Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
What do you sacrifice for your calling?
I guess I sacrificed the ability of being settled,at all. I kind of resigned myself to that when I was 17. I thought to myself that I’ll just probably keep doing this and now it’s a little later and I think I’m doing ok. But I haven’t had a permanent apartment for a while. I was living in Detroit before, for about 3 years, and that was the longest time I’ve had one apartment since I lived with my parents. So I’ve been pretty mobile and that’s a difficult thing. Yet you get to travel a lot so that’s great.
Did you ever consider moving to Europe?
Maybe. I haven’t spent enough time here and I don’t know where I would move. I also only speak English which is stupid because I grew up in Canada and a lot of people speak French there. I just never got into it for some reason. Even in Montreal, which a bilingual city, I was having a hard time finding a job, because it’s mostly French. Montreal is pretty French and the rest of Quebec is really French. But yeah… I’m thinking about moving to Europe but I haven’t made any decisions. Honestly, if we’re talking about being settled, which has been coming up more as I think about getting older, I think for me it would be a place where you’re on your own somewhere in the suburbs or in the country. I’m doing music and I go to clubs downtown in different cities and my friends from the band “Men I Trust” from Montreal, – who are doing very well and they’re touring all over the place, – were saying that they just got a house in rural Quebec, which is very cheap. Since they’re on tour all the time they don’t see the need to live in a shitty apartment downtown. More and more artists (not just with music) do everything online: all the work is being sold on the internet, all the music is available online, etc. You don’t really need to be in a community that is physical at all. Everything is happening online. This is a long conversation but I think all of us grew up with this idea that in the 20th century all the artists come to a big city and there is a certain scene happening. But things have changed. The idea that a community of artists has to be physically in the same place is not necessarily the way the world works anymore. So complaining that you got kicked out of your art space or loft studio in places like London or New York while most of your work is represented online – there is no actual need to live in that proximity. Especially if you are treating yourself poorly and you have to work two-day jobs just to do your art. A friend of mine just got a building just outside of downtown Detroit, and it’s a weird example because it’s still considered cheap and spread out, even downtown feels a bit weird and suburb-y, and they just do their visual art and sell it on the internet and it’s fine.
What are you trying to convey with your art to the world?
It’s dance music. I think the only thing that I do that somebody else maybe couldn’t is melodies, and that’s where I come from. Other than that, I just like putting things together and somebody can listen to my song and hear 18 other artists it reminds them of. For example, I played a song in Leipzig and somebody started singing a Madonna song, I could hear them at the front of the crowd. I was, ‘yeah, pretty much’. You can sing one song over another one and it works.
In one of our interviews, there was an opinion that Madonna ruined music for everyone.
I definitely disagree. I think at the time she was totally groundbreaking. She managed herself at the beginning, which for a woman in music at all at that time was pretty rare. She moved to New York and I think she lived in an office building at first. She was pushing really hard and was treating a lot of people pretty badly but I don’t think she ruined music. Maybe she ruined a couple of people’s lives haha.
What’s your weirdest habit?
I sleep with my hand over my head. It’s comforting in some way.
What new skill would you like to acquire?
I would honestly just like to learn some new languages. Everybody here speaks at least two. I was hanging out with my friend from Amsterdam last week and she speaks five languages. In North America it’s treated as something unusual, but most people in the world speak a couple of languages.
What interests you outside of music?
Political history, which is another reason I really like coming to Europe. I listen to podcasts and documentaries about the places we’re going to and try to learn a lot about it.
Is there a historical figure that stands out for you? Or maybe if you could have a conversation with someone, dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s a tough question. This is not something new for me but Marshall McLuhan. He taught at the University of Toronto. I would actually be curious to speak to him, even though he is Canadian and he would probably be pretty similar to the people that I grew up with, since he was a professor at a school next to my neighborhood. I think a lot of this stuff we are talking about as far as people’s consumption of media, music included – he foreshadowed a lot of it. A lot of the things that I see now regarding social media’s influence on society and politics come from theories that McLuhan brought up, or at least that he made popular. The slogan ‘the medium is the message’ is actually his, which I think is extremely accurate. To me, the idea that somebody can be popular on Instagram, for example, is exactly what he was talking about 30 years before it appeared. It’s not about something being popular, it’s about it being popular VIA a specific type of media.
Could you share funny or awkward stories from touring?
Not a lot has happened on this one, we’re only 4 days in. It was just Poland and Germany. But as I’ve said, we’re 4 days into a tour that is two months long and I’m already completely exhausted and sleep deprived. I can’t even think straight. I just need a lot of matte.
What about not from touring?
I guess something funny for this band is that I play with a drummer and there have been 14 different drummers in the band. That might seem unusual, but it’s almost like me and a drum machine boy haha.
What do you realize as you get older?
I hit a certain age and just stopped caring about a lot of things, which is very healthy and normal, especially if you’re going to keep doing music and touring and living in a bit of a sketchy way. At a certain point you just go, ‘yeah, I’m just going to keep doing this’. A friend of mine, Scott Zacharias, who is my favorite DJ and has been djing in Detroit since the late 90s, has been doing that for a really long time. I just think that if you really care about music and you keep on doing that, then it doesn’t really matter how old you are. He’s going to be in that scene and some people may be 20. My friend Izzy is 19 and she’s just as good a DJ as anybody I’ve ever seen. And Scott is almost the OG to that. To me, that’s very beautiful – it doesn’t really matter. Age doesn’t really matter at all when it comes to music. When you’re younger you worry about that stuff, or when you hear people say, ‘oh I’m 30 so now I can’t really go to a punk show’. What are you talking about? Do you know how old those people in the bands are? Pete Shelley from Buzzcocks died recently, but last year I saw the band getting out of a limo in New York and those were some old dudes that are in a punk band that they were in since they were young. If what you’re doing is good and you want to keep doing it – why not? As you get wiser with age you just figure things out and it just gets better.
Is there something you don’t like about yourself?
Everything haha. I don’t want to get super dark but I would just say that I can get easily distracted when I talk to people sometimes and that bothers me. Otherwise, let’s not go into a therapy session here haha.
How far do you want technology to evolve?
It seems so close to being helpful and useful but then there are companies that bought technologies and can prevent them from being released. That’s insane and unhelpful. For example, electric cars – that could have been the standard for the world in the 80s. But car companies just stopped that from progressing. I would like for technologies to be way more advanced but it has to be in better hands, because the people who are running things are not necessarily allowing them to improve.
What is the last film you’ve seen that impressed you?
We watched this Italian cheesy movie called Danger Diabolik, which has a Morricone soundtrack that is really good.
What was the wisest thing you’ve ever heard?
That’s a good question. The first thing that comes to mind is when I was really young and awkward, around 15 or 16, and really worried about what other people think, and somebody told me: “If you go to the store and you see this silly hat and you think it would be a waste of money but you really like it – just buy the silly hat.” So yes, follow an opportunity, you can always change your mind later.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview?
Honestly, these are all really good and I’ve done some other interviews for when the album came out and this is way better. To be honest, I don’t really like talking about band stuff and my own background, I like talking about other things. I’m a musician and I go on tour. Lots of people have done that, so it’s nice to talk about other things that interest me. But the thing that I do like to talk about is just nerding out about synthesizers and drum machines. When you get down to it – Italo disco records, synths, and drum machines are things I’d like to talk about all the time. That would be a perfect world.
If you had to choose between sex and music, what would you choose?
Music. I do think that performance and dance, in general, are kind of inseparable, so not to sound gross, but performing has a similar energy to sex. Hopefully, I don’t have to ever choose though.
Do you get nervous before performing?
No, I almost wish that I did, because I think sometimes you can be lazy about things. I never felt nervous about performing.
Do you remember your first time performing?
Yeah. My first performance in a band was at this place called “The Silver Dollar” in Toronto. The owner of that club is actually still a friend of mine and he did our Toronto show last month. I’ve literally known him for 10-12 years. Crazy. And again, a story of Toronto – that building had been torn down and is going to be a condo next year.
What is your favorite mistake?
Is that from a Sheryl Crow song?
Are you trying to avoid the question haha?
Well, I cut my own hair all the time and I end up fucking it up really bad. But I just have to live with that. I just adopted that as my style and that was a long time ago.
And lastly, could you please share an absurd or useless piece of information with us?
So I was living in Detroit before this, and Montreal before that, and in Michigan, they have a hot dog type of restaurant called ‘The Coney Island’ and their thing is selling these hot dogs called coneys – it’s basically a hot dog that has chili and onions on it. But then in Montreal, they have these hot dogs called ‘Michigan Hot Dogs’ that are just a coney dog. Coney Island is not in Michigan so it’s just weird. When my friends from Detroit were in Montreal they were, ‘wtf, why are they selling these here?’. It just makes no sense and I would say the information is pretty useless.
Special thanks to Worn Pop`