Tesla Boy Interview
With wave after wave of successful synth pop bands storming the UK charts it’s no surprise that the eighties are well and truly back. Artists like La Roux and Little Boots are infecting a new generation with a stainless steel pop sound on dancefloors from coast to coast.
We’ve always got our ears well and truly pricked up here at TMF for exciting new bands. So when the infectious pop grooves of Tesla Boy first rang through the office we knew we had to find out more about them. After a quick google we found these young lads weren’t from Sheffield, Manchester or London… They were actually from Moscow. So Adrian Mules checked the validity of his adult day rider and headed out to chat to Anton and Dima to find out more about the greatest band to come out of Russia since... well, probably ever!
Adrian: Hi Tesla Boy, thanks for taking the time to chat with The Music Fix, would you be so kind as to introduce yourselves to our readers and let us know a little bit about you?
Anton: Hi, I'm the singer and keyboard player. I've been into music since I can remember. I'm a musical college graduate, specialized in jazz-piano and have been making electronic music since I was a teen. I lost my virginity when I was 16 years old.
Dima: I'm a bass-player and I switched from guitar to the bass not long ago. I’m doing good so far. I lost my virginity when I was 16 too, but that's not connected with Anton. We lived in different cities back then!
Adrian: How did you all meet?
Dima: Anton and I first met at his apartment. A friend of mine and I just dropped by to say "Hello". But we ended up staying for a couple of days.
Anton: Yeah, and my girlfriend looked into Dima's eyes and whispered into my ear something like: "What's he ripped on acid or what?"
Dima: But I was as clean as a surface of a master-copy CD.
Anton: I knew Boris (our drummer) from the jazz-college times. So, we all ended up hanging around together, and being totally obsessed with the eighties. We decided to try to write a couple of songs. As a result the band emerged.
Adrian: Great, so how did you come to call yourself Tesla Boy?
Anton: Well, for quite a long period of my life I used to live in a house built in the Stalin era. I lived on the first floor and on the ground floor was an old transformer vault placed there to keep energy and electricity up if bombing took place (which was quite possible during WWII). Those transformer pillars made quite a noise as they were old and this noise (kind of very very silent feedback) could be heard in my apartment. Once, a friend of mine jokingly called me "Tesla Boy", as he thought the waves from the vault had influenced me as a musician.
Dima: Then we wrote a song called Tesla Boy about a guy who couldn’t even touch a girl because he would immediately kill her. We liked the idea and our nameless collaboration was named. We think that Nicola Tesla gave us the opportunity to transfer the energy wirelessly; and the music itself as an art transfers the energy from artist to audience. Also Anton's great-grandfather is a Serb just like the famous Inventor, scientist and wizard - Mr. Tesla!
Adrian: How would describe your sound to someone who has never heard Tesla Boy before?
Anton: It's electro-dance music, groovy and catchy. It's perfect for the dancefloors and for signing while washing in a tub; or whilst driving at night, like, going to a party or coming home after one.
Adrian: The material is fantastic, what are your influences?
Anton/Dima: We love Bowie, Smiths, Duran-Duran, Imagination and Prince.
Adrian: How easy was it to get hold of Western music in Russia? Are there good record stores or did you use the internet?
Anton: Initially the Internet was not well distributed and very expensive. But there was a huge market in Moscow called Gorbushka. Here one could find anything they wanted for a quite a low price. Lots of foreigners who knew where this market was would come there to buy some music. There's a rumor that when De-Phuzz toured in Moscow they went there and their front-man saw their album, which hadn't been released yet and bought a copy for himself!
Dima: Yep and back then we spent a lot of money buying music there; we knew all the hot spots and the names of the vendors.
Adrian: What about live acts? Did you had the opportunity to see many Western bands in Russia?
Anton: Russia is now much less isolated a country and lots of bands go on tour here. Naturally we can't go to every gig. But trying not to miss a band we like.
Adrian: All the songs I have heard so far are in English, are there any in Russian?
Anton: No. There no songs in Russian. You see we were born behind the Iron Curtain but we grew up listening to the western music which flowed here after the collapse of the USSR. So, it's quite natural that we write our songs in English.
Adrian: Eighties style synth music is very big in the UK. What are your plans to get known over here?
Dima: Talking about eighties style... It may seem funny but if you look at the popularity ratings of the Russian radio you find that the most popular are Retro FM and Dacha Radio. They specialise in western eighties pop hits which were allowed to be played in the USSR. Of course they won't play songs by David Bowie or Mark Almond... They are more like Abba, A-ha and Bonney M. So if the popularity of these stations is so high we can say that Russia's still living in eighties in its own perverted way.
Anton: Yeah, but there were a bunch of interesting Russian eighties pop stars. If the guys from Valerie Cherie lived in the eighties they would kill themselves for a vinyl of Russian eighties band. Unfortunately those bands sang in Russian and weren't a success on the western scene.
Adrian: Are there plans for any live dates in the UK?
Anton: We plan to go on tour to UK, Europe, USA and Australia when the album is complete.
Adrian: There are not many other Russian bands I am aware of. What is the Russian music scene like?
Dima: There's a strange correlation between pop scene and underground (or let's say "indie") scene in Russia. Pop songs are cheesy with bad taste arrangements. We can't say that Russian pop-music is kind of authentic it's made looking at the western pop-scene, but unfortunately pop-songs here are of very low quality.
There's another very popular movement - Russian Rock, which is pretty bad too. Most of the "Russian rockers" are pretty talented guys who were underground in the USSR times. They came out and became very popular in the pre-Perestroika period and after it. There was a lot of protest and rock'n'roll in their songs those days but now it's only the barking of toothless old dogs. New rock-bands that can be heard on the radio are the same as the cheesy-pop bands, but they have guitars in their hands; that's the only difference! I think the most interesting things happening are made by the underground guys in Russia.
Anton: It's a critical moment now – the Russian audience is formed and ready to suck up and hear something new. They are able to understand by themselves what's going on with the music from across the globe and don’t need to rely solely on the old radio. But they need better new radio. That's why it's possible to be popular to a certain degree for guys from underground.
Adrian: Are there any other great Russia bands I should check out?
Anton/Dima: Poco Cox, Love-Fine and Bajinda Behind the Enemy Lines are all great.
Adrian: Thanks I’ll be sure to listen to them. So what are your plans for the future?
Anton: Our EP will be released on the 7th of September via Mullet records. We are currently recording our first album which will be out in the middle of the autumn.
So we say Do svidaniya to the wonderful Tesla Boy and wish them the best of luck with world domination. Keep your ears open for their infectious sound on a dancefloor near you soon; and be sure to check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/teslaboysound.