Interview: Elena Savlokhova
What do you sacrifice for your calling?
A calling is such a rather loud concept of sorts. I can’t know for certain if I really have the ability for music. I don’t believe in criticism or praise. So I sacrifice my time while swimming in this obscurity.
Why do you think music is such a vital element to your existence?
Because if music would be taken away from me, nothing will remain of me. I don’t know how to express my feelings in other ways, unfortunately. I am a complete robot in the sense of manifesting conveyable emotions. Music makes it possible for me to discover these emotions in myself. In life outside of music, there are basically none. Only an idea of them. That is, they cannot reach a conscious level outside of music.
What do you think is the enemy of creativity?
Comparing yourself to others and feeling down.
Could you describe the experience of your very first performance and what it was like for you?
It was a competition between electronic musicians in Krasnodar: a small 15-minute live performance. I think it was in 2010. I was very nervous, of course. Yet I felt extremely detached and focused. I think on the outside I looked like a black widow. I was upset since I didn’t even take the 3rd place, as far as I remember. Suspicions remain whether anything had changed since then, as I am still quite detached from what is happening around me during performances.
You’ve said that it’s important to do as you like and not listen to external opinions. Based on your experience, how do you stay true to your artistic vision and battle self-doubt?
I think that listening to people who know their stuff is actually a very practical skill. It’s just that I don’t own that skill. I can’t cope with doubts, I simply don’t know how to. Hence, I can’t release anything as Ishome. I am shy of the fact that I work out all the details so thoroughly. But the work of Muslimgauze and, for example, Aphex Twin brings me to my senses, in a way that diligent music is not a vice. But I don’t doubt my music as Shadowax, I’m easy and in a way condescending about it. Staying true to my creative vision is easy enough in my case – I am very tired of hearing advice and being compared. Even if I understand that it turns out weak and bad, well, it’s still personal and my own.
What have you learned through Ishome and Shadowax both on a personal and professional level?
Ishome gave me the opportunity to feel at least something, to experience emotions. At a professional level – to feel a little at ease during performances, pay attention to all the details, and approach the whole process responsibly. Shadowax has a completely different vibe, it taught me to relax as much as possible during the production process, to absolutely not pay attention to details, to hear and see only the big picture and to laugh at how ridiculous music can be.
What topics outside of music fascinate you the most currently?
Medicine, psychoanalysis, cinema.
What is your advice on where not go and what not to do in Moscow for someone who has never been there before?
Good question! I hardly go beyond the realms of my apartment in Moscow except for Kolomensky Park. Therefore, the city remains a mystery to me the same was it is a mystery for those who do not live here. But it seems to me that if you ignore the political question, Moscow is a fairly free city. Go wherever you want and do what you want.
What’s the most unexpected track in your personal playlist?
Михаил Шуфутинский «Еврейский портной». My grandmother listened to this song on Sundays when she was cleaning. It’s a purely associative song, it smells of powder, a fresh apartment, and cleanliness. And the song is mixed so well!
How do you think, what impression do you make when people meet you for the very first time?
I really can’t know. The impression varies from person to person, I project different feelings on different people. To one person I might seem childish, to another I might seem like a very pleasant person, to the third I might seem like some sort of fool.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever (or recently) heard?
I have a very intolerant and radical attitude towards advice. I can’t stand advice, so any piece of advice is bad. Yet I know that I’m not right here, I just can’t do anything about it.
What themes did you explore while creating your new EP ‘nikolai reptile’ and what were the challenges you faced and had to overcome?
In this particular work, as in all the music under the Shadowax moniker, I explore how far I can go into stupidity and how much I can allow myself to relax. Shadowax sounds as of a 6-year-old child sat in front of Ableton and was taught to use the volume control knob. There were no difficulties. Shadowax has and that’s why I need it.
The music video, as well as the narrative of the lyrics for Nikolai Reptile, is fascinatingly absurd. Is absurdism something that you find captivating and necessary to counterfeit reality?
Yes, absurdity is very attractive. It is surprising that in the segment of the so-called “techno music” there is so little humor. For some reason, everything is very serious (but I can be mistaken on the matter due to my ignorance). Bad taste, provincial vulgarism and absurdity are a separate type of humor. I like Shadowax for its tasteless and intrusive approach. Of course, it’s all about irony because, without it, reality becomes torturous. So yes, I think this option is an absolute necessity.
What is the best music performance you’ve attended as part of an audience? Could you describe it?
It’s a rare occurrence in my life to attend performances. But I remember that Peder Mannerfelt’s performance at Atonal made a strong impression on me. I don’t know why, but I just left the building with my mouth open.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
If I was asked to choose between Muslimgauze or Biosphere, I would hesitate and die on the spot from the inability to choose.