Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Photo: Richard Johnathan Miles
Kate NV is the solo project of Kate Shilonosova – the Moscow-based producer, songwriter, composer, and designer, who is also the vocalist of the band Glintshake.
Pre-order the new LP 'Room for the Moon'- HERE-
What’s it like to be you?
Like being a person who out of nowhere is able to create not only entertainment and adventures for the self but who also gets in trouble sometimes haha.
What have you learned through your projects both on a professional and personal level?
I think I learned to let any music just be. Yet at the same time,
if you allow the existence of something, but you are not feeling it or if you don’t like it at all, then it’s not an absolute necessity for you to endure it. You can just leave it behind. This concept also works with people.
Also with music, I learned to trust my heart and ears. Regarding people… I took a break from them.
Was there ever a moment in your life when you were fed up with music?
There was a moment when I realized that I did not have to listen to music all the time. It comes to me by chance, and when it needs to, just like a cat. I don’t mind that arrangement. I really appreciate sounds in general and I really love silence. Most of the time I find myself surrounded by silence (which by the way, as we all know, does not exist). So it’s difficult for me to feel oversaturated with music. I have a strange relationship with music, but we’re definitely in harmony with each other.
When did you realize that music was your true calling? Would it be easy for you to switch to something else?
I just realized that I can’t help it and that I must create music. If suddenly I can let myself not do it then I don’t. But most often, if I do not write anything for a long time, I feel very bad. It becomes really really hard. I’m truly happy when I write music. Or when I ride a bike.
Recently, I became very fascinated with the process of coming up with and creating videos, and I also want to draw more. But I noticed that all the processes that I currently have going are in mono mode. That is, each process requires a lot of concentration and therefore I can only focus on one thing at a time, unfortunately.
The interesting thing is that if I only draw or shoot videos and edit those for a long time, I gradually get sick of it since I don’t write music. Whereas in the mono mode of creating music, I can hold out much longer. Actually, it became clear that apparently I am a musician to a greater extent than I am anything else.
Did you always know that creativity was a path that you wanted to pursue?
I probably always knew that through creativity I was trying to create my own small and weird world. I think that I just want to show that “look at how things could also be.”
If music is a language, then my songs are the message.
It’s just my way of coding and finding friends. Apparently, I’ve made this album when being very lonely, in order to find like-minded people.
After you read the final volume of the Sailor Moon manga, you came to the conclusion that you can become a great warrior only by becoming truly lonely. During the global pandemic, people have that opportunity. How is your personal experience of self-isolation? Are you going to embark on the path of the “great warrior” or are you already familiar with it?
I had to walk away from the computer to think about this. As a result, I thought so much that I delayed the answers for a day.
The fact is that at the moment when I first read that last volume, my perception of reality changed a little, and, it seems, I romanticized the notion of loneliness way too much. Perhaps, at that moment of my life, I was looking for solitude and tried to justify my desire in seeking it.
Yesterday I decided to re-read it again and see if touches me this time, to see If maybe I missed something. And I really do look at certain things differently right now.
In fact, Sailor Moon becomes a great warrior when she finds the strength to remain alone and accept everything. At that very point, she loses those she loves and for whom she even fought in the first place.
But the most amazing thing in this story is that there is a second character – her future self in the form of the “great warrior”. She escaped from a serious battle and decided to change the past in order to avoid future struggles. She made different decisions in order to change the chain of events. So what do we see here? That the great warrior actually acted cowardly in the future. And now, observing the moment when Sailor Moon of the past, without changing her decision, sacrifices herself and turns into that very “great warrior”, at this moment her projection from the future tells the others that maybe, sometime, when she can accept the way things are and be alone, perhaps then she will manage to become as great as Sailor Moon in the now.
That is, a great warrior from the future has ceased to consider himself as great. It’s very confusing, but it’s incredibly deep. And it turns out that even a great warrior can forget how to be great, and that’s why he needs to look at his past self and remember what it’s like. It also shows that even warriors are still human deep down.
I think that in fact, we are all great, it’s just that sometimes people forget about their inner strength and magic.
I myself began to forget some fundamental things about me. Perhaps I, just like Sailor Moon, need to return to the past and look at myself in order to understand what my strength was.
The acceptance of loneliness is just one of the tools of knowing the self. Loneliness is like silence. It’s filled with sounds, but they cannot be heard when it’s too noisy. Sometimes it’s good to be left alone, in silence – that way you may hear something that you did not notice before.
What book, film, anime, or manga reality would you like to live in for a little while?
They always change, I’m a rather impressionable person. At the beginning of the quarantine, I watched Evangelion, and, contrary to all logic, I would like to be in that world, although the situation in that reality is way worse, of course, it’s even hard to imagine haha. Other than that since my childhood I’ve always wanted to be Sailor Moon. By the way, I find a lot of similarities between the two mentioned animes: the main characters have to fight all the time, despite the fact that they don’t want to. Speaking of great warriors again here. Both worlds have a white and dark moon. By the way, recently I found out that there are both these moons in the natal outline of a person, they are tied to karma and can be calculated. Anyway, it’s funny, but my white moon tells me that I am a celestial warrior and I need to stand up and fight for justice and the good. I tied all these things together with my favorite animes only yesterday, when I began to answer these interview questions. When I did the calculations for the very first time then I was rather disappointed. It turned out that in the framework of my imagination I think that it’s cool to be a great warrior, but the fact is, just like the case of these characters – I really don’t want to be one.
What was on your mind when working on this release? Did you face any personal changes in the process of creating this album?
The funny thing is that as soon as an album is finished, I quickly jump from the role of a composer into the role of the performer and interpreter, and, my brain, in order not to overload itself again, just forgets or hides from me all the previous data that I used when creating the work itself. Perhaps it’s easier for it to work with the material this way, I don’t know. But I really don’t remember much.
That being said, of course, I went through some changes. For example, I started writing many songs from the album in 2016 and finished them in 2019. Back in 2016, I didn’t quite hear the melodies of those songs, and after three years of accumulated information and personal changes that occurred in me, I’ve finally realized how those songs were supposed to sound like. What I know for certain is that the person who started writing these songs and the person who finished them is a different being. Perhaps that is the only reason why the album is finished haha.
Do you think it’s possible to judge music objectively?
No! It’s possible to appreciate the technical aspects of music, but even that will be based on your taste. There may be averaged data, average likings (haha), but it doesn’t mean that it’s objective. I thought about it a lot once.
Evaluation gives rise to competition and it’s not clear whether musicians should to compete with each other. It would seem that you can compete with yourself and that way become better. But then again, who said what is better and what is not? After all, music is not a sport.
At some point, I began comparing music with scientific research. It’s quite funny, but this approach slightly knocks down the imposed importance of someone else’s assessment. Research is all about the process. The result is important, but it may not be precise. In the end, you can simply observe the music and how it develops. My albums are an observation of how my relationship with music forms throughout my life. I am changing, my relationships are changing and the music is changing. How can this be objectively assessed from the outside is not entirely clear. You may like it or you may not. It’s always about your own taste and preferences.
What modern trend irritates or upsets you?
I don’t think that anything irritates me. Rather, it makes me busy. Lacan describes a “mirror stage”, a form-forming function, which allows the child to distinguish himself in the world and recognize the self. I think we’re witnessing an amazing period of social networks when people are going through this mirror stage again, only this time there is a third-party involved who is subscribed to your mirror notifications and sends you likes. Perhaps it has always been that way but now, thanks to social media, it became very obvious and fast-paced.
I thought about it when I watched an old program from 1991, where teenagers were interviewed at a skateboarding festival in the city of Saratov, and they spoke as if there was no camera in front of them. That is, they don’t ignore it on purpose, they just don’t really care that it was there, they don’t acknowledge its presence. It’s a barely note-worthy thing, but the camera meant nothing to them, they didn’t try to appear better than they actually are, they didn’t think about the audience, they were simply focused and very attentive to the questions that they were asked, and gave sincere answers.
And now it feels like everyone always has an audience. It’s like writing a diary, but writing it in a way as if you know that someone will eventually discover it and read it. Everyone finds themselves in other people’s reaction to them.
I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is.
What would you like to eliminate from the world?
It’s hard for me to come up with one thing because it seems to me that eliminating one thing inevitably leads to a total collapse somewhere on the other end of the system. I would rather give everyone a sense of humor.
What piece of advice would you give to humanity?
Be kinder to one another, learn to empathize and sympathize.
What is your definition of beauty and how do you integrate it into your work?
Cornelius Cardew in his “great teaching” has a play called “Beautiful Sounds”. In it, each participant must choose a sound that he considers beautiful. We played this play several times over the course of six months, and each time everyone chose different sounds for themselves. Just because our idea of beauty is changing all the time.
Probably for me beauty is something that makes me feel some kind of tender feeling of joy at a certain period of time. I feel like this answer is some dry definition from a physics textbook, sorry.
What do you think when looking back at your life?
Usually, it makes me laugh.
What was the wisest thing you’ve heard or realized?
I think almost everything that comes out of John Cage’s lips is wise, but to my surprise, right now I can’t remember anything specific haha.
What is your goal as an artist?
I don’t think that I have a clear goal. I’m afraid of the ultimate goals overall, because if you reach them, then what’s next? The end?
I have many small ones that arise simply because ideas are constantly born. So I would like to continue to come up with different things and have the opportunity to implement them. And I’m more interested in the process itself, rather than the final outcome.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would you answer?
As it often happens – the most unexpected things are the coolest! Therefore, the best question is one that I don’t expect, so I wouldn’t even know that I’m about to hear it.
Translation: Elena Savlokhova