By Sandra Porto
The musician/producer and graphic artist from Madrid is navigating the pandemic through the power of music.
If you’re aware of your surroundings and the people occupying them, you’ve probably noticed that we all pulsate to different vibrations. That invisible but undeniable wavelength linked to someone’s being and what we call their energy, their vibe.
Sebastian Litmanovich pulsates to a wonderful vibration – the rare mix of sensitivity, talent, instinct and simplicity. Seldom do we come across someone as complete and yet so relatable, grounded. Soft-spoken, with dark curly hair and a demeanour that is both disarming and enticing, the musician is better known by his alias ‘Cineplexx’ and has composed and produced an eclectic body of work.
In a more personal level, Sebastian doesn’t shy away from life’s struggles. Acknowledging the current difficulties is something that most of us are obliged to do, but he has gone a step further in an inspiring dichotomy where, just like a balanced universe, struggles coexist with life’s beautiful pleasures, discoveries and hope for the future.
It is in this vibe that he spoke to us from his apartment in Madrid.
We’ve known you as a musician and DJ but have since discovered that you’re also a talented visual artist…
Yes, I started as a visual artist in Buenos Aires where I studied the subject – music was a bit more intuitive and self-taught. But over time, I learned that I was studying music on my own, making time for it with discipline – the exact same process I would do in a university.
I studied Graphic Design & Audiovisual Media, and finished my education in New York at the Parsons School and School of Visual Arts. I love everything visual or musical.
What was life like back then?
University was a very busy time… I was simultaneously training as a kind of professional tennis player and working in a factory to pay for my studies. It is crazy to think about it now: I’d work, then go training and attend lessons later in the day. I didn’t have a moment of quiet or relaxation.
Back then, I was still living with my family and wanted to be busy, doing stuff. My family is very hardworking and that lifestyle was all I knew. It was also a very optimistic environment, with lots of plans and always looking forward to the future. It was inspiring.
With so much going on, we wonder how did you get into music? Did you even have the time?
I always wonder about this because there were no musicians in my family… My grandmother was a piano teacher but I never saw her playing. As soon as she got married, she stopped playing as if to say: “That’s it. I’m married now – I don’t need to teach piano anymore.”(Laughs)
I think my influence comes from my father exposing me to music. I was born in the 1970s and later in the decade, I started listening to music more consciously. My grandfather introduced me to ABBA and Kenny Rogers and I’ve studied that music since I was five or six years old. I’d take a tape, go to my father’s car and listen to music – it was also a place for myself, an escape too.
I tried to understand what was going on in there that excited me so much. I wanted to understand the (music’s) secret. I never got bored and it still is my way to understand music – to listen obsessively to the same track.
That is one life-changing influence… Which other personal experiences stand out for you?
There’s a mindset that I learned when I was around 12 years old. I went to therapy to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life! There was an exercise that really helped me and it was this: imagine that you are at a dinner party, surrounded by people you like. Suddenly, people start leaving. Which one do you wish would be the last to leave and just stay with you and no one else?
This exercise still helps me when I’m confused and ask: what do you really want to do? It has helped me to focus on music because I do it regardless of my circumstances and I find more comfort in it. I understand the sound of the music more than anything else.
When you look at your career and body of work, is there anything that is closer to your heart?
This is not easy for me to answer… When I’m working on something I really feel that’s the best I’ve done until that date because I’m evolving all the time.
Because I’m an independent musician, it means I don’t need to compromise; each work is a natural evolution. And so, I feel my latest album ‘Solo Olas’ (meaning ‘Just Waves’) is probably the best thing I have done – I learned a lot and realised many things I dreamed about such as collaborations and working with a production company for the video and a great label. I’m happy with the result.
What changed for you with Covid-19?
It’s a pity because we were ready to go on a tour with ‘Solo Olas’ and about to play at festivals. Covid-19 came and changed everything. I still hope to go out there and play with a new band I’m working with; I feel great playing with them – professional, nice people. I’m very happy with it and I hope to start over again and put the concert out. Having said that, I’m already working on a new album…
I’m used to being alone and working at home in my flat here in Madrid. It’s nothing new to me but the pandemic affected me emotionally, I’m more aware and worry about my family and friends. But I know we’re all living this.
Something that changed for me and I miss is that I used to go out every morning to have coffee, write a couple of pages in my diary and make illustrations.
I’d have this routine every day and only did it at bars, not at home. Since lockdown started, I’ve stopped writing and drawing – I lost my inspiration to do those things. I also miss the night, the music events and social activity, which is where I get my information from and inspiration too.
I also have a radio slot here in Radio 3, the most popular in Spain. I love it – I want to live in the radio! The radio segment, called “Latineando with Cineplexx”, is an informal chat about 1960s and 1970s musicians form Latin America. I talk about their stories; curiosities and play one of the songs live. I learn and get inspired by it.
I’m most active in the night but I have to wake up at 7am for this show so, sometimes I don’t event sleep… and my voice is better in the afternoon… It’s crazy but I love it.
What else are you doing to keep motivated and inspired during this time?
I suffer from insomnia and watching the sky is very relaxing to me – I even caught the Starlink train twice, which, at first, I thought were UFOs! But I have since developed this habit of spotting them. I’m also watching a lot of comedies.
Watch the full interview:
Feature image credit > Ana Montiel.