Magma from another planet

A music so specialized it required its own language — Kobaïan

Avant-garde rock band Magma makes its first visit to San Diego —from the planet Kobaïa. Yes, they sing in Kobaïan.
  • Avant-garde rock band Magma makes its first visit to San Diego —from the planet Kobaïa. Yes, they sing in Kobaïan.

Even the most conceptually aggregated rock bands usually stop short of creating their own language. Call them prog, call them avant-garde, call them way out, but Magma founder Christian Vander took that plunge decades ago, stringing together Slavic and Germanic influences to create “Kobaïan,” the language of most Magma music. Still writing, arranging, and drumming for the band’s ever-shifting lineup, he brings the show to Brick by Brick on March 15.


...jamming on the final part of "De Futura," from the <em>EPOK 2 Mythes et Legendes</em> DVD

...jamming on the final part of "De Futura," from the EPOK 2 Mythes et Legendes DVD

“I’ve never been to San Diego and I’m really looking forward to playing there,” he says.

Vander’s English isn’t quite as good as his French (or Kobaïan) but with a little help from his manager/wife/sideperson, Stella Vander, he took some trans-Atlantic email questions.

Out of all your influences, which ones are the most powerful to you and why?

“John Coltrane. It’s the energy, the fury of playing, construction, the sound, the long-term vision that inspired me. The music of John Coltrane is an inexhaustible source, a force that conquers all. There is something else in his music that goes beyond. If John’s music was only music, it might have worn me out. He certainly opened the door to a world we did not know. It’s probably this unbridled spiritual quest that led him there. For these reasons, I listen to John regularly. He accompanies me in every period of my life, I always hear his music differently, I re-discover him every time and it always fascinates me.”

How has your drumming grown over the decades?

“The main thing that has evolved is the sense of touch. It’s more the drums that are calling me, it’s a completely different approach than the way I was playing at first. The music demands, I answer.”

How has the Kobaïan language changed?

Past Event

Magma and Helen Money

  • Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 8 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $25 - $30

“Kobaïan is a language that is constantly evolving and the sounds/words come organically when I am composing. However, some sounds/words come back, and after a while, we can decipher their meaning. The words are written to fit to the music, to make it sound right. New words come with new compositions.”

What lies ahead?

“The Endless tour is continuing in France, Spain, UK and Germany, South America, and next year we’re going back to Asia. We’ll be working as well on our project Magma Metalik Orkestra, which is basically playing with music-school students. A new studio album is scheduled for 2017.”

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