Russian Artists on Foreign Labels Part IV : Love Cult + Night School


Ivan Afanasyev and Anya Kuts are the musical duo behind Love Cult: “When we started playing (in 2009), all the important contacts were made on MySpace. We sent our first recordings to a couple of American and British labels, reached some agreements right away, and picked out artists to do split records with – they liked our stuff too. We literally just sent a few messages and international packages. We like to observe everything and everyone. In the very beginning, we were very inspired by what was happening on the American and Finnish stages (and Ivan studied in Finland for some time), the main influences were central European punk and the local British scene. At that time, there weren’t many people thinking in a vein that was similar to us – the ones that were, along with us, were ready to release the music by ourselves. You could say that we had our own group going on, a group that really wanted to explore, but no one around us really cared. We were marinating for a long time with the cassette tape lo-fi sound. The idea and mood were important, and we were in contact with some Americans who were of the same nature – Stunned, Brave Mysteries, and some British guys like My Dance the Skull.

It wasn’t often, but we would systematically send out demos to different labels. But it was just a way to start communicating, they never lead to any collaborations (except for a couple of remixes). Our first LP came out on Public Information – they themselves sent us a message on Soundcloud. It was the same story with our EP Know. What’s interesting is that both labels offered to “release whatever on vinyl.” That element of exclusivity wasn’t important to them, they weren’t even against reissuing old cassettes. But we don’t really like to do the same thing over and over, that’s why we were always cooking up new stuff.

The contemporary indie-scene is a very ornate structure – the financial investment needs to be significant, that’s why to us, it seems logical for labels to be offering something concrete to us. If not, we’d be the ones saying, “Please, invest your money in us, look at us.” To put it bluntly, we just answer requests. So that’s the result. We’re releasing different things in different places. We don’t change our vision, and that’s something that every label can offer in their own way.

Probably, only Public Information tries to get into the process the most, but that’s according to our request. We gave in a little for the vinyl album format which would have serious distribution, and for that reason we sent them everything that we had. Following that were six months of constructive criticism, collective discussions, re-recordings. As a result, both sides were really proud of the outcome. We stayed true to ourselves, and the intelligent criticism from others helped to crystallize our vision. No, any further outside meddling is probably unnecessary. It would be cool if the label would provide equipment or engineers of some sort, but for us, it doesn’t make sense to work with a label where you are just a designer’s detail.

In the west, probably, there is a slight feeling of danger and mistrust because of the origin, but that’s only in the beginning really. We are exotic to them, and it’s always a bit scary to work with exotica. But the politics of it all never influenced anything – we’re not really into it. Everyone is watching the news closely, asking for our comments sometimes, but the music rules above all. And about Russia, we began to feel an interest and respect towards fact that we are able to release our stuff abroad. It’s pretty nice, but on the other hand – when we are doing the exact same sets, the ridicule, the jokes, and the neglect, which quickly turn to recognition, only serves to prove that there is no individual thinking or value system in place. And with the critics and the clubs, it’s all at an embryonic level. It’s a lot similar to being a weird little guy in high school.

That feeling of success – it’s all make-believe. Our criteria is the beauty, greatness, and depth of the music. We have a lot that we need to work on. We’ve done a couple of good things. But we still have a lot to say. When we ourselves get overwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of our material – that will be success. As they wrote on Metropol, we do this for ourselves, but we’re not against people watching us. We never collaborated with Russian labels. We think it would be tense with too much talking and not enough action.

There are a lot of labels that inspire us. But to be released by someone is neither our goal nor our dream. If they know us but don’t release our stuff – that means we don’t fall into their vision. That’s normal. We are looking for our own music, our own sound, our own approach. If somebody wants to release it and further it – cool. If not, okay – we’re good either way. We’ll sit, and keep on working.”


MICHAEL KASPARIS :: owner of Night School label

“My friend Lana sent me some music from Love Cult a few years ago. I decided to get in touch with them when I heard their early tapes and drone recordings. I liked the atmosphere in their music, the attention to detail and the mystery. And also the fact that they try and push forward their own scene, their own musical language and aesthetic somewhere beyond the usual limits. The fact that they are from Russia didn’t really mean anything – well, except for the physical distance and the post expenses, in terms of practical issues. There isn’t really any music from Russia at the moment that is of interest to me, but, to be honest, I don’t really get hung up about geographical boundaries. Music is music; it can change. My ears, one way or another, will always be open to anything new.”

Original article can be found at :

Published by Blue Bardot Music

From Russia With Music

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