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The Hamburg-based band Vakuumulator was founded in 2006 by Maksim Rode (vocals, lyrics). 2008 Kirill Salinski (guitar, keys, samples) and 2011 Natalia Novikova (e-viola, keys, samples) came to the band. We met the three musicians from Russia and Ukraine in a coffee shop in the Hamburg Karolinen-district.
On YouTube there are older videos from a concert in 2007 to watch, partly in Russian. That was guitar-rock music. What has how developed since then? Kirill: Yes, exactly, we played traditional, handmade guitar rock. But we have changed our style not entirely voluntarily. Band members have left, first of all the bass player, who had also composed a lot. Then our drummer Daniel changed to another band, called Stimmwerk. He now plays in Elace. Maksim: Then only we two were left for some time, and we said, why not concentrating more on electronic music? That was the moment, when our style has changed. We´re playing now a kind of Neo-Electronica.
And you did decide to switch from the Russian language to German? Maksim: Right, during this time I discovered German. When I got to know better Germany and learned the German language better, I found in it the depth. And electronic music is more of a modern direction that can connect well with German. Russian music from the Siberian scene, where I come from, is however still really backward. Kirill: Electronic music does not fit well together with the Russian language. If we do should sing Russian here in Germany, then our music should sound Russian to be more authentic. Like a Balkan language fits to Balkan music. But our music is not Russian.
This raises the question how your origin affects your music, doesn´t it? Maksim: If I would have been born here, our music would certainly sound much more western, maybe more poppy, maybe we would be super-mega-stars. No, uh, that probably not. Kirill: After Natalia joined us, our music has become more emotional, just because the viola is a sensitive instrument with a lot of dynamics in itself. Maksim: One would even like to sing quite different lyrics to a viola. The lyrics would deepen and become more melodic. That, for me as a Russian rocker sometimes represents a problem, but it is fun to move inside this developing process.
On your website you write, the entire band represents an anti-imperialist stance. Is this expressed in your lyrics, too? Do you want to attack, defend or to change anything in the world? Kirill: We are against all shit in the world. Maksim: Well, not all of my texts are that way. I am also a romantic guy, and I want to stay romantic. But when it comes to criticism, I just would like to make the people think about their lives and not to take everything that comes from the television or radio, but that they feel more conscious - am I really me, or am I a product of implanted information ? Our world has become so dependent on advertising and sales, and at many behaviours you can immediately see, where is the source for these. Kirill: One often wonders, is this real or just demagoguery? Am I or am I someone else, perhaps a victim of psychological manipulation? Maksim: There are thousands of scientists and specialists who work at the project, how to manipulate people and developed a hidden technology that you hardly can escape. Kirill: But a Russian wants to be always true, you know, and that´s why we combine these two things together, feelings with thoughts of truth. We want to be real, not manipulated copies. Maksim: Of course, we do not know whether we are genuine. Perhaps we are already manipulated.
What comes first - the composing of the music or the lyrics? Maksim: That´s different. Kirill and Natalia actually compose a lot of music, and mostly I come with my lyrics to it. Kirill: I write music all the time; I have already for hundred years in advance material. It is enough for ten albums. So, if Maksim has a text to fit the music - yes, I can offer the sound for it. Natalia: Sometimes Kirill and I compose together. Kirill writes the basic structure, and then I come with my elements and the beauty of the viola. Maksim: And then I come and say, everything must be different. Kirill: And then comes Konstantin and says, no, that´s a crock of shit. Two seconds of it are ok, but the remaining ten minutes have to be changed.
Konstantin is who - the producer? Natalia: Yes, our sound man. He understands a lot of pop music. He has worked in the industry for Russian popular music. Kirill: Let´s say, simple lyrics with a consumer-friendly musical direction ... Maksim: But he didn´t stuck in that way, so he became also a Vakuumulator. He has picked up this knowledge about successful music, but he wants that music has depth and authenticity.
Two EPs - it says on your website - were published in 2008 and 2010 so far. Were these physical media or downloads? Maksim: A few physical copies we have made, but really seriously we had not thought about the EPs, because our music had changed constantly. Kirill: We had recorded some song and presented them online, even thought about images which would fit like a cover, but not more.
But now you do work at a regular, real physical album? Maksim: Yes, that´s right, however, without a label and largely in self-production. We have a small home studio. Natalia: But I hope in the future we will even have a big studio. Kirill: We have a small team. Especially the sound man mixes the music and works with us. We begin doing all by ourselves, and then we look further. Maksim: We take some of the already existing songs, but mix and cut better. And then will appear a lot of new stuff. Kirill: But for the final master, we give the pieces away in a professional studio. Maksim: Probably the final singing will also be recorded in a studio.
When do you think this record will be ready? Natalia: I would say, next spring. Maksim: We are working on videos, too. We have a director and cameraman, the creator of ideas, so to speak, who realizes our videos. Therefore everything takes a bit longer. Two days making music, two days video filming and so on. These are the benefits when you have no contract. Since you have the freedom to do things the way you want by yourself. A record deal would put pressure on us and everything wouldn´t be so easy. I think it has its good sides, when you develop autonomically without the support of a powerful company. We are, so to speak, like the mushrooms that grow out of the ground, and at some point you can pick us up. At least this way makes a lot of fun for us to evolve with time.
You played previously in other bands or studied in a music school? Kirill: I started playing death metal, when I was 16 and had played in the Ukraine in a few bands. Natalia: I studied viola in St.Petersburg, but Vakuumulator is my first band. Kirill: Natalia came to us after a concert and said, I´m a classical viola-player, but I want to move from the classics and try something new. Maksim: So it is with Vakuumulator thought! It should push people to us. For example, Konstantin, our sound man, once mixed for us at a gig the sound, and then he came to us and said, I want to do for you the sound. We were very pleased. And as for me, I´ve played in a Russian band called "The Second Problem". The first problem was how to dress us for a gig, and the second problem, how could we call our band. We played a typical style of Russian rock.
And you played guitar in the band? Maksim: Yes, exactly. Here at the beginning of Vakuumulator, too, when we had the classic rock cast with bass, drums, electric guitar and I with acoustic guitar. But that was by far too Russian. Do you do anything else besides music, yet - to work or study? Or how do you earn your money? Natalia: I do everything with and for music. I have a small company and record label, organize concerts, and then I run an internet platform through which I sell equipment to Russia. I make recordings for various artists and talented people I like to produce. So I worked, for example, with the well-known Nneka for a song. And for the new album by Megaloh I recorded a few songs, so I did a mix that my viola sounds like a small orchestra. Maksim: And Kirill and I may also sometimes live of what Natalia has so for us. As we also do various other jobs. I sometimes get jobs as a translator for Russian-German, and Kirill does jobs, such as the testing of technology and electronics.
How do you see the future of Vakuumulator? Would you like to attain a professional career? Kirill: I dream of Rock am Ring. And frankly, from Wacken. But that´s probably not Vakuumulators direction. I would like to start a metal band and play in these places. Natalia: Definitely! A metal band would be my dream, too. I want to play in a metal band! Maksim: But yes, we were asked about the future of Vakuumulator ... Natalia: Well, because of the future, I want to play on the biggest stages. And I want to present my music around the world. Kirill: We want to bring something new in the pop and rock business. I think, we can do it and we have something. We want to show people that the different styles of music like rock, classical music, rap, metal and pop do not have to distinguish from each other, but you can throw everything together, all the styles that exist.
When it comes to styles and genres - are there any bands who have influenced you? Are there any musicians or bands that you hear, or with whom you would like to perform together? Natalia: Yes, Infected Mushroom ... Kirill: I grew up in the metal scene, as there are many things I love, from Tiamat to Dream Theater and to Linkin Park. I would like to see me on a stage with Linkin Park. But I also listen to Depeche Mode and a bit to Jazz. Maksim: I would like to play with various German artists, such as Samy Deluxe. Although this is a different genre, but I like his lyrics. Natalia: I also like very much Marteria. I think that´s great music. Maksim: Hopefully there will be somewhen a festival, where everyone and everything can occur together, rap and heavy metal, and then right after this classical music. This is what Vakuumulator stands for - to unite people of the different directions.
Then Natalia and Kirill could incorporate their dream of metal music inside of Vakuumulator rather than to found a completely new band? Maksim: Yes, right! And we have another goal: to compose an “Electro-Faust”; performing Goethe´s Faust with electronics, choir and orchestra. Natalia: My dream would also to make something with an orchestra. Electronics and orchestra together.
Then we can expect a lot of you in future, right? But for now we come to an end of the interview. Is there something left you want to tell? Kirill: Well, I have no particular message. Maksim: Oh, it´s about a special message? Kirill: You will get a lot of us to hear! Maksim: We plan to make short films, so to speak, little teasers or video announcements to our forthcoming gigs as we already did. My second profession, of which I dream, could be video production. For our videos I will be responsible, but we do it together, of course, as with the music. Earlier in the beginning, as a band we had to fuse, but now we have reached a point where we all work well together. But I think we have not even reached 20 percent of what we are and want to be and sound like. Vakuumulator needs still a lot of work at the sound. Kirill: We probably have another two or three years in front of us, reaching the sound we really want. Maksim: And only then it can go on with us, until we have developed our core. We melt together more and more. Even Kirill, with whom I have been playing together for so long, astonishes me always with new things of which I think, cool, a whole new page, something I never knew from him. That could go for another 100 years on, and always there will be new interesting things. And then the new sounds coming from Natalia ... Natalia: That is Vakuumulator!