Unspoken Connections Ignite “Lip Led Scream” LP // An Interview with INCIRRINA

WL//WH Interview INCIRRINA  

foto by Achilleas Gatsopoulo

Days of extraordinary activity and excitement for the Athens-based dark electronic unit, comprised of the George Katsanos (synthesizers, drum machine, vocals) and Irini Tiniakou (synthesizers, vocals), under their alias INCIRRINA, on the brink to drop their long-awaited sophomore LP, “Lip Led Scream”, simultaneously with the band’s participation at the Cold Transmission Festival 2022 in Germany.
The pair dig deeply into their heartfelt talent and souls to inspire an album, poised between Minimal Synth leanings and 80s Analog sounds, that deftly strikes a fine balance between emotional, theatrical and haunting vocals, and pulsing, enveloping, driving electronic and rhythmic parts, with increasingly evocative and obscure allure. 

The three of us were curious to know more…

  • Welcome, let’s trace back to your personal roots, where did you grow up and how did you get into music Who were your early musical inspirations?

Hello, thank you for having us in WL/WH!

[Irini]: We both grew up in Greece, even if George spent his early childhood in Japan. In reality, was born in Kiel, Germany, but my family moved back to Greece when I was 2 years old. We both have a common music background, our first music loves were Jean-Michel Jarre and Pink Floyd albums to which we were listening on our parents’ vinyls. We started playing music since we were kids on small keyboards and some years after we started music studies. As teenagers, we were deeply inspired by The B’52, The Cure, Joy Division, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, OMD, Gary Numan, and A Flock of Seagulls…to name just a few.

  • Let’s talk about the genesis of Incirrina. How did you meet? What attracted you? Where did your name come from? What sound did you have in mind…and above all what are the elements that made your music relationship works so well?

We first met in 2014 and we immediately became partners in life. At that time we were members of various bands; we found out that, for years, we both had the vision to form a group based on synthesizers; we started experimenting in our living room with analogue equipment and drum machines and we were very pleased to realise that music was flowing and there was no need to talk about it or analyze what to do and how, music ideas were just happening …so, we formed “Incirrina” – the name comes from a kind of octopus because we like very much the marine life and its strange and magical creatures. We were into the sound of synth bands of the 80s and of composers of electronic music such as Klaus Schulze and Vangelis; when we started, we had this sound in mind and also the sound of our beloved bands.

Our music relationship works well because we have the same musical taste and feel, we enjoy jamming together and, as far as the composition of Incirrina music is concerned, we really do not talk much about what we play, when something works musically we both recognise it immediately when it does not, we let it go without a second thought.

  • Where did the attraction for cold, dark, chaotic and gloomy atmospheric sounds arise from?

This surely is a matter of character and personality; all these sounds penetrate deeply our souls, and they can affect the subconscious in a unique way, far more deeply than words can achieve. We are very much attracted by weird, dark, melancholic and eccentric people, literature, movies, situations…we feel like diving into the depths of the universe with such sounds. Like most of the people in our scene, we are moving on the fringes of this world and we feel more comfortable going through its hidden dark paths.

  • The lyrics dive into dramatic pitch-black realms of an unsolved murder, rituals, and verbal violence. What inspires your stories? Is there any autobiographical essence in them?

Well, the writing of lyrics is a very important matter for us…In “Lip Led Scream” the lyrics of all the songs (except for one) are written by Konstantins Londos, the “secret” third member of the band, who is an extremely talented poet of our times who has always been hiding himself and his countless poems -we are trying since years to persuade him to publish at least some of them…We have spent hours and hours talking with Konstantinos about matters and issues of our times; we share the same political and social thoughts and the agony about what is happening around us. We either chose poems already written by Konstantinos, or we discussed about a matter and then he wrote a poem about this matter. So they may not be really autobiographical, but they depict emotions and thoughts we share with Konstantinos about crucial matters.

Let’s speak about four of the album’s songs that are already out; “Jane Doe is dealing with a hard issue, not only the unidentified female murder victims, but also with the terrible and monstrous fact of the developing number of women being murdered by their partners. On the other hand,Dance Of The Dark”, far from describing rituals, is a celebration of the personality of our beautiful sui generis friend Alexia -the benevolent goddess of no-nonsense-who is, by the way, performing in the music video of this song. “Careworn Face” is a song about the working-class woman-a song for all women of labour in the world; women who spend their lives working hard to survive themselves and keep their families alive; still they live their lives with dignity and grace. “Shrapnel Words” observes the new political language where the outright lie gives its place to hypocrisy, and the old-fashioned argument, however misleading, turns into a private monologue οf broken, meaningless, happy but ruthless drivel full of fanatical code words, unfounded catchphrases and cues, covering up a global crisis with millions of victims.

  • Beautifully haunting vocals shift into an array of emotions, atmospheres, and layerings. How do you channel such different personalities when you record/perform?

Well, to be honest, most of the time this happens unconsciously. Every song represents a different world and each of these worlds has its own rules and aesthetics that lead to the use of the one or the other way to perform it; it’s like acting and changing roles and costumes. The music elements of a song – melodies, riffs, harmony and beat – and the lyrics and the atmosphere created from these all, “dictate” the way a song has to be performed. We are not trained singers so we don’t really have a “technique” to do so, only our different emotions and mood can lead to different personalities and approaches to each song.

  • Could you, please, give us in-depth insight into how your new LP was born? Tell us about the title, the influences, the ups and downs, and the recording process that brought you to the final result. Was it an organic evolution from your debut album?

Generally speaking, yes, it was an evolution from “8.15”, though in “Lip Led Scream” our sound and style are quite different, our emotions while composing it were totally different for sure – and we also used different instruments while composing and recording the album. It took us almost 1,5 years to finish it – the first 2 songs “Shrapnel Words” and “Dance Of The Dark were already released as a maxi single in Autumn 2020 under the name “Utter”, and at that time we were thinking that in a few months the album would be ready, as we had pretty much material for it, though reality changed our plans.

The 10 songs featured in this album were written during a painful period – personally and globally speaking – and at the same time in a state of rapture. As mentioned in a previous question, we had long and passionate conversations with Konstantinos, not only about the lyrics, but also about the music itself. Many ideas and songs were composed and many of them were also thrown away because they simply did not work or match with what we had in mind. Solitude, violence, despair, social injustice, biopolitics, but also love and humaneness are the main themes of the album. The album’s title “Lip Led Scream” is a line from the song “Jane Doe”; we chose these words as a title because they reflect how we felt during that time – our lips felt tightly closed, we wanted to scream, to turn scream into an expression not just as a way out but as a way to understand. To react against but also to respond to a feeling of internal chaos, helplessness and fear of a world collapsing outside, and turn these feelings into expression and into a burst of sounds and rhythms.

After the final decision of which songs we would include in the album and which not and after having worked for several months in our home, the final studio recordings were really easy and quick…

  • We find our brothers Grey Gallows from Patras, and Kalte Nacht from Athens, on the same label now, also, as other names from the Greek dark alternative front signing to major independent labels (i.e. Paradox Obscur/Metropolis records). I’d like to ask you, as members of our scene, what is it, in your opinion, that finally draws these labels to sign all these names which represent the GR scene with fantastic new releases?

Actually, the Greek scene is really strong and is represented by 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, vocals that underline and express deepest emotions and the atmosphere of the music; also a good thing that has happened the last years is that, due to the internet and social media, it is not an issue where a band actually lives (we also have the example of bands whose members live in different towns or even countries), so the important thing is the music itself – and good music has no borders and limitations.

Also in the digital era, people can buy music either in digital format or order physical products such as vinyls, CDs and tapes regardless of where they reside. We think that the basic criterion for a label to sign with an artist is the artist’s music and we are very proud that our GR scene has so many great bands and releases.

  • How did/do living in Athens inform your music aesthetic? 

Athens is a vivid city which we deeply adore; we have experienced all aspects of life in numerous streets and edges of the metropolis-love and tears drinking and dancing, fading, running away, kissing and getting abandoned, protesting and getting arrested… And it hurts so much and makes us very angry the way the authority treats our Athens and how it has led to the destruction of many of its most beautiful aspects, physically and socially speaking. For example, there used to be many squats in Athens where very important things were happening (all the Punk scene was born there and hundreds of political, social and artistic activities were taking place)…now, due to the authority’s oppression, there are only remaining very few…despite this fact, the Greek underground music -and not only- scene remains active although things are not at all easy any more.

Our music aesthetic was formed in these conditions- as social creatures participating in the Athenian underground life and as musicians also, as we were members of many bands and acts years before forming Incirrina. It is a scene that consists of people whose way of living and thinking is strongly connected to the way they perceive music, art and life in general. We are a small country and, as in all countries apparently, this scene is a minority in comparison to other musical genres – it has always been an underground scene, and that is the only way it should be…underground is where you can feel the freedom to be yourself and communicate with creatures that struggle for freedom, equality and respect to each other. It is also the field where in most cases real and revolutionary things are born and developed and we consider it as the only bearable way to live, think and act in the metropolis.

  • Could you talk about the other artistic influences in your music and creative process (literature, visual arts, cinema…)
[George] Apart from my love for Japanese Haiku poems we are both very fond of Early Science Fiction literature and cinema; books by Jules Verne, Isaak Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Ursula Le Guin and movies such as Blade Runner, Solaris, Dune, also series like “Doctor Who” and “Planet of the Apes” and experimental cinema- films by Maya Deren and Harry Smith. Also, we love Romantic Poetry – our first album “8.15” was actually inspired by William Blake’s writings and we set some of his poems into music.

[Irini] I really dig the poetry and literature of Charles Bukowski and all the books of Tom Robbins and Lewis Carroll. My favorite comic artist is Quino. As for visual arts, I love Paul Klee, Salvador Dali and M.C.Escher. And the films of Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch.

  • Incirrina in Cold Transmission Music…what a blast was that when both you and the label announced it. Can you tell us how did it all happen, and how easy was it for you to sign a contract with that label?

We are more than happy and feel so much honoured that we are members of the amazing Cold Transmission Music and Family..! We used to listen to the label’s bands and to Mixcloud’s sets by Andreas Hermann, in which we would always find very good music and we learned many things and new bands. We also had a contact back in 2019 for one of Cold Transmission’s digital compilation series, “Zeitgeist”, where they included our “Mad Song”. Then, in December 2021, as we had almost completed the recordings of our 2nd LP (“Lip Led Scream”) we were discussing with Grey Gallows about the possibilities of the release of this album and, as they were already in Cold Transmission, they encouraged us to write to them about it..so ..we did..and we sent them a demo of the songs, and… they answered positively!

On the 19th of January 2022, it was the announcement of the signing. We could really not believe it in the beginning…not only because of their positive answer, and how things evolved but also because of the quickness, the clarity, the creative ideas and the effectiveness of their work and acts – we realized that from the very beginning of our communication and every time since then. The way Suzy and Andreas Hermann work and act, their passion and love for music and their vision of the sound of tomorrow and the evolution of the scene, is simply incredible…and that is how they have achieved to grow in a few years and make Cold Transmission such a magnificent label. We are very lucky to be working with these people and we wish we will achieve to contribute as much as possible to the realization of this vision.

  • Did you play at the 18th Athens Digital Arts Festival (ADAF) last May 28th, presenting “Positronic Brains”, tell us please about that day and more specifically about that song…

“ADAF” is one of the most interesting and important festivals for Digital Arts in Greece and it was an honour for us that we had the chance to play there, on a stage with super sound in a central square of Athens. The main theme of the Festival in 2022 was “Future-Retro” and, like every year, there was an open call for artists of all kinds of digital arts plus music from all over the world.

We submitted a project we had in mind for 2 years, a 35-minute single electronic music composition under the name “Positronic Brains where ambient soundscapes alternate with tracks and songs inspired by the 3 anthropomorphic robots – R.Daneel Olivaw, R.Jander Panell, R.Giskard Reventlov – of one of the masters of science fiction, Isaak Asimov. Of these songs, only “R.Daneel” has been released in 2021 as part of the maxi single “Devastations/R.Daneel” together with the band “The Man&His Failures”. It was surely one of the nicest experiences we had on stage and we are also thankful because on the closing day of the Festival we have been honoured with an award for our performance in the Festival’s 17th edition in 2021 (“Syd Sessions go ADAF”) which was online due to the pandemic.

  • You are going to play in the Cold Transmission Festival 2022 on August 19th/20th in Cologne, what will you showcase there? Also, how does it feel to share the stage with so many important names from the CT roster?

We really can’t wait for the Cold Transmission Festival! It is the most important event for our band so far and we are looking forward to being there among the great bands of the Cold Transmission family. We are going to play for the first time the songs of our new album “Lip Led Scream” – it is wonderful timing as the album’s official release date is the 19th of August and we are playing on the 20th. We are more than happy because, apart from our dear friends “Grey Gallows”, we will meet there people and bands we know only through social media and through their great music – “IAMTHESHADOW”, “Ultra Sunn”, “iamnoone”, “The Ending Nights” and “Cirque D’Ess”. We are sure it will be a really memorable Festival at the “Blue Shell” club!

  • Are there any contemporary, up-and-coming artists who you’re particularly into or feel an affinity with? 

Apart from our fellow bands Grey Gallows and Kalte Nacht, we feel an affinity with many upcoming bands of the Greek scene; “Ghostland, a really amazing post-punk band, “Data Fragments, The Man&His Failures”, Convex Model, Tango Mangalore … Also we are fond of RINA PAVAR, Hørd and The Secret French Postcards, to name just a few…

  • What were the pivotal records or live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?
[George]: The album “The Man – Machine” by Kraftwerk ... the concert of Tangerine Dream in Athens at the Lycabettus theater in the early ’80s and the Rockwave Athens in the mid-’80s with the bands The Stranglers, The Cure, Talk Talk

[Irini]: for me, it was the record “Oxygene” by J.M.Jarre. I still get the same goosebumps when I listen to its opening notes..and Nina Hagen’s “NunSexMonkRock”. As for concerts, I had a unique experience in Salzburg’s Summer Festival in the early ’00s where I attended a concert with works of Jannis Christou, a Greek avant-garde composer; one of the works was “Mysterion”, a scenic oratorio on ancient Egyptian sacred texts for narrator, three mixed choirs, orchestra, tapes and actors – the whole event was kind of a metaphysical experience for me..the soundscape and the vibes were of another world…

  • A song you wished you had written?

Joy Division’s “Love will tear us apart” [George] and “Happy House by Siouxsie and the Banshees [Irini].

  • A song that defines the teenage you?

“Don’t go” by Yazoo [George] and “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode [Irini].

  • What are you listening to lately?

We are listening much to radio shows and Mixclouds with Post-punk/Electronic/Dark Wave music in order to be in touch with the music of our scene and learn about new bands and new music. Also for relaxation and inspiration, we love listening to field recordings and early world music recordings.

  • Thank you for your time and for allowing us to get to know you better. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for the interview – it is an honor for us to be hosted here and we are very grateful for your continuous support to us as a band and to the whole scene – stay well and keep on running the wonderful “WhiteLight // WhiteHeat”!

Incirrina‘s sophomore 10-track LP “Lip Led Scream” is slated for release, on Ltd. 12″ Vinyl /CD /Cassette & Digital formats, on August 19, 2022, via Cold Transmission Music.

Keep up with Incirrina:

Incirrina photo by G_Galanopoulou

%d bloggers like this: