It is delicious to be anonymous on a foreign city street.
This interview has been translated and edited for clarity.
Dzhuna members: Natalia Yevstigneeva (vocals/guitar), Egor Tabakov (guitar), Aleksandr Tkatch (bass), Konstantin Raidugin (drums)
Who are the members of your group and what does everyone do?
The members of our group are first of all, musicians. When I first had the idea to get another band/project together, I primarily wanted there to be equal roles. For everyone to be able to bring the part of themselves that they want into the music, but to still adhere to the ambitions of the “supermusician.” It’s wanting each of us, being maxed out with professionalism, to find his or her own niche in the group, and I do believe our group is made up of people like that.
So we have a traditional “rock” quartet: guitar/vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. Each one of us has already made it through an impressive number of bands, so that’s why, even though Dzhuna is a new group, our members are far from novices.
Generally in the past, this was music in the hard rock genre…noise rock, all kinds of progressive punk and the like.
How did you come up with the name Dzhuna?
We were actually ruminating on it for quite a long time, what to name the group. We’d wake up, write each other different dreamt up names we had come up with during the nonsense hours of sleep, concocting out of this world meanings, but we were reaching for unanimity. Our resources were being depleted and we just wanted any name since our first concert wasn’t too far off. I came home after practice and saw my mom’s hot-off-the-press magazine “Secrets of the Stars,” and gracing the cover was the Soviet healer (Dzhuna), cementing the name quickly, and it definitely fit us.
How would you describe your music?
Not too fond of clichéd genres, but the most correct is probably a mix of post-punk, shoegaze, and alternative rock. We don’t want this to carry some sort of pro-British or American character. We try to communicate our souls through the music, people’s souls, who have grown up in Russia, with the surrounding world and atmosphere. So it would probably be most apt to call it “modern Russian rock.”
Where did you grow up? What kind of hardships were there during the time you were growing up?
I grew up in Moscow in the 90s, every night, falling asleep under the flickering torch light of Kapotnya, very romantic – the torchlight would let out smoke all over the district. I remember that time as an indescribable melange of really different emotions that would whip over the edge. I was a very impressionable child, either a storm of rapture or disappointment and anxiety. My parents also experienced hardships in regards to work, so we had little of everything, and sometimes, we had nothing at all. But I do believe that sometimes, it’s healthier to want something than to have it.
What are some good memories that you have from the place where you’re from?
I have a lot of memories, and most of them are good. One of these is when the tipsy keyboardist from the band Master was giving me a solfeggi lesson on my first Yamaha synth. At the time, he was living in the same building as us. I remember one thing that would distract me from the lesson was his gigantic – like a lake in a forest – bald spot on his head…but the synth he sold us was more memorable. This was in 1992 I think.
What do you think of the US?
I’ve been to New York and LA, which are incredibly beautiful cities, both in their own way – they each have a particular atmosphere. Walking through the streets, I would catch myself feeling like I was in my favorite films from my childhood like Robocop and Terminator 2. The US has always somehow been far away and unattainable, even though now I had been there, it had stayed that way for me.
What do you think of Russia?
I think that Russia is in need some fresh air. I believe that sooner or later, people will become tired of the past state of affairs and will want change.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
When I was really little, my dad listened to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and all those bands – I liked some of that stuff. I remember when I was six, I was jumping around my room with a ruler on some strings, pretending it was a guitar while listening to that music. Then when I was a bit older at nine, I got into Agatha Christie, and to be honest, haven’t let go since.
How did you get involved in music?
When I was six I got into the children’s choir though I really had no idea what I was doing there, but stuck around for seven years, after which I decided not to do music at all. But it didn’t stay that way for long. At 14 I began having social problems, and not thinking long about it, I got my hands on my dad’s old acoustic and began to compose songs almost immediately. Playing live came soon after…first it was just on the street, at crosswalks, lobbies and apartments, and then at my school during break and on holidays. Then, with my first band, we were taken under the wing of the Sad Im Bauman administration, where we practiced and performed.
Have you seen any good films recently?
I recently watched for the 30th time my favorite Soviet film, “School Waltz.” I really love our old films.
How would you describe the music scene in Russia?
I like what’s going on right now with music in Russian – parallel to the Estrada scene, there are many alternative. I like the rise of music that’s in Russian, like they’re finally shedding the complex of “Russian Rock” and have started singing in their native language, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t happening six years ago, at least not in the genre that I’m involved in. It would be really nice if this “trend” grew out into its own big wave, like how it was in the 80s USSR.
What are your dreams and goals for the coming years?
It would be nice to start receiving adequate feedback from the life that we’ve embedded into our music.