Artemiy Artemiev: Interview:  

Archie Patterson: At what age did you get interested in your father's music?

Artemiy Artemiev: I got interested in my father's music since my birth. In 1966 (the day when I was born) we lived in a small one bedroom apartment. My father, my mother, my grand mother, a concert "Steinway" grand-piano & myself. As You know my father is a composer & my mother (I think You don't know this biographical fact) is a professional pianist. So I was listening to the music all day long. I listen to my father's music & classic music of various composers performed by my mommy. My favorite place was under the "Steinway". I made a playground there & liked to listen to the music under it. You know music sounds rather mystically if You listen to it under the piano. Have You ever tried this? It's like "Alice in Wonderland". From one hand You are listening to the music but from the other hand it's not the music You are listening to. You listening to the sounds of under music. Yes, and maybe these sounds/timbres subconsciously appear in my compositions. We lived in this apartment till 1973 & then moved to the new three bedrooms flat, leaving this apartment to my granny. She died there in 1982 & it was taken by the Soviet government together with the "Steinway" grand piano. Where is this old "Steinway" now - nobody knows.

A.P.: Were you able to study the way he recorded and experimented with music and go to the studio with him?

A.A.: You know my childhood was a very interesting period of my life. At the age of 7-8 I started visiting Moscow Experimental Studio of Electronic Music, the meeting place of very interesting composers - my father Eduard Artemiev, Vladimir Martynov, Alexei Rybnikov, Edison Denisov, Alfred Schnittke, Stanislav Kreitchi, Sofia Gubaidulina, Schandor Kallosh, Alexander Nemtin; musicians - Tatiyana Grindenko, Gidon Kremer, Alexei Lyubimov, brothers Sergei and Yuri Bogdanov; film-directors - Andrei Tarkovskiy, Andrei Konchalovskiy, very young at those times Nikita Mikhalkov; painters - Mikhail Romadin, Sergei Alimov, Vladimir Serebrovskiy, Pavel Anosov and quite many people who are well-known now in Russia & abroad. I was also lucky to meet there two famous men - Italian & American film-directors Michelangelo Antonioni and Francis Ford Coppola.

In that studio the world felt absolutely different. It was 1973-79 period - "the scent of Sovetic flowers" and in there, in the dark of the small hemispheric room amazing happenings went on. The music of Herebert Eimert, Luciano Berio, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, The Who, UK, Isao Tomita, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Pierre Schaeffer, Gyorgi Ligety, Edgar Varese, Milton Babbit, Pierre Bouleze, Francis Dhomond, John Cage, Pierre Henry, Earle Brown, York Holler, Takehisa Kosugi, Steve Reigh, Henri Pousseur was played in this studio. And I must say that it was not just a simple listening to concerts played on the tape-recorder with son et lumiere (which was very "cool" and avant-garde in those days). It was a detailed discussion of every musical composition.

Performances of my father's band "Boomerang", underground electronic music festivals and various informal art-rock events also took place inside the building of the first Moscow Experimental Studio of Electronic music. A lot of people were coming. And those gatherings were more like a Bolsheviks' meeting at one of secret addresses that was just about to be busted by the Tzar secret service then a cultural "underground" arrangement. I was more than intrigued by the atmosphere of the place, people, music and while listening to the music of the above-named composers and to the discussions after, naturally, was inspired by it and started getting more seriously interested in genres of electronic, electroacoustic and serious rock music.

Moscow Experimental Studio became my first school of music. I saw how my father worked with ANS synthesizer, SYNTHI-100 & I was amazed. For me it was more then magic. Different twinkling lamps, buttons, levers, indicators. My father, surrounded by huge apparatuses, two sound engineers always wearing black clothes and heaving beards and long hair, smoke that comes from their cigarettes, loud very strange music and dark basement floor where all this happened frightened not only people who are used to this kind of music and atmosphere of the studios but also local inhabitants & even policemen. There I first tried ANS & SYNTHI-100 and made my first steps in the field of experimental-electronic music.

A.P.: Did you have any formal music education?

A.A.: Yes, I graduated from Moscow High School of Music as a classical pianist. Of course next step is Conservatoire but when one day I came to the concert of Sviatoslav Richter & saw him playing the piano I realized that I never get his level. So I went to rock music & played in various Moscow rock groups as keyboard player. At the same time I entered Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages where I studied for five years & graduated with a Degree.

A.P.: What kind of music did you listen to while you were young? Did you have access to American rock and roll?

A.A.: As I have already stated above I started with British progressive & art-rock, German "Krautrock" music & experimental electroacoustic music. You know it was very difficult & by the way extremely dangerous to get Western music in the former USSR. There was an iron curtain during this time & all-Western-culture-things were forbidden, but people tried to find the way out of this situation & practically every week bring 8-10 new LPs to the Moscow Experimental Studio listened to them & discuss the music. As I could remember there was no American rock and roll music among these LPs.

A.P: Do you remember the first electronic music album you ever heard from the cosmic music scene?

A.A.: Yes, sure. It was LP "Picture Music" by Klaus Schulze. I liked it very much. It really impressed me, though I was seven years old. By the way there were several LPs that impressed me greatly in my childhood and influenced on my future activity as composer & musician. These are "Lizard", "Red" & "In the Court of Crimson King" by King Crimson. "Picture Music", "Mirage" & "X" by Klaus Schulze. "Relayer" by Yes. "Rubicon", "Ricoshet", "Stratosphere" & "Force Majeure" by Tangerine Dream. "Albedo 0.39" & "Spiral" by Vangelis. "Quadrophenia" by The Who. "Seconds Out" by Genesis. "Ummagamma", "Dark Side of the Moon" & "Animals" by Pink Floyd & electroacoustic compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Pierre Schaeffer, Gyorgi Ligety & Francis Dhomond.

A.P.: Do you think you were more influenced by the work of your father, or by the electronic pop music experimentalists from the West?

A.A.: It's rather difficult for me to give answer on this question. I think that I collected & later assimilated in myself different sides or better say different genres of music. I mixed them and created my own style based on these assimilated different music styles. I called it "point of intersection". In 1997 I produced a CD under that name.

A.P.: Today I think the ways of production and music scene in general are much different in Russia than they were when your father worked. Where do you record your music, in a private studio or the same studio where your father used to?

A.A.: We have our own separate private studios where we work & record our compositions. I even have two studios one - for composing, recording and mixing, the other one - for mastering CDs.

A.P.: Do you own your own equipment, or use the some of the same equipment your father used?

A.A.: I have my own studio equipment and it differs from my father's. Of course it's not the best studio in the world but it suits my needs.

A.P.: How sophisticated is the studio and equipment you use today? Is it the latest type of synthesizers that are used in the West?

A.A.: This is the list of equipment that I have:

Computer: - Pentium 600 MHz, 128 RAM.

Sound card: - Sonorus "STUDI/O".

MIDI interface: - Voyetra V24SM.

MIDI patch bay - Ensoniq KMX-8.

Software: - Steinberg Cubase Score VST-Version 5.0,

Steinberg WaveLab-Version 3.03,

Synchronizers: - JLCooper Electronics "DataSYNC2";

Alesis "AI-2".

Synthesisers: - Roland JD-800; (my father has the same model)

Roland XP-50;

Roland MC-202.

Alesis "Quadrasynth";

Ensoniq SQ-80;

Clavia "Nord Modular". (my father has the same model)

Sampler: - Ensoniq "EPS" with 4x memory expander &

8-output expander.

Rhythm machines: - Roland R-8; Korg DDM-220.

Microphones: - Shure BETA 58.

Sound processors: - Alesis "Midiverb"; Alesis "Midifex";

Yamaha REV-7; Yamaha REV-500; Yamaha

SPX-990 & Yamaha SPX-90II (my father has the

same model); Digitech "DSP 16"; Ensoniq "DP/4" (my father also has the same model).

Equalizer: - Studiotone 32x2 professional studio equalizer.

Mixer desk: - Yamaha RM 2408.

Monitors: - Alesis "Monitor One".

Digital recorders: - Alesis ADAT (2 units);

Fostex D-5 digital master recorder (DAT);

Casio DAT DA R-100;

Pioneer Compact Disk Recorder PDR-509.

Other equipment: - AKAI ME 25S midi programmable note separator;

Fostex Compressor-Limiter 3070;

Roland SBX-10 (sync box/converter).

A.P.: I know there is an underground scene of younger bands and musicians today making electronic music in Russia. They send me their own privately made CDs. Do you ever play live performances, or have any connection to this scene?

A.A: Unfortunately my music isn't suitable for live performances & that's why I never play live. What I do is tape concerts. I know about the existence of an underground scene in Moscow and many musicians send their tapes & CDRs to "Electroshock Records" for possible publication on our label. I even received tapes from Ukraine, Belarussia, Lithuania & Estonia. But unfortunately this music doesn't suit our label. They send us sweet "saccharine" new-age tunes or Schulze-Tangerine Dream-like sequences, or something that they called "experimental-synthetic music" based on preset timbres of their synthesizers (mostly Roland & Korgs). It's impossible for me to publish such kind of music on our label. Maybe it's good, maybe it's serious music of new generation and I don't understand it? I don't know. I know only one thing - we need experimental, electroacoustic & avant-garde music for publishing it on our "Electroshock Records" label.

A.P.: Does your music ever get played on the radio there?

A.A.: Yes, sure on radio & TV and quite a lot I must say. I also use a lot of music of "Electroshock Records" artists in my radio-show "Electroshock".

A.P.: What is the situation for promotion, sale and distribution of rock and electronic music today in Russia? Is it much different than it was for your father?

A.A.: I think that the situation with rock, electronic, experimental & serious music was much better during 1970-1990 and not only in Russia but in the whole world. People could think, speak, write interesting books, shoot interesting films, compose interesting music. They had inspiration, imagination & they were spiritually strong. Now it differs greatly. Nowadays is the time of modern-non-thinking-empty-soul culture where everybody can do what he wants and nobody tell him that he is wrong because thousands of people do the same things. New generation has no authorities.

All You can hear now is ugly modern popular music that comes out from every discotec & night-club and this music is aggressive, de-constructive & so faceless that the music of every other musician looks like the continuation song of a previous one. I also want to say some words about music scene in Russia & the Western countries. Now there's no difference between music scenes in Russia & the Western countries. Here's popular what is popular on the West - trance, hip-hop, rave, rap, house, etc. - in other words non-thinking dancing styles of music. And mass-media promote only such kind of music. It seems that the world went crazy. As for serious modern music then I must say that situation with electronic, electroacoustic, contemporary, experimental & avant-garde music is very specific. People are interested in the above-mentioned genres of music. I can say so because of their positive reaction on my monthly lectures, radio & TV program on Moscow cable television (both programs are very episodic yet. It's because of I show non-commercial serious music). But they complain that it's practically impossible to get music of this kind in this country. Really, it's very difficult to find CDs of Alejandro Vinao or Francis Dhomont, or Pierre Schaeffer for example. Right now "Electroshock" is working on the question of opening a special CD store where we'll be distributing, selling & promote only electronic, electroacoustic, experimental & avant-garde music. If everything is OK then we'll open this particular CD somewhere at the end of autumn'01. As for various events devoted to the above-mentioned non-commercial genres of music in Moscow then I can say that once in three months Russian Association for Electroacoustic music runs concerts of serious electronic, electroacoustic, experimental & avant-garde (EEE&A) music. Also we have "Alternativa" festival devoted to EEE&A music & besides that many interesting composers & musicians often visit Moscow with their concerts & performances. And You know many people (by the way many young ones) attend these events. They're sick & tired of techno, pop, rap, hip-hop & other pieces of commercial shit. Really I met those people in Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA, France, Great Britain & spoke with them. They're very interested in listening & buying electroacoustic, electronic, experimental & avant-garde music. Now the cultural situation in the world is very sad (our countries are not the exception). Nobody wants to read serious books, watch serious films, to listen to serious music. The motto of young generation is "switch on rap & I'll cry". Yes! They call rap or techno "the highest level of art" & we can see tears of joy on their faces while they listen to 120 beat per minute. When we ask them who is Michael Angelo or Leonardo Da Vinci - they say "Oh! I know! These are the names of the famous turtles, mutant heroes". My God! It scares! And You're speaking about the development. Development of what? Degradation? I think so. What is going on with our poor planet, You know? I don't know.

A.P.: Culturally is electronic music (and rock for that matter) still considered Western and a corrupted form of art?

A.A.: Now of course not. Now You can listen to whatever You want.

A.P.: What is the life of a musician like now in Russia? In the Western press we hear stories all the time about how Russia is falling apart economically and the old CP has now become the new criminal mafia that controls all trade and commerce. Is it better now for an artist, or was it better before (if you can remember those times)?

A.A.: Russia live by its own laws that differs greatly from the laws of other world. Unfortunately Your press is right. Our economy is ruined after the crisis that we have in 1998 and of course we are economically falling apart. Now corruption & criminal is everywhere. People even think that new era of KGB comes with Mr. Putin. The old Communist Party controls all trade and commerce since the end of Communists era and I think it'll control every sphere of economy & business till the old-age leaders will go away. Now Communists became so-called "Democrats". They changed the color but mentality remained the same. Unfortunately our country is leading to global catastrophe & not so many men understand it. We have no new resources, we can't find money to repair the old equipment (we even don't dream about buying new one), our gas tubes are damaged (I think that You heard about gas crises in our Far-East region), metro (practically in every Russian city) needs to be repaired. People could survive only in big cities like Moscow or St. Petersbourg. If You go to the country then You see that life there differs greatly from life in Moscow. There is poverty in the country. P-O-V-E-R-T-Y.

Imagine! Salary of the average man in Russia is $100-150 a month but You need at least $800-1.000 per month if You want to make both ends meet & to survive in the big city.

Of course we have a lot of pirates markets in Russia. Because, for example, if You want to buy a CD or a video in the CD-store then You must leave at least $20 per CD there & in case if You go to the pirates market You'll pay there $1-2, maximum $5 per CD. So it's again the question of the salary - if You receive $100 per month and want to buy a CD - where will You go? To the shop or to the pirates market? I think that the answer is clear. We have two official pirate markets in Moscow "Gorbushka" & "Mitino". There You can buy whatever CD, video or software You want. Price - is $1-5 per CD or CDR.

When musicians from the Western countries come with the visit to me I usually take them there and they are amazed with what they see and they rushing to buy software-CDRs. Imagine! One CDR with the following excellently working programs - Steinberg "Cubase VST/32" v.5.01, "WaveLab" v.3.03, "Recycle". ver. 1.71, "Cubase Score" ver. 3.65, "Clean" ver.1.01, "Rebirth RB 338 with 3 additional Packs" ver.2.01, "Cubasis AV", Cakewalk Pro Audio ver. 9.03/Twelve Tone System, Cakewalk Overture ver. 2.11, Style enhancer Micro ver. 1.1, SoundForge ver.4.5h.402/Sonic Foundry, Logic Audio Platinum ver. 4.2.2/Emagic, Sound Driver ver. 2.06, Emagic Hearmaster.exe, T-Racks ver. 1.1, Gigasampler ver. 1.52 plus more then 300 plugins for various programs cost $2 per CD.

As Your question concerning when "it was better for the artist" then I can say that from one hand the life is better now but from the other hand not. Better living is for those who play "Russian pop-music" the style that I'm afraid that I couldn't find similarities. You haven't such kind of genres in the West. People who play serious music are trying to survive.

A.P.: You have released quite a few productions on your label. I would think that your father worked with the aid of government grants. Do you get support from government arts subsidies, or do you finance it all with your own money?

A.A.: I must say that You are a little bit mistaken thinking that my father is working with the aid of government grants. His main work is scoring the films and he never get an aid from the government. So do I. I don't get support from government arts subsides and finance production of CDs from my own pocket. I'd love to get a support from government or whatever (as it's very hard to work with non-commercial music) but nobody gives it me though they loved to say that they "have an official organization and recording label in Russia that propagandize various forms of modern serious music and culture."

A.P.: At one time in the West this type of electronic music was considered very revolutionary and "cosmic". Now it is much more a result of production techniques and controlled by the nature of the highly advanced technology and state of the art studio equipment available. Do you have any conception of your music as spiritual, cosmic, and some kind of social expression? Or is it more a question of scientific sound exploration, based on the technology you have at your disposal?

A.A.: It's difficult for me to speak about my music I leave this for critics. All I can say is that I have no so-called system of composing music. I can use samples & then atmosphere & then rhythm or vice versa. I can say that I like to create atmospheres but I'm trying to create atmosphere for this or that composition not by preset timbres of the synthesizer - when you put your finger on the key, hear the sound changing through the LFOs, ENVs, OSCs, DCAs & etc. and exclaim - Oh! What a great cosmic sound I made with only pressing on the key! No, it's not like this. I think that atmosphere is the combination of atoms of sounds that was created by yourself with the help of synthesizer, sampler, sound card of the computer & acoustic instrument or human voice. You mix all the stuff You need & begin working on it, creating Your own specific sound to make people feel Your composition by the whole body. Technology only helps You to create the music You want. If Your heart, soul & head are empty then technology is useless.

A.P: Do you sell a lot of CDs around the world and make your living by doing this or have some other job as well?

A.A: I compose music, scoring films and theatre plays, producing and selling CDs around the world, I'm producing radio and very episodically TV-program "Electroshock", reading lectures, writing for the "Music Box" magazine (big Russian music-magazine) where I'm heading the review department "Monitor" and making interviews with foreign electronic & electroacoustic musicians and trying to survive in this country

A.P.: What plans do you have for the future - an increasing number of productions, further collaboration with western musicians, soundtracks? Anything special?

A.A.: At the end of April I'm flying to The Netherlands to take part in the 8th Alpha Centauri Festival of Electroacoustuic Music. If everything is OK then in September'01 I'm planning to release 10-12 new CDs. Among them third solo CD of my father, second solo music-projects by Anatoly Pereslegin & Stanislav Kreitchi, first solo CD by Lithuanian composer Anatanas Jasenka, double CD "Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music. Vol. VII", my second collaboration music projects with Peter Frohmader, second collaboration CD with Phillip B. Klingler, first collaboration project with Christopher De Laurenti, first collaboration project with Amir Baghiri, my seventh solo music project & maybe something else. Of course all these CDs (as well as all our previous releases) will be available through "Eurock Distribution".


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