Before getting into music you were studying architecture for six years. How did this experience influence your music?
It’s hard to say. I think the community of the architectural university shaped my taste in many ways. Most importantly, I was exposed to some great art and got to learn a lot about it. The same goes for my classical music education: it helped me to understand music on a broader scale.
I remember listening to your album Room For The Moon—in particular, ‘Plans’ and ‘Telephone’—and it reminded me of a warm summer evening. I wonder, what would be the perfect setting to feel your songs?
Oh, I love listening to music while riding a bike. It’s lovely especially in the summer, in the twilight or at the break of dawn when the streets are still silent and the air is full of this blueish cold light of morning and the birds start chirping. You are by yourself on your bike. This creates a very special intimacy between you and the music you are listening to.
You write and perform your music in three different languages: Russian, English and French. How do you choose between them? Is there any hidden logic behind it or does your intuition guide you?
The latter. Oftentimes when I write my music, I don’t even know whether it will be a track or a full song with lyrics. It is the music itself that guides me. The same thing with the languages: ‘Ça Commence Par’ is in French because it seemed like phonetically it made more sense for that song. For me, the lyrics and the language of the song, with its unique set of phonetical sounds, are part of the instrumentation. Besides, I think each language has its personality: English seems to be very flexible whereas Russian is sort of made of some solid construction parts.
When I write my music, I don’t even know whether it will be a track or a full song with lyrics
Many of us, young adults especially, dreamt of being artists and musicians. This all was fuelled by almost sacred mystery and longing. Now as a full-time artist and musician, can you share what it is like from the inside? Is it the way you thought it was going to be?
I remember as a teen I couldn’t even imagine that I would be touring internationally. I literally would never have believed it. But at the same time, the fact that you are your boss, that you and you alone are in charge, can be stressful.
You feel the pressure of the capitalistic machine, and if you don’t have any side jobs and only focus on the music it can be tough at times. But usually, when you are very passionate about music you don’t think about these materialistic questions—at least at the beginning. And I think it is a good thing, as an overly pragmatic approach to music would suffocate all your creative potential and desires. As a musician you are free, but you kind of pay for that freedom with quite a lot of stress. But it is worth it.
As a musician you are free, but you kind of pay for that freedom with quite a lot of stress
The last couple of months have been quite turbulent. What helps you to remain sane?
Since the war started, it’s been hard to say what the future holds. Everyone seems to be very disoriented. For me, walking in nature works. I know it is a pretty standard thing, but it helps to reduce anxiety. So recently, I have been walking a lot.
Also, helping people makes things a bit more tolerable: together with my label, we are working on a small charity release, the profit from which I am going to donate to the NGO Helping to Leave, which helps with evacuating Ukrainians from war zones in Ukraine.
What was the last album or piece of music that you listened to and loved?
Honestly, after the war started, I couldn’t listen to music. It’s only lately that I’ve been slowly getting back into it due to a ritual: I'm currently staying at my friend’s place and he has this enormous collection of records, and I enjoy the routine of choosing a record and then playing it. It’s calming.
I started listening to quite a lot of things, and I love Japanese records. You never know what you are getting, as the cover can be very dreamy and floral, but then you will be surprised with insanely experimental avant-garde sounds. I like this little moment of an enigma.