Arrow of Fate
The idea of a serious actress taking up rock music can elicit horror. Or delight, depending on how much freedom her fans are willing to give her.
Prestige magazine, No. 10, Oct. 2005
- Have you long had a crush on rock music?
— My crush is something from the deep past. Now it?s a passion. It?s as though rock music struck me with the power of an arrow of fate. We?re serious about this. Right now my group Oxy Rocks is getting ready to put out its first album — The Road. I want our songs to be heard. We have a core group of fans that comes to all our concerts. I want that group to be bigger. I want our music to be playing in everyone?s apartments, not just those of our friends. Maybe I sound a little cocky, but I think this is going to work. I don?t think anyone sounds like we do. For all intents and purposes the band I?m playing with has been together a year. My guitarist Sergei Shchetinin is a virtuoso who never studied anywhere. He taught himself everything he knows and he continues to grow. He listens to American music and has a natural talent for blues and rock and roll. That?s very unusual for a Russian musician. Sergei doesn?t like Russian rock, he doesn?t like it?s bathetic, major-key basis. He grew up listening to Deep Purple but listens to Stevie Ray Vaughan more nowadays. My drummer is Mikhail Zolotaryov. He loves jazz and so gives us a jazzy flavor. So you get this unusual mix when you add my classical violin to their rock and jazz. My bass-guitarist is Dmitry Yershov. He has really blossomed as a composer lately. While we were recording our album, he started writing a ton of new songs. When I was in the United States on vacation this year I was writing new lyrics. I?d call Dima and Sergei every day and talk to them on the phone. They would play me bits of their new songs and record them on cassettes. Almost all the lyrics I wrote ended up fitting the music they were writing. That doesn?t mean we all get along all the time. We respect each other, but when we?re working, when we rehearse, we can drive each other nuts. We really get into some tug-o-wars. It?s that friction that kicks out the sparks. We go home after rehearsal exhausted and soaking wet, as if we?ve just played a full concert. We?d like to kick down some walls. Throw ourselves into the ring for a good fight with the bulls.
— Do you play the guitar?
— I play the guitar called a violin. Right now I?ve got a Yamaha electric. It?s unlike anything I?ve ever played. I just used it for the first time at a gig we played at a film festival. I used to think I could play the guitar, but next to my guitarists there?s no reason for me to plunk around on a guitar. I began studying violin when I was 8 years old and I studied the viola at the Gnesin College. Incidentally, I couldn?t get into the music college the first time I applied. After failing the entrance exam, I decided to give it up. But a month later they called me up and said I was in. I was following in the footsteps of my older sister Marina Yakut. She?s a violist who lives in Spain now. She plays in several top orchestras and she founded her own quartet.
— But why rock?
— It was my husband John who opened my ears to rock. After I grew up in my parents? home listening to classical music I began hearing a different kind of music after I got married. At first I thought all these singers John played were missing notes all over the place. Later I learned they were singing on a pentatonic scale.
— Who are your favorite rock musicians?
— Among women, Patti Smith. She played the B2 club on September 3. John and I were also at one of her concerts in the U. S. She?s one of the few really transcendent, intelligent women in rock. A legendary figure, a poet; severe and charming, free and powerful. Among men — Bob Dylan, of course. He?s one of the great sources of this whole thing. We?ve been to several of his concerts. You?d think he doesn?t have a note left to sing — his voice is made up nothing but growls anymore. Maybe he?s got a note and a half left. But this guy is the real thing, as banged up and scratched up as he is. For John, Dylan is the last word in art. The way Dylan has handled his life in art. He kind of ended up on the sidelines at one point but he went out there and proved he had the right to start all over again. He does everything he shouldn?t do. The public wants one thing from him, so he gives them something else. As an artist, Dylan always comes out on top.
— Where do you play in Moscow?
— At the beginning of the summer we played at the Chinese Pilot Dzhao Da and at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Arbat. I hope we?ll continue to play at those clubs. There?s talk about a little promotional thing whereby we?d play on the back of a flat-bed truck driving around the Ring Road in Moscow. We?d hook up to a 20-kilowatt generator and shoot that as a video. We work with Valery Cherkesov, a sound engineer who works with Zemphira, Kipelov and Khvorostotsky. He received an award as the best sound producer in 2004 for a concert he ran on Red Square with 170 musicians. He was all alone, carrying microphones around in buckets, doing everything himself. He?s a rare person and a person of rare talent. He also plays the keyboards and he recorded most of the keyboard parts on our album. We?re kicking around the idea of having Valery play with us at concerts sometimes, so that would make us a group of five. We also had Alexander Vladykin of the group Kalinov Most sitting in with us as a guest on keyboards when we worked on the album.
— What does rock music have to offer to an actress?
— Well, we?ll see how it reflects on my future work. I can say that it offers me a lot as a person. It gives me a chance to get a new wind, to be myself, and to speak out directly in music and words, rather than through the words of a character. Music expresses the inexpressible. It expresses what we dream, what will not leave us in peace. As an actress, I have long observed the world and reflected it in my work. Now I have the opportunity to be in direct contact with it, to embrace it, as it were. When I sing I feel like I?m plugged into an electrical outlet. It?s a state that really gives me energy. It is, for me, a moment of truth.
Interview by Olga Polinicheva (offered here in the full author?s version).
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