Interview with Ylotana
If the current ‘popular’ music scene isn’t exactly satisfying your taste buds at the moment then it might be time to delve into a completely different musical realm: that of Ylotana. The fifteen-strong band are self-professed embracers of all things arty and creative, combining diverse and unique sounds with graphic cartoon animation and captivating story-telling that all ultimately aim to make you re-think what music is, and what it actually could be. The release of their latest project Micro MIR does exactly that; it tells of morality and ethics in a way that doesn’t use wishy-washy lyrics with a lot of “oohs” in it, instead, music is used as one of the many layers in a story which does something that quite a few songs (and bands for that matter) fail to do – it forces you to use your noggin.
What Ylotana are creating here is an aural-visual revolution, one which isn’t afraid to push the listener out of their comfort zone and onto a different, more arty way of thinking. To find out whether there was some basis to claims of mind-altering musical fantasticness, TMF decided to probe into the minds of Ylotana, discovering along the way that they may just be the key to filling all five of your sensory organs...
For those who haven’t yet encountered Ylotana, how would you describe the concept?
Ylotana seeks to create music that touches the masses in many different ways. What makes this endeavour ambitious is the fact that it does this by not only incorporating a multimedia voice, but a multicultural one. Ylotana, created by entrepreneur-turned-writer/musician Anatoly Podkopov, utilises different styles and genres of art – from illustration and literature to deeply experimental electronic music – as well as instrumentals that are primarily based on ethnic musical interpretations.
What inspired the idea of a 4D experience of Music, Illustrations and Readings?
Probably the lack of the above mentioned within the music industry. It is hard to say how and why we came up with this somewhat peculiar concept, but when you work backwards and strip off all the multimedia add-ons from our music you realise that Ylotana’s current shape and form is exactly what it was destined to be. We have five sensory organs at our disposal, so why settle for just one when it comes to music? Interestingly enough, we still haven’t come up with a way to allow people to smell and taste Ylotana’s creations, but we are working on it day and night! :-)
How do you get inspiration for the formation of new material?
Inspiration comes from all over the place. A clear example is our forthcoming sixth project. About a month ago we were contacted by WWF, the global environment conservation organisation, with a request to create an illustrated calendar for 2010 – the year of the tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac. After the completion, we realised the illustrations were way too good to just let them hang on the wall motionlessly, so we decided to bring them to life with music, animation and of course a brand new story, named The Myth Of The White Tigress. If you want a preview of this new project, just find us on Facebook.
When creating an album/project, what is composed first: the music or the story?
As of now, Ylotana sports five separate projects, which are in and of themselves, separate entities. These stories, entitled I AM YOU, Micro MIR, Dance For The Snow Queen, My Little God and Panic In Paradise, are separate morality tales that set the pace for the artwork and music, inspiring their individual creation.
Interestingly enough, the stories stand alone but also seem to complete the circular patterns that make up the Ylotana experience itself. The stories themselves are at the heart of each project and the rest of the multimedia ensemble is something like ‘funky packaging.’
Which aspect of a project do you think holds the most importance?
I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that at all. In order to fully understand what we are up to, Ylotana has to be experienced as whole. There isn’t a single most important element of the project. It is all about how all these multimedia essentials intertwine with each other. Imagine going to McDonalds to buy a cheeseburger just so that you could painstakingly scrape off all the cheese from it before eating the burger. The same goes for Ylotana, if you remove one of the ‘ingredients’, it’s just not the same thing.
How long did the process of concept to production take for your album Micro MIR?
Micro Mir has by far the longest storyline out of all five projects. Not because we think that bigger is better, but rather because we intend to use the same content for a cartoon series in the near future. On average, however, it takes us about three months to get a brand new project released. This should not come as a surprise because we have over 15 different freelance visual artists, writers, sound engineers and musicians working on each album. Usually it takes us longer to distribute the new project than to create one.
Why was London’s Strongroom Studios chosen as the place to record?
To begin with it would be important to note that the initial creative flow comes from our Moscow studio, since most of our artists are based there. When it comes to the actual recording, we picked Strongroom Studios simply because it is currently amongst the best music recording studios in the whole of Europe. We’ve done a couple of tunes with the well renowned Abbey Road, but felt much more at home with Strongroom. It simply has this special feel to it. Nevertheless, we have recently acquired our own London based state-of-the-art recording studio, which previously belonged to Faithless. Last year we produced five music albums so, given the number of recording hours we need per year, acquiring our own recording studio is simply a must.
How does the 4D concept work when someone buys one of your tracks off iTunes, for example?
Previously our multimedia books were sold as a part of downloadable bundles. But since December 2009 our fans can enjoy such content free of charge by viewing it directly from www.ylotana.com. It’s not all about making money, right?
Do you see Ylotana as the future of music?
In the very long term, yeah, definitely. At this pace, do you think that in 50 years time the majority of people will still be listening to some bloke playing his guitar? Nonsense! Whether we like it or not, the future of music will eventually take us on an otherworldly adventure in technological multimedia splendour.
In the short term, however, our aim is not to change the music industry in any way. Most people seem to enjoy it the way it is and who are we to challenge this notion? However, there is clearly a fair number of people who are already fed up with what’s been going on in the past decade or so. For them, Ylotana will always be there to provide a very high-grade alternative.