We talk with KAMILLE SHARAPODINOV, one of the most active figures in the Russian underground scene, and leader of THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK, THE GRAND ASTORIA, ORGANIC IS ORGANIC and SLOVO MIRA. An active and restless guy who tells us details about coo were his beginnings in music in his native St. Petersburg, about the status of the Russian underground scene and tell us details about his latest album with THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK, “WABI WU” that was released via Tonzonen Records.
“I got into music, I basically picked in a record store every band that got skulls, crosses and bones on the cover”
Denpafuz: It’s been more than 10 years since your first album came out with The Grand Astoria, and since 2003 with THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK, plus Organic is Organic, Slovo Mira…How were the beginnings of a young man in St. Petersburg who decided to devote himself to music?
Kamille: Hello my friend! Thanks a lot for the interest in my projects! I started listening to the music very late actually, during the last grade in school I bought my first CD (AC/DC “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”) and that’s how it all began. When I got myself a first guitar (I was around 17 years old) I immediately started composing the songs instead of practicing scales. Maybe it was some kind of a mistake but I’d been obsessed with letting my inspirational demons out so I concentrated on that.
Denpafuz: Do you have any local examples to inspire you or was it European or American bands that developed your passion? Who are your idols? I know you like jam bands… hehe.
Kamille: We had and still have a lot of interesting bands and musicians here in Russia but by the time I got into music I basically picked in a record store every band that got skulls, crosses and bones on the cover! That’s how I discovered everything from Grateful Dead to King Diamond. So I was listening to anything I could get, no matter which country it was coming from.
Denpafuz: For someone like myself, and I suppose the rest of Europeans, the Russian scene is fairly unknown. I’m constantly finding more and more interesting groups from there, and I have the feeling that there are a lot of good bands, but what is the underground scene like in Russia? Is it easy to book a gig? Venues that schedule concerts? Rehearsal studios?
Kamille: Yeah, we are not in the medieval ages here anymore, we got great studios and venues all over the country. And many interesting bands in any genre you imagine! Trust me.
“Yeah, we are not in the medieval ages here anymore, we got great studios and venues all over the country”
Denpafuz: Are there musical festivals in Russia where you can play, or is there more of a scene in the rest of Europe?
Kamille: With The Grand Astoria we are not even trying cos we are singing in English and nowadays Russian language become kinda obligatory here if you are willing any sort of success. So we are mostly in Europe, right. But with other bands it’s easier cos The Legendary Flower Punk is instrumental music and Slovo Mira’s lyrics are in Russian. So we are trying to step into Russian market as well.
Denpafuz: What style of music do you identify with most? What’s the most comfortable for you to make music?
Kamille: Doesn’t really matter cos my taste is so diverse! TGA is more fuzzy art-metal band with a lot of concept behind every record, Flower Punk is clealy influeced by the US jam scene, Slovo Mira is kinda totally freak-out improvisational unit
Denpafuz: you seem more focused on Legendary Flower Punk.Is your other project still going? How do you decide what song should be for what group?
Kamille: Yes-yes, all the bands are active, it’s just hard to handle a lot of things at the same time. Stylistically, as I mentioned above, my projects are very different so that’s easy to decide where which composition belongs.
Denpafuz: What is your inspiration for creating a song? Are all the songs of Wabi Wu yours?
Kamille: In Flower Punk we compose everything together as a group, the ideas start usually from me or our bassist Mike and then we develop them all together. In The Grand Astoria I am the only one who composes everything but the arrangments we also do together with whoever is involved. TGA is more song-oriented so I know from the start where I want to go with each track.
Denpafuz: For this album you didn’t edit it yourself, it was published by Dirk Tonzonen. En esta ocasión no has editado tú mismo el álbum , sino que ha sido publicado por el sello de Dirk, Tonzonen. A label that is characterized by unconventional bets but always prioritizing musical quality. Why? What was the whole creative process of the album?
Kamille: Tonzonen already published two albums of Slovo Mira and did a fantastic job! Dirk is the nicest guy so I just offered this album to him and he loved it! Easy. As for creative process – it all starts in our rehearsal room, then to the studio, then deciding about the artwork with our beloved illustrator Sophia Miroedova, sending everything to the printing factory and here you got it!
Denpafuz: Why the name Wabi Wu? What does it really mean?
Kamille: Both “Wabi” and “Wu” are some sort of Japanese artistic and zen terms. You can find a better description of that in Philip K. Dick’s novel “The Man in the High Castle”, for example
Denpafuz: Let’s talk about the album. I noticed a lot more fusion and use of electronics than other works of yours, much to the detriment of psychedelia. Is it just something I noticed, or is it really like that? And why?
Kamille: I can’t say why actually. We all in Flower Punk really love electronic music – from Shpongle and Eat Static to Chemical Brothers and Prodigy! We even started to play more electronic live sets now in St.Petersburg and we will perform like that during the forthcoming tour also from time to time.
Denpafuz: On the album we find many songs on that fuse jazz with funk such as “Wabi Bu”, “Azulejo” or the elegant “Aki kaurismäki”.
Kamille: That’s true!
Denpafuz: Are the songs connected with each other or do they each have their own story? It seems like you don’t want to give up any style, and each song has a bit of each of those styles.
Kamille: In every band I play I don’t want to play something clearly labeled so I am trying to mix the styles everywhere to invent something special and just not to sound boring.
Denpafuz: “Trance fusion pä ryska” is the longest song on the album and I get the feeling that it is a jam carried away by free improvisation. Is that so, or is everything perfectly planned?
Kamille: The last part was improvised of cos. But the first (main) part of the track got the structure and we play it like that live and then jamming leads us to wherever we are in the mood to go.
“In every band I play I don’t want to play something clearly labeled so I am trying to mix the styles everywhere to invent something special and just not to sound boring”.
Denpafuz: On “Aki kaurismáki” everything becomes quieter about the lively rhythms of most of the songs. It sounds somewhat more progressive and electronics are still present. Acoustic moments with very Latin guitar. Is it something different, isn’t it?
Kamille: You tell me hehe. Our bassist came with his parts and I just added this quiet acoustic guitar melodies and then Danila (our soundguy on this album and also the singer in The Grand Astoria) recorded some extra synth fragments.
Denpafuz: What would you say to someone who doesn’t know The Legendary Flower Punk about your album? How would you define your own content?
Kamille: It’s a danceable and catchy on one hand and proggy and very variative on the other. It’s an easy listening but still deserves some good attention for details.
Denpafuz: Is there any special song for you? One that you like more or are more proud of than the others?
Kamille: All of them actually. I am thinking more in bigger pictures, so the whole thing turned out great for me!
Denpafuz: Do you have a tour planned this year to present the new album?
Kamille: Oh yeah! April 2020 we will spend on the road – Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany – these are our destinations this time.
Denpafuz: Will I see you in Spain again soon? Or will I have to go to Europe to see how the album sounds live?
Kamille: Not this year unfortunately but in 2021 for sure! I miss playing in Spain and Portugal so we will be back 100 %.
Denpafuz: Thanks so much for your words and good luck not only with this album but with your upcoming concerts. If you want to add anything else, now’s your moment, hahaha
Kamille: It was my pleasure too! Hugs from Russia everyone!
Translation: Abigail Simpson