Rock Impressions

by Giancarlo Bolther

Fedor your project started over twenty years ago as a solo project, then became a band, a long path in the music, could you do an introduction for our readers and a balance of your long journey, please?

It has been a long way. We started as an experimental noise band. More precisely, it was not even a band. I was alone, he-he. But then, after joining Yana and the guys, it became sort of band. At that time, we performed in some very underground places. For example, in an abandoned former factory of children's bicycles or in squats in the city center. We dressed in such crazy helmets with glasses, used gas masks, and all this was more like a performance of the week with music. I can’t say that in those days we rehearsed a lot. But then, from album to album, it became interesting for us to work with different forms. Yana (vocalist) and I became interested in folk music of the peoples of the world. I began to travel a lot: Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Bulgaria, Turkey, etc. I began to collect national instruments. I got an Arab darbuk teacher.
Then I became interested in native Slavic folklore. Perhaps our albums are so different, because we constantly learn something ourselves. It is like a chronicle of our life and our interests.

Can you tell us about the making of Volch'ya Yagoda? Which direction have you take? In what is different with the previous ones?
Album Volch'ya Yagoda was not easy for us. When we released our sixth album, Oikoumene, we thought it was the ultimate level. In the studio aspect for sure. Such a number of live instruments, such multilayered arrangement, multilayered sampling - it seemed to me that we have nowhere to grow further. But when the next album Vetvi (previous to Volch'ya Yagoda) appeared, it revealed to us a new movement vector. We moved to live outside the city, began to visit the northern forests a lot. Africa and Arab East in our music gradually gave way to the northern sound. And the Volch'ya Yagoda album is such a natural continuation of this path. In general, in the term World Music, in this concept itself there is something flawed. I began to understand this only recently. It’s like Thai beads that local residents sell to tourists in order to somehow survive, and the tourist brings them home and shows them as an exotic. That's what the modern genre of World Music is. This is not so joyful. And at some point, we realized that with our Africa and other things, we are like these tourists with beads. But we were born in the north, all my and Yana's childhood passed in the village on a farm. We are familiar with old folk songs, Slavic spells and lullabies. Since childhood, we heard the sound of a gusli, a harp, a beep. Why not record it, why not sing about what is closer to us? Isn't that more honest? And most importantly, earlier no one tried to do something modern with this folk music of our country, with these instruments. Previously, no one tried to somehow produce it seriously. And we just decided to do it! Volch'ya Yagoda, with all the variety of songs, is a very solid album. It is because of this approach.

Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical career?
This is just the Way. It is our life. Every day, music gives us new friends, new travels and new experiences. What else can we dream of?

You have moved to Karelia, in a wood, why? Do you want to be apart from the world?
It seems to me that this question is set not quite right. Because exactly cities are fenced off from the real world of nature. In cities, everything is artificial.
Everything this makes a person forget about death, makes a person consuming. It makes you run after illusions, turns your whole life into a race for some beautiful prize that you never will have. Do you understand? The city is a comfortable, well-designed corral for livestock. When you find yourself in a forest or on a lake, you understand this especially vividly. Real life is here, in the lap of nature. And answering your question, we moved out of town, because we wanted to be closer to real life, not to life invented without us.

Karelia has an enchanting name, but not very well known by western people, can you describe this land and its beauty, please?
Karelia is southern and northern. Part of it is in Finland, part is in Russia. Karelia has a difficult fate. Once upon a time there were Swedes. And the Finns. And the Russians. And many more different indigenous tribes. This is a harsh northern region with unpredictable nature, with spruce and pine forests. Bears are found here. Moose and hare come straight to my house. In Karelia there are beautiful cliffs and clear lakes with fresh water. When, for example, I am on the banks of Onega, I understand that I do not need Thailand, Cambodia and all the resorts in the world. In summer, Onega has the best forest wild beaches in the world. Sand, pines.
Yes, it’s sometimes cold here. But we are used to it.

I know a little bunch of russian bands, and I’ve found that there are great artists from Russia, but we know very little about. Can you tell us more about the russian music scene of today and how do you live this, please? There is a connection between artists?

Theodor Bastard is a quite incommunicative band.
It is difficult to say whether we have the closest associates.
We loved the Teatr Yada band, but their vocalist, our friend Jan Nikitin, perished.
This project can hardly be understood abroad.
It exists in the reality of the Russian language.
Like the band Grazhdanskaya Oborona, our teachers, their leader also perished.
And from the living bands it’s hard for me to name someone.
There were Ole Lukkoye, a cool band, they were known abroad, but now they almost do not perform.
The remaining bands are a new generation, quite superficial.
They have a lot of views, a lot of hype, as they like to call it, but not enough content.

The world of music is going through a great crisis, record sales are down, what do you think of this situation and why make a new album in this context?
An album is a conceptual work. This is not just a collection of songs. This is the whole story. It is like a novel. And we do not make albums, thinking about sales.
Sales do not interest us at all. If we were interested in sales, we would make other music.

Your music is stongly connected to the nature, with a lot of traditional and folk elements, do you have a message to spread or it’s only an esthetic choice?
This is not only an aesthetic choice. And this is not a message, as is commonly understood at the verbal level. Music provides a unique opportunity to experience a non-verbal experience! Our message is in the non-verbal area - beyond words.

Your music seems to be full of spiritual vibes, are you interested in spirituality?
Of course.

Feel free to end this interview as you like… if there is something more that you would like say?
Thanks for the interesting questions!

Reviews (only in italian):
Oikoumene; Vetvi; Volch'ya Yagoda


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