From the cold and remote Siberia, "Pikapika Teart"'s album "Moonberry" was one of the greatest debut albums of 2010. So I am very pleased to have the chance to interview: Maxim Bulatov (bassist and composer of all the pieces) and Roman Nikitin (guitarist and founder member of the band).
Hi Roman and Maxim, let's introduce "Pikapika Teart" to our readers, can you tell me how everything began?
Roman: Everything started in 2004 by a group of enthusiasts who were fans of good music. Gradually, our band attracted more and more talented musicians. We had a lot of personnel changes over the years, and everyone who played with us contributed to the band's development. But the most important thing is that the band is still alive and well! To be frank, when we started it looked very unlikely, even absurd, that we could ever release an album. But here it is!
What does it mean the name "Pikapika Teart"?
Roman:Pikapika is a Japanese word that means BRIGHT SPARK OF LIGHT. The word "Teart" is invented by us, it's a pun on art and theatre (Theatre is spelled TEATR in Russian, A/N)
What’s your musical education?
Max: Yes, I have formal musical training, I graduated from Krasnoyark State Academy of Music and Theatre in 2005. I studied the clarinet. All the other band members except Roman also have formal musical training.
How did you approach RIO and Chamber-Rock?
Roman: The word "RIO" appeared long after the group was formed. We just realized that RIO's main aesthetic values are very dear to our hearts. Since Maxim is the main composer, I'll let him expand.
Max: I can't say that I deliberately wanted to play RIO - but it turns out that this genre suits us best currently. And it really lets you express your thoughts in music :-)
Can you tell us how you met AltrOck label?
Roman:It happened because of the Internet. Myspace is still our only web page and I remember one day Marcello Marinone caught us there. He was very patient working with us because we've had a lot of difficulties making this album. Big thanks to him! He really felt our music deserved to be listened to, and we liked the idea of having it released in Italy. Plus, we became part of the same musical family of Yugen, Rational Diet, Aranis and others - that's great. Also, we're more likely to have an audience in Europe than here, although that makes us sad.
Is it difficult to play your kind of music in Siberia?
Max: It's not very easy to make real art in Siberia - or while we're at it in Russia in general - because you can't earn decent money this way. But having said that, we have a small but dedicated fan base - somewhat paradoxically.
Even if your music is very complex and structured, it sounds to me also instinctive. Maybe it's just an impression, but I can feel the Siberia inside it. Did your land influence your music?
Roman:Our music often isn't quite simple indeed, but Russian music is usually very melodic and I would say that about our stuff as well. Why? Because it's deeply rooted in Russian folklore and has firm ties with the nature! I'd even say Siberian nature.
Is there a “RIO” scene, even small, in your region? or at least some other band playing similar music?
Max:There's no RIO here if you don't count Pikapika Teart. If you take the entire country - well, then it's probably possible to find someone else who plays similar music, but not many.
In what kind of context do you make concerts? What feedback do have from the audience?
Roman: As Max said, we have a loyal following. And we're glad that sometimes we can play for our fans. They are very intelligent, and they know music even though they probably don't know terms such as RIO or avant-prog. Maybe it's all about our melodies and the somewhat cinematic nature of the music. We did a few concerts with video art, including films by Tarkovsky, Gilliam, Jarmush. There was also a show with modern dance troupe. It's all very interesting, and we're open to any kind of musical synthesis with other arts.
Too bad we (Italians) can't see your live-act. Exactly which movies and which songs did you combine together? So next time I listen the album, at least, I can try to picture them.
Roman: We didn't really have one special video performance. Our tunes were accompanied by different videos every time, which is why it's impossible to connect a certain song with a certain film. For example, the song "Moonberry" used to go along with the 1982 film "Le Voyage dans la Lune" as well as superb Russian animated film "Hedgehog in the Fog" and "Jabberwocky"...
We're big fans of the film "Kin-Dza-Dza" by Russian director Georgy Danelia! And on the whole, we love good cinema! We hope that Italians will see us live one day!
Why did you decide to mix classical music with rock?
Max: I always wanted to play rock music. I remember attending a chamber concert of Dmitri Shostakovich's "String Quartet #8", and it was a real revelation - like, hey, it's Shostakovich who invented the real rock music! He is still my favourite composer, but later I discovered other great composers such as Giuseppe Verdi :-)
Which are your projects for the future? I know about a collaboration with Guigou Chenevier (Volapuk. Etron Fou Leloublan), you wrote a couple of pieces together. How did this collaboration start? Will there be an album together?
Roman: We want to carry on playing our favourite music, that's the main thing! It's great that our first album came out, we hope it'll bring our music to European listeners, and if we ever manage to come to Europe for some concerts, that'll be a blast. We've got a lot of unreleased material over here, and we'd be happy to keep on collaborating with AltrOck on future releases.
We're also friends with legendary musician Guigou Chenevier. He even composed a track for us, and another one in collaboration with Max! We're going to record both of them soon. Guigou has invited us to his summer festival "Gare des Oreilles" and we dream of meeting him in person. It’s 6000km!! But unfortunately, it's very difficult for us to get there... If anyone can help us with it, we'll be happy :-)
Roman, I know that you are keen on football and support Chelsea and Fiorentina ( a very good choice). Why such a choice?
Roman: Yes, I'm a football fan. As a child I've been a big Ruud Gullit's fan and when he came to Chelsea I started supporting them. Later they had Italian players like Vialli, Di Matteo, Zola!!! it was great!
As for Fiorentina, it's in my heart ever since the fantastic pair Rui Costa - Batistuta. I love clever football!
Special thanks to Lev Gankine for the Russian translation.