Dazed Digital



June 13, 2012

The talented band from Far East of Russia came to Moscow to conquer the local music scene

  • Text by Kristina Voytovich

The Russian experimental band Sistra from Khabarovsk was founded in 2007 by four best friends - Mikhail Gnesin (vocals), Arseniy Sysoletin (guitar), Roman Lopatkov (bass, keys), Roman Murashov (drums, drum machine). The band members don't put their music into particular genre, although some people consider it as indietronic or indie pop. Last year, Sistra moved to Moscow in order to become a part of Russian contemporary music scene.

The band recently presented its first album "Telegram Cloud" that was made with the support of online magazine Look At Me and Mimonot Reocrds. Satellite Voices talked to lead frontman Mikhail Gnesin about their first year in Moscow and plans for the future.

Satellite Voices: What is the musical environment in your home town Khabarovsk?
Mikhail Gnesin: Khabarovsk is a little space where you can fulfill your potential but there is a small music get-together, where we performed. When we became popular in Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk, we decided to move to Moscow because it is the only city in Russia with a real music community. In fact, now we are making our childhood dreams come true. When you're young, you are listening to various rock bands and dreaming of becoming like them one day.

SV: What was your first year in Moscow like?
Mikhail Gnesin: During the past year we have experienced so many emotions and so many events that we can count as three years in Khabarovsk. The whole year we were have been working hard on our new album almost forgotten about our private life. The first thing we did after coming to Moscow we found the apartment, which also became our rehearsal room. Last summer we managed to write the songs for our first album "Telegram cloud" that was recorded with the help of the Moscow studio Pravda and our friend from Smolensk. Then we started looking for a job to have money to live and work in Moscow. For example, the guys were working on various film sets, and I was looking for a job in media. Roughly speaking, this whole year we were doing everything possible to make our music be heard Moscow. We have been sending out our tracks to music-oriented media and even managed to perform on the one of the central tv channels.

SV: You have been twice with the gigs in Ukraine. Tell us about this experience?
Mikhail Gnesin: Last September we were invited on a two week tour in Ukraine where we had eight gigs. We were well received there, so we were happy to go back this year with 15 gigs. This May we organised a new tour in Ukraine to present the audience our debut album. At this moment we are much more popular in Ukraine than in Moscow. It's funny but some fans even think that we are a Ukrainian band.

SV: Describe your music in three words?
Mikhail Gnesin: Melancholy, noise, femininity.

SV: What do you love most - making music or performing in front of an audience?
Mikhail Gnesin: Both. I hope that the Moscow music industry will change soon, and we will be able to make a living playing our music. So far, only concerts bring us money.  In Moscow, it’s all about money. Of course, we love concerts. During our Ukranian tours every day there was a new city. And it turned out that we attracted a lot of interesting people - creative people, designers, architects, and journalists. Our most interesting gig was in Rovno, where 300 people came to see us in a small concert hall. That was the biggest show we had during the tour! We felt the connection with everyone. Everyone was beautiful, interesting, well dressed and with a deep gaze.

SV: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Mikhail Gnesin: It would be cool to do something with our good friends, the St. Petersburg-based band Ifwe. They already did a remix on our single "Revolving in you". In general, we would like to collaborate with people who are interested in our music.

SV: Which concert, which you recently went on, did you like most?
Mikhail Gnesin:
A few weeks ago I went on the Ahmad Tea Music Festival, where I listened to my idol Antony Hegarty from the Antony and the Johnsons. It was so great! I even managed to get his autograph. At the same festival performed the British band I am Kloot, with which we were able to hang out together after the concert.

SV: What are your future plans?
Mikhail Gnesin: We are planning to make a few music videos. There is the song "Gentle Dead People" that the audience did like during our tour in Ukraine, or the song "Ghost Note" that is radically different from all other songs on the album. It's mesmerizing and gloomy. The music is dark but the vocals are light and quite romantic. It's a very strange combination.

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