Russian post-punk/coldwave duo based out of Yekaterinburg, Фирма-однодневка [firma-odnodnevka], comprised of Roman Semenov (voice, bass, synths) and Vadim Veselov (guitar, synths and drum machine), are fresh from releasing their third full-length ‘ЭВМ’.
Seven dense, brooding and infectious bursts of quintessential DIY Russian cold vintage-synth laden post-punk permeate of a distinctive poignant and heartfelt blend of melancholy, nostalgia, and pain, from a band constantly growing and increasingly aware of their own means.
Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s trace back to your personal roots, your earliest inspirations and influences that drove you to became a musician and form a band…
Vadim: My earliest inspiration is old Father’s cassette of Victor Tsoy’s when I was 10. I asked him to buy me a guitar and I started to learn notes and chords from books. Then when I was 13, I heard Kurt Cobain’s “Nirvana” and asked my father to buy me an electric guitar. I’ve started at school a cover band, playing punk, grunge. While listening to different music, I discover new idols and styles. But around my 19 years of age music became not much interesting for me. Only in my 21 years of age, I’ve back to play again.
Roman: I started playing the guitar at 12 years old, listening to old classic rock such as Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and dreaming of playing music me too. There were several attempts to assemble a rock band at school, but they did not last long. For a long time, I gave up that idea, even if already at home I used to write tracks for myself, up periodically showed them to familiar guys, they said that this should be uploaded to the Internet, but I was shy of an imperfect sound. And then in 2016, I wrote two songs, after which I realized that they should not remain in the bowels of my HDD, the public should hear them! And at the end, I assembled a band, which subsequently will become a “Фирма-однодневка”
Let’s talk about the early stages of the band, how did you meet, your name, your influences, and inspirations and above all what are the elements that make your music collaboration so unique and prolific?
Roman: In 2016, I put an ad on a local social network that I was looking for a guitarist for my band. Vadim responded to him, and we met. Then we played not entirely post-punk, but music similar to it in English. We did not achieve any significant success, except that we performed in the main music clubs of our city and had support slots with some bands, even from abroad. In 2017, due to some reasons, the group broke up, and Vadim and I decided that we need to do something on our own, with the Russian spirit of hopelessness and about what we see every day. Both of us have been harassed by sadness for many years, so writing music about those themes is not particularly difficult for us.
Vadim: There was the previous band called “Radio Waves”, I found the vacancy of guitarist in a public page on VK. Roma played guitar too. The band existed for 1 year and came in a dead end. I’ve proposed Romam to create a home project, not for serious plans. We made 5 demo tracks and send them for fun to an event organizer from Ufa. He said that our music is for ‘true Russian pessimistic and depressed people’, and invited us to perform at the concert. The public appreciated our music, and we recorded the first album “Холодная волна” in 10 hours at my home. What makes our music collaboration so unique and prolific I think are the common interests and common lifestyle.
How is born your attraction for the cold, dark and gloomy sound mainly inspired by the 80s?
Vadim: I was born in the ’90s and my parents listened to a lot of 80’s music. I think I’ve drawn it from that time. I can’t explain how, but I love that style.
Roman: I like the music of the 80s. Not metal and glam, which was then in vogue, but rather hardcore, synth-pop, EBM, post-punk. The sound of nostalgia blows from this sound, it smells of films about that time. The sound of the pioneers.
How you describe your sound?
Roman: Melodiously, brightly, slowly.
Vadim: Retrospective, futuristic, canonic.
What impact has had and still have your background, Yekaterinburg, on your artistic development? Is there an alternative music scene you’re part of? What Yekaterinburg artists/bands would you recommend at the moment?
Vadim: Yekaterinburg fuels me only hate and depression. It’s a provincial and industrial center, 9 months a year I see dirt and snow, most of the people are plant workers that remained in the 90’s lifestyle. There were hard times in the ’90s: many criminal gangs, unemployment, hunger, and people live this life every day again and again. I’m living on the outskirts, where is a high concentration of such people.
What to say about the music scene in Yekaterinburg – it’s mixed. There are few bands playing a similar style to us. I would recommend you old and ceased to exist band – “Городок Чекистов”.
Roman: Yekaterinburg is a very gloomy city. 9 months a year – dirt, dullness, and gloom. I live on the outskirts, there are only prefabricated houses around, and before there were only construction sites around, which did not add a joyful mood. Therefore, such a setting is very suitable for inspiration in such cases.
What’s your opinion about the contemporary Russian independent alternative music scene?
Roman: It’s developing, very rapidly. But as you can easily understand – the trends are cyclical, and the classic rock sound, new-wave and everything else good in between but old become fashionable again. But people are not afraid to show themselves, every day you come across something new, and now for you to be heard it’s not necessary to be on the radio, it’s enough to have Internet access. And this is awesome!
Vadim: I don’t like the situation around the Russian indie music scene, because shitty-sound bands become stars, but the really interesting ones remain unappreciated.
Tell us about the process of composing and recording your songs?
Vadim: We’re writing music in my kitchen while drinking alcohol. We’re using the line-in of an external audio card to record guitars and vocals. Synths and drum machine in our songs – AU plugins in Logic pro.
Roman: Usually someone just has a part of a song that he created at home. At a meeting, we begin to develop this thing, to come up with further. Usually, this is accompanied by drinking a large amount of alcohol, it contributes to creativity, gives a chance to some kind of ideas for life. But during the recording we are concentrated and sober as possible, habitually recording in Vadim’s kitchen.
How much are your lyrics writing from personal experiences and how much are drawn from external sources?
Roman: Well, all the same, not all of our songs are about melancholy and despondency. The song “Глупый медведь” for example was written based on an old and stupid Russian joke. And when I wrote the text for “Кричать”, the inspiration came from the post-apocalyptic science fiction short story by American writer Harlan Ellison “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967 ). But many songs are written from personal experiences. This monotony of the landscape around, some sort of personal doubts and torment. We also have a fellow poet who presented us with some excellent poems for which we made music.
You’re a relatively young band with already a considerable discography, how your brilliant mix of guitar-driven post-punk and synth-pop has taken shape over the time?
Vadim: Everything changed when I bought a synthesizer and started to play. I began to understand that electronic music has much more interesting sounds, combinations, and structures. After I’ve written the first demo of “Все искусство-дрянь” then we decided to add synths into the second album.
Roman: It was formed far from immediately. Initially, our sound was quite primitive and primal. I think it was a reason why it was a banger. Just when there is a synthesizer, everything sounds beautiful. We are going to dwell on this style of sound.
Could you give us in-depth insight on your new album? The title, the influences, the sound, the recording process that has brought to the final result? It also features for the first time a female vocal in”Через года”…
Vadim: ЭВМ – is the soviet name of early computers. I had an idea to pay tribute to the computer, as a source of simplification of our lives. No need to record instruments of several takes in the studio on tape when you have a computer. No need to rent synthesizers, drum machines when you have a computer… Plus, the abbreviation contains 3 letters, and the album is the third in a row, that’s such symbolism. I took a vacation from my work to mix and master it, and I think the result exceeds all expectations. Female vocals in ‘Через года’ is an experiment with Стереополина (Stereopolina), I think it’s a brilliant track with melancholic feelings.
Roman: This is our best work so far. Both us and the people note that from album to album the quality and sound is growing. We worked on songs for a long time, some of them were completely thrown out, others were further developed. Female vocals are one of the experiments, and in my opinion, it turned out very good. Stereopolina’s part fits perfectly into the song. There was an idea to add a saxophone to one of the songs, but there wasn’t any opportunity, and I think that would have been cool too.
What are the songs you’re most proud thus far?
Roman: One of the very first and one of my favorite songs is “Глупый медведь”. It is directly filled with energy and drive, and also quite tragic!
Vadim: I’m very proud of the songs: ‘Соль’, ‘Ничего не поменять’ from the second album, and ‘В танце’ from ‘ЭВМ’. Yesterday I found an article, where it was compared with New Order’s “Blue Monday”.
What’s your favorite part about playing live? Your highlights so far?
Roman: The most favorite thing is when people dance! One of the coolest concerts was in Ufa when the hall just exploded!
Vadim: My favorite part – is feeling feedback from the public. No feedback – no desire to perform.
What are you currently listening to?
Vadim: I’m listening to obscure Soviet synth, new wave bands.
Which band/artist would you love to collaborate with?
Roman: I would like to try myself in a collaboration with European colleagues, Die Selection for example. From domestic groups, there are also many interesting options, but my eyes run-up to name someone specific. A joint track with a Stereopolina is one of them.
Vadim: This year we will make a remix on Antipole’s song, they asked us to make it in our style with Russian lyrics.
Were there any pivotal records or live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?
Roman: I cannot answer this question. I don’t think so.
Vadim: I don’t think so.
Make a list of your 5 desert island albums …
– Кино “Группа крови”
– Blondie “Atomic”
– Boy Harsher ”Lesser man” –
– The Sound “From the Lion’s Mouth”
– Pink turns Blue “If two worlds kiss”
At the moment, it looks like this:
– Rammstein – ‘Mutter’
– Nitzer Ebb – ‘That Total Age’
– Queens of the Stone Age – ‘Era Vulgaris’
– Gary Glitter – ‘Glitter’
And the fifth I don’t know yet, I’ll leave the place vacant
What´s the plan for the future…
Roman: Develop further, further experiment with sound. It would be ideal to perform in Europe, but so far it is difficult to realize, unfortunately.
Vadim: To perform more and more.
Many thanks for being our welcome guest, just the last question: Is there anything I forgot to ask you and would you like to say?
Vadim: I’m sorry for my bad English, my school teacher would kill me if she read it.)))
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