ambient, field recordings, electronic, experimental, folk, lo-fi, tape music / Berdsk "Diving into the magic and...


ambient, field recordings, electronic, experimental, folk, lo-fi, tape music / Berdsk
"Diving into the magic and fragile nostalgia."

The idea of Foresteppe concerned composing some quiet, atmospheric music for people and about people. The project started in 2012, maybe even in 2011, and at that time this idea was, I think, quite good. Then I heard the Michael Tanner's album Music For Smalls Lighthouse, being in a quite ambient music wave, but still it was completely different kind of music: there were more live instruments and more field recordings, and no waste space-ambient. And I thought, "Oh, how great - it's ambient about people, not about some fifth dimensions". Then I found Tanners profile on and saw what he listens to. I was all unknown to me, and so, through this man, I entered a completely different space.

There was an idea to name the project Diafilms (Filmstrips). When I was looking for a general idea for what sake I gonna make music, then at some moment I found these filmstrips and was intended to write soundtracks for them correlating music with the subject, time and all other characteristics. And there would be albums called: Diafilms No. 1, Diafilms No. 2... But I realized that it may restrict me, and then the name Foresteppe came. But it's all banal here: in Berdsk near my house if you go right - you'll see the fields, and if you go left, there'll be the forest. That's the place where I live.

The first album "No time to hurry" is just the album of sketches. It may sound very complete, but usually I prefer to conceptualize everything, but this album hadn't got some general idea, though now it's possible to distinguish it somehow. It was pretty vague and abstract attempt to get pushed off what I did before, and the only appropriate generalization here is that anyway everything on this album is kind of a pen test. That period of time I strictly tended to express a kind of "russianness" and "acousticity". It was written quite well about the "russianness" in one of the reviews, that it's very subtle and rather international at the same time. So, you can observe this "russianness", I put it there, but still, you can safely listen to it without any references of that kind.

The second album, in fact, is the collection of filmstrips, and at the same time, it's compositionally organized. That's, you're not going to put all the action movies at the beginning and slow ones at the end, you need to alternate. And here is the compositional alternation: quite a joyful start, then a little kink... There's even, I'd say, a mystical thriller "Golden Hair" on Bazhov fairytale. And all ends up if not as much funny as at the beginning, but still more peaceful and blissful than in the middle. However, I wouldn't say that this composition contains a metaplot, which unites all the parts.

Diafilms refers to the impressions, emotions, and memories of the time when we watched filmstrips. This is not an attempt to go back, but rather an attempt to play reconstruction, to play coming back, let’s say so. I don't want to make a pathetic subject of my childhood with filmstrips, so wishing to go back when everything was fine. I understand that this is not a time machine, if speaking literally, and I understand that there are filmstrips, and there’s life around you. This is the game as you act according some rules, but at the same time, you understand that you just reconstruct something without cherishing any illusions.

At some point I got acquainted with the music that was created with tape, and I really got interested in this cassette and film aesthetics in general. As for lo-fi music, it automatically becomes "plus one": I listen to some indie rock band, for example, and hear the guys having been recorded on the tape – I put it by default to my playlist. Tape sound seems to be only a form, imperfect, but it adds so much to the content and for me, this form takes the same level with the content.

Lesostep (rus. Forest steppe) and Foresteppe is the same for me. Initially I decided to name the project Lesostep, but as I was interested in spreading my music and I translated the name into English. In such an original way. To my opinion no sacral loss took place, but it simplified the access to music for people from the other countries. I used to think: "I download all sorts of Chinese bands signed with characters, the others would be interested too". But no, for noncyrillic guys Cyrilic looks like characters as well.

I really put nostalgia into music, but if to talk about different albums it differs too. Well, as for filmstrips, surely, nostalgia there removes you somewhere to the depths of the nineties, to the childhood. And if we talk about some other things, they are as much distant as field recordings are. Nothing is happening there but I know the conditions they were made in. If I use this record in music, then I can say for sure which particular moment of time and space it reminds to me at it gets me back. In this sense, well, it's nostalgia for real, and it isn't just nostalgia like the general atmosphere, but the reference to the very specific moments.

I am strongly against the idea that the listener is a passive recipient who simply receives and that's all. Otherwise, a person changes what he or she is listening to. To give the attitude to listen my album in precise way, circumstances and terms - it's an attempt to restrain the interpretation of the listener. Let the person listen to it in his (her) personal atmosphere. The album is just an attempt to make something special from these terms that the listener initially has.

I don't think music is supposed to have an author's position which is necessarily to be conveyed to the listener. By the intransigence in this aspect you incline listeners for something more, let's say, to ironize upon your vision. I don't apply for the role of a prophet, I apply only for the role of a man, that is all. And I'd like my music to be just music with the face of the author, and not a piece of space ambient from the space depths. Everyone exclaims now: "Oh, an artificial intelligence has written the music!" So it's the most awful that can be.

Every time I am invited to an event, I start to think, what kind of audience there will be. It's not a desire to please, but I just know that I can play in different ways: I can play more experimentally or more accessible, or somehow else to be in the context. Maybe I think too much instead of listeners what they are likely to be fond of or aren't. In this sense, I am rather interested to do what would be the most appropriate at the moment and not to be embarrassed then for myself. I don't think it's the cheating of my creative ego. In fact, every concert is not exactly something completely new, but I did definitely play two same concerts. It never happened.

There was a great concert at Krasnoyarsk summer school, where I go as a historian for the third year by this time. In the afternoon there are studies, and in the evening there's some free leisure at the place called "Evening club" where you can come and show a movie and discuss it or talk about books and music. When I first arrived there, nobody knew my project and I decided to make a concert. It was very cool, although I wouldn't say that there was something super special. But after it the counselors came up to me and said: "Egor, I have one who has burst into tears after your event." It wasn't a concert in the conventional sense; I was quite unusual to play there and to get such a strong reaction.

Usefulness is the word that's important to me. There are people to whom I can play my music, and they won't pass by, for them it can be useful. Certainly, usefulness is not taken in the literal, everyday sense, but it is usefulness as food for thoughts and for some emotional experiences. I give the opportunity to get something from my music, trying to give people some perspective of the content they've got themselves. Actually, it all differs within different people. It's not a mission, of course, but if I get it, if it really brings people some benefit, then I must do it. And for me it is still the main reason why I go to concerts and drag my 24 kg tape recorders.

For one stage I'm too experimental, for the other ones not enough. It's about the question of classifying my creative works. On the one hand, I like that no tag box suits for me, for instance, some Russian electronics. But on the other hand, it turns out that I am everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Consciousnessly, it, perhaps, is rather rough position, that I don't fit anywhere, I am all marginal, but as a person I still want to have my own place and not to be somewhere between electronic producer and folk musician. This year, thanks to Shalash, finally, I have this feeling of place, because in the end, not abstract terms and enumerations are crucial, but particular people. Initially I had such a position that Shalash (rus. hut) is just a hut - my friends and me, not the label. It's more a game of label, because, again, I didn't want some pathos and missions, and just wanted to have something in between two polar categories: unknown Bandcamp, within millions of them, and a super label.

I use a variety of toy instruments primarily for the sound. Although, the moment of visual effect takes place too. When I'm going to a concert somewhere where nobody has seen me yet, I think about taking my little piano to show that I've got such an instrument and play it. The little piano is falling apart gradually, it cannot withstand all these flights. On the one hand, it is also important, as once I said in the interview that the instruments live because they die. I show that all these unknown, weird things, can produce sounds that quite logically and beautifully are being interwoven. Also I talk in the interest of listeners: it will be more interesting for them to look at me this way. I have nothing against people who use laptops during their performances, because I know that it's the same instrument as others, but visually people with laptops are Winamp DJs, somewhere deep in the subconscious there is still the idea that he just pressed the "play" button. In this sense, I'm more a glam rocker, because I need more visual effect; not exactly the effect, but some live action rather.

I met my music in the public for meditation that is quite natural, but the funny thing is that I saw using the track from the first album Pink Shorts in shorts sale advertisement. I also saw my song in the community of asexuals, there were their black-pink-white heart, some sort of manifesto and my song in the post. I thought: "okay." Actually I should express my indignation and say: "You have misunderstood me!" and so on. But I understand that once you've said something or done, and it leaves you and that’s all. It’s impossible to influence people’s interpretations.

For me music has to do with changing picture, because I'm listening to music along the way. Perhaps, in a way, my music can be perceived as a soundtrack, that is the musical accompaniment to some kind of movement in time and space; not that supernatural move, of course, but walks and traveling. Well, you can fish out of me words like: "Yes, it's the soundtrack, okay, you have disclosed me." I accept this position, it contradicts nothing, but it is only one of the points of views.

I'm embarrassed to read my own interviews, to be honest. I do not perceive an interview as an interview; I just take it as an amiable conversation. And then you read it, and there is subliminal feeling of some lurking: you were talking to a person, and suddenly you have been recorded. It’s totally irrational feeling, purely emotional. As for interviews and accompanying lyrics for concerts I’ve got the same attitude – you can manage without it. I am glad to tell something, if someone is really interested, but the last thing I want to do is to talk in the format "let me talk some more about my music".

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