Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
What’s it like to be you?
Workaholic, spontaneous, lazy. Actually if I wouldn’t be a musician I would’ve been really really lazy, but since music is my passion I’m working 12 hours a day now. It’s not really work for me – 50% fun, 50% work. If I’m free then I’m super lazy: I could be happy with just sitting in a park for hours and doing nothing. I like hiking and being in the wild, I like big cities. I like to party still, even though I’m getting older and slower.
How would you define your art and its aesthetic to someone who is not yet familiar with it?
The aim of my art, if you can call it art, is to make people want to cry and laugh at the same time. I always trigger them with some melancholic melodies and then carefully bring them back to a smile. I also make it danceable with basses and kick drums and all that. It’s pretty slow. House music is around 120bpm, but it’s groovy.
What have you learned through Jan Blomqvist on a personal and professional level?
Lots of things. At the beginning, when I just started 8 years ago, I was travelling alone and to me it was a dream. Suddenly I realized the dream was not what I expected: I felt so lonely, I was sometimes crying because I didn’t see any of my friends all of a sudden, and that was totally new for me. I learned to be myself and to be happy and satisfied with myself. I am totally independent now. Some people even call me egoistic, but that’s not true, because I’m just happy with myself and I just don’t need my friends anymore. It sounds sad but it’s not; when you’re content with yourself then you realize what real friends are. That’s something I learned on the personal aspect of things. Professionally – it goes on and on and it never stops. If you get to the next level you think, ‘ok, now I can relax’. But you can’t. It goes on forever. The music business never lets you sleep and the only chance you have is to say, ‘stop, fuck everything, I’m out’. Yet then you’re out for real and no one takes you seriously anymore. Professional-wise music is a very hard music – you really have to love it to be able to do it. If you don’t love it then you have no chance, I think.
What was the last thing you’ve done or experienced for the very first time?
It’s pretty difficult for me to answer because I’ve been living such a routine. No matter where I am, it’s always the same: soundcheck, playing, talking, sleeping, travelling, soundcheck, playing, talking…
I got my first baby one and a half year ago. He gives me new things everyday, things that are really funny that I never knew were funny. He’s 80cm and sees the world from a totally different perspective and for him everything is funny. He really shows me what it’s like to see the world for the very first time.
What is the most important thing your son have taught you then?
Living in the moment and not thinking too much about the future, to be emotional whenever you want, to be honest and not play by the rules. To be just as you are and to be a kid.
You’ve witnessed the nightlife culture in a lot of countries. What makes Berlin unique or what makes other places unique?
Actually, what I always say is that people around the planet are not the same, yet really equal – in a sense that everyone wants to party, to be happy, to be kissed, loved, wants to have a drink and dance. That’s just human and it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s always the same and that’s why club music works in every country so well. People have the same desire to lose their minds in dark club rooms with lights, loud music and basses. Some cities are different because they provide different opportunities. Berlin is super free. It feels like anarchy, the police doesn’t really care about anything, it’s like you can do whatever you want. The fun fact is despite having no control at all – Berlin is the most safe city in Europe. There’s not that much crime and without control people arrange themselves to be super fair to each other. It’s a very poor city as well; Germany is a rich country but Berlin is poor in comparison. People treat each other with respect and are happy. The party scene is extremely wild and the parties go from Thursday till Monday and most clubs are open for 4 days. I think the only day it’s problematic to go out is Tuesday, but I guess you can still easily find something happening on a Tuesday. It’s a very open city so it makes it really interesting for musicians to live there and get wild.
Could you describe the best gig you’ve ever performed?
It’s difficult. I think it’s about getting better with every gig. So the aim is always to make the gig better the next time – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. On this tour some gigs were near perfection but you can never reach the 100%, of course.
What about the best gis you’ve been to?
The most impressive was definitely Burning Man 2016. Normally they have the art cars running around the desert and every art car has a certain scene, with the bikes in the desert with nothing around, and it was the first time the two biggest art cars were tied up together. I was supposed to play and I was totally shocked because suddenly the other car came and they threw a line and connected the sound systems and it was just ‘GO!’. And suddenly all the bicycles stood still and all the people jumped on the dancefloor, which was actually just sand. It was one of the best parties for sure. I also really like Fusion Festival between Hamburg and Berlin – one of the best festivals for me. It’s like Burning Man only located in the dark woods. The vibe is quite the same.
Is there a country, city, or club left where you would like to play in?
Actually, yes. I am now trying to discover South America, I was in Buenos Aires once and I want to go there again. I want to play more often in Argentina, definitely. I really want to go to New Zealand, I haven’t been there. Also in June I will go to South Africa for the very first time, which I’m really excited about. These are pretty much the last countries I haven’t been to. Can’t wait.
If a you were music, which genre or song would you be?
That’s really difficult, can I be every genre?
No, you have to chose.
It’s super cheesy to say it’s the music that I make. Saying deep house would be too obvious so I’ll go with, maybe, Brit Pop.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life?
So many things. I love to watch humans. Also some animals can be beautiful. But I really love to just sit outside in some big city, have a coffee, and just watch people. I think they’re really beautiful, especially in cities like New York, where it’s just so multicultural. I love it – to see how every kind of person is beautiful. I also find tremendous beauty in mountains, I’m a mountain addict. I love to go to Switzerland or the Dolomites, or Austria, and I love skiing and hiking. Sometimes I can stare at a mountain for hours. Friends say it’s boring but for me it’s the opposite, I just search for paths and analyze.
From all the artists you’ve met, who struck you the most in terms of individuality?
Bjork, definitely. I always want to say Mick Jagger. He does boring rock music, but as a person I think he’s one of those who invented this style, kind of, and the lyrics are still amazing. Also, he’s 70 but he looks as if he’s in his 40s or something. It’s really impressive how he can be so fit at that age and rock a show year and year again. From modern artists I think, music-wise, definitely Sacha, from Apparat, he’s a really interesting person. Hello Sascha, if you’re reading this! And Thom Yorke, for sure.
What is the most precious gift you’ve received from someone?
When I was 10 years old I got a guitar. Or I don’t know, maybe I just took it haha. My mom gave it to me after I said: “Mom, you don’t play guitar, can I just have it?”. I got so many precious gifts from my parents, they treated me really well. The education was maybe the best gift – to think free, to be open-minded, to do whatever you want, but to never hurt others. This upbringing was very important for me.
Tell us a recent funny or awkward story from your career, maybe about some fucked up situations that happened while touring?
There were so many but I only remember the stressful stories.
You can tell a stressful story then.
I went to the US without a passport actually haha. Because I lost it with my visa in the hotel room. I had a flight from Ibiza to Munich and then from Munich to San Francisco. I talked to the people on the plane and they let me on the plane, but beforehand I called my friends and they brought a backup passport and a re-issued visa that was all done during my flight to Munich. I was in the plane for 12 or 13 hours thinking to myself: “What if they don’t let me in with this stupid piece of paper?” haha. I should actually write down all these things that happen to me, because right now I don’t remember anything.
What topics fascinate you outside of music?
I love to cook, I love food. I’m not 100% vegan but I’m very interested in how you can cook delicious food without meat or milk products. That’s really fun for me because it works! It tastes even better and more fresh. I’m also going to make a strong statement now and say that I’m a soccer fan. I’m addicted. Unfortunately, yesterday my team lost. I’m getting on the nerves of my friends with my soccer obsession – every time there is a game I have to be there and I have no time for anything else. My friends can’t understand because they’re all from the music scene and they have no feelings for soccer haha.
If you could have a conversation with any historical or famous person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I like the old German poets, like Goethe, who wrote about an open society. I’d like to talk to Albert Einstein, definitely. I’d love to talk to him about the universe, parallel universes, the present, the future, the past. He was such an interesting person.
If you could travel in time where would you go and why?
I would love to go to Woodstock in the 60s. Then maybe I won’t like it and come back haha. I would also love to go to the future, like 500 years ahead, I want to know if we’re still alive or not, to see if the planet still exists. But I would go everywhere! Ok, not everywhere, but there are a lot of time frames I would want to check out.
What do you like and dislike about getting older?
I don’t like anything about getting older, it sucks. I love living and I love being on this planet. If I had the chance I’d want to live a thousand years, ten thousand years… I don’t want to die when I’m old. I also don’t want to die when I’m young.
Would you live forever?
Yes, I would love to live forever. Getting older automatically means that you lose one day or one year from the lifetime that you have. I hate it, it’s really sad. The body thing is not that important, you can still have fun when your body is not working that good anymore, at the age of 60 or something, but it’s better when you’re fit, of course.
Who is or was your biggest teacher?
Felix, my piano guy. We teach each other: I teach him being creative and developing ideas and he teaches me the technical stuff. Right now we’re kind of on an equal level. At the beginning I had ideas and he created the music and right now each of us can do a Jan Blomqvist record and you won’t even know the difference. We’re a perfect ‘teaching’ team. Also, it’s a strange answer actually for a musician, but I really loved my teachers from school. I loved my school and I loved to go to school and to listen to my teachers. They didn’t believe me but I was really listening all the time: I loved the math teachers, the German class teachers. They had so much deep things to share and I loved it. I was a really lucky kid and had a good school.
Do you have any favorite music videos?
Definitely. There is one by Sigur Rós “Valtari” – the video is really amazing. I remember The Prodigy video “Smack My Bitch Up”, where you think that there’s a guy running around, fucking girls, getting super drunk and then in the end of the video you realise that it’s actually a girl. So good. Radiohead’s “Karma Police” with the guy running down the street and Thom Yorke sitting in the car. I also love Chet Faker’s videos, especially the one with the roller skates “Gold”. It was a one shot and it was perfectly executed and fit so well with the music. I love all one shot videos. I’m actually going to come up with a one-shot video as well. I love the video that the guys from California did for me for the track… uhm.. Shit, what’s my own track called? I’m so tired, oh my God. Ok, it’s the video for the “Maybe Not” track.
What absurd or useless piece of information can you share with us?
I already said that I am lazy. I really love to be at home. You might not think that I’m that much of a home person, who loves to create his own space – it really doesn’t fit because I travel so much, I’m never at home, but I’d love to be. I’d be the one who would just build a house and make every fucking piece of the house perfect: grey, black and white as the only colours allowed, some wooden stuff etc. I’d make it really minimalistic and puristic. An art house – that’s my dream. That’s totally not my life though haha.
Things you can’t unthink.
Oh, I don’t think haha. Actually, the saddest thing I always have to think about is that I’m going to die some day and everyone else is going to die too. I don’t want it to be the mission of life, but I don’t believe in God and all those things. I believe that when you die – it’s all over. I can’t stop thinking about it because I don’t understand how you can just cease to exist and not be there anymore. I don’t want to escape into any religion in order to avoid that thought, I want to be honest with myself and acknowledge the fact that when my life is over – it’s over.
What recent trend annoys you the most?
I’m not that much into trends or hype, and it’s normal for a musician on tour, where everything is all about music and travelling; you automatically live in a bubble, kind of. You have to know this and reflect it, but it’s totally normal for me to not have any idea about what’s actually happening. I don’t have TV, I try not to be on the internet that often. What are the new trends? Maybe I’ll like them haha. I see trends that concern me, like the aggression from the right-wing parties. Sometimes it reminds me of Germany in the 1930s, it seems like nobody learned from WWII and what racism can produce and how cruel a war could be. It’s a terrible trend and I don’t want to make this answer too negative.
What film would you recommend and why?
I still like the one with Brad Pitt “Fight Club” with The Pixies soundtrack in the end. I love films with tricky endings. Same thing goes to Old Boy: the film is so hard and strong, they touch upon two topics one shouldn’t talk about. It gives you so many love feelings and hate feelings at the same time, it makes you cry.
What do you think really matters at the end of life?
What really matters is that you live your life as much as you can, even if it’s not possible or it seems not to be possible, there’s still often a solution and you have to fight to be yourself. Don’t follow any lies that you don’t want to be. I know that’s hard in many countries, especially in some countries in Africa. It’s easy to say, ‘just be yourself’, but if you don’t have anything to eat then you’re in a completely different situation. What’s really interesting is that many people who struggle for food are way more happier than we rich kids from Europe. In Europe we have everything and yet we’re complaining all the time. I think the most important thing in life is to be satisfied to be on this planet and to seize the day, to be thankful – then everything else comes by itself. Hopefully.
What’s the wisest thing you’ve heard?
Oh I know many wise things. I could put the previous answer here – be satisfied with what you have and don’t focus on things that you don’t have.
Happiness is not an aim, happiness is a way.
What question would you want to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
Honestly, your questions are pretty nice. They’re difficult to answer, but really good, I couldn’t make it better.
You’ve had a lot of interviews but what was the most memorable question you were ever asked?
Sneaky! Let me answer the other way around. Normally, the interview questions are always the same: some are easy for me but some are difficult, because when you answer the same question again and again, it starts to feel really weird. At some point it feels not authentic anymore if you just say the same thing all the time, so I’m always thankful of the questions that are different, like today. They’re not easy to answer but it’s way more fun. But to answer this question – the one that you asked before. There was some girl in Ukraine who asked me what was the wisest thing I’ve heard haha.