I will never look away,
from the bubblegum-blowing cherry blossoms.
I could stare at them forever.
photo / Dania Trejo
writing / Kendall Hill
I will never look away,
from the bubblegum-blowing cherry blossoms.
I could stare at them forever.
photo / Dania Trejo
writing / Kendall Hill
Tearing things apart is a powerful aspect of human nature
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.
Adventures through Russia with St. Petersburg electro musician Bisamråtta
St. Petersburg guitarist and saxophonist Vladimir Luchanski who has taken on the pseudonym Bisamråtta (the Swedish word for muskrat) records meditative, ambient electronic music, that tears the listener from her city bustle. His new album, coming out on the Novosibirsk label, Echotourist, is dedicated to little adventures across Russia.
Vladimir Luchanski: Adventures have inspired me since I was a little kid. It just so happened that the first time in my life when I managed to get out of the Urals to the European part of Russia, I was 20 years old.
My first flight was when I was 22, and the first time I left the country was at 24. For most people, that’s pretty late, since many travel around everywhere during their school years.
But starting from when I was 10 years old, I would go on hiking trips with my dad. Altai Krai and the Altai mountains, Baikal, the Sayan mountains – every year we would go somewhere and it was always an adventure, since traveling to far off corners was not so easy.
First, you take the train to a big city, and from there, another train or bus to a smaller settlement. Then you try to find a local with a car who can drop us off directly at the start of the route to the mountains.
Then it’s the wild forest, animal tracks, passes, glaciers, and zero civilization. This experience is actually pretty rare as I later came to find since there aren’t many who have been to the mountains every summer, let alone serious hikes.
Starting in 2010 I began traveling through Siberian towns while connected to music – Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo, Tomsk, Barnaoul. These relatively close travels continued those summer adventures from my childhood, since this way is independent from transportation and takes up a significant amount of time.
Thoughts, conversations, stations and the local flavor in the window, flying from right to left (or left to right), – all of this presents itself as a totally separate part of the trip, when there is no rush or time-sensitive matters and you become aware of a particular feeling of time and vastness.
And it’s these exact feelings of “little adventures” around our country and the connection to it, which everyone has, is what I wanted to bring forth in my recordings – to share the contemplation of the forests and fields in the windows of the bus, until the next one in the neighboring town.
Travels album artwork:
Here lie a collection of old things that I was fixing a relatively long time ago in Siberia, and new things, that I’ve been recording in Petersburg. It’s funny how in one moment, all the material came together into one picture, like a mosaic, and I’m very happy that it’s coming out on Echotourist, a label made by my friends who I have know for a long time.
There is a wonderful Novosiberian artist, Lera Petunina, who has made some lovely illustrations, that can very aptly be considered in the theme of realism – when I asked to her to paint these pictures, I only told her of the ideas of these travels, with total freedom in terms of subjects and materials, and she completed the task brilliantly.
The result is an intentional, great work, and it gives me great pleasure that I can finally put a period down along with the release of this tape.
I don’t know if I’ll be traveling anywhere in the near future, except for my frequent route of St. Petersburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg. Probably it will be somewhere in Europe, but I would really like to visit Petrozavodsk, to spend some more time in Kareli, and explore the Leningrad oblast. Probably this summer I’ll be able to plan a hike in the Khibiny Mountains – that would be amazing.
Original: Aleksandr Belikanov, http://m.colta.ru/articles/music_modern/14649
The newest release from the label Live on Mars comes with an additional remastering and remake of After a Pause EP from the talented Nastya – a promising techno producer from Kiev who works under the moniker Stacie Flur or FLR.
Stacie Flur’s original sound has already been noted by veteran of Detroit techno, Robert Hood, and A&Rs of various European labels. They all speak in unison about the Ukrainian artist’s great potential. And, well, opening the road to youngsters is one of Live on Mars’ main goals. Don’t miss this release! It’s ingenious, organic, and fresh, mixing minimal techno, acid, elements of electro, and U.K. house – this is a matter for future stars.
Apple Music: http://bit.ly/lom005amusic
EP debut Play and Cry from St. Petersburg duet Север (Sever, North) made up of Anastasia Puzakova (and whose face graces the EP’s cover) and Andrei Maikov, working in Artem Lebedev’s studio
The EP is filled with warm and atmospheric melodies, as if Север met with Гостями Будущего (Gost’iami Buduschevo, Guests From the Future) but in 2017.
Anastasia Puzakova: I love writing songs with simple pop motifs – their unprecedented combination with analog noise and marginal context. Together, we make this strange post-pop as I call it, and dope pop, which is how Andrei calls it.
We’ll be performing with iron so that it’s not boring. In any case, it should be beautiful, with a blazing fire.
How Ira Smelaya, a vlogger from St. Petersburg, became Russia’s main Tatar and why she should be sent to Eurovision.
Right now, Ira Smelaya lives in St. Petersburg, originally hailing from Naberezhnye Chelny. She is half Tatar but her Youtube blog bears the name “Tatar Days” (Татарские будни) – there, she describes her life consisting of beauty, shopping, food, her husband, and recently, the process of filming her videos. The channel has almost half a million subscribers.
Her husband, Ilya Prusikin, is the vocalist and mastermind of the band Little Big, who have made a claim on rethinking Russian stereotypes a la Die Antwoord and have performed thousands of concerts all over Europe. In fact, Ira Smelaya’s videos can be considered a branch of this project – they are all made by the same team. Tatarka will be opening for Little Big during his March shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The lyrics for Tatarka’s first song, “Altyn” (Алтын) were written by a Kazan rap duo, Ittifaq and co-founder of the label Yummy Music, Ilyas Gafarov. In 2007, Ittifaq released his first record with the help of Oscar Records. Since then, the pair have been planning a second album, reigning as the main act in Tatar rap. So when producer Eldar Dzharahov began looking for a lyricist on Twitter, some came out and suggested Gafarov. The music was written by a St. Petersburg beatmaker, Victor Sibrinin, who works for the Royal Vibes studio.
Tatarka — “Altyn” “Алтын” (Golden)
Ilyas Gafarov put together a clever text, with a collection of words like hype, vibe, like, Instagram, where they instersect with a rapid spitfire in Tatar:
What are girls made of? Maybe made of stars,
Maybe made of moonlight? (Who knows?)
Our friends are diamonds (that’s right),
Our friend, Instagram (that’s right)
But it’s worth it to look into my eyes – I’ll eat you whole.
Of course, it’s easy to memorize the first refrain in the chorus: “Безнең кызлар ут” (Our girls are fire.) The second, “Мин алтын матур чәчәк” (I’m a beautiful golden flower), was created in St. Petersburg.
The video, filmed like a cell phone commercial, has over 15 million views, with today’s often referenced gop-style, boyish cars, puffy coats, sporty shades, gold chains, and promenades through the St. Petersburg metro.
The video’s viewers are divided into two camps: those who understand Tatar and those who don’t. Many of those from the second camp have expressed that they want to learn Tatar, to understand for themselves what Tatarka is saying. Those that do understand the Tatar lyrics have split off further into two separate groups. One side has perceived the video as viral: a beautiful woman, in stylish clothes, reflects on the topic of youth music in a language which has not seen anything of the like. In fact, any girl from Tatarstan who has seen Katya Clapp and Pharaoh’s video could relate to Tatarka and find it conceptually native.
Their language – pidgin English, their image – four stripes of a knock-off Adidas tracksuit. Those from older generations have begun discussing the degree of Tatarka’s accent and how much this video can help promote the Tatar culture. How many people will take up learning Tatar after having seen “Altyn?” In the Tatar press, the song and its performer were discussed meticulously. Here is a telling quote, “I have a question for the author of the lyrics from this video – What’s the point? Has this song contributed to the growth of Tatar culture? Of course not, and the author clearly understands this. This video was made to be viewed on a mass scale, for likes. It’s filled with whatever today’s youth is watching. I didn’t see a point in the video. There is no Tatarness in the video – first of all, one shouldn’t expect nationalism from a half naked woman, and second of all, it seems like she doesn’t know Tatar and she doesn’t look like one. Probably, she picked the Tatar language because she has Tatar friends. It’s possible that she sings in Tatar to bring attention to herself, as in, I’ll be there first one to sing in Tatar and I’ll be popular.” The reasons for such detailed attention to the video-meme, which isn’t pretending to be serious, are clear. The Tatar language’s minority status for the moment renders it less of a communication tool and more of a self-identification agent: many Tatars do not speak the language but clearly connect themselves with the nationality through relatives, cuisine, clothes, and music, and therefore, treat strangers who exploit their symbols zealously.
Besides this, it’s unlikely that someone will get upset by the portrayal of Russians as clinical scumbags who only drink, shoot Kalashnikovs, dance Hopak, and let a drunk tear fall, as they watch the church domes Little Big’s grotesque videos:
Or take pride in the fact that Little Big’s Tel Aviv brothers, repatriates from Moscow, Orgonite, propagandize boiled buckwheat with Tahini, and shisha, put together from nesting dolls.
It’s clear that these are not cultured manifestations, and the videos are made specifically by specialists for viral videos. Members of Little Big’s musical family are connected not through a national language or folk songs. Their language – pidgin English, their image – four stripes of a knock-off Adidas tracksuit that they had to wear as kids. Their medium, a cell phone, now used as a video camera and a television. Their cultural code is western pop music. The “Altyn” video has done more for attracting attention to Tatar culture in Russia than the long-term program for developing the language with methodicians, books, and national holidays, after which no one really managed to learn it. The irony is that the joke worked in exactly the way it wasn’t supposed to.
That which wasn’t expected is proven by Tatarka’s second video, “U Can Take”, which premiered last week and has already accumulated over three million views. In it, Ira Smelaya quips in Tatar, “I’m brighter than a star, harder than a rock, my tongue is my flag. Who’s richer than me? I’m on the street, I’m a beautiful golden flower.” But the chorus is then performed by Ilya Prusikin in English, and yes, the video calls for attention with an aggressive beat, and neon footage, shot in Thailand. Understanding the words isn’t imperative, and visual nationalistic clues aren’t present – so you can relax.
Regardless of the fact that Ira Smelaya’s assets consist of only two videos, Tatarka deserves to be sent to Eurovision, and maybe there she will achieve success much like Buranovskiye Babushki.
A chic sound – subtle in sound and image for foreigners, works with the viral nature of the song. Maybe European hipsters will remember the word Altyn and that Russia isn’t just “matryoshka, vodka, Putin,” but a multinational country.
Russian version: Radif Kashapov
Original article: http://www.colta.ru/articles/music_modern/14068
This year Pussy Riot came back in a big way as a musical collective – although they never left. First, “Chaika” «ЧАЙКА» (Seagull), premiered in February. And in October, three new videos, with the most remarkable being “Make America Great Again,” looking more like a 2017 news report than an imaginary dystopia. Nadia “Tolokno” answered our questions regarding Putin, Trump, the past, and the future.
Trump has already seriously affected US and world politics – he has created a new standard in politics. He is impatient and always ready to explode, he insults his opponents and journalists, threatening to put those who stand against him behind bars. He isn’t ashamed to comment on women who don’t appeal to him as “fat pigs.” The women he does like, he just grabs their crotch.
Trump’s political idea of a “a strong leader,” are those such as Putin and Assad. Putin’s political scientist, Sergei Markov, a few hours after Trump’s win, told The Guardian, yes, we helped out a bit with the American choice with Wikileaks.
There’s the Russian dark force and the American one. Trump has woken the latter. He swept out the crumbs – complexes and fears – from under the rug, as they were collecting for years. He’s made racism great again. He’s given confidence to his power and his righteousness to the white Americans who never truly agreed with the civil rights movement from the 1950s and 1960s, which proclaimed equality between people of different races.
For the white Americans who were infuriated by the influx of immigrants from Mexico, Asia, and India, following the liberalization of US immigration law in 1965. White Americans from small and rural towns experienced a loss due to globalization, which led to the erosion of the American middle class. And this is where it’s imperative to understand that Trump is only a symptom.
The ghost wanders around Europe (and America).The ghost of the ultra-right populism. Germany, France, Hungary, Great Britain, Scandinavian countries. The question is as follows: will we be able to find an alternative to the current version of globalism? The conservative politicians suggest building a wall at the border, banning abortions, climbing into a casket, closing the lid, and bolting it up from the inside. Are there better options?
I know you decided to work with Jonas while you were still in prison. Is the idea and subject of the video yours, Akerlund’s, or is it a joint effort? How did you two get along?
We met with Jonas in 2014 – at that time I carried the idea of a video that would illustrate the parallels between the ideals of American Republicans’ retrogressive wing and the political system that Putin has built.
The kindling of fear towards others, failure to value gender equality, the censure of same-sex marriages, the desire to ban abortions and sexual education, but simultaneously focusing on religious education, subordinating, taking progress a step back.
From the Russian side, in the video, obviously there should have appeared a Putin type character. In the Republicans’ retrogressive wing there hadn’t been a bright, unifying figure. If only Sarah Palin, but she has been somewhat forgotten. There is a clear memory of her astonishingly idiotic participation in the 2008 presidential election. In 2014 there wasn’t a sufficiently cheeky, shameless, impudent, dirty American politician who would absorb all the most vile ideas of the retrogressive republicanism into one. In 2016 we got such a politician. Be careful what you wish for, as my cell mate would tell me.
The plot of the clip is “Make America Great Again,” which we filmed May 1, 2016. Jonas came up with the idea of me playing all the parts, and made a papier-mâché (piñata) Trump doll that I tear apart.
Jonas paints his nails black, is attentive to his interlocutor – principled in questions of aesthetics. He doles out awkward glances (Swede!) He owns a church building in Sweden and is rebuilding it into his own house. The living room will be in the altar.
The styling was handled by Jonas’ wife, B. Akerlund. B. is responsible for my favorite Gaga looks, as well as those for Beyoncé and Madonna. She is talented, strict, loves white collars and ruffled knee-socks.
You travel so much, which begs the thought that Pussy Riot’s revolution, is truly worldwide. Where are you right now and what are you doing?
Right now, I’m staying in Los Angeles for a week. We are writing song, petting a husky, and drawing.
I’m also looking for answers: How did it happen, that Putin managed to put together a band of ultraright, reactionary politicians – Trump, Le Pen, Orban? Why is half of American cheering Trump on? How does China view Russia? Why is the most humane and effective prison system in the world in Scandinavia, and how did they get there? What does it look like, that famous Protestant work ethic? Can one feel it?
Traveling helps in the search of answers. Sometimes. A trip teaches you to take in a different, incredible culture. It steers you away from the reckless condemnation of that which seems strange. No, it’s not “strange.” You’re just not used to it. I was born in the small, industrial, icy town of Norilsk. It’s like a different planet. Pluto. For Russians, I’m not even talking about foreigners. I came to Moscow when I was 16. Yea, I’m one of those people who were told that Moscow isn’t made of rubber. It was exactly for this reason I was seriously upset at one point. They don’t see me as one of their own and they never will, but do I need that? And I decided that, no, I don’t. I’m a stranger everywhere I go, and nothing belongs to me. But along with this, I own the world.
When I arrived to the Mordovian camp, they brought us to a room where the colony’s deputy head was conducting a survey of those arriving.
“Which town are you from?”
“Hm,” I hesitated, because I’m from Norilsk, but I’ve been living in Moscow since I’m 16. “A citizen of the world,” I said.
The deputy head didn’t like that. “You’ll be a citizen of the world behind the fence, an undead, but here in Mordavia, you are condemned.”
I kept insisting on my views. I corresponded with Zizek during my time in Mordavia. I received letters in Chinese. And no, I didn’t understand them, but I received them still.
It’s very cool that Gera travels too. Has she already been to the US?
She has. Summer in LA – Disneyland, Universal Park, aquaparks and Death Valley. When Gera was four, while I was in jail, her and her dad Petya traveled to New York. She recently impressed me with the details from that trip. She remembers. I learn from her, how to look at the world. Openness, readiness, to take in the new, and agree to experiment. Permanently abolishing the idea of condemnation (except maybe for the condemnation of cooked onions). She tries to understand everybody. That’s how kids grow and learn, understanding and receiving the new – that which at first seems strange. The problem of the mature world, is that adults lose the enthusiasm and willingness to fall in love, and in the end, begin to act like cynical rams. In that moment, where you lose the two abilities – to be surprised and to sympathize – that’s when you become a cynical ram.
With every year, you are inspired by the art and fight for the rights of all people, of all genders and origins. Why do you think it is that Pussy Riot’s ideas not only escape aging, but become more and more relevant with each day?
Thank you. I think some people become inspired by Pussy Riot exactly for the same reasons that it pisses others off: straightforwardness, frankness, reckless dilettantism.
And the most important question: what makes you the happiest in life?
Reading. Music. My daughter Gera. The limitless nature of the universe. The willingness to fall in love with people and buildings. My trainer and the goal of learning how to do 30 pull-ups.
Questions: Sasha Amato | Photo: Amanda Merten
Original article: http://www.interviewrussia.ru/music/nadezhda-tolokonnikova-eto-ne-nenormalno-prosto-ty-ne-privyk_