeners can no longer find new aspects and details of the songs. Soon they just become annoying or ignored at best. On this album we chose a concept making more complex songs that are not easily accessible but that grows on you and keep on growing. Most of my favourite albums I?ve just didn?t get the first time. “Pornography” by The Cure is a perfect example. How many can honestly say that they loved the album after the first listening. But the album keeps on growing for years and years. If our album manages to do the same thing for just one fan we succeeded with what we wanted to achieve.

How was the album received by the press and audience?

The album has been received very well by both the audience and the press. In reviews, opinions like masterpiece, genius, and thrilling are given about the album. We are really very grateful for this and it?s an honour to get such good reviews.
Why was the label Shadowplay Electronica started? Can you tell us something about the other bands on the label?
We started the label together with the Swedish bands Scapesonik and [brus]. There is also a sister label in USA called Shadowplay Production US featuring a number of artists. The reason Shadowplay Electronica was started was just that we were three bands on the same level and with the same potential. Also we are very good friends. [brus] just released the debut album “Rest of Man”, which also has been received very well. Scapesonik is in the studio working on some great material.

There are quite some Marina Sirtis tracks which can be download as mp3-files. Do you see Internet as a threat or an opportunity for artists?

Definitely as an opportunity. Internet is a chance for newcomers like us to ‘give the finger’ to big label managers and do it on our own. Without Internet everyone would still have to rely on the ‘mercy’ of the big labels.

What kind of equipment do you use?

We record and mix our songs on Logic. On “Delay and Depression” we have used digital instruments from the early 90s, like Roland U20, Roland JV80, Alesis Quadrasynth, and Alesis D4. Everyone is all about analogue or virtual analogue synths right now. Sticking to these old digital synths gave the album a certain touch that is not so common right now. For example we never managed to implement our Clavia Nord Modular on the album. The sound just didn?t fit in.

And how does a typical Marina Sirtis song creating process look like?

If generalising the song creating process it goes like this. Andr? makes a demo of a song that he let me and Anders listen to. If we like it he develops it some more before I take over, refining the arrangements. Sometimes more lyrics or a stick are added. At the end Anders and Andr? program the drums. Then vocals are recorded and the song is mixed by all three of us.

Do you have jobs/studies besides your musical activities? And do you see that as a burden or as an enrichment?

We all have regular jobs besides the music. I work part time so that I can drive the project further. I don?t know if working full time with music would be the best solution. There is a risk that one looses contact with the ‘real world’.

I read that you come from Stockholm, Sweden. How is the (musical) climate there, and does that environment have an effect on your music?

Right now synthpop and 80?s in general is starting to become very popular even on the biggest commercial radio channels. Also the club scene is growing strong in Stockholm. It is quite nice but I can?t really say that it has influenced our music. If we wanted to ride this wave we would have focused on club hits instead. Maybe the real climate affected us more. It is easy do get a bit depressed when the winter just keeps on going.

Are there important non-musical matters that influence your music, like art, literature, travelling, science?

I guess nothing and everything. Our lyrics are seldom connected to what?s going on in the world. I guess that is an inheritance from the post punk.

How are your experiences with live performances? What can people expect of a Marina Sirtis concert?

Marina SirtisWe are very devoted to please our audience and always give one hundred percent live. Our original thought, years ago, was that no one ever had heard our music. Therefore we started to implement theatrical events into the live show so that the audience should have something that was easily accessible.

Even now when the audience knows our music we still do theatrical shows. Also we have small lotteries and give champagne and stuff to the once close to the stage. This is of course very much appreciated both by newcomers and old fans.

If you were captivated by a spaceship and you could bring along 5 of your favourite records, which would that be?

I would probably bring “Pornography”by The Cure, “Collectors of Stones”by Twice a Man, “Juju” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Violator”by Depeche Mode and “Strangeways Here We Come”by The Smiths.

Does Marina Sirtis have any future plans?

We have a lot of fans in Greece that want to have us over to Athens, so we will try to fix that during the year. Also we will make a small UK tour this autumn and hopefully also a small tour in Germany. We have also started to write songs for our next album.

Any final thoughts?

Not really but keep an eye on [brus] new album “Rest of Man”. It is fabulous. Otherwise thank you for a very nice webzine and for this interview. Independent webzines like Funprox keep us out of the grasp of the big label managers.