From Other Planes
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From Other Planes

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A passion 'from other planes'
Protest and hope from Italo-Canadian singer-songwriter duo
By Marianna Russo
Originally Published: 2006-10-08


Toronto is the springboard for the musical tour that emerging Italian-Canadian singer-songwriter Maic Oz is going to take with his band, From other planes. Authoring lyrics and music with the other member of the group - and lifelong friend - Alex Hugo, Maic Oz has already published his second CD, entitled Halls of love. His love for music comes from afar.
When did you first begin to love music?
"I've always been playing some instrument. When I was a child, I had a tambourine. Then my father gave me my first guitar when I was 12, and I've cultivated my passion ever since. Like many teenagers I played with bands, but it was in my university years that I decided to do music in a serious way. I lived in Rome at the time, studying Architecture. I patronized the Roman musical scene, getting to know a lot of big musicians who were playing with the most famous Italian singers. My passion grew in me, and after a while I opened a recording studio. I recorded my first CD with Alex, who had been with me since the beginning. Those big Roman musicians frequently visited - and still visit - my studio. They are friends of mine. Every once in a while they dropped in and started playing the songs I was writing."
Then you came back to Canada.
"Yes. Italian producers told me that Italian audiences were not ready for the kind of music I was making. My songs were in English, and Italian audiences only accept songs in a foreign tongue if they come from abroad. So I decided to go the opposite way. I restarted my musical career in Canada, and when the time will be ripe I will return to Italy as a foreign singer."
Which artists had the greatest influence on your musical taste?
"Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Guns'N'Roses, and especially Stone Temple Pilots."
Which artist of today comes closest to your way of making music?
"None. Right now, there is a gaping hole in the musical scene. Hip hop is everywhere, and no contemporary rocker manages to establish him- or herself as a model." What is the message you want to send out with your songs?
"One of protest and hope. Protest against injustice everywhere: in We are all the same I protested the French nuclear explosions at Mururoa; in Electric Nation I proclaimed my rejection of the electric chair and death penalty in general; in More I tackle the widening gap between rich and poor. Social themes, but with no political slant."
What about hope?
"Hope is a necessary ingredient. I cannot talk of evil without the hope that good will eventually triumph. It might sound contradictory, but all my songs are based on contrast. I am a bit of an extremist, and I think that only when opposites are juxtaposed there is advancement. Hope arises out of confrontation."
How much of you can be found in your songs?
"My sadness. I like sadness. I am extreme even in how I live sorrow. One song in particular, Waiting, talks about me, even though it sounds like a romantic ballad. In reality it is a personal letter I wrote to God."
What is the place of music in your life?
"To me, music is everything, not just a job or even a passion. When I tried to get away from it, by studying architecture, it attracted me most powerfully, leading me to the musical scene in Rome. Music carried me through some really tough spots: through music, I managed to achieve closure following some tragic experiences in my life; as I said, in music I find hope."
What else do you expect from music?
"I expect to tour the world with it, spreading nice sounds, good words, and a quantity of positive energy."
When do you compose?
"When it rains. Rain inspires me because it gives me melancholy. However, in general I write every time I feel the urge to reflect on some issue I feel strongly about. Now, for instance, I'm writing a song on the absurdity of school shootings."
Who are you addressing?
"Nobody in particular. Some songs come out in ways that resonate with several people; without my realizing it, everybody finds a message in the song that seems tailored for each of them." Which Italian musicians do you like the most?
"Subsonica, Almamegretta, Daniele Silvestri, and recently Negramaro. They are all artists that write lyrics in ways I can relate to, although they are somewhat 'lighter' as far as their kind of music is concerned."
What are your plans for your professional future?
"I'd like to make a name for myself in Toronto, and then there will be a tour across Canada."
The tour of From other planes began last Saturday. The next date is October 18 at Rancho Relaxo, on College Street. - Tandem News


Discography

Halls of love lp.
check our songs at www.fromotherplanes.com

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Bio

Band chemistry is a very elusive thing. It can’t be scripted or created from a focus group — it’s just there. When it is as electric and positive as in From Other Planes, you just sense it’ll lead to great things. That impression lingers with this scribe after a chat with all five members of this new Toronto-based modern rock band. It’s one that’s shared by others coming into contact with From Other Planes, as we soon discover. During our interview in the large studio space that’s become the group’s second home, studio owner Dave Beatty drops in. Unaware of the tape rolling, he’s bubbling with enthusiasm: “You guys were so fantastic yesterday, I’m so excited.” He then explains, “I was with [concert promoters] C.P.I. for 10 years. I’ve seen a million bands, every big act up close, and these guys have got what it takes. They have all the raw elements.” FOP lead singer Maic Oz recalls, “Even yesterday the photographer said to us, ‘You guys have been working on looking for a band a long time.’ ”Not in any contrived way, however. This is not a group of novices, dipping their feet in the rock ’n’ roll pool for the first time. They’re all scene veterans, in both Toronto and in the former Rome base of Oz and long-time creative collaborator, guitarist Alex Hugo. That experience means they all know how rare such a positive inner band dynamic is, and they’re determined not to let the opportunity pass.“This is a very fate-ful group,” reflects Maic. “We’re not superstitious, but we are deeply aware of this being a magical moment, where all our forces are being pulled together to make this happen.” Alex concurs: “This is a new project given to us by meeting these people in different ways,” he says. “Between all these coincidences, this is fate.”The sense of FOP being a real band, in the fullest sense, is what separates it from earlier Oz/Hugo collaborations, such as previous group Bless. “That was just a project with me and Alex, and other substitute people coming in and out of the studio in Rome and then back in Toronto,” explains Oz. “They were hired guns, but From Other Planes is a real band. Apart from playing together we’ve become really good friends. It looks so fruitful; we’re more focused in other areas of our lives too. Here, there’s no one telling everybody else what to do. Everybody puts in his own.”