Foxtrot Sierra | The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane | Interview | “A message from the underground bunkers”

Uncategorized January 18, 2022

Foxtrot Sierra | The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane | Interview | “A message from the underground bunkers”

A mysterious musician behind the exotic blend of Fender driven tracks of instrumental, blues, surf, and new age synth sounds.

Originally from Chile, the project was releasing music under different monikers including The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane and Foxtrot Sierra. His latest project involves 69 Deluxe. Without any exaggerating, this project produced some of the most enthusiastic and refreshing sounds within the genre of psychedelic rock and continues to do so. Not to be overlooked!

“As a kid growing up I was fascinated by the sounds of radios and jet planes and that sort of stuff”

You’re very hard to track down. I’ve been enjoying ‘Surfin’ Krautlifornia’ for many years but was unable to find a contact. Would you like to talk a bit about your background?

Vicente Siechewitz, aka Foxtrot Sierra: After avoiding and ruining any chance of exposure and press coverage for years against myself, I am thrilled to get this new chance, so I thank you very much! I will sum it up a little: I was born in Viña del Mar and grew up there and also in Iquique (Atacama desert in Chile) and in Santiago. My mother was very permissive and let me get away with a lot of things as a kid, like owning an air rifle and blowing up things in the desert, but getting a drum kit was out of the question, god bless her. We moved around and traveled a lot, spending a lot of time hiking and camping. My father worked in the U.S. for a while so we had the chance to spend some time there too, where I had the opportunity to dwell into lush record store halls and pick up great albums. Then I saw this other kid playing guitar on a bench while in school, asked him to teach me a few riffs and then kept playing ever since.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music? What brought that about for you?

Knowing I wanted to be in a band since I was 9, when it finally happened, we realized we had to compose our own music or be a cover band, so if we wanted to be serious we needed to make our own songs. I already knew a little from making electronic music with samplers and stuff like that, fooling around making beats, you can’t really make a cover like that, easier to make your own music, so there was that for me. Then the guitar player showed up with a great song and I was raving about it the whole weekend, if he was able to, we had a chance to roll, so I gave it a shot as well and started like that.

How did you first get interested in psychedelic rock and is The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane your first recorded project?

I listened to a lot of 60s music when I was a kid. I had access to a great collection of music in my house and spent more time listening to albums and staring at covers than playing video games or stuff like that, which was the usual in the 90s and I didn’t really do it at all, it was the Hi-Fi corner what did it for me, also movies. I remember being really drawn to ‘Rubber Soul’s’ LP cover at some of my parent’s friends house, but I was too shy to ask, so I tried to go there every time I could until I would get my chance, and I imagined how it would sound. Also a lot of Jimi Hendrix LP covers really got me, this gypsy black guy playing a fender guitar reversed upside down, with the scruffy hair and everything, it looked defying, and when I first played that I was hooked.

I also liked film scores a lot. About Schafferson Jetplane, that was my second attempt in music, first attempt being Cindy Sisters with KB Cabala who now plays in Chicos de Nazca, a fellow dropout (Rev 33) who runs a very interesting experimental label called Nonlocal Research and a handsome guy called Dodds, who retired from music to become a lawyer and went under the radar after that.

“We were jamming straight onto an 8 track reel to reel”

With The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane you released some of the grooviest recordings from the last decade. What was the creative process behind it?

Cindy Sisters were contacted by Pepsi for some kind of music ad and things corrupted fast and we disbanded, so after we had had enough time apart, Dodds, REV33 and I got together again and started jamming for “The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane”. KB was already playing ALL IN in La Hell Gang, so he was not available unfortunately. We had been jamming for years with an older guy we called “The Leader”, he mentored us on free form music, jamming and tape music and all that stuff. He had an art space in which we jammed every Monday religiously, basically all the people without regular jobs and us going there after school, I even remember KB showing up with his school uniform on. Another friend called Grio joined and started playing without any prior music experience and ended up playing all the keyboards on the record, he did listen to a lot of Sun Ra and his Arkestra though. And that’s how the Schafferson Jetplane took form, we were jamming straight onto an 8 track reel to reel with “The Leader”. It was basically the sort of stuff we had been doing and jamming at his place for a long time, very freely. Anybody could join in anytime and there was no clear compromise or anything, just make it sound as nice as you can, and let’s tape it when it’s good. We were very excited with the 8 Track Reel to Reel after years of Lo-Fi cassettes. The thing that was clear, was that it had to be instrumental.

Are you a multi-instrumentalist or do you have other players?

Both work. I like playing with other people and making it work, arranging things for both the song and the style of the player. If there is nobody else at hand I try to make it work myself, studying and playing some part until it works, be it bass, keys or harmonica or whatever, experimenting until it’s hooked, only a lot of patience is needed. I am not very skilled at any instrument, but I have a lot of time and patience and like repeating single grooves for hours, I really get along with people who like that too.

What led to Foxtrot Sierra?

As a kid growing up I was fascinated by the sounds of radios and jet planes and that sort of stuff. I wanted to be a pilot, hence the jetplane stuff and all that. The T-37 featured on ‘Surfin’ Krautlifornia’ is the jetplane trainer on which my father received instrument flight training. I grew up to find out I am colorblind so no piloting, so I put that into the music, lucky me. Foxtrot Sierra is a code name on the phonetic radio alphabet. I tried to retire from music which was all I ever knew, since I don’t have more than a high school diploma. I wanted to be a bush pilot in the Atacama desert or the Patagonia, and play sitar and make music in a remote cabin, but I could not do that, so I tried to create my fantasies and spent a lot of time living in small towns without any music scene or anything, just to fully immerse myself into these music fantasies, getting small labor jobs and going back home after lunch and have all the time in the world to make music obsessively, I thought I could not do that in a city.

‘Fender Hobo Lounge’, ‘Surfin’ Krautlifornia’ and pretty much everything else have such a warm sound to it. How do you manage that? Are you using mostly analog gear or do you do some other tricks?

I started with 2 track stereo tape and then 8 track reel to reel tape machines. Then I went back to 2 track stereo reel to reel machines (which use more tape per track) and created a system for my recordings. I use a multiple head tape machine, set it to record and reproduce at the same time and then simultaneously record it onto the DAW (Computer). I can leave the tape machine running and record the way I would be recording onto a computer, technically recording to tape first, with the sound of tape.

In order not to have any sync problems you have to record a loop from the computer to the tape machine and then back to the computer, then you have to calculate the time length difference between the original sound source and the copy recorded, the difference will be the time amount between the recording head and the reproduction head of the tape machine, so you have to set up the DAW to compensate for that latency automatically, and then you can record as if you would be using a computer. That’s how I recorded ‘Krautlifornia’, I wanted it to be more MIDI 80’s 90’s LoFi MidFi Digital/Analog, so I had to involve the Uranian element of the computer, and I liked the results.

It’s a very economical way to record infinite tape overdubs onto a computer using an ordinary 2 track stereo tape machine (multi track ones are expensive). Especially useful when you know the music is going to end up in computers anyway. A different case was The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane, in which the LP is all analog, we contacted Erika Records from California and mastered it straight from tape, so it was tape to tape and tape to vinyl, without any digital processes in between. We wanted it that way and were really happy to have been able to do it that way.

Last year you released ‘Ersatz Cowboy’. What’s the story behind it? The album itself sounds quite a bit different than your previous work. To what do you attribute that?

It was an attempt at making guitar based ambient music, but incorporating the old school sound too. I really enjoyed that and had been wanting to do something like that for some time, wanting to do something cinematic and old school yet contemporary sounding. I really enjoy Ry Cooder’s Soundtrack work, like in Southern Comfort. Also Sandy Bull and Scenes from South Island from Roy Montgomery.

I was traveling in the north of Patagonia looking for some rural land to live in and thought about the kind of music I would be able to make there and imagined it, we found a place we liked and then my girlfriend took a photo of me and that ended up being the album.

You’re hailing from Chile. There are quite some interesting psych bands from there. Would you mind sharing some stuff that we should check out?

I really liked “The Ganjas” first two albums, that band had a huge impact on me and made me realize I could do it too in a way. It was the early 2000s and everything was super chill and low key back then, and The Ganjas was the band that was playing amazing gigs every week, we went to a lot of those gigs. The self-titled album and also ‘Laydown’. Songs like ‘Let’s Go To The Beach’. I am not the biggest connoisseur of Chilean music but I love the classic stuff, like ‘Los Vidrios Quebrados’ (check out the songs ‘Ficciones’, ‘As Jesus Wore His Own’) and ‘Los Macs’ (album called ‘Kaleidoscope Man’). From the newer stuff my favourite is a guy who goes by “Embassador Dulgoon”, if you don’t mind weirder stuff, his stuff is pretty weird and experimental but without giving up the musical quality. The musical part is often sacrificed within the more experimental music scenes in my opinion, but this guy manages to navigate far out weird places without ever losing the course of navigation, hats off.

How about psychedelics? Do they have any role in your music making?

I tried everything I could back when I could, and mostly thinking it could have an effect on the music as one often heard while growing up listening to the Rock & Roll folklore and myths. I value lucidity a lot, being a musician and getting things done has been enough of a venture for me. I have done albums sober, albums with psychedelics, albums with uppers, albums with analgesics and albums with caffeine, I only used all these substances with the betterment of the music in mind, though I am more on the herbal tea now, exactly as I was before I started trying stuff. I have to admit that psychedelics like mescaline made me a smarter and more sensitive person in the end, or at least that’s what I think.

What are some of the most important musicians that influenced your own style and what in particular did they employ in their playing that you liked?

Sandy Bull’s low profile instrumental approach and his blend of modern Fender guitar sound mixed with “ethnic” instruments had a massive influence on me. The Velvet Underground’s Sterling Morrison’s simple yet elegant guitar approach on music combining both the drone school from “La Monte Young” and pinky finger on bar chords chuck a la rhythms from Chuck Berry. John Lee Hooker’s single key blues riffs that go on forever without changing the key. The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Eddie Krammer’s studio experimentation. Spacemen 3’s simple school boy playing blues riffs with a small transistor amp inside a bedroom guitar approach (easy to hear on ‘For All the Fucked up Children…’), JJ Cale’s use of drum machines to save money
yet still liking the sound of it and also his humble and elegant sound, Wes Montgomery’s jazz guitar sound, the early 60s surf guitar sound, the RZA’s way of approaching music production and solving problems and getting the best of available gear even when it’s limited, and the most important one: my schoolmate, mentor and friend Nacho who first taught me how to play the guitar, that was the first riff I learned on guitar, Muddy Water’s ‘I’m a Man’, cha cha cha cha chaaaan.

Do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?

Yes, actually. We started a band last year with my old friend Nacho who first taught me my first guitar riffs. The band is called 69 Deluxe, we just finished our first album together.

69 Deluxe

We were trying to do something for years, until we found this real character from California, we found him through tarot interest and then found out he had the 60s California guitar sound. Then a great friend of ours happened to be the perfect drummer for us, having a jazzier and swingier kind of sound, the light and tight sound that is hard to find, not hitting the drums hard but rather flying and floating.

Throw on some rudimentary blues riffs, basic jazz chords, some surfy guitars and we were rolling.

Thank you. Last word is yours.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity, it is an honor. I think I have been given a new chance here, and I value it a lot. Thanks to you who are reading this and supporting underground music, choosing these humble troubadours to be at your service, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Peace and best wishes to everybody, good times.

Klemen Breznikar

Foxtrot Sierra Bandcamp
The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane YouTube
Fantasy Fiction Records Facebook / Instagram / YouTube / SoundCloudBandcamp

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