1. You are a DIY rapper and your story as an artist began with a vintage shoes fund... how did you become the Yury you are now?
I was born in the last Eastern European dictatorship, Belarus, and my family didn’t have much money, but I’ve always been into art and culture as a whole. When I entered grade 10 in Pittsburgh (USA), I remember getting my first pair of Air Jordans (black suede ones with the blue soles). They were expensive and I knew my family couldn’t afford to buy me clothing and shoes too often so I figured out a way to do it on my own : I started reselling used items (shoes & clothing) that people could not find outside the USA. Because of the scarcity, I could earn quite a lot of money out of it. I established a solid reputation on shoe forum marketplaces and had my own Ebay store. After a while, I got jaded of it and used the money I had saved up to spend it on studio monitors, a microphone, interface, software, and recording time at ID Labs studio. Through lots of trial and error, I began finding my comfort zone and molding who I was as an artist. To say that the culture has had an impact on me is an understatement. At school, I was the “white boy with gear”.
2. You lived in four different countries (Belarus, Israel, Canada, and the US), how did it have an impact on your music?
My first memories of MVs were Biggie’s “Dead Wrong” and Daft Punk’s “Around The World” when I was 7. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I had access imported Hip Hop, but also o the electronic music scene in Quebec and its connection to France through Mr. Qizo, a French artist. When the creation of Google and Napster (1999), I got many new electronic-rooted influences . I wrote my first rap when I was 10, got back to them when I was 18 and got serious about it around age 20/21. The thing that made me a rapper was the fact of experiencing my teenage years at Taylor Allderdice. Roughly 80% of my friends at school were black because we had the same interests and the fact of attending this school positively affected my voice and flow. My cultural backgrounds was pretty uncommon so what I did bond with people over was music, fashion, sports, etc. These all blended to make me who I am today.
3. What stories and messages are you aiming to convey through your album “Still Life”?
Still life is a matter-of-factly way of discussing my existentialism : It’s a metaphor of existence, feelings, emotions and vibes. The album title is a dichotomy between “still life” as a style of art and what that metaphor means : “Still, life”. It’s an experience combined with a mindset. I’ve grown a lot since I recorded the album and am about to release a new one in October ! Its title? The Placebo Effect.
4. Where and how did you learn how to rap so well? Any mentor / particular musical influences?
First off, thank you for the compliment ! I’m my biggest critic so “so well” to me is quite relative. I’d say I started from scratch? I didn’t want to mimick others so I created my own style. The way I write and count bars is pretty atypical. Nevertheless, I’m nowhere near where I want my sound and flow to be but I know I’m on the right path. I never had a mentor but I did have European electronic influences like Justice, Crystal Castles, Daft Punk, and The Bloody Beetroots, which is odd coming from a rapper, but I’m also a producer. As for the rap, I’d say “Rakim and Eminem”. My main types of music I listen to are : Electronic (from ambient to EDM to Dnb to Electro-house and more), Hip-hop, Rap, Classical, Jazz, and so forth.
5. On the press page of your website, we can read: “While others chase reality in dreams, Yury makes his dreams a reality”. Which one of your songs best reflects your reality? Why?
My perception of reality changes on an almost day-to-day basis. Everything I’ve written about, I’ve felt at one point or another. At the moment, I’d say I’m in the “going along with the universe and letting existence flow whilst attempting to control its direction” phase. I know that may sound like some pseudo-spiritual nonsense or what have you, but one thing people need to know and understand about me, is I’m as genuine as can be. And I’m very open and honest about my struggles, downfalls, weaknesses, and perspectives.
6. Do you perform in public? If yes, what are the best memories you kept from your performances ?
I’ve performed a decent amount of shows. Anytime a fan/ emails / supporter messages/ contacts me and says how much they love my music or whatever, it helps keep me going. It’s almost like an objective push to continue doing this highly subjective art. I know I should appreciate the fact that I already have some die-hard fans, but I’m currently struggling in general to be appreciative of things, even as I fully comprehend what these things are and where I am in life at the moment.
7. If we switched places and I was the artist and you were asking the questions, what is one question you would ask me? What would you reply to this same question?
I would ask: What is your overall purpose/gain in all of this? And my answer is: I don’t really know. I just know that out of all the questioning and second-guessing I do of myself, I feel that this is the right path for me. Whatever it leads it, can be left open-ended and ambiguous because life in itself tends to be that way.
8. You chose to share your music for free under Creative Commons licenses on Jamendo. Why did you make this decision?
I’ve always understood that the business model works in a way that music is going to be heard one way or another. There’s not much money in the music sales themselves, so I’d much rather reach as large as an audience as I can. The profit is in the shows/touring and merchandise. It’s all more tangible and makes more sense this way. If someone wanted to truly support me through fiscal methods, there are ways to do that. But as far as paying for music, maybe when I release something on vinyl. But if it’s digital, please, share it with everyone. I want to expand and reach as many people as possible.
9. Is there a fun anecdote your fans don’t know about you and would be surprised to hear?
Well, guess this is a good a time as ever to share this. Just this past Labor Day (September 2nd, 2013) I was hanging out with Wiz Khalifa and all his homies at the studio. I went to high school with him, and have hung out with him in the studio during college, but it’s been over 5 years since we got a chance to catch up. I went with my good friend Frank Paladino (who shoots Wiz Khalifa’s videos) and we hung out all night with the Taylor Gang at ID Labs music studio. Lots of partying, listening to unreleased music, lots of fun. We were joking and laughing for a couple minutes, catching up on the past 5 years of our lives. I told him I finished school and got back to the music, to which he was very supportive, and shared some quick tidbits about his life. I ended up pretty messed up that night and people around got a good laugh out of it.
Superdirt² is project mixing the classical sounds of a cello with the modernity of electro beats to produce unique dubstep and dnb-inspired tracks. Their compositions are highly innovative, with deep dramatic sounds mixed with lighter instruments. The technicality of the cello and the never-ending pattern of the loops create an extraordinary fluidity in the outcome.
Sound engineer, music producer and multi-instrumentalist, Vincent (aka Ras Tilo) comes from the Reggae / Dub scene from which he brings the roots through futuristic melodies and sound effects. Violinist before becoming who he is now, Ras Tilo always loved strings instruments and was influenced by Dub groups and producers like High Tone, Improvisators Dub, or La Phaze (Dnb touch).
Pursuing classical cello studies, Daniel (aka Käpt'n Dirt) was both influenced by Bach and non-classical bands such as Korn, Guts Pie Earshot (cello and drums), Super 700, Sepultura or Deftones.
So “How did they meet?”, you’d ask. Well, their story is pretty atypical: Vincent and Daniel, flatmates, started the band two years ago at a party during which they were asked to mix both their musical universes. They experienced success straight away: They got a lot of bookings and had a lot of gigs opportunities, from small parties to big festival. The band starts by creating the beats, then fill them up with cello sounds.
Ten years ago, Vincent (Ras Tilo) heard about GNU/Linux and Open Source software and loved their philosophy : “I really like the idea that you can easily create something new from old stuff because I think everything new we create is always based on other influences. The less fences, the more we create in a positive and constructive way! That’s exactly what I found in the Creative Commons licenses, and that’s why we released our music on Jamendo”.
ANECDOTES AND FUN FACTS
Daniel, the cellist (aka Käpt'n Dirt) : Sometimes, I play concerts in baroque costumes and headdress. Proof here : here
Vincent (aka Ras Tilo) : We knew each other but never throught of making music together. At a party/gig, we decided to mix cello sounds with electro beats. Suddenly, everybody started dancing (the venue was full!) and a lot of people came to us asking for our names and where they could buy our CDs ! We told them “Heee, there is Käpt’n Dirt with some groovy electro stuff but we still have no name…wait, maybe we are…. Superdirt²!". One week later, we had 2 new planned gigs and a lot of requests. We decided to go on with the project !
- They will be on tour in Germany for their CD-Lauch (http://superdirt.net/live) and in New Zealand for 15 gigs (from Mid-January to Mid-March 2014).
- They will release their first full-length album with 9 tracks on October 26th 2013 (at The White Rabbit Club in Freiburg, Germany). The album, under Creative Commons licenses, was a DIY project since the band produced it by themselves in their own studios (www.sonejo.net) in Freiburg, Germany.
Free Download (track): http://jamen.do/t/1033372 Free Download (album): http://jamen.do/l/a121631 Artist Page: http://jamen.do/a/432520 Jamendo on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JAMENDO
1. Could you briefly tell us about how you met and came up with this band name?
We started as a group of friends when we were teenagers. We were influenced by Industrial, Electro, Rock’n’roll and Metal. At the time, I was a producer and sound engineer and a member of two different bands. I started to compose in a rehearsal room near Vatican City. We wanted something different, something like “Shotgun Messiah meets Prodigy and Industrial”. “Dope” represents the catchy and addictive melodies, “stars” is for the rock’n’roll attitude, and "inc." for the industrial and cyberpunk core that is in our lyrics.
2. What are your main musical influences and where do you find your inspiration while composing a track?
I listen to a lot of different kind of music that goes from classics like Depeche Mode, Metallica, Guns’n’roses, Michael Jackson and the Beatles to more extreme music like rave techno, acid electro, death or black metal so my inspiration evolves with time. I also enjoy classical music since I worked with my best friend, Noras, on a project called “Epochate” which mixes classical music with a soundtrack feel / industrial rock.
3. “Never accept, conform, disconnect, Be extraordinary, Be Ultrawired”. How were these words applied in the creation of your new album “Ultrawired” now available on Jamendo ?
I am like a hacker in the music field : I explore and experiment new things in terms of music promotion and communication with our fans, break the musical rules to create something that never existed before. The launch of Dope Stars Inc. was a true DIY process : We prepared the music, the artwork, the website, the forum, the street team and the splash page announcing it. I sent hundreds of packages to magazines, sent thousands of emails all around the world, encouraged each new fan to join the street team and promote our band. I lost a fair amount of hours and hair but who cares, it was all worth it in the end!
After finding a record label to support our first 3 albums, we started to perform in public and I was always working with the labels on how to promote our music in a different way in this constantly changing musical world but it seemed to be hopeless. People downloaded music and webzines were emerging but labels kept focusing on the paper magazines with a promotion-for-money system. We decided it had to change. We reached a lot more people and did 3 important tours in Europe, Russia, and the US. Nowadays, artists tend to use crowdfunding and extreme social networking.
We are aiming for a better fans interaction because having 100 000 fans on Facebook doesn’t mean we can contact them so I am currently studying a new way to get out of the dependence from these networks and create a new system that is really building a direct contact instead of doing the work for third party websites that use this data mostly for their own interests and delegate to users the role of sharing the content starting from a central website.
4. What is the best memory you keep from your public performances and your fans (crazy fans, love letters, etc...) ?
What we remember and what counts the most for us, after 150 shows in 3 continents is to know that people had a good time thanks to our music and performances. We also got to meet new musicians and people in the musical field who became good friends (I’m thinking of our manager in Russia, Alexey, and The Rabid Whole who drove for thousands of kilometers with us across the US).
5. You were the first band to be featured on the home page of “The Pirate Bay”, got several awards and appeared in the soundtracks of three different “Saw” horror movies. How did you manage to get this kind of exposure?
At the time, our record label made a deal with the director of Saw who was enthusiastic about our music and decided to feature us again and again. As for The Pirate Bay, I guess it’s because I really know a lot of people, especially in the computer field. It was the first doodle of The Pirate Bay and inspired the “Promo Bay” campaign. I am really happy when I see other bands doing the same and doing it for passion rather than for money or marketing.
6. Is there a fun anecdote your fans don’t know about you and would be surprised to hear?
According to me, to make good music, you have to feel bad. The more people hurt me the more they inspire me and the bigger is their surprise when the talking ends and the music start to speak!
7. You wrote in your manifesto “We are the generation of free download, of do it yourself, the proud technological geeks”. Do you think it is important nowadays to share music more freely? Why?
My wish to share our music more freely doesn’t come from nowhere and is not just for the sake of experimenting. When I was young, before the Internet even existed, we had at home the first peer to peer workstation, it was called BBS, where people were connecting to get software out of it. My father teached me the importance to learn everything by myself without even a manual (as I said there was no internet) to learn how to use computer or devices or software (music production software for example) because they were the future. The DIY and freedom of information is a thing that is flowing in my blood. We think that everybody should have the right to listen to music as everybody have the right to see a monument. In case of a performance, it’s different. Making tours requires a lot of work and stress.
We think artists shouldn’t make people pay to see the creation of their minds. The most beautiful gift is not money but when people drive for kilometers just to come to your shows and meet you (like it was the case in Russia). Life is too short to make money your God. I am 34 years old and I have seen the world and can say that I did it because of my hard work. Dope Stars Inc. is thankful for all the people who support our music and we’ll try to reach the most people possible through the Internet. They can support us with a donation or by coming to our shows.