Caspian Interview & Photos (Live at Control)
I discovered Caspian years ago while browsing through Pitchfork‘s track reviews and Ian Cohen’s words describing their sound as “an unusually gorgeous one” stuck in my mind. Few weeks ago, we finally got the chance to see the band play live on the Control stage and realized there’s no other way to describe the way they sound. Caspian Interview
After the show we met Jāni Zubkovs, spoke about a lot of things, discovered his passion for photography and soon this interview began to take shape.
You played all over the world and in very different types of venues. Where do you feel more comfortable? Where do you think your audience could get the best Caspian experience?
I think as a band we’re able to adapt to nearly all of our surroundings. Any venue that has a nice sound system will give the audience the best experience, and in turn, give us the most comfortable and best experience.
Do you like playing festivals? Where did you had the best time? Do you have the time to see other bands?
Festivals are always interesting for us because they often allow us to play in front of a ton of new people who may or may not have any prior knowledge of the band. That being said, they also present a challenge, as stage preparation time is usually extremely limited. We have a saying in CASPIAN before these types of festival shows – “This is why we train”. We rehearse and play very hard so that we can be thrown into any sort of scenario and succeed.
I think we would all agree that Dunk! Festival in Belgium is our favorite festival to be a part of. It has a sense of community and open-mindedness that you rarely find in other festivals.
Whether we have time to see other bands always depends on our travel schedule. If we do have the time, we always make sure to see friends and up-and-coming bands.
We feel that festivals are “gentrifying”, lineups are becoming predictable and boring and the main concern is to make everything Instagramable. Nowadays guitar rock is having a difficult time, how is it for instrumental acts?
I find that fans of instrumental music are normally more open-minded and accepting of people trying to do new and interesting things. Going back to Dunk! Festival, I was blown away by a few acts that I had never heard of before. But at the end of the day, there are only a certain amount of larger acts that sell tickets, and therefore get people in the door of the festival. It’s the organizers job to seek out the newer and younger bands to round out the lineup… and it’s the fan’s job to make sure they show up early to give these bands a chance – and hopefully prevent themselves from getting bored.
Do you think social media is changing the way younger generations are consuming music and live performances?
Social media is a blessing and a curse in these respects.
At once you’re connected to every new artist and record and song that’s being released every week, but it also prevents people from truly exploring a record from start to finish. Someone might listen to the first few minutes of an album, and if it doesn’t immediately strike them, they might be inclined to move on to the next record. This is bad for the artists, and in turn, bad for music in general.
I think live performances lose some of their mystique when you can see what the band looked like, sounded like, and played the night before. But on the other hand, maybe you didn’t know the band was coming to town before you saw a social media post about them. Maybe you didn’t even know the band existed, but you discovered them just in time to check them out.
It’s always give and take… I just hope that the future music-listeners of the world try to slow down and appreciate the work that goes into making a complete album.
We always ask bands what’s on their playlist as we speak. What new bands would you recommend and are there any releases you are waiting for?
My current listening habits are all over the map at the moment.
Recent releases I’ve been very into recently include:
- Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference
- Aisha Burns – Argonauta
- Ride – Weather Diaries
- Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
- Incendiary – Thousand Mile Stare
- Cloakroom – Time Well
I’ll be sitting here waiting so patiently for the new Spiritualized record. It was supposed to be out last spring, so who knows when that will happen.
We were just listening to Sleep’s latest album and it’s an amazing comeback. What bands would you like to reunite and release new music?
One band I always hoped would reunite was Jawbreaker, and they finally did this past winter. I’ve been let down by reunion shows before, but they did it the right way… everything was perfect. That being said, I’d be hesitant to ask for new music from them. Other bands on my dream reunion list would be The Smiths, Operation Ivy, and Oasis.
We are curious about your artwork. How do you choose who you’re working with and who are the artists?
With the most recent record, Dust & Disquiet, we came up with a concept for the art and then ended up picking a designer who we felt could best execute our idea. That ended up being our friend Jordan Butcher, who has worked with many amazing bands and companies.
Choosing artwork for an album is tough… Not only will it always exist hand-in-hand with the record, but it sometimes ends up representing the album more than the music does. I’ve been commissioned to do the artwork for an album before, and it’s always a great honor… some recent records I’ve done include Bayside – “Vacancy” and The Movielife – “Cities In Search of A Heart”.
We saw a picture of you from 2014 – we are not going to ask you about the koala. What about the camera Jani is carrying. Do you shoot film?
You can ask about the koala! That’s Barnacle… we’re still penpals.
I’m formally trained as a photographer, so I’ve shot in both film and digital formats over the years. That camera I’m carrying was my grandfather’s 35mm… It’s not very nice, but I have sentimental attachment to it. I’ve worked with all sorts of cameras… from Hasselblads to Nikons.
Jani, does playing in a band inspire your photography in any way? How about the other way around?
I’ve found myself in the lucky situation where my music and touring greatly informs my photography, and vice versa. My most recent body of photographic work deals with the American landscape and the way it’s been deteriorating and homogenizing. Touring across the States, I’m presented with so many different types of landscapes that most people wouldn’t normally get to see. That ends up being one of my favorite parts of tour… the constant exploration of the country.
Musically, I’d say we’re all more inspired by life then by other music. Things I’ve seen and done and experienced always inform the type of music I create.
Lastly, what’s next for Caspian?
We’re just starting to get into the writing mode for our next record. It’s still in the very early stages, but so far it’s been extremely fun as well as challenging. I’m really not sure the direction it’s headed in as of yet, but you can expect it to be just as thought provoking as always.
Photos by Bogdan Camenschi (@bogdancamenschi)