Monday, April 8, 2013

An Exclusive Interview With Ilya Lagutenko, Lead Singer Of Russia's Greatest Rock Band Mumiy Troll

Well Everyone, the interview is here at last and i can't be any happier with it's outcome either. Ilya is not only a wonderful artist, but he is a very interesting and fantastic person on top of it! having the chance to speak with him about his life, the trials and tribulations of being a russian rock band and the unique qualities that evolve around his art was one of the most liberating experiences i have ever had and so now, here is the interview that formed it all. From the band to the heart, here is our interview revealed to all you lovely followers!

1-  The band began in 1983, how did you all meet?

I started my first rock band with my neighbor, Pavel, when I was 11. It is a well documented fact in my diary. We did not have blogs or facebook..It was a little green book. My grandfather advised me to write about what I was busy doing. Now I understand why it was so important!  At least I'm comfortable with knowing the exact date of my first rock band formation even if it was a simple game like toy soldiers etc..The current line-up  has been together for the last 15 years. 
2-  What did you do musically before Mumiy Troll, if anything?

I sang in boys choir since the age of 7. And we toured pretty extensively. We sang patriotic songs about values of communism to workers at Siberian factories during lunchtime. I guess to keep their mood in high spirit!  Performing kids are always very sensitive, aren't they?

3- Now Ilya, in my opinion you are one of the hottest foreign singers of alltime, would you consider yourself a ''chick magnet''?

 I'm very humble about my "magnet abilities", however, there was this fantastic comedy starring John Cleese  called "A Fish Called Wanda" where he practiced Russian accents because his girlfriend thought it sounded sexy. I always thought I might use this idea somehow.

4- How is the tour going so far?

It hasn't stopped  since 1997.  Piracy was always a big issue for any Russian artist, so the only way to survive doing music was to play it live. We still do almost 100 gigs a year in Russia and beyond..It became an integral part of our lives. We  are like those posh gypsies or medieval minstrels.

5- Do you have any plans for a US tour in the future?

Of course. Follow us on our socials..we're trying to secure a couple of shows in SoCal as early as May this year to present a new single..and maybe a full tour following a new album release next winter.

6- Who are your main inspirations?

I guess just my daily life -  its ups and downs, dreams and failures, anything really..I'm not trying hard to find  how  and what to  write about. It comes naturally to me. I just need certain combinations of different factors to complete the ideas. That is always the main challenge

7- What do you think about the music of today? Do you think that the musicnowadays will be as influential to the future generations as the music fromthe past is to our generation?

I have no clue. It definitely became not such a major segment of young people's lives as it used to be. I'm not the one to complain about it. In fact making music became a much, much simpler process than 20 years ago. We could only dream about the possibilities back then.

8-  If you could meet one person in history, who would it be and why?

 Elvis. When he  hit his 40s..I'd talk him into eating raw and doing yoga classes.

 9- What are your dreams for the future for the band?

I'd like to explore Asian and Latin territories using Russian rock'n'roll tools..That's kinda of a dream to prove this tech could work not only for those who understand Russian.

 10- What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened at a show of yours?

Mmmm..gimme second..oh we've been literally kidnapped once on our first tour back in 97..Our agent back then owed some money to  a local promoter in a remote area in southern Russia..They decided to hold our band hostage until they paid..We witnessed some action like pulling knives for real and so on..It was actually quite entertaining for us cause it looked oh so unreal. 

11- Ilya, you are a patron of the British- Russia amur fund for theprotection of amur tigers and leopards and have been seen in WWF commercialsas well, why do you think that protecting these beautiful animals is so important?

 Primorye (Maritime area of Pacific Russia) is a truly unique eco-system..Thats where I am from…Its just a weird combination of Siberia meets Asian subtropicals..Imagine jungle in a snow..Its really harsh to be a tiger there..blimey.. They  survived the  Ice Age and Russian Revolution.!! We can't lose them now. Just like our band!!

12- Tell me a bit about your social network

When we started it some years ago I visualized it as a platform where our fans could not only follow the band, but also interact with each other and maybe collaborate..Anyway social network is not my speciality..I'm going to redesign into a special channel covering special projects where our team is involved, like say VLADIVOSTOK rocks..Coachella vs SXSW hybrid taking place in Vladivostok and bringing together musicians from Pacific rim countries.

13- Do you feel that you have complete artistic freedom in Russia or was it ever difficult as an artist where you live?

It was different in Soviet times,but it is all history now..Now its like any other country..some issues are sensitive..but artistically  there are hardly any limits.

14- Over the years ,the band has won so many awards for your brilliance as aband. Do you think there are more awards ceremonies for the band in the future?

I don't believe in all those awards..It's simply a marketing tool, which has nothing to do with the real value of the band. It all comes down to how many people want to see you live and how many would want to sing together.

15-Was there ever a ''Yoko Ono'' in the band?

I guess my wife is  one!  Any female brings a bit of stress to boys camaraderie really, but there are more important factors and tensions to address going forward.

16- Do you have an opinion on the arrest of the band Pussy Riot?

Female prison is a very sad thing. To get busted for a performance is very sad . The truth is it's got nothing to do with music, punk rock or whatever..Its pure social activism multiplied with sensitive moral, religious and political issues. No fun huh? 

17- If you could say one thing to up and coming artists what would it be?

Don't think twice if you'd like to devote yourself to making music. However you should be a strong believer in yourself. Be ready to DIY everything-write, produce, perform,manage, account,solicit etc

18- If you could say one thing to all your adoring fans, what would it be?

Just enjoy your favorite music..don't judge too hard..its our and yours together!

Well, there you have it. A deep, humorous, gifted and unique person all fronting one of the greatest bands on the planet. Who could ask for more? As a writer, it is people like this you dream to talk to and so now, it's just one more check off my bucket list folks! check out their music today and make sure to watch the video links i put below of my personal favorite songs, "hey tovarish", ''bandy'' and ''contrabandy''! Stay tuned for more interviews in the near future and i will be reporting to you all soon!! love ya!!
                                                                                                     -Samantha Lee (indie band girl)
                                                                                                           Creator and lead journalist

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