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BIGSOUND Interview: Planète

Planète has been described as “becoming one of Melbourne’s worst kept secrets”, and for very good reason. Drawing on influences from the likes of Four TetBonobo and Panthu Du Prince (who he actually supported last year), he creates living, breathing tracks that whirl around and swell into percussive and melodic dreams. His latest single, Altair, is perhaps his best yet, and is just one example of why he was selected to play at this year’s BIGSOUND.

I was lucky enough to catch him action twice over the period of the conference, and can confirm a live Planète set is not one you’ve seen before. So much sound coming from just one man, Planète is a magician when it comes to his set up, practically growing a third hand in order to keep up with his own music. Nodding along, he seems unfazed by the roaring climaxes and unpredictable drops that he weaves, nonchalantly conjuring storms of chimes, synths, rhythm sections and delicate intricacies. Truly a pleasure to not only see live, but to listen to in any setting, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches wind to all that is Planète.

We had the great privilege to sit down with the man himself (real name Dion Tartaglione) on the morning of his BIGSOUND showcase. Having spent the morning swimming and nursing the first of two more mornings after beer-fuelled nights in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, we got to dig a little deeper into the world of Planète.

Is this your first BIGSOUND?

The first one playing as myself, yeah.

Excited? Is there anyone you want to catch? Any must see acts?

Very excited. It’s funny, all the people that I want to see are all from Melbourne so it feels like a cop out. But I am going to relook over the timetable and try to see people that aren’t from Melbourne.

I have to ask, what was it like supporting Pantha Du Prince? That would have been amazing!

Oh, it was! It was actually very intense, but good intense. Because he’s a huge influence, it’s incredible. Then, because obviously supporting him, I had to set up my stuff on stage so I had a little peak and his equipment and what not. That was good to see.

Take some tips?

Take some tips, yeah. Maybe do somethings eventually like him, but it was all very expensive so… But then, after soundcheck I had a very brief word with him, like a greeting, which gave me a little buzz but yeah it was a good night. LUCIANBLOMKAMP played as well and yeah all good vibes.

How was it for you, to be in the stage of your career that you’re in right now, playing with someone who is such an influence. Like, “You’re me in 10 years”?

The good part about it was, the people that were there to see Pantha Du Prince could obviously tell I have influences from there. If I haven’t said it before, you can definitely hear it so I think just playing to a crowd that received it well was the main buzz. People just acknowledging me afterwards, or even just on social media as well was great too. A lot of friends also came too.

The progression from your earlier stuff to your latest track, Altair, is really quite remarkable. Have you felt that progression too, as an artist? Have you been actively honing your sound, or has it been a natural thing? 

It’s sort of a natural thing, and sort of unnatural? I’ve been trying to progress and do different things in production, percussive based stuff and doing things that are completely synthetic – then marrying the two. That progression, where my production is going, is just me getting better. The engineering side to it, that’s where I can see that progression coming from; just being able to make things clearer and having more of an idea of the track. But in saying that, I haven’t been focusing on adding certain elements in. As I’ve been getting better, I can do more things. I know how it should sound.

That just comes with time as well. You’ve been making music as Planète for years now! What’s the main thing you’ve learned over that period, sticking with that one name and sticking with that sound?

It’s been a long time. I guess the main thing is I started off just with shorter tracks and not really that much going on. I have tried to make longer tracks, but I didn’t really do too well. I didn’t put up or anything, but I guess trying longer tracks. Still very low-key, and then building up from that and adding more or less into a longer track.

That’s that kind of “soundscape” feel your music has now.

Yeah, you can’t really say it any other way. “Ambient” maybe? But also song structure, dynamic… How things sort of come in and out and bringing everything together at one point then dispersing it. Marrying it all together –

Instead of just chucking it all in?

Yeah! Making it cohesive. That’s how I make my songs. It’s pretty much leading to the climax or the intense part then just subtracting parts.

One of the things I really admire about you and your music is you really are going against the grain when it comes to everything else coming out of Australia right now in electronic music. It’s totally left-field. Does it feel left-field for you too?

Yes and no. There are so many artists and produces who are making the sort of music that I make, and then a lot of people are in a big bulk. I don’t know if it’s intentional or whatever, but I’m just making the music I want to make. From the progression of the project over the past few years, I think I’ve found where my common elements are, or where people distinguish me and my tracks. That’s something I’ve kept in the back of my head whilst I’m making music. Not focussing it on as the whole creation of the track, but more so like, “Oh yeah!” People can see the common links between it where I don’t. Making music that’s so left-field, there are a lot of guys doing it. Probably not exactly how I’m doing it, but they’re just not as “well known”. There are probably a lot of guys doing it that I’m not aware of.

It’s more just like not trap bangerz, like we are hearing a lot of!

Well, yeah that’s not my thing to make (laughs). That’s a really good question.

Your style of music is very different to the bulk of acts that we are seeing now, do you feel the difference as well?

Yes, definitely. But there are also a lot of people that are making this stuff but just not putting it out there as opposed to being quite active with it. There are a lot more doing that though, which is exciting because there might be a turning point.

Obviously the influence from the likes of Four Tet and Pantha Du Prince is quite prevalent in your work, but I’m curious to know what about them draws you in? What about them do you want to take from them?

It sounds really simple but I’m just really drawn to percussive elements. Especially with Pantha Du Prince, there are just some elements that you don’t think would work or come together, but it just does. And then Four Tet is just off the charts.

You’ve been involved with the Silo Arts and Good Manners crews now – how has being involved with them helped shape you or your sound? Have they had much input into how you’ve grown as an artist over the years?

It’s helped in the progression of the project, but not so much in what I’m making. Both parties have just been like, “Make whatever you want because we love it and we want it put it out because it’s great.” It’s been a really positive thing from those guys, and I guess it’s a good influence to just keep doing what I want. It’s evident in the Silo Arts guys, their ethos is to put out music that they really love. Same with the Good Manners guys. They’re just really positive.

I find that that’s a supportive network that is particularly evident in the Melbourne music scene. Do you find that as well, that there is some healthy competition but camaraderie?

I do, yeah. “Healthy competition” is a funny way to put it.

How would you put it?

It’s like “mateship support”. Everyone finds each other’s music and becomes pals through that and then it’s just like you hang out with them. There are a lot of people in Melbourne making a lot of different things, so it’s healthy competition if you’re making the same thing. It’s a good mix.

I’m so jealous of the Melbourne music scene because it’s really thriving and I think the local government has a lot to do with that. They’re really supportive of the local arts scene. Take lockouts for example. They trialled it in Melbourne and it failed, but it’s in place in Sydney and maybe even in Brisbane. Do you think the government has a role to play in the local arts scenes? 

I think here and there, it does give a lot of Melbourne artists the avenues to make music and play later at night. Then at the same time, I think there is a want to make it a bit more of a culture and to really get it thriving. From what I can see, it’s the same people that are going to all the gigs, and it’s really just a tight knit community. It feels like there is more that can be utilised. But there are no restrictions from the government or even venues. There’s heaps of venues to do it. There are a lot of people in Melbourne that like that music but you just don’t see them there. Especially with the live electronic scene, there could be more of a culture with that. I find with club culture, it’s gone through a few different waves and it just feels like the same guys are playing a lot. That’s great because they’re incredible, but yeah. There’s a difference between a gig and a DJ gig too, there’s a lot more variation. With live stuff, it’s the same guys playing the same songs, so it can get old quicker. At the same time, it’s very, very handy to be in Melbourne and not have those restrictions. Even though it is thriving, there’s room for growth.

Changing from, as you said, a community into a culture?

Yeah, and that’s not just for Melbourne. That’s Australia wide. You don’t want to say, “Hey everyone! Come to Melbourne because it’s the only place you can do it!” It would be so much better if there was a buzz going on. There is with the internet, but it’s different. But you can’t see a gig on the internet.

Exactly right! Looking forward now, what can we expect still to come? The set tonight, then what?

From here, it’s really just putting the feelers out; who I meet, who comes to the show tonight. The plan is for an EP next year. I’m still sort of writing it but it’s mostly done.

Have you had the tracks for a while or newer stuff?

Newer stuff, definitely! Then a few gigs in the interim ’til the end of the year. It’s very sparse and laidback. I’m really keen to focus on the EP and the EP launch which will be my first headline show. I haven’t actually done one yet. That’s another tick! Just going to see what happens.

BIGSOUND is one of those things where you can bet the bands you’re seeing this year, we’re going to be seeing a lot of next year. Do you also find that? 

Definitely, of course. You’re there to take that other step.

You’re ready.

Yeah, you are ready. Or you just want to see what happens. Someone might be able to help you out, which is always handy.