Mysina Plays Rock
Excerpts from an interview by Yelena Avakumova
— I?ve been singing for a long time, you could say since I was a kid. I had good fortune with my genes. My grandmother sang in a church choir. She was the best singer of the lot. When people met her father on the street, they would bow down to him and thank him for his daughter?s talent. My mother might have become an opera singer. When she was still in school, people visited her in Dnepropetrovsk from the Kiev Conservatory and encouraged her to apply for admission. But she had a gland operation in the tenth grade and her vocal chords were damaged. She still had a good, strong voice, but it wasn?t the same. When I had gland trouble, my mother told the doctors, Do whatever you want, only don?t even think about an operation.
— Your first concert takes place May 14 at the Actors House. And the day before that you and your band plan to pull off a hit-and-run performance on the Arbat. Did you decide to try yourself out on cats first?
— (Laughs) Why cats?
— There?s an animal store next door. There are always people out there selling incredibly beautiful cats.
— Well, then, I guess so. But seriously, I feel as though we have something to say. Although I have never been concerned about how the public is going to respond. Rock music is not comfortable music. It can irritate. Not everyone can listen to it, let alone like it. But I expect to find listeners among those who ask themselves questions like who am I? why am I here? for what purpose? The music will get to some; the words to others; the energy to still others. If you don?t have energy, you don?t have rock.
— Why are you singing the songs of Viktor Tsoi instead of, say, Makarevich or Kinchev? Did you know him?
— No, I didn?t and didn?t even hear him when he was alive. But when I saw a film about him I was amazed — amazing energy, amazing concentration. Of all of them, Tsoi is the most real. His songs break through into something. I sing his songs Blood Group, Good Night and Mama, We?ve All Gone Mad.
— Besides Tsoi, you sing Edith Piaf, romances and some songs from the Island of Freedom. That?s quite a mixture!
— That?s my natural greed. I want to try everything. Piaf in a rock arrangement; romances in jazz arrangements; some Cuban songs from the Buena Vista Social Club repertoire. There are also American songs — classic country, rhythm and blues and rock ballads. But most important of all are our own songs. I have some great musicians working with me - Vladimir Bazheikin, who writes songs and does arrangements; the rhythm guitarist Yevgeny Vostochny who also sings and writes songs; and my bass player Dmitry Yershov. [And now playing drums for us is Roman Yevseev.]
— You write words and music. What about for your characters in theater and cinema?
— I played an extravagant, sophisticated poetess in The Other Mask episode of the Kamenskaya series. While I was waiting to be called to the soundstage, I wrote a short verse:
What is my life?
A joke of the Maker?
All that is left me is the ticking of the clock, laughing in my face,
The heat of a frozen sea
And the dusky chill of the desert.
I went up to the director and asked if I could recite the verses as part of my lines. He said, Do whatever you want. So I did.
— Your bright musical past didn?t seem to be preparing you for the life of an actress.
— I didn?t become an actress right away, although I always wanted to. The fact is that I grew up too fast and I became frightened of myself. I didn?t know what to do with my long arms and legs. I wasn?t prepared to be an actress. Anyway, I thought I had to learn all the other professions and skills first. What did I have? Nothing but intuition. Still, while I was studying at the Gnesin Music School, I would sneak off to the Spesivtsev Theater where I performed for three years. I sang the part of the Phoenix in the rock opera Sadko. Then I learned to play guitar. If you?re talking about simple accompaniment rather than sophisticated picking, it?s easy to do after the violin. I had a chamber repertoire — romances, Bulat Okudzhava and my own songs. I once even performed in the main hall of the House of Unions!
— Next up is the Actors House. What follows? Carnegie Hall? The Olympia?
— Next up are tours to the United States and Germany with K. I. from ?Crime?, the show I do with Kama Ginkas?.
— What about in film?
— ?I just filmed the role of Empress Marya Fyodorovna in Vitaly Melnikov?s Poor, Poor Pavel?.
— The empress played the harp. Is that reflected in the movie?
— No, but I do play one composition on the harp. When I played Margarita of Navarre in a production by Boris Lvov-Anokhin, I studied the harp for six months with the famous harpist Natalya Borisovna Sibor. She taught Olga Androvskaya to play the harp in 1940. Sibor was 86 when I met her.
— Is there any musical instrument you don?t play?
— The saxophone and the harmonica. But I already bought a harmonica. I?m going to work on it this summer. We need it in my band.
Elena Avakumova, 6-05-2003
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