Russian Artists on Foreign Labels Part III : Pompeya + No Shame



DANIIL BROD :: Frontman of Pompeya

“While we were working on our Tropical album, we were simultaneously writing emails about ourselves which were sent out to the entire world. One of these emails fell into the hands of an L.A. booking agent – Jonathan Kornman, who became our agent and manager. On his end, he shared a few tracks on his college’s radio station in Miami. Marco Vicini, the owner of the No Shame label heard one of the tracks on the radio in his car. He liked it so much that he drove over to the radio station and asked for the tracklist which they had played that day. He found our name and wrote a long letter offering his collaboration. That was in 2012.

We didn’t really have a choice in labels. Although that’s not entirely true – there are some people at RCA and Columbia – they’re all watching to see how our band will develop in the future. Right now, we’re not interesting to these big labels, but they’re not that interesting to us. To be on a smaller label, even with the budget – it’s an advantage these days. In addition to that we have built (and continue to build) a team which works in developing the band. They’re professionals who have been hired separately.

The idea of being an international group has always been there and we’re working on it. There is a feeling that we’ve gotten stuck in Russia, but things go on as they do – we have been working for a long time to achieve what we have achieved here and now. Now we should be going the same route in the US. Our Real album was the first release in the states that came out simultaneously in Russia. It’s a fact that a label invests in the development of a band – this already proves to be a substantial benefit for us. This makes our being a lot easier – the label has nothing to do with our doings in Russia, and that’s why everything that we can earn here, we keep for ourselves. On the other hand, the investment sooner or later will have to be returned, that’s obvious. But we’re working towards success, financial return included.

The label puts money towards music videos, the album recording, the PR, etc. That has its own disadvantages – yes, we often run into conflict about creative elements, but looking at the big picture, the label doesn’t pry into the art. In the summer, they shot the Does video for us, which we decidedly didn’t like, and neither did our Russian audience in general. We weren’t keeping track of the process and so we were only able to watch the video along with everyone else. We had no influence over it. That’s the side effect of working with an international team: Russia, the Dominican Republic, USA – it’s different people, different tastes. Sometimes you run into inconsistencies. But we’re not a corporation of monsters, and the majority of the people on the team are linked by their love towards the band. The Dominicans are closer, mentally, to how things are done in Russia. There’s an element of friendship – “brother,” “attaboy,” and all that. We try not to go overboard and allow the friendship to become a detriment in our work. In Russia there is a particular way of relating which has become apparent, which is that traditionally, people look to the west with exaggeration – many are convinced that we’ve already created super-careers for ourselves in the US.

Besides that, it’s all the same. In the states, there’s no special attention awarded to us, or maybe we’re just not at that level of where we could experience it. Sometimes at our shows people ask us where we’re from. But more often not, nobody’s worried about it. In the US, everybody is from somewhere.

Success for us (and for everybody, probably) is dependent on one thing first and foremost: our concert attendance. It’s a common occurrence for a band that has a well-known track to still be playing at half-empty venues. Nobody knows when that transition to a different state takes place, but we, of course, don’t consider a remix or an interview in a magazine as an element of success. These are elements of advancement – steps on a long journey.

Is it necessary for a Russian band, who is aiming for the west, to be on a foreign label? Of course. The second necessity is to physically be in the west.


PETER REILLY :: A&R of No Shame

“One of the bosses at our label went to Miami. Him and his friend were listening to the radio in their car, which was playing indie and electronica. They heard a track, I can’t remember which exactly, probably Slaver, and they went, “Oh wow, what a song, who sings this?” They called the radio station, found out that it was Pompeya, a band that none of us knew anything about. That’s how it all started.

Thankfully all the band members speak English, and, what language they use in their songs didn’t play much of a role for me – I’m a musician myself and I pay more attention to the music than the words. We had a bit of an issue with the rights when we re-released Tropical and Foursome in the US, but besides that, we had no trouble, except for actually processing the contract. The distance really complicated things. For a long time following that, they had to wait and see what would come of it all. Finally, it was after about a year that everything went through. Sometimes you gotta wait for the really good stuff.

I’m from an older generation – in our youth, we believed Russia to be an enemy of sorts because of the cold war and all that. But you know, oh those Russians. They had the same thing in relation to Americans, you have to understand. But there is culture, and then there is politics.

Of course, the fact that Pompeya is from Russia but sings in English does stir up an interest towards them. And yes, that helped us with the promotions and the PR because with that, the journalists had additional information which they could use. At the same time, the songs that we re-released off of Tropical and Foursome, were already known for some time in Russia. On the contrary, that didn’t help us. I mean, the journalists would google it ande see – aha, this is old stuff, we’re not gonna write about this. Regardless of the fact that before this, according to Pompeya’s US license, the music hadn’t come out and no one knew about it.

If the music is good, we really don’t care about where it’s coming from. Our office is in Brooklyn, but we have musicians from Canada, from Mexico. Maybe if they are from an Islamic state, then we wouldn’t sign them. Major labels, in the past, they’d care about how a band looks – but we don’t give a shit. The music should speak for itself.”

Original article can be found at :

Published by Blue Bardot Music

From Russia With Music

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