Formed two years ago in Berlin, lo-fi duo GLOOMY STARS sat down with IDIOTEQ to talk about their signature sound and simple, but genius concept called ‘sadcore trash’. A bit difficult to label and annoyingly simplistic, the art of Cilli and Gary Sinnlos materialized into their debut album “Sadcore Trash (The Basement Tapes)”, 52-minute, weird lo-fi document featuring 16 interesting tracks. Learn more about this unearthly invention, check out our interview below (available both in video and text formats) and listen to the full record.
Hey there guys! Congratulations on your new atmospheric record and further development of this fascinating niche of moody sonic pleasure.
Hi out there, I’m Gary Sinnlos, the guitar player and noisemaker of the GLOOMY STARS. Welcome in the underground, down here in our basement.
How did you guys join your forces and what inspired you to pick up this particular style?
So, that’s how we started. I know Cilli, the singer, already since a long time because she’s my neighbour. And one night after a party with a lot of drinks we decided to make music together, just guitar and vocals. And because we both had a flair, a preference, for melancholic music, it was clear that we have to do something gloomy, very gloomy. So one night she came up with the lyrics of Gloomy Sunday. I had no idea how the sound of to this song is and I also didn’t care. I just did a simple riff and tried to catch the heart or the point of the lyrics. After the first session, we knew, that sounds pretty cool, very melancholic, and very dynamic at the same time. So “Sadcore Trash” was born. Gloomy Sunday, the title, gave me the input and I changed it into GLOOMY STARS, so we had already a band or a project name however you wanna call it. It says a lot, means a lot and it’s easy to remember. The rest is history, how an American would say…
Have you been in other bands before? Instrumental-wise, what prompted the switch to this more acoustic, lo-fi and minimal setting?
So Cilli, she had already some experience with little jam sessions with friends, but not really experience. I had a former band called ABGAS. That was also very minimalistic, very simple sound, 100% DIY. In the early 80’s we did a double single (vinyl) with 14 songs on it, and it’s until now still the worst record ever “produced”. But that gave us a “legendary” reputation, and on eBay you have to pay now more than 100 Euros to get one. Later on, we did another single (vinyl) called “Die Tänzerin”, 4 songs just instrumental, no vocals. The single came out with a text sheet in 8 languages. And of course we did everything there by our own. The interesting thing was, we did live concerts, only instrumental songs and we were playing naked just painted with colours. So in this sense, GLOOMY STARS is not a switch, it’s more a kind of continuation, just even more simply then ABGAS was. To have just guitar and vocals is a perfect way to create new songs. You can really concentrate on the core of the song, in our case “sadcore”, and it leaves us also a lot of opportunities when we will go in a studio or something.
Besides practical reasons, do you have a specific interest in pushing the limits of modern music definitions further?
Not really, primarily I make music for myself. I don’t care about definitions; my roots are in the punk. And from the beginning, when I started with music, I just wanted to do my own sound. That was for me the original idea of punk; do your own thing, be yourself!
Have you tried letting more musicians come in and make GLOOMY STARS a full band?
Cilli could go just like that into my sound; so we fitted just perfectly together. So we started writing lyrics and we created one song after another. We had to make no compromises at all and could concentrate just on the song. Yes, we will look for more musicians to bring in, but they have to serve to the sound like we do. It’s not quite easy to find the right people. But one day, sooner or later we will become something like a real band.
Tell us a bit about your gear and set up. What instruments and tools do you use?
We make music with what we have on hand. That’s a guitar, a microphone and 2 cheap amplifiers. All the recordings we do with an old cassette recorder, so everything is on these little cassettes tapes. Subsequently we digitalize everything with the freeware Audacity and we put some reverb on it or something like that. There is not really a lot you can do because we only have one track. The whole thing is quite pure.
What are some of the limitations of this sound? Aren’t you tempted to channel different emotions through richer palette of sounds?
Of course, in the way we work, we are very limited, but we are talking about “Sadcore Trash”, and in this specific case about the “Basement Tapes”. So for my taste it fits perfectly in itself. Maybe it’s exactly this limitation that gives the whole album this unique expressions, this kind of trippy feeling. I don’t know if in studio you can create the same atmosphere. But now we started in two ways, we continue the same style like we did but we also started working in a little studio. There we gonna add synthesizers, drum machine and bass on it. It’s a completely new playground for us and gives us also thousands of new possibilities, and we will see how it will sound. But anyway we will stay with “Sadcore Trash”. We try to do the same thing, just completely different.
You’ve released a couple of videos serving almost psychedelic audio-visual experience. How important are visuals to your identity? Do they have a certain meaning?
We did the whole album as audio-visual experience, a 52-minutes “movie” you can find on YouTube. With the visuals it’s the same like with the sound. It’s very minimalistic, very amateurish. We had only one photo of the GLOOMY STARS, and even that, it’s a selfie, because Cilli took it. Out of this picture I did the entire artwork, the layout for the booklet and also all the video clips. Each song has a different color and style a little bit but everything is done out of one picture. Visuals are a part of our art. It doesn’t have a specific meaning; it just should support the atmosphere of the songs. Everybody can make his own meaning out of it.
Are there any other forms of art that you’re currently practicing and would like to try your strengths in?
My fields are music, writing short stories, drawing and even film. In all the fields I’m very amateurish, I always do it but I don’t do it all the time. For years for example I draw and write and produce little punk fairy tales called ULPI; little stories about not sinking, timeless unfashionable. They basically follow the same rule like we did with the music. Just do your own thing, be yourself. Of course I mix everything together. My art complement each other. That’s the interesting thing, to mix everything together.
Ok guys, so what are the plans after this recent album premiere? Are there any live gigs lined up?
We continue to do our “Sadcore Trash” the same way like we did, but like I said before, we start to work in a little studio and when we know how the new sound will sound we will looking for musicians and put a program together with a lot of visuals. And hopefully in autumn, early winter, we will start with the first concerts.
With where you’re at right now, do you envision this project as a continual project, or do you see it more as being of the ‘here and now’, and possibly being a part of your future?
I think we will continue to develop. I don’t think there will be a continuation in the same style we did now. The album what we did, for my taste fits perfectly in itself, doesn’t make sense to make the same thing again. But who knows, one day maybe, we will bring out a new “Basement Tapes 2” album, it’s open. After all, the “here and now” always will be a part of our future.
Cool, thanks so much for your time! Take care and feel free to wrap it up with your final thoughts!
A big “thanks” goes out to Karol for his open mind! Hopefully you continue your work with IDIOTEQ as long as you can; it’s great and very important. Respect!