My dream diary already consists of 3000 pages, and those are only dreams of the last few years.
22/01/2014, Didier BECU
Peek-A-Boo loves new talent. That's why we're existing for, not? One of the main artists on the Dutch label Blowpipe Records is Elektra which is described by yours truly as ethereal discopop. Does she agree or disagree? Well, let's ask it!!!
Hello Elektra. Most people don’t know your music. So how would you describe it?
As intense? As that is what I often hear from my listeners. Every song is actually very different, has a different story to it. Although not all I write about is something I experienced in real life as well. But the feeling behind it, having become that character, there’s no compromise to it. It’s not a very comfortable type of music either, as that is what I also hear often. Not the kind you can put on as a background, have a glass of wine with and relax. This one will probably make you want to drink a whole bottle to the very bottom and jump out of the window afterwards, whith a big smile on your face. Or, if you’re not an escapist, dig deeper within your own self and either kill parts that no longer belong there, or excavate those that need to finally come to the surface and take over.
When hearing I was thinking of ethereal discopop. And I hope you’ll never kill me for that, but I think that’s the right description.
Agree to disagree. When I wrote “Suicide Siren”, I wrote a lyrical pop album. “A lyrical exploration on the edges of pop, classical and experimental music” as described alongside that particular release.
Personally I find it tiring to have to describe the genre my music fits in over and over again. I love to change direction whenever I feel like it. It drives my label (Blowpipe) into despair. Music to me is one huge limitless infinite happening, the most intriguing artform.
But I don’t think my records are anywhere near being played at any type of disco! Too gloomy! Although I do wish to witness this once. A room of people singing along to suicide, murder, lust, grief, while simultaneously getting their behinds in shape. Surreal vision! But oh so lovely to my naked eye, haha.
Ethereal, however, is just one side of the story. Some songs are, perhaps, ethereal. Like Sternenhimmel” (2013). Yet, “Eudemonia” (2010/album) is definitely not. Nor is “Helios Selene” (2007) or “Crazy Baby” (2013).
The album I am finally unleashing this year is very Saturnian in nature. Very, very dark. Majority of it actually comes from my nightmares. My dream diary already consists of 3000 pages, and those are only dreams of the last few years. It was interesting to record this one, to become those characters that came to visit me during sleeping time, told me their story, let me possess them as well, in order to feel sharply what it’s like to be them. At one point it was so intense, I felt like I was leaking blood out of my pores during waking time, leaving a trail wherever I went.
I am already working on the follow up, and that one surprises me perhaps the most of all, as it comes completely from the depth of my imagination.
Each album is a separate story told. I write them with a certain intention, theme, direction. I don’t think about genres or any form of tags or boxes during the creative process. “Does my music make you feel? Does it make you forget everything?” No matter whether it is joy, or pain, or bliss, or grief. It has to be real to feel real! If so, then my job is done. That’s all that I need.
As far as I’m aware you’re coming from Russia. Do you think you’re influenced by the Russian musicscene or not?
My ancestry is not strictly Russian. Perhaps it’s better to describe it as Soviet? Having Kazakh, Tatar, Georgian, Belarusian blood run through my veins, with a lineage of Russian nobility going all the way back to Ancient Greece, and having been born in Estland to top it all, makes a pretty complicated package.
Why delve into such detail? Because it reveals my own complexity as a human being. I fully own my lineage, my ancestry. I am proud of it, too. Of all the good and the bad and the ugly. Perhaps one day I will start writing books about all that happened in our family, it will make your pants turn. Riveting stuff!
Whether I am influenced by the Russian music scene? Without doubt. Back in the days it was a very interesting one, too. Classical music being the ruler though. My stepdad would collect those forbidden electronic records, synth madness, bootlegs; while my mother would be strictly into classical music, since she’s a professional pianist. Both of them were professional musicians, yet extremes to one another. I grew up around professional musicians, writers, painters, actors, doctors.
My own private babysitter was the Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Tallinn. We weren’t rich, in fact we had to grow our own food and make our own clothes to keep on surviving, by there was this cultural wealth I grew up with, which I will forever be grateful for. It shaped me, it inspired me, it intrigued me, it tickled me, it challenged me. I was told: “Talent is just 1%, the rest 99% is blood, sweat and tears.” It put everything pretty much in perspective. No one was ever patting my head nor telling me I was special in any way. I don’t think I’ll be doing all I am doing if there would’ve been a chorus of adults around me during childhood catapulting me into the realm of narcissism by convincing me I didn’t have to work hard to get what I envisioned.
I want to ask you something about Russia if you don’t mind. I know this because my wife is from East-Europe as well. When talking about music, I was totally surprised to notice that the musicindustry over there doesn’t exist. I mean, all are copies…. What do you think about that?
Actually, it’s not very different from any Western music scene. Russians are no exception nowadays. Creative scene always wanted to be part of the West for as long as Russia existed, thank goodness majority of Russians remain a bunch of stubborn people and have always resisted all these influences from the very first moment anyone influential started to shovel it down their throats, under the guise of ‘comradeship with our neighbors’. Russian literary classics speak often of this phenomenon, and not without pride.
I hope Russians will never lose this quality, as preserving your own culture is one of the most important goals, especially in our age and time, when especially the media dictates us that ‘one size fits all’ and is the standard. We must have an opinion of our own at all times and help it protect our cultural heritage. Stand for what we consider important, dis the rule ‘if it doesn’t deliver us money pronto, then it must be worthless’. Get over the ‘most likes on social media sites mean this stuff represents actual quality’.
And speaking of copying: essence and energy can never be copied, no matter how hard the attempt. So why waste your time and energy? Why not instead create something that will reflect your own true states of being? And I guess here’s the real difference between an artist and a wannabe. Artists want to get to know their own souls better, they observe and study their environment, but without giving it a number one priority, as their complex inner worlds remain the most important focus, in the most humble possible meaning of that expression, as arrogance or narcissism never opened any doors to true creativity. Real artists do not copy and do not steal. They have no need for it, as there’s an abundance of ideas coming from their own selves. So why bother pretending you are something you are not and never will be? Clones are disposables.
But now you’re in Holland. You’re even on Blowpipe Records. The label of your partner. How does it feel to be aware that Wim was part of a quite important scene in the Benelux?
It’s an interesting question, as it makes one address a very sensitive issue. How does all he ever did and still remains on doing make me feel? It inspires me. There are not many humans like him. He has integrity. He’s done so much for culture in the Netherlands alone, be it in the realm of film, or music, or art, it’s a bloody shame no newspaper or magazine has ever approached him for an interview. (Peek-A-Boo will, Elektra!)
But yes, I am signed with my partner’s label. I was one of the main reasons of him starting it in the first place, the other being his band Smalts. However, we were forced from the very early stages to be quiet about our intimate connection, also in the film industry where I’ve been working for more than a decade.
Why? The moment people find out that I am his woman, they immediately stop taking whatever I do professionally, seriously. Annoying! I will never let any social delusion command me my direction nor let it limit me in any way. And certainly not if the reason for this is being a woman, or someone’s woman!
Assumptions based on prejudice do not seem to end in a woman’s world. Gender equality is a myth, I never stopped saying that. It’s a sad and simple fact. Women are still not being treated as human beings, and this is what makes us equal to men. But the shit women have to deal with up to this day? Especially if they refuse to conform to standards at their own expense and, goodness forbid, actually speak out on these issues, in an attempt to form a dialogue which will set things straight once and for all, but without losing her gentle, female qualities in the process?
My man respects me, through cherishing of my feelings. He trusts my instincts. I am the one whose opinion he values the most. He also knows that when I am in my personal after work space, I am still a woman with a career, and not a career woman. That I need him to lead, decide, take control, be the man, so that I can have sufficient space to fluff and purrr, and be cute, and soft, and sensual, and cuddly.
I don’t know how some power women handle it not having a trustworthy man in their life. I need a masculine energy man in my life. To be the shores of my ocean, my stable factor. My tsunamis need ancient rocks, not frivolous beaches, haha.
Have you made material before Blowpipe or not?
If you mean: recorded or released anything? No. At 17 I was ‘discovered’ by producers connected to a major record label, during an open podium night at school, that a friend of mine submitted me to behind my back.
One of those guys forms a big influence in my life. He’d give me huge piles of cds to listen to, weekly. He called it ‘homework’. He was the one who introduced me to Kate Bush, it was as if an angel descended from the skies and told me I wasn’t a freak. I was high from knowing this female artist existed. He owned all of her videos on laser discs, too. Human League became another big love of mine.
They wanted me to record songs for them, as they considered me a talent. But I was more interested in the independent aspect of the studio work, I wanted to get my hands dirty, be in full control. So they’d also let me photocopy all those articles from the professional magazines, to learn the technical aspects of it. Every weekend I’d also spend time staring at the screen of one of their studio computers, without anything coming out. At that time I was still a well-trained classical piano girl. My brain couldn’t grasp the whole aspect of non-classical music. “Listen to all the layers in a composition” they’d tell me. One fine day I finally heard each layer clearly, it was worthy of a celebration.
But when I suddenly became homeless and without any nationality, I became too busy surviving. I had to borrow money once, and it made me feel terrible. Every weekend I came to work in the studio, I would also be stuffed with pizzas and other food, because I wasn’t eating enough... So I simply let them go. My pride couldn’t handle it.
Do you perform your music on stage too, in case yes…how do you do that? I mean almost everything on cd is done by youself!
Well, I sing, act, dance. I make video backgrounds to support me in my seemingly never-ending celebration of solitary uniqueness, haha. Since most of my compositions are very complex in nature, I am stuck to a computer, which regulates my entire performance. Very frustrating actually, as I am a performer, not a puppet.
“Suicide Siren” was the first record where I let another add few of his elements to a title track, because I recognized musicality in him, and I always want to play a role in helping to get talent out there. Niels van der Weiden and I also spent a considerable amount of time polishing the upcoming record that will be released as next. This was my idea, as I was curious where it would lead me. I stand too close to my creation, can’t always have the complete overview. They are like children, really. Noisy rebels in need of true authority. I have either a big soft spot for them, or I am overly critical and merciless. He and I would spend whole days heavily debating some changes.
Niels is a brilliant keyboard player and has a good grasp at the art of composition. Both of us are conservatory kids, so we speak the same language. Our musical backgrounds know how to interact. This saves a lot of time of not being lost in translation. I found this way of working satisfactory, as we would sit next to each other in my little studio, me dressed in my usual pair of sport pants and without a trace of makeup, spit onto each other, sweat heavily, abuse language, crack inappropriate sexual jokes, have fun like two lads at a sports game. We even broke furniture! Well, having a gifted young man bring finishing touches to your tunes is definitely not something to complain about, haha!
Yet, on stage, it still remains me, myself and I. Whether I like it or not. No bandmember to distract or challenge, no guitar player to seduce, no drummer to pull off rhythm...
Still, I go for it fully, having fun as a priority, for I still don’t care whether people are used to such a concept or not. Through a new performance I can add a new experience to my list; shake, enrage, provoke, inspire; and that’s what truly matters in the end.
Everybody has their dreams in music. Tell me yours, Elektra!
Having a great team. Not having to do everything myself. Being able to lift my vision to a higher level. Having people around me whose ego is also in check. Who are trustworthy, who believe in me, who trust that I know which direction we are going, yet still challenge me in my perception whenever they feel there’s need for it, yet without playing any power games. It takes a village to raise a kid, there’s no exception when it comes to what I am doing, as projects walk the same path of development. I’ve spent too much time trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s a pity, yet I have no regrets. I did all that I do on my own because I was tired of having to wait for others. I did it because I was terrified of it, too. I didn’t do it to get anyone’s approval nor a pet pat on my head. I proved to myself that I could do it. And now I want a team around me to take it all to a higher level. I’ve been sending it out there for almost a year now, let’s see whether it’s mine for the taking! I say: “Gimme!”
The more I hear your music the more I discover a melancholic layer. If you compose a song, how do you work? I mean, does the creation depend on the mood you’re in? I mean, it can be me…but I would never like to write a happy song even if I’m happy!
My creations are rarely any reflections of moods. Whether mine or someone else’s. Moods are a fleeting phenomenon, it’s hard to catch them for an eternity. If I’d be guided by them too much, I’d have trouble re-enacting them while on stage.
How I work? In my head. I walk daily (or nightly to be more correct), I have all those compartments in my head where I store all kinds of ideas, let them mature. Then I simply kick them out, empy those drawers, usually in a very short amount of time, as I work very intensely.
Music always comes to me like (day)dream. A music video, a mini film with soundtrack attached to it. Usually I record everything in one take, fully concentrated, no compromise. It doesn’t mean I am done after take 1. Doing 40 vocal takes is no exception, there was this one time I was actually crawling around the studio floor throwing up, for I went too deep into the interpretation. (This song will be released on the next album.)
Melancholy is a big part of who I am, as it is with many artists. But it doesn’t mean I am not a happy person! Far from it, there’s a stage persona and there’s a daily life me, both are two very different beings, and at times it’s hard living with them under one roof.
But speaking about happy songs in particular: my former vocal teacher, Setske Mostaert, actually sent me home with an assignment few years ago, to write a happy song in a major scale! She was done with of all those drama songs full of grief and heartbreak and tumult and maelstrom. Well, I landed in a depression in the process! Happy songs are just not my cup of tea. I can write songs about being happy while having sex, but... Well, just listen to the next album, haha... It’s all there.
What are your plans for the future?
Finally have a real freakin’ holiday. The last one was my honeymoon of 8 days in the summer of 2001.
Every year I go back to my birthcountry, because my grandma still lives there, but it can hardly be considered a holiday as there’s a lot of work involved. It’s rarely longer than a week, too.
Plans for the future:
Well, I’d love to actually earn sufficient living through the use of my talents, while simultaneously becoming extremely good at all that I do. Having more freedom through it. Being able to invest more as well, and hence being able to take more risks.
Soundtracks are also on my radar. The idea alone scares the hell out of me, that’s why I know I must head into that direction.
I’d also love to finally sit my creamy tush down and start writing those books, in both fiction and non-fiction department. Many people have been hammering my head all these years to finally start doing it. So! Facing that demon soon and having a good look at the bastard. He’s so protective, he can cost me my life.
See Blowpipe Records gather momentum. I am on the outlook for kick-ass female talent out there, I want them to be signed, help get them out there, see them blossom. I am very passionate about women anyhow, despite majority of them acting like terrible insecure backstabbing brainless cunts, haha. I still see their essence, and it is sheer magnificence! Once they break down that fucking wall, just wait and see what happens, haha! FUN times! (Check my Femininity Redefined project: http://www.femininity-redefined.com)
Then I also want to buy a piece of land and create my own paradise on it, grow my own food, permaculture manner. An island of peace, my own piece of homeland.
I also dream of seeing my lingerie designs become reality! As it’s also a big life-long passion of mine.
Et cetera, et cetera and so forth... So much to do, so little time!
I don’t have time to watch television, haha! In fact: I haven’t even got one.
Let’s end with two questions I always ask. What’s your favourite record of all time and please state why…One from my childhood. Unfortunately I don’t have it anymore, lost it through all that moving around. It’s part voice-act / music. “A Cat That Always Walks By Herself”, in Russian of course. I can still sing the main tune. I dare bet your woman knows this one! It used to have this green cover, the most ugly cover I’ve ever seen on a vinyl record. But goodness! Just as one of my most favorite fairy-tales, the Emperor’s Nightingale (Andersen) the contents were golden. Basically that story is universal and timeless. Kipling was the one who wrote it down, but it’s actualy an ancient legend. Interestingly enough, the original story says “by himself” while the Russians made the cat into a female. Up to this day I can’t stop chuckling about it! Ah! Those legendary Russian women! This world has so much to learn from them.
With whom wouldn’t you mind to be alone with in an elevator for 8 hours and what would you do then?
My first impulse was Neo from the Matrix. He can teach me how to dodge bullets! But he’s a fictional character, maybe that doesn’t count? Trinity can sleep peacefully, I am not interested in raping her subject (nor the actor who played him). I simply want to pick Neo’s brain and learn how to kick agents in the butt with more efficiency, while still staying stylish and keeping my sunglasses intact.Leonardo da Vinci is a dead man (pun intended)... so that’s probably also out of the question. So is Alexander the Great. Pity.Hmmm. It must be someone I don’t know personally either... And probably human, too...Someone who also smells nice... Showers regularly...
You know, I smell a new type of reality show in this question! One gets to spend 8 whole hours in an elevator with a person of choice, it gets filmed, then aired... I’d have to buy a television for this one! But okay! Who? It must be a challenge and not too obvious nor too comfortable...I just have no idea!! If I’ll ever get stuck with another in an elevator for whole 8 hours, I’ll let you know... It’s not very practical though. I mean, there’s no lavatory in an elevator... Just saying...
Perhaps you can also tell us why people should come and visit your gig!
I won’t be around forever. Get to know me. You’ll either hate me or love me, but in the end you’ve felt a great deal of emotion boiling through your veins.
Or as I used to say: “Let me reflect you!” Till we meet again. ; -)
- FREQUENCY (upcoming 12”)
- STERNENHIMMEL (single/ 2013)
- SUICIDE SIREN (album 10” / 2013)
- CRAZY BABY ( 7” / 2013)
- MAKE-BELIEVE MAN (Xmas single / 2010)
- EUDEMONIA (single / 2010)
- EUDEMONIA (album / 2010)
- GOD, THANK YOU FOR LOVE (single / 2008)
- HELIOS SELENE (album / 2007)
- JUMP! (single / 2006)
For more details on the releases, plus videography please visit artist’s facebook page.
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