Interview with THEODOR BASTARD

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Folk music is a peculiar time capsule which was able to transmit the essential cultural code across the centuries.

THEODOR BASTARD is one of the most unusual contemporary Russian musical bands, from St Petersburg. Its music combines elements of world music, dark wave, trip hop, neofolk and ambient music. THEODOR BASTARD creates mystical, archaic, atmospheric sounds.

Amazing and home-warm interview before their performance in MĖNUO JUODARAGIS XIX festival.

– You’ve been in Lithuania several times, what are your impressions?

– Actually, we come to Lithuania more often than you might think. In addition to the concerts we often come to your wonderful country because we have many friends here and it’s very dear to us that in Lithuania there is a close connection to ancestors and to pagan roots. You feel a deep connection to the roots here – from communicating with people and with history.

– What do You remember from performances at Menuo Juodaragis?

– MĖNUO JUODARAGIS is the festival that we are always holding as an example for other organizers all over the world. We love its atmosphere, nature around and people. I think making this festival is a real art.

– This year festival theme is HOME. What do home means to you?

– For us I believe our home is Mother Earth. Life-giving nature. The more humanity is progressing, the more it becomes clear that we must respect and protect our shared home. Because Mother Nature gives us everything we need.

– Have you seen this year line-up? Have you found your favorite artists or could say something about these bands?

– LAIBACH is one of our frontman Fedor’s most favorite bands. We have many mutual friends. And we even talked after their concert in Saint Petersburg. They are indeed a legend. For example we was shocked when RAMMSTEIN came out. Because they took some aesthetics looks alike LAIBACH and turned it into a circus. We had a concert in Ljubljana some years ago and it was very dear to us that Ljubljana is the home of LAIBACH and Neue Slowenische Kunst. That’s an honor, to perform on the same bill with them.

– How would you describe music that THEODOR BASTARD plays now? What we could expect from band on MJR stage?

– Our live playing is far more energetic than recording. Concerts are different from albums. And it’s good. We pay the big attention to the concert sound and performance, it’s important for us. I mean, the concert is an unrepeatable action quite like rite and mystery. Every time, every concert we await with trembling.

– Your songs are very atmospheric, archaic and mystical… How important is this for your sound? How important are the folk elements in the songs? Are you very bounded to folk topics?

– What is folk music? It is the roots. Everything other, whether dubstep or darkwave, are merely branches in the crown of the immense tree of the musical culture of the world. Folk music is a peculiar time capsule which was able to transmit the essential cultural code across the centuries. Folk music could not be censored, could not be rewritten (as this takes place all the time in the history books). Doing the folk music you can really get close to the history of your people and other people and if looking deeper – to the origins of the history of mankind. So folk music is the essential element of our creativity, it truly inspires us.

– THEODOR BASTARD is one of the most unusual contemporary Russian world-music collectives’. This is taken from your Facebook site. So, why are you so unusual?

– In Russia the cultural phenomenon named ‘Russian rock’ is very strong. It is heavily influenced by Western rock music 70′s and 80′s. But the roots of our music can be traced to ethnic music, not only Slavic but also African, Arabic and even Brazilian. In Russia we evolved in very strong isolation from other musicians. We feel a bit alienated. Well, maybe that’s a good thing. Creating music in style mass media cliche is the most terrible thing. It’s not about us.

– You spent so much artistic effort on the new VETVI album. Could you describe it in few words? Can we say that Theodor Bastard from oriental world stepped into Northern vibes? It seem that VETVI is making your band even more popular all over Russia, could we say it’s a break-through?

– VETVI is the exceptional album for us. We turned to our Slavic culture, particularly to our beloved Russian North where we travel for years. Ladoga, Karelian Isthmus – these are our places of power. This is our land where we grew up and I think such album would not exist without this Karelian influence. When you go away to the islands in the north of Ladoga you find yourself in a very different world, in another dimension. Not a soul around, only you and nature. There are nests of gulls, there are vipers. Ladogian sea calfs go out to the rocks. They are wholly amazing, with black abyssal eyes. Sometimes the wind rises so much that blows off the tent and impossible to sail away on the boat because of the strong current. The island looks like a small model of the Universe – on the north side there are twisted trees, moss, rocks. But if you walk twenty meters to the south bank – violence of plants, powerful trees. Glory! In general, northern music is very interesting. There are some crazy things like microtonal scales (for example using of both large and small seconds is a common situation in folk music), noise-tones or expanding scales – when the scale is expanding during playing. At the time I have met traditional north songs in very peculiar genres – slumberous songs, songs of amanita, deathbed songs. There’s quite a different coordinate system. Another world.

– You are performing live quite often. How important is it for you?

– Real contact here and now is the most important what we have. What has passed is past and the future still doesn’t begin. Only here and now the present is born.

– You know that you have many fans in Lithuania, so some words for them.

– We love Lithuanian audience so much! Concerts in Lithuania is always something marvelous for us – both giving and reception. Can’t wait to meet you, friends!

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