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JoobieSeaz returns with yet another hypnotic, droney and atmospheric track “Close”. A repetitious, trance-inducing song with menacing basslines, colored with tasteful guitar licks and covered with Lola’s signature enchanting vocals – the band continues to show the depth of their creativity, all while displaying their ability and intent to remain prolific and deliberate.
The duo, having recently relocated to France from Russia, have been releasing singles at a steady pace over the last few years. A collection of the singles called Pitch Black [The Singles] was released last year via Pyrrhic Victory Recordings, then followed up with the single “Something New” and now “Close”. The band has had a tumultuous journey to get to this point where they are finally settling and beginning to start playing shows (listed below). The band expressed interest in discussing their journey in more depth and detail, and the following is the result. It is a story of survival, and of the healing nature and power of art and music.
You both recently emigrated to France from Russia. Can you tell us about the conditions and how you were able to successfully relocate?
Since the beginning of the war, we have tried to leave Russia. At first we were lucky to have tickets to Turkey, but it was a temporary solution. There, of course, it was calmer than in Russia, there you could look at everything a little from the outside, there was no such state of permanent panic and despair. But without acquaintances and knowledge of the language, it was not possible to stay there for long. Luckily we managed to go to France, it was not easy for many reasons. We left through Finland, the border with which was first closed due to covid, and when we left it was closed due to the war. Being in Russia, you are constantly afraid that the moment will come when all borders will be closed, people buy tickets at insane prices without a specific plan and money for moving, public transport with the Z symbol goes around, and your musician friends say that they were brought a summons to the army, they sit locked in their apartments and do not know what to do. We really wanted to leave, get out of there at any cost. It was a lot of stress.
We left Russia a couple of days after the start of the war. It was complete madness. All I thought was that the apocalypse had begun and the car needed gas. In fact, it was very painful for me, since part of my family was in the war zone and in occupation until now. I understood that it was not safe to stay in Moscow, but there were people who asked with a smile: “What is happening?”. I can explain in a nutshell what is happening: Moscow is in the hands of the mafia and terrorists. It is dangerous for everyone who is there. The constitution changes almost every year, repressions, genocide and nationalistic ideas even for preschoolers, mobilization and show trials of those who disagree. Is it dangerous. It is dangerous for me and my loved ones. I made the right decision to get my gang out of Moscow. It was almost impossible, given that a plane ticket at the time cost $18,000. In Moscow, we still have all of our musical instruments, our home studio, all of our belongings. We just set off on a journey on foot, leaving behind everything, apartments, cars and vinyl collections.
Can you explain how the French Ministry of Culture assisted you? Tell us about the non-profit organization “Artists in Exile” and your relationship to it?
We considered all, even the most unthinkable options for leaving. What are you ready to do to not end up in a trench on the side of the criminal regime? Are you ready to go to jail just because you call war a war? (in Russia they will put you in jail for 10 years for this) The “Artists in Exile” organization helped us to relocate, they helped us in Russia and when we arrived in France. In Paris they have a huge creative space for artists, it’s just incredible. There you can rehearse, mix a track, shoot a video, draw, write, engage in any kind of creativity. It inspires, we want to be a part of this community, also help artists who are in a difficult situation. I’m sure we’ll deal with it when our lives return to normal.
When the war started, the first thing everyone around started doing was to help each other. It’s amazing, but it was a real rallying, I felt how people need me and did all I could to help. I was sitting in the very center of Istanbul, taking a liter cup of coffee and helping people relocate from Ukraine to Canada. At that time, Alex and I were in Istanbul on business and just thought, what should we do? There were a huge number of people who, just like us, were busy helping each other. It was the organization “Artists in Exile”- they found out about our situation, that we were stuck in Istanbul during the actual closing of the borders of Russia, and they made every effort to get us all the necessary visas and documents to stay in France. It still amazes me how selfless people can be… “Artists in Exile” is a unique non-profit organization that not only helps with paperwork, but also provides assistance in continuing their creative projects for free. All this for the sake of art, for the sake of keeping the art going… as far as the French Ministry of Culture is concerned, oh, I want to believe that they just like our music.
Tell us about the new single “Close” – the inspiration, what it is about, the lyrical content, and why this track is being released now?
Single “Close” is a bit different from our usual sound. It is darker and rougher, especially after the cheerful “Something New”. We’re constantly experimenting, but I think every JoobieSeaz song has something in common. We’re trying to make the kind of music that we would like to hear ourselves, trying to create that sound in our head and then record it. In all of ours songs, music comes first. I mean vocals are not just words that always have too much meaning. It’s a sound, an instrument like a guitar and bass. Since childhood, we have been listening to English-language music and are used to not perceiving the meaning of vocals, because we did not know English before. I think it influenced the way we feel music.
We explored folk art, naive art, what people did before us in the 20th century. My grandparents were in the arts, they were in the preservation of folk music. They had a cool bus with a trailer stage, it was called a car club. They went to different places and recorded on audio what old people sing. They did big concerts in nature. Alex and I, we listened to these records recently and saw that there is a lot of post-punk in this and it inspired us, we rethought it into something of our own. It seems that all music is part of something, some kind of general flow…
What is it like now in Russia? How has it been during and after the war in comparison to life prior?
We are from Moscow. Moscow is a wonderful city. It is very different from all of Russia, and from Europe too. There is something unique there. It is a beautiful metropolis full of life, art and entertainment. Moscow never sleeps, it’s true, around the clock you can get anything you want, restaurants, clubs, parties, shopping, even a dentist appointment at midnight on Saturday. When the war started, people couldn’t believe it, it sounded insane for today’s secular Moscow, it was very humiliating, treacherous and barbaric to participate in the war on behalf of Moscow and the people living in Russia. People understood what was happening. Everyone who had the opportunity, means, tried to leave. Moscow now is very empty. Closed shops, half-empty highways. It was painful to see. Many celebrities and artists have indeed left the country. Many of my friends have left. Many great rock bands from Russia have gone nowhere… More often than not, musicians have no money at all, not to mention to move during the war, when plane tickets or renting an apartment cost five times more than usual. But people are being helped, many have been taken in by friends in Georgia and Turkey. I am very sorry that this happened, the unique city of Moscow was captured by a psychopath who threatens the world with nuclear weapons. Gradually, degradation will begin there, the impact of sanctions was felt almost immediately, but it will increase. It will be bad there, it is obvious and it is very sad.
Calls on TV to wipe Europe off the face of the earth. Nazi symbolism Z is everywhere, involuntarily you draw parallels with Germany in the late 30s. Repressions, new laws on terms for refusing to serve in the army and expressing one’s thoughts about the war. People panic at first, but then they continue to live on, it seems they deliberately pretend that nothing happened. The mass media assure that this will not affect you specifically. I think they are trying to convince people that if you are against, then you are in the minority. You are one on one with the punitive system of the state if you are against this war or if you received a summons to the army.
If you could talk to Putin directly, what would you say to him?
In fact, it is still difficult for me to speak openly on such topics. We are used to censorship, I feel fear and that I have no right to discuss this person.
You know this theory of six handshakes, that everyone knows any person through no more than five common acquaintances. So, Putin was extremely close in one handshake. I realized this when many of my friends began to understand that business cannot be built without being in a political party. I can only compare it to the mafia – from there, there is no way out. And now, several of my friends are already going to a rendezvous with Putin. I was shocked. They all perfectly understand what kind of person he is. What to talk about with him? What can be said to him? You can agree with the system, or you can oppose the system. My choice has always been clear. Dictatorship and autocracy is shit. I am always against it and he is a criminal simply because he is still the president of Russia. I was against him before the war, I am still against him, because he razed to the ground places in Ukraine that are dear to me and my family. My family is from a place on the Black Sea in Ukraine. My relatives still live there, we used to meet with my grandfather, he was engaged in a resort area for children, grew grapes and made wine. Now this huge resort for children is the place where the occupation authorities are located, the white sand beach is littered with mines. What I want to say to Putin: I am waiting for your trial in The Hague.
How successful do you feel Russian propaganda is on the general population in Russia? Can you tell us about the current narrative/s being pushed and your feelings about it?
Propaganda is always absurd. It is based on the most primitive needs of people to be special, united in the face of a common “enemy” – first of Ukraine, then of Western civilization, and now, it seems, of the whole world. They say that the Nazis are in power in Europe and Ukraine. That the Russians are a special nation that will end with them. At the same time, among other things, they condemn tolerance, LGBT and the refugee program. They say that Europe is in decline due to the fact that they let in the wrong people from Africa and other regions. They say they attacked Ukraine to prevent a war. Appeals on TV are more and more aggressive, it really looks like a military dictatorship, like fascism. I do not understand what is going on. Those who support the regime simply say “it means that it should be so.” No one knows exactly what is going on in the minds of the people who started all this. Sometimes they seem to have some personal goals.
Border closures and visa problems made the job of propagandists easier. The Russians really believe that the whole world is against them. There are endless political talk shows on TV about how Russians are hated and always tried to exterminate and capture, and Russia is just on the defensive! An incredible number of laws are being created that allegedly protect Russia from the influence of other cultures, for example, you cannot use foreign words in Russian speech. Propaganda is especially interested in growing patriotism in children. There are special educators and special lessons in schools where children are told about how important the war is for Russia! There are also propagandists among artists, singers and bloggers. And people willingly participate in this, because they want support and patronage from the authorities. This is madness. The most disgusting thing is that I can’t even say that I am against all of this, because I would face up to 15 years in prison and many other entertainments with the reconciliation of physical strength and the participation of police officers.
Lola, you worked with the news in Russia. Do you have any insights you’d like to share regarding the news and how truth does or does not reach the Russian people through that medium?
I worked for the federal news channel, the most important news channel in the country. This is one hundred percent censorship, one hundred percent control over the news by the authorities. But the main thing is how it’s done. Do you know how they make news for TV in Russia? They simply search YouTube for footage shot by someone that looks like a war, download these videos and re-edit them to any text. That’s everything everyone needs to know about TV there. I could not work there, after the internship I left to do documentary filmmaking and I would no longer have anything to do with it.
How do you remain positive and creative through all of this turmoil?
We have no other choice. From this whole situation, we learned what we need to live now. Be happy with what you have and take advantage of the opportunities that you manage to create.
I stay positive because I have a purpose. I have long distinguished what is important and what is not – family, friends, relationships are important. Music is the main thing, everything else – it will be ok. Things, cars, comfort, lost profits, money – all nonsense. I’m ready to be a monk in a toga and sandals, the main thing is that my band is with me, and my laptop allows me to make music.
What’s next for JoobieSeaz? Are there plans for a full length record? You have your first shows in France coming up, correct?
Yes, we have our first shows in France coming up and we are really excited about them! For musicians, great opportunities are open here, but it is important to know French. It is very interesting to study it and we already have significant success in this. For now, we will continue to release singles. Of course we are thinking about the concept of an album. I think it will be a mix of what we have not yet released (we feel we have some incredible material that we have not yet recorded) and songs that we are currently working on. It will be very interesting.
We’re really looking forward to the shows, always ready to go!
- Pyrrhic Victory Recordings is run by Big Takeover’s Joe Pugsley
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