Billed as the “South African Devin Townsend” it would be remiss of us not to have a few words with Mark Pyjama…
I am from a distant solar system; one that lost its sun. I’ve been on a planet that has been hurtling through space ever since.
How long have you been playing?
I’ve been ‘playing’ all my life. Music, on the other hand, I’ve been playing for 6 years shorter than that rolling number. Violin, saxophone, piano, guitar. I’ve played a few!
Where does the band name come from?
Pyjama Planet was a feeling I got in my chest when listening to the music of my debut album, Max Chops. The combination of cinematic soundscapes and heavy metal presented itself as luminous colours and galaxies in my brain. This culminated in the birth of a multi-coloured planet, filled with glowing, phosphorescent, animals and humanoids.
What are your influences?
My musical influences range from Chopin and Mozart, to modern day metal bands such as Sylosis and Persefone. As long as it has depth and wonder, I’m in!
Describe your music – what makes you unique?
Pyjama Planet music takes you to a place of adventure and eventual transcendence. It’s a mixture of orchestral music, and heavy, melodic guitar riffs.
Having a background and career in film-making, prior to being a fulltime composer, means that my music is often accompanied by visuals; be it visual effects, animations of Pyjama Planet, or music videos. It’s an all in one package!
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Lyrical themes? No. Story concepts? Absolutely! Being an instrumental musical outfit, words come into play when developing the characters and story of pyjama planet. Our main themes revolve around “protection of that which is dear” and “a feeling of not belonging”.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played for?
A Pyjama Planet live show incorporates Orchestral backing tracks, sometimes graphic visuals, and then of course a live-musician element. Pyjama Planet has performed 2 runs of shows, in 2017, and 2019.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
In 2008, whilst living and working in London, I went to see Children of Bodom play live at the London Astoria. Mid-set and mid-song, the frontman Alexi Laiho stopped playing, whilst the rest of the band carried on. He walked 4 paces back, vomited OVER his Amplifier, walked back to his microphone, and picked up from where he left off.
What kit do you use?
When playing and recording guitar, I either use my Cort EVL Z6, or my Ibanez RG7420. Apart from a small variety of random instruments in my studio, the vast majority of my musical scores consist of digital plugins, and live synthesizers. I’m a big fan of the Spitfire Audio Orchestral plugins, which add a film-quality sound without too much tweaking needed. I also own a Roland D50 synthesizer, from the 19802. This classic old synth has been used in a few of my projects already, as it’s so versatile.
What are you plugging and promoting at the moment?
The third faction of my Pyjama Planet Empire is Pyjama Planet Samples: an audio software company that builds digital instruments for the Native Instruments Kontakt platform. We have 3 hero products, 3 free products (with over 4000 downloads thus far), and have just launched a “$1 Pack” series; the first of which is a midi bass guitar called the “Basic Bass”. All available at www.pyjamaplanet.com/shop
What are your plans for the next 6 months or so?
Releasing a new album under Pyjama Planet (my solo musical outfit); Producing a solo artist under Pyjama Planet Studios (my recording and production facility); and releasing 4 more digital plugins via Pyjama Planet Samples (my Digital Instrument company).
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting, and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
I would love the opportunity to open a show for a melodic prog metal band such as Persefone (from Andorra in Europe), or one of the sonic greats, Devin Townsend. If I had to choose a band to play before me on the same bill, I would love it to be OhGod; one of the other instrumental rock bands from South Africa. Their mixture of rock rhythms and soundscapes are truly unique.