KAUAN - interview with Anton Belov, January 2008
I´ve got impressed by Kauan some weeks ago, and the exotic aura around this act (they come from the depths of Russia) compelled me to interview the main responsible of this project, Anton Belov, to know more things on several topics. Here you have his short but kind answers.
Hi Anton, how are you doing? Are you busy working on the new album?
Hi! Yes, we are working on the new album. All six songs for three worlds are already written and are going to be recorded! Two days ago the keyboard player left to join another project and we have remained friends.
One of the prominent questions I had in mind is almost mandatory: why do you sing in Finnish? Your band is from Chelyabinsk, Russia, far away from Finnish borders. Why did you choose Finnish to sing, then?
In Finnish I can talk what I want and think, it´s not only the meaning, the sound too, because Finnish sounds great!
Is somebody helping you with the language, making corrections and so on?
Yes, a man helps us very much. His name is Juha Kuusela and he is our webmaster too. Our page on myspace.com is his work. Thanks him a lot...
Since lyrics aren't in the booklet, could you explain what are the verses about? What topics you deal with? According to the songtitles, you sing about morning, frost, trees, nature...
The lyrics on the first album are not so important. I can say this album was instrumental. Lyrics were just a set of words with different sound...
Nearly every artist is quite proud of their creations, but I´d like you to tell me what negative things you see on “Lumikuuro”, the ones you want to improve on your next album.
I can't say what I find negative in “Lumikuuro”, it's like a period of life. The quality of the first LP is not completely convincing for me, so I hope the sound on “Tietajan Laulu” will be more beautiful. I hear it. That's all...
The new songs at your myspace account sound really promising. What is the direction Kauan are going to take in the next release?
Ha-ha! Direction... So we have a conception... All songs were written in three psychical states and that’s why I´ve dedicated this album to three worlds. And “Tietajan Laulu” in Finnish stands for "Songs of Tietaja” (a man who walk on other worlds).
Incidentally, the next album seems to feature two aesthetical changes: one is that some lyrics will be in Russian and not just Finnish. Is Russian language slowly conquering Kauan?
On Lumikuuro the last song is in Russian too. But yeah, there will be more Russian songs. And Finnish texts are a translation of Russian texts.
The other change I've spotted is the cover art, radically different from “Lumikuuro”. Who has made the cover art for “Tietajan Laulu”? Is the same person who made the previous one?
Yes, the cover was created by Misha Pushkarev, the man who drawn all for Lumikuuro... I understand that the cover art is in another style, but it's damn good!
To be honest, the few Russian metal bands I've heard so far aren't convincing. Yours is an exception, in my humble opinion. Have you contact with other Russian acts? Could you recommend any of interest?
Thank you. Russia has millions of bands in all possible styles and sure we have worthy representatives who can show our opportunities to all the world. But... almost nobody from producers are interested in doing something. All the "show business” stay with pop music: hip-hop, russian "rock" bands (I can relate it to pop) etc. Millions of Russians listen interesting rare bands and want to listen more! But they can't find them because shops sell just the most popular and mainstream productions. Last chance is the Internet...
The Tenhi influence in your sound is obvious, though the Kauan style is different as a whole. Please tell me whether Tenhi has meant the definite impulse for you to create music, the ultimate inspiration to compose, since your very bandname is taken from the Finnish band.
First I want to say that we didn’t get our name from Tenhi's album! We took this name when I hadn’t listened to Tenhi yet! “Kauan” means a long piece of time, waiting of something... [I know what “Kauan” means, but since the music had some influences I thought the name was taken from there –Fjordi]
As the main composer, you're fond of Tenhi, I assume. But do the rest of the band like them, too? By the way, what is your favourite Tenhi album?
We are not clone of Tenhi and don't try to be similar! [I didn´t say that –Fjordi.] Yes, we are in the same business, we draw similar worlds, but with different paintings, on a different paper... I haven't a favourite album, all albums are very interesting, but the most charming ones are “Väre” and “Maaäet”, I think. Some songs from “Folk Aesthetic” are pretty good, too!
Leaving Tenhi aside (at last!), other influences mentioned by promotional devices were Shape Of Despair, Agalloch and Empyrium. Do you agree with these comparisons? Are those things only made for advertisements?
I dont know... Maybe some parts are really similar... But it's not imitation, it's just a vision. This "advertisements" things was written by my label according to what the man has understood, what he listens...
Programmed drums aren't my cup of vodka, really, but the work has been done in a sensible way (avoiding the excess of hits) and the music in the album is good enough to understate that fact. However, are you going to keep using computer for percussive duties, or are you looking for a real drummer?
Yes, on the next album I will keep on using programmed drums. I've chosen two drum kits - sticks and brushes, now I´m arranging all parts for this program, it is a very hard work but I hope drums will be very real :)
This leads to the next question: is the current line-up stable and definite? Wouldn't you like to have more people involved to play live on regular basis?
As I already have told, Artur has left Kauan. Now I don't want any new variations in the band structure.
Are Kauan devoted to playing live, or are you rather concentrating on studio albums?
We have received the invitation of a doom festival which will take place in the spring in Moscow. There are some things to confirm, and I plan to get session musicians and we will go to the capital!:)
Curiosity: do the Kauan members have many time to dedicate to the band? Do you study or work full-time? How many times you rehearse a week?
We don´t rehearse yet!:) I write the material, then comes Luba (the violin player), she learns the songs, we play them some times and record the stuff. That's all :) I study in an academy of culture. Sure, there is not much time for the band...
How is the situation there regarding gear, gigs, record stores and the metal scene in general?
Hm... We have some stores and nice choices there. But new releases come very slow, “Maaäet” isn´t in our city yet:) About the bands: we have 5-10 bands, which play music in hard styles. They play nice music, but if I ruled a metal label I wouldn´t released them because these guys don’t make anything new, their music is standard and doesn’t interest me..
Russia is the biggest country in the world and surely Chelyabinsk hasn´t many things in common with famous places like Moscow or St. Petersburg. What are the main differences between these cities and yours, in every aspect (musical and non-musical)?
Moscow and St. Petersburg are cities with 6-12 million people. Chelyabinsk has something like 1.200.000 people. In musical aspects it's a matter of gear and concerts. Bands must pay big amounts of money for using bad gear! Concerts are made on similar devices... Moreover, we have only one normal studio in the city, and this studio costs 1000r. (40 dollars) each hour! It is too expensive for a standard Chelyabinsk band... That's why many Russian bands (which aren´t from the main cities) have very bad quality promos and can't send them to labels...
Some people from Western Europe have many cheap cliches about Russians. For example: you are cold as their weather, drink day and night, mafias control everything, there is a high level of racism and crime, etc. It´s time for you to speak about these things told about your country. It´s always interesting to hear people like you who know the situation better than jerks that the only Russian thing they know is Anna Kournikova´s last TV appearance... Surely Russian women are better than her, certainly!
They´re stereotypes of 80-90s... They passed a long time ago [Unfortunately, they didn´t-Fjordi.]. Now everything is different. Temperature in an average strip of Russia: in the summer - +25; +32, winter: -30; -35. Yeah, we don´t drink a little bit, but in measure! Nobody lays on the streets, goes with bottles of vodka around the city nor drinks vodka with bears on the park´s benches:) The country promptly develops. Constantly there are new opportunities of good career, creation of family... Though we aren´t a young country, it´s very large and modern. New achievements in science, sports, music, politics, successful career - these are the goals of new generations. By the way, Russia is very beautiful:)
In general, what are the things distinguishing Russian people from the rest, in your opinion? What are the main traits of the Russian behaviour?
Oh, everyone knows that Russian character is special. We´re very trusting but severe... "Nobody can understand Russian soul..." :)
If you were born in another country, would you play the same kind of music? I mean, does the environment inspire you significantly? Is nature an important element in your inspiration sources? Or you get inspiration from personal experiences?
I get inspiration from long Uralian steppes and taigas. Nothing else...
I hope this interview hadn't been a torture for you. Spasiva, kiitos paljon, thank you very much for your answers. Keep up the good work! Time for you to feel relief after this battery of questions, and tell us what you wish.
Thanks to you too. It is very pleasant to see our music is not only popular in the territory of Russia. Good luck to you and your country, that we like a lot! Spasibo vam! Nähdään!