Incirrina is a Greek duo project founded in September 2017 by George Katsanos (synthesizers, samples, drum machine, vocals) and Irini Tini (synthesizers, vocals). Their music combines elements of dark/minimal wave, electronic, ambient and experimental sounds. They have been inspired by William Blake and they have musically arranged a selection of his poems. Their first digital album "8.15" was released in December 2018.

By seeking the meaning of your name Incirrina, I found out it is suborder of the order Octopoda. A fascinating name choice, full of mystic. How did the name come about and what did you have in mind for the group?

Irini: First of all, we would like to thank you Nick and DIE SEELE for this interview!
Well, the group’s name history is that: when we first started to play together as a synth duo in the autumn of 2017, we wanted to find a name that would depict our love for synthesizers, or something that would “fit” to our style of music, but we could not find something appropriate that didn’t exist already. Then we thought of searching in the field of marine life, as we are both fascinated by dolphins, whales, strange sea plants and animals of the ocean’s mystery world…so we came upon “Incirrina” which is, as you said, a kind of octopus. This strange-looking creature, with its unique behavior and its moving agility, is known to be symbolic of grace and flexibility (something we all musicians need, as far as fingers are concerned!) also of logic and intelligence. We had in mind that we would be inspired by such a symbol and that we would do our best to express our deeper thoughts, emotions and musical ideas through our music.

Your music is described as electronic/new wave/minimal synth, genres that originated in the 80s. How would you describe your music?

George: The music of this decade is deep in our hearts and minds. We both grew up listening to bands like The Cure, Joy Division, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees – just to name a few of them -also Jean -Michel Jarre -whose electronic compositions were a great inspiration for us at that time - Nina Hagen, Japan, Tuxedomoon… We would describe our music as “electronic” and “minimal” because we use exclusively electronic instruments (mostly analogue synthesizers and drum machines of the 1970s and 1980s) and our songs have minimal musical structures, short repetitive patterns, plus monophonic melodic lines. Although musical terms and genres sometimes are not quite “appropriate” for all of the songs or pieces a group creates, the general aesthetic of our music is better described as “new wave”, with some elements of darkwave also (for example the use of minor keys and introspective lyrics based on William Blake’s great poetry).

Like many acts that follow the minimal synth direction you are a duo. Do you feel constraint by being only two people in the band or is this a conscious choice? For example, the use of drum machine compared to a real drummer.

Irini: We think that, for electronic bands, two people is an ideal condition. For us, it happened naturally, as we can easily understand each other and we can rehearse and jam at any time; the one has an idea-a “riff” for example, or a harmonic sequence- and the other will add his/her own ideas, and then this  evolves and becomes a musical piece or song…What really matters is not the number of  a band’s members but the way they interact and they understand each other (as musicians and as personalities, of course). Being a duo has also the advantage of being flexible in rehearsals and concerts –and it is really practical, with electronic equipment we can rehearse at 3 o’clock in the morning without disturbing the neighbors! Also restrictions many times are helpful, because you are “obliged” to do your best with few materials (hands and instruments in our case).
 As far as drum machines are concerned, they cannot really be compared to a drummer, they belong to a different world, and of course a band’s sound is completely different when it uses a drum machine. It is not “better” or “worse”, it is just different. For us it was a conscious choice to use drum machines, as we both love their sound and this “mechanical” way of drumming (and George is really fond of drum programming) -but this does not mean that in the future, we will not play with a real drummer, if we feel the need to do so.

You use analogue equipment when playing live. What does is mean for you as an artist to use strictly analogue equipment? Is it true that when you want to make a specific sound you have to use the right equipment, something that cannot be produced by computers?

George: This is exactly the same thing as we discussed above about drum machines and real drummers: analogue and digital instruments are both marvelous, nothing is better than the other, so it is a matter of taste which equipment a musician uses. We prefer using analogue instruments, like Mini Moog and Korg MS10, synthesizers that were the sound-basis of many bands for decades. You can create wonderful sounds with them, either bass sounds or lead ones, it feels like you are “sculpturing” the sound with these instruments- although one of their characteristics is that they do not “save” the settings –alterations you make (once you turn the power off, then you have to make the sound from the beginning)-this, apart from being a “disadvantage” ,is also fascinating and challenging. So the answer is “yes”, the right equipment is very important in order to create the sound you have in mind.

Irini: On the other hand, the last months we have fallen in love with a digital synthesizer -a Yamaha reface DX (“descendant” of the historical Yamaha DX7 of the 80s) and we have started to use it; the technology of FM synthesis of this instrument is very nicely combined to our analogue instruments and has also the advantage of “saving” the sounds you create. Sometimes, with the analogue instruments, it is really difficult to have enough time to fix the appropriate sound for the next song during a live show (when recording, this does not matter), so the digital synths give you the freedom to be quick and accurate and this is something we cannot deny.
Computers are of course one of the most useful tools of our times and a musician can do extraordinary things with them…but one needs to have the appropriate knowledge, and we both are not acquainted with computers in music making… To be honest, we are “old-school” people and we want to have real buttons and keys to play, we are afraid of screens! Only once in my life I used a computer during a live show (10 years ago, when I was playing with another band) and in the 3d song…it stopped functioning…It was a disaster… of course this does not happen if you have a good computer and you know how to deal with it...but for me it was such a shock that I decided never to take this risk again!

We see from your visuals that you love black and white. Is it the atmosphere and nostalgia it brings out that attract you?

George: We really love black and white, as we also adore silent black and white movies. It is exactly what you said, this atmosphere and nostalgia that is brought out, attracts and inspires us. We have the chance to be friends with  a  talented  video artist and photographer, Gogo Galanopoulou, who has already made 2 clips of our songs (“A little Girl Lost” and “The Smile”) and we agree to this, that black and white aims to the essence and truth, it does not restrain the emotions and lets you free to feel and imagine… Nostalgia, dream-world, poetic atmosphere, the impulsion to run away from “reality”, the abstraction , the surrealistic and expressionistic way of perceiving things…also introversion and a kind of melancholia…all these are closely related to our inner-self  - and  using black and white in visuals is consistent with these emotions, also with the lyrics of our songs.

You have played live many songs that are not on your first digital album "8.15". Are these new songs that will be released in the future? Will we be having any physical release by the band?

Irini: Our first digital album is a 6-track album, so many of our songs that we play in live shows are not included there. At this moment we have finished the recordings for our first vinyl LP that will be released by Geheimnis Records in the autumn –and we are really very happy about that! This album will include 10 of the songs we have with lyrics based on poetry by William Blake, also an instrumental track (“8.15”, after which the whole album will be named, like the digital one). Apart from these, in live shows we also use to play 3-4 more songs with lyrics by Blake and 3 with lyrics of our own-but these will not be included in our first release.

The darkwave, minimal synth scene is still going strong after all these years. What is it do you think that makes the scene have a longevity? How do you see the scene here in Greece and in general?

Irini: The truth is that this scene has a longevity because it consists of significant bands that play really good music, with pulse and emotion, with respect to qualities such as finest sound and instrumentations, strong beats and taking riffs, meaningful lyrics, lack of “busy” instrumental solos and vocals that do not aim to “show off” the singing “abilities” of a performer but underline and express deepest emotions and the atmosphere of the music … It is also a scene that consists of people whose way of life and thinking is strongly connected to the way they perceive music and art in general, and this is really important. We are a small country and this scene is a minority in comparison to other musical genres here –and it has always been an underground scene, as it should be…because underground is where –at most cases- real and also revolutionary things are born and developed. Since the 80s the scene is evolving and I think we have great bands that are acknowledged here and abroad, and new bands that come up and this is really a comfort…to see that, in a rapidly changing world, some things do not change, some of the musical values, beliefs and loves we had as teenagers, are still alive…Perhaps this sounds “romantic”, but I think that this scene is alive due to this…dark secret love...

What are your future plans? Anything you would like to share with us?

George: Our plans include composing new songs and instrumental pieces, rehearsing, searching for new sounds and evolving our music. And after the release of our LP “8.15” we wish, of course, to do as more live shows as possible! We enjoy composing, jamming and rehearsing, but nothing can be compared to live playing and sharing music with other people…
We would like to thank you warmly for this interview and congratulate you Nick and “DIE SEELE” for the great work you do, it is very important that we all people of this scene/community keep supporting each other in all ways possible !

Photos : Gwgw Galanopoulou

Interview : Nick Drivas