Special Radio for special people continues to play on the minds and souls of compatriots and foreign friends’ senses. Today we have a visitor to our virtual studio who continues to be invisibly involved in the domestic music scene, probably inadvertently influencing it very strongly. Books have been written about this person, wherein it has been declared several times that he does not want to have a lifestyle that evolves under the influence of the current rules of show-business. A person who has already been ahead of his time on many occasions. Dear special listeners, this is an interview with Vasily Shumov.
Hello, Vasily. Our Special radio is referred to as such because it basically works with material on a non-profit basis. This name is a little ironic and sad. It is supposedly special people who like and listen to this music. But considering that practically all of this music is staying out of reach of the modern music industry, maybe there are not enough of such people.
SR – Do you consider yourself to be a special person, not in the sense of liking Special Radio, but in the sense of having a DIFFERENT musical taste?
VS – Each person is special in their own way. Most don’t feel it or are not aware of it. My musical tastes are varied. You are probably referring to my albums. My creativity strategy is individualistic and doesn’t have any major purpose.
SR – Dividing music according to style and genre is not absolutely right, don’t you think? Clearly put, there is too much delirium over division of music into special and not special categories. Is music a pure art for you in academic terms, if you like?
VS – In recent times music has become not just art but also technology. Therefore, nowadays a composer doesn’t just work with sound but also with computers and other gadgets and applications. Music is still the most abstract art of all and it is difficult to explain its pureness in words.
SR – And this music produced today that is taken up by the majority of people in industrial countries (and not so) – this is simply the outcome of money or the logical end-product (or a stage of) pure art?
VS – All this is to do with business. Business studies in universities and other financial institutions work around the principle that it is money that makes the world go round and that people are prepared to do anything for money. I’m not concerned with business and its repercussions in the musical world.
SR – There are average statistics that define things like musical products that the average listener takes up. Could you describe an ideal musical product, which will provide a “wow!” factor to all, including any type of media industry?
VS – For this purpose, visit the nearest bookshop and its section on pop music. You will find a mass of manuals with names like “How to write a hit” with sub-sections on styles of pop, rock, soaps, blues, etc.
SR – And what essentially distinguishes this digestible music from indigestible music. In your point of view, naturally, not from that of the music industry?
VS – Everything that sells well is considered digestible, that which doesn’t sell is unhealthy.
SR – Many, including some of our Special Radio listeners, suggest that they are offered a very obscure product. Here the issue is not condemnation, some do not understand. With the issue of self-awareness, really, is the choice categorical, or do you do something that pleases you, or do what pleases everyone?
VS – And how about what you do that does not please everyone, especially you too. Who will tell me what to do in such a situation?
SR – But sometimes there is this terrible feeling of a monster from “Beauty and the Beast” – nasty on the outside and nice on the inside. Not that the feeling of loneliness oppresses that, or frustration. How does one fight these useless arguments about nothing? Especially when you’re in for a penny and don’t always get results.
VS – I think that it is remarkable when there is any metaphysical feeling, particularly from “Beauty and the Beast”. One should be very concerned with these feelings and try to develop them. Then anything can and will become clear.
SR – And do rules in music exist in your opinion? And if so, what?
VS – Everyone follows rules, especially if these rules lead to prosperity.
SR – Another side to the conventional division of music by style, is eclecticism. Is this term justifiable if division of music into different styles is conditional? Can one go even further and call music a part of one big eclecticism of global cacophony and so on. So what is it – is it simply creative achievement which is important?
VS – Nowadays styles exist to simplify the process of selling music and to simplify and quicken consumer visits to music shops. Without precise styles of music, all systems of show business would fail, and along with it all radio stations would also go.
SR – And what about a new album? Are there already any outlines as to the content and musical themes? To be honest, I decided to ask you for this interview after hearing “Black Dress of the Widow”, so this song has struck a chord. From where does its theme originate? Is the song devoted to any circumstances or is it just abstract grief?
VS – It is early stages for an album. Two compositions are ready. The album will probably be complete in the spring and then the themes and contents will become clear. The “Black Dress of the Widow” composition began from a theme with a bass guitar. I am not able to explain the contents of the lyrics. I never write lyrics based on themes or under the influence of any events. It is more just a story about complete loneliness.
SR – The fate of “Radio Sovok” is very interesting. Please tell us what this project was for, on what frequency was it broadcast and where? As far as I am aware it was Russia’s first Internet-radio?
VS – More precisely RADIO SOVDEP. In the middle 90’s technology allowed one to have a radio station based on the Internet without any large expense. I came up with the idea of doing short interviews with students from different countries, who studied at the University of Los Angeles, about their first impressions of America and California. I produced about 30 issues. For instance, the Dane was amazed by the size of California because he considered Denmark to be a very big country, it being only 300km long and 200km wide…
SR – What does your studio currently present? Which musicians do you work with?
VS – I make each new album using different studio approaches. For this album I have used only my Mac Power Book and Logic Audio Platinum. For audio input/output I use Logic EMI 2/6. The whole studio is portable and is contained in a computer bag.
SR – There is currently disillusionment from the Internet with regard to general deterioration of Internet development and other progress. What opinion do you currently hold about the Internet? Is it still the primary area for activity or have all hopes in it been dashed?
VS – For me the Internet is the optimum distributor of my work. It’s okay, the characteristics are constantly improving and it is all becoming much quicker. Therefore the Internet has not claimed anything from me.
SR – There are ways of having tea. For them there are masters of tea ceremonies. And there are ways of music with which go masters of music ceremonies? Do you not consider yourselves as one of these masters of music ceremonies?
VS – I feel myself as the author of the opus “Black Dress of the Widow”.
SR – Changing the subject a little, but I wanted to ask you… Do you have any interests in sport? Amongst our listeners are great fans of the CSKA (Central Sport Club of Army) team, and they are interested in your opinions of this club?
VS – Hockey is a unique kind of exercise in which I am interested in being involved. I play for an amateur team once a week in order to keep fit. As for CSKA, I have supported this club from childhood and I do not see any reason to change this.
SR – Finally – traditionally at Special Radio, we ask: What is your wish for musicians who are only just taking to the road of performing, what pitfalls should they try to avoid and what rules should they follow if they are to succeed as musicians?
VS – If you want to make music and have your voice heard then be prepared to have few friends and admirers. You will be lonely and with age it will become worse. Consequently you should find other reasons for existence and ways to compensate the expenses of creativity by yourself. For example I work as a teacher at university.
The Special Radio Group would like to thank everyone due to whom this interview was made possible.
Best regards and good luck!