It’s not often that you see progressive metal musicians featured on PickUp, but one prog metal guitarist in particular kept popping up on our radar.
“On PickUp, often we ask questions like: Who are you listening to? Who’s your favorite guitarist? What was the last show you went to?” said Sam Blakelock, founder of PickUp, “and I just kept hearing about Plini from our community.”
Plini is a 25 year old guitarist and composer from Sydney, Australia who’s making waves in the prog metal scene. The first thing you notice about Plini is that he’s a modest man of few words and prefers to let his music do the talking.
His musical journey began at a young age when his mom introduced him to the Beatles, “I wanted to be ringo so I set up pots and pans and hit them,” he said in an interview with Jude Gold of Guitar Player magazine, “I think by being really annoying I eventually got a drum set.”
Plini’s dad is a jazz bassist but didn’t teach him much growing up. Rather, he encouraged Plini to listen to music that caught his ear and figure it out on his own– advice that Plini thinks has helped him more than if his dad would have formally trained him.
Plini went on to teach himself guitar. However, when you watch him play, you’d think that he’s been studying music theory at the university level. He records on his own humble, bedroom recording rig and has independently released one album, three EP’s, and a handful of singles.
He performs and releases music as Plini, which is essentially a solo project brought to life by a group of talented musicians who help him execute his vision. Recently, he has played over 100 shows in support of prog metal giants Animals as Leaders on their 2016 tour– he opened as Plini and stepped in as a touring member of the Canadian prog metal band Intervals who were also on the bill.
We recently hosted a workshop with Plini in Manhattan and asked him a few questions on the art of guitar– check out his influences and musings below:
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Tim Miller.
Any upcoming players to watch out for?
Jakub Zytecki, Horace Bray, Stephen Taranto.
What does your practice routine consist of?
Nothing! My best form of practice is writing and recording. I think having to play accurately to a metronome (and hearing yourself back afterwards) is a great way to improve in a musical context rather than a purely abstract, technical one.
What do you do when you’re feeling stuck in your playing/composing?
Take a break, listen to something different, try to write in a different style or incorporate a different instrument.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to fellow guitar players that they can incorporate into their practice?
When working on a new technique or scale or theoretical device, try to incorporate it into a composition as soon as possible, so you learn it in a musical way.
What’s the most important aspect of guitar playing that you feel is often overlooked?
Playing slow, well, to me, playing a simple melody with great vibrato and phrasing is often more meaningful than anything.
There you have it– short, sweet, and to the point! Be sure to check out the rest of our Fret Chat series below.
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Kal the Guitarist
Kyle Sparkman is a musician and writer based in Philadelphia. He writes about music and other things that are interesting to humans. If the music is funky, he probably likes it.
Gold, Jude, host. “Plini.” No Guitar is Safe, episode 44, Guitar Player Magazine, 2017.