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Atomic Simao interview with Jora Valchuk, Dima Dudko, Nikita Gavrilenko, Andriy Volkoff and Andriy Dvoryashin

Atomic Simao represent a freedom seldom scene in the music industry these days.  Harnessing powerfully psychedelic landscapes and melding them with rock and acid jazz, every song seems to be a journey.  Where that journey will take you though is open to interpretation in this writer’s opinion.  Some people are going to gravitate to the more tripped out guitar driven instrumental psychedelia of Nodo while other jazz and improv enthusiasts will instantly glom onto the undulating rhythms and melodies of Sphyro that coalesce and converge into powerful, funky explorations into the sounds that Atomic Simao are capable of summoning from the ether.  At once brash and impulsive and simultaneously harmonious and insanely catchy, from the moment you hit play it’s obvious that Atomic Simao are a tribe of young individuals out to explore the boundaries and limitations of what people expect from a song.  In short, they’re a group of people interested in doing their own thing and sounding the way that they want to sound, which is a hell of a refreshing thing in a time when so many things are just recycled reiterations of things we’ve all heard before; and quite often done better.  Atomic Simao summons trance like hypnotic altered states from the hazy soundscapes of their music, echo and reverb feeding back on themselves like the thunderous crash of waves against a cliff in the distance.  After a few lineup changes and some much needed reflection on their sound, a lot of things have and are changing with Atomic Simao but one thing that remains a constant is their doggedly unique and persistent musical voice.  It’s been months in the making but I’m absolutely stoked to finally give all you lucky Psychedelic Baby readers the skinny on one of the trippiest things I’ve come across in years; Atomic Simao.
Listen while you read:  

What is Atomic Simao’s lineup?  If I understand correctly you went through a little bit of a change as a band last year.  Can you talk a bit about that?

Jora Valchuk – drums
Dima Dudko – sax
Nikita Gavrilenko –bass
Andriy Volkoff – keys, fx
Andriy Dvoryashin- percussion, kaos, vocal
Zhenya Sophiychuk - guitar

Dima:  The last lineup changes started like this: there was a gig last summer where we agreed to participate.  We were really interested, but the band members from Kharkiv suddenly couldn’t arrive.  We didn’t want to cancel, so in order to take part in the show we invited our old and new friends that were in bands and came up with some songs for the show.  Among them were guitar player Jenya Sofiychuk who returned to the band after a long break and a bass player Nikita Gavrilenko.  This was after Sphyro had already been recorded.  Andrey Dvoryashin used to play percussion for us from time to time and he started playing keys at the gig that summer.  Keyboard player Andrey Volkov later joined the band with me on sax and our drummer Jora, and that’s what Atomic Simao is today.  Before those changes our colleagues from Kharkiv were playing with us: Artem Janovsky and Andrey Listratenko both on guitar, Vova Sitnik on keys, Oleg Kasianov on bass and Jenya Garbuzov on percussion.  This is in addition to such former band members as Vova Yakovenko and Vanya Volokita on bass.

Jora:  If we’re talking about the beginning there were four of us thinking of starting a band: Zhenya Sophiychuk guitar, Ivan Volokita bass, Lyosha Rogachov keyboard, guitar, and vocal, and me on drums.  Then we had a gig in Kharkov, but Zhenya and Lyosha can’t go with us.  That day we met two guys who were also were playing at that gig as members of the Janovsky Featuring Givotnoe band and their guitarist Artyom Janovsky agreed to play with us.  After that day we decided to play together in spite of living in different cities.  Our first album Nodo was recorded with Janovsky on guitar), Vova Sytnik on keys and pads, and Ray Listratenko on guitar.  After that we had a gig in Kiev, but our Kharkov colleagues couldn’t come…  So, we decided to find new members.  Nowadays Atomic Simao is:

Jora Valchuk – drums;
Dima Dudko – sax;
Nikita Gavrilenko – bass;
Zhenya Sophiychuk – guitar;
Andriy Volkoff – keys, pads, samples;
Andriy “Bart” Dvoryashin – percussion, kaos pad, vocal samples.

Nikita:  I’ve been in the band since the summer of 2013.  Our lineup now is the universe, passed through our mind and soul.

Volkoff:  The band's lineup went through a string of changes.  I, personally, entered the current lineup in September 2013.  Hooray for that!

Dvoryashin:  Nope, I just joined this spring; I was only featured before.  I can honestly say that I love all the guys and am very grateful for being with them.  Yes, meetings were occasional to say the least while half the band was in Kharkiv.

Are any of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so can you tell us a little bit about that?  I love playing musical connect the dots; but as much as I love playing everyone knows there’s nothing more fun than getting to cheat ha-ha!

Dima:  There have been a lot of bands and projects, as well as local self-releases.  Among them, solo projects, Sonym, DoZa, Violet and Atomic Simao side-projects.

Jora:  I’ve been playing in different bands for fourteen years.  It was a good experience for me, I had a lot of good practice!  I should note one of them, called DoZa.

Nikita:  At the time I received the invitation to join Atomic Simao I was speding my time making home recordings and playing jamming with my friends at the house.

Volkoff:  Other bands?  Quite probably, yeah, I played the drums in a small formation with our bass player, Nikita, and this long-haired guy called Rodion.  Before that, I made some bedroom sounds by myself.

Dvoryashin:  Not much to tell about there.  My talent mostly finds a place on the streets, you know, while hangin’ out.

Where are you originally from?

Dima:  Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Jora:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Nikita:  Zaporozhue City, Ukraine.

Volkoff:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Dvoryashin:  Kiev/Crimea, Ukraine.  Earth.  Universe.

How would you describe the local music scene where you grew up?  Did you go to a lot of shows when you were growing up?  Do you feel like it played a large role in your musical tastes or the way that you play today?

Dima:  At that time in Chernihiv, traditionally we had classical music concerts and local metal shows.  That was quite a community, it was nice.  Sonym even played a few shows.  Then, there were a few jazz, funk, fusion and rock shows in other Ukrainian places.  Those things played a role, but most of the music that influenced me didn’t necessarily come from those shows.

Jora:  Our local scene is like one big depression for me.  Thank God, it hasn’t influenced me at all.  

Nikita:  I've been playing music in different bands for about ten years, which has had a great influence on my musical tastes as they are today.  My musical childhood in Zaporozhue was, in the spiritual sense, something like America in the 60's with their free-mindedness and rock'n'roll.  We all had long hair and there were less than forty of us in the whole city.

Volkoff:  Certainly, there were some notable musicians and shows here.  But, for sure, my musical tastes and my way of playing were mostly influenced by British and American music.

Dvoryashin:  I went to a lot of shows, but I still found more inspiration in records from abroad.  Alternative rock parties were very fun though!

Was your home very musical growing up?  Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested music at that point?

Dima:  Yes to all of the above.

Jora:  My dad (rest in peace) introduced me to a lot of cool music from the 60’s, such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Grand Funk Railroad.  He also played bass guitar during his youth

Nikita:  My sister is a music teacher.

Volkoff:  My musical tastes growing up were affected by my dad's collection of LPs.  "Bicycle Race" by Queen was among the first tracks I ever heard.

Dvoryashin:  I didn’t have a parental music background but my mother has a good voice and so does my sister.  She even graduated music school.  I began buying tapes as soon as I started getting money for weekend apartment cleaning from my Mom; that’s their part of my musical endowment.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Dima:  The first music I listened to?  My parent’s vinyl of Bach, Vivaldi, The Beatles, ABBA, the Soviet jazz fusion band Arsenal, Paul Mauriat, Joe Dassin, Count Basie, some Polish jazz and Soviet musical tales for kids.

Jora:  It was a cassette tape where Queen was on the A-side and Michael Jackson was on side B.  I clearly remember Pink Floyd on vinyl.

Volkoff:  My primal scream right after birth...

Dvoryashin:  First I listened to and loved songs that my father sang with friends after a good evening.  Then, he gave me a tape with western themes.  I used it to pieces.

If you had to pick a single moment of music that redefined everything for you, changed all the rules and opened your eyes to the endless possibilities of music, what would it be?

Dima:  It wasn’t just a single moment.  Maybe it was something like an accordion in my hands when I was a child, or later on getting new instruments.  Or, discovering some bands that impressed me for a long time.

Jora:  Yeah, it was when I heard Red Snapper!  

Nikita:  I don’t like to describe music with words.  Words never say enough.

Volkoff:  Tough question...  It’s hard to pick one single moment.  Every time I play any musical instrument is that kind of moment, really.

Dvoryashin:  It’s about spontaneously born harmonies…  Like a quantum leap.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?

Dima:  Like I mentioned earlier, that happened when I was playing the accordion as a child.  I was about four years old and it’s caused an ingrained habit of having fun making, and playing, my own music.

Jora:  When I was a kid I was dreamt about a band, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to play or where I should find the other musicians at the time.  As I was growing up my musical taste changed and
I was playing in a band as a percussionist.  One day I decided to start my own band to play what we liked without any stylistic boundaries or limits.

Volkoff:  I started writing and performing my own music at school.  It was caused by The Beatles and my classmate who showed me some chords.  

When and how did you all meet originally?

Dima:  I met our drummer Jora when we were both working at the CD store in Kyiv.  That was about ten years ago.  Some of the others studied together at school or were good friends.  I was mostly acquainted with everybody before the last lineup change.

Jora:  The universe connects likeminded people.  

Volkoff:  Initially, I met our drummer Jora, a long time ago at school.

Dvoryashin:  I met Jora in 2002, I guess.  It was a time when my tastes were transforming and it’s been a big step in my evolution.

What led to the formation of Atomic Simao and when exactly was that?

Dvoryashin:  The time had come.

Jora:  My enormously optimistic view of things. As I said before, I played in different bands and one day, I think it was 2010, I decided to start my own.

Dima:  The main cause was Jora’s constant activism, obstinacy and his long search for colleagues and supporters with whom he could share his musical energy.  I think it was 2010 when he met them.

Is there a shared creed, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?

Dima:  Musically maybe it’s to relax, improvise and not to bother much, to have fun if you can.  I don’t think it’s just about the music in our band.

Jora:  Pure meditation.  The main idea is to improvise; I call it “catching a wave”.  We all enjoy what we do and we’re all having fun when we see each other.  If you’re surrounded by musical soulmates, you just need to push the record button!

Nikita:  Every one of us has his own powerful practices. 

Volkoff:  Our music is our mantra, our collective journey through beats and frequencies.

Dvoryashin:  We’re very different.  I think that’s a big advantage to our creativity, bringing in individual elements and collaborating.

I imagine this bizarre psychedelic bomb of some sort every time I hear your name, what does Atomic Simao mean or refer to?  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?

Volkoff:  Jora, the drummer, made up the name.  Simao Sabrosa is a famous football player from Portugal; I know that for sure!  

Dima:  I guess Jora will tell you.  He said it was just a random combination, but he’s also a football fan (Simao), a fan of a Portuguese speech and likes creative exaggerations and grotesque metaphors.  As for me, I mistakenly thought he meant some kind of a Basquiat character early on, with a slight allusion to Simeiz which is a popular hipster place in Ukraine.  Later we laughed at that assumption together, but we kind of consider it as an alternate meaning to the name.  The bomb version is also nice due to the initially unexpected, audience feedback to the music and the worldwide activity it’s caused.

Jora:  Once upon a time, I had a trip to Crimea by train.  I was staring through the window, admiring picturesque landscapes we were passing by, and then I decided to write some words in my notebook.  It was just a random list of different words written in two columns.  After that I began to connect one word with another, just for fun.  So, that’s it!  Just two words which sound nice together.  

Where’s the band currently located at these days?

Atomic Simao:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local live shows?  Do you help record and or release and local music?

Dima:  Yes to all of the above.

Nikita:  It’s very hard to describe the “local” Ukrainian music scene.  I don't understand it.

Jora:  We’ve had a lot of shows over the last four month.  They were in the “underground local scene” mostly.  The typical, local, mainstream mind is afraid of Atomic Simao.

Dvoryashin:  I’m discovering a lot of interesting performers.  I think Ukraine is very rich in talent.

Do you think that the local scene has played a large role in the history or sound of Atomic Simao or do you feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your location or surroundings?

Dima:  I think it played that role only partially, considering our major influences come from worldwide music.

Jora:  The local scene helped me understand what music I was never gonna play.  I don’t think that location plays such a large role in things if you have strong understanding of what you’re aiming for.

Nikita:  One-hundred percent regardless.

Volkoff:  We just are who we are.  Personally, I don't think the local scene had played a big role at all. 

I think that music is art and therefor I’m just not convinced that it belongs in these little boxes under these convenient labels that we like to assign it, which is usually okay but when it comes to having to describe a band to someone who’s never heard them though it makes things a little bit difficult. Rather than me making some strange and awkward attempt and describing your sound, how would you describe it to our readers who might not have heard you yet in your own words?

Dvoryashin:  It’s trippy, rocky and stormy.

Jora:  I call it “soundtrack music”.

Dima:  Traditionally we joke that, “this is pure meditation”.  

Nikita:  It’s an Eastern method applied to Western music.

Volkoff:  An Eastern approach to Western music...  Or soundtrack music; you can direct your own movie in your head using our sound!

You guys went a pretty radical shift in your musical tones between your two releases and while there’s definitely some middle ground to say the least it was a noticeable and drastic change. The main reason I bring this up is it kind of showcases how diverse the pallet of your influences has to be to draw from such varied musical styling’s and switch between them. Who are some of your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Dima:  Considering said band creed, you’ll understand that relaxed playing brings out those influences more.  Jora and I always enjoyed music like for example Red Snapper, so now the new album is closer to that.  The whole influence thing is hard to talk about because we have an approach to songwriting like a free conversation rather than a thoughtful monologue.  It’s useful to mention 60’s and 70’s blues, rock, funk legends, some music from 90’s, also some electronic and some more contemporary stuff.  So, as a band as a whole influences may be something obvious like Hendrix, Red Snapper, Pink Floyd or Radiohead.  Individually though, that list sure would expand!

Jora:  Tough question.  There’s an ocean without a shore, if we’re talking about music that inspired or influenced me.  I would definitely mention Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Red Snapper, Massive Attack, Radiohead, Bjork, Amon Tobin, Jimi Hendrix and Future Sound of London though…  Oh, and Funk music of course!  We think of our music as a kind of “state of mind”, a closed-eye journey into unconsciousness.

Volkoff:  Lots of personal influences...  As a band, I would pick Pink Floyd as an influence, but I know that my band-mates will name Radiohead for sure!  

Can you talk about Atomic Simao’s songwriting process with us a little bit?  Is there just a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas between band members when you all get together to play music or is there someone who will bring a somewhat finished riff or idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band?

Dima:  Several songs with the current lineup are jams that we came up with easily and approximately repeated.  The rest are fully improvised at shows or during the recording of the record; this was the most common case for us with Kharkiv friends.  If the song is a jam that anybody can be an author.

Jora:  We’re all the authors.  I agree with Dima about the jamming.  Our first album Nodo is one-hundred percent spontaneous creation; we caught the wave!

Nikita:  It’s “catching the feeling” of the band.

Volkoff:  Our playing and songwriting is a communication between the band members.  Call it "jamming", or call it "meditation", but we can do it for hours and hours...  That's a hundred to one!

Dvoryashin:  Yes, waves boiling in a studio cauldron of jams give birth to our music.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I mean I know as a musician myself that most of us at least, can really appreciate the end result.  Holding an album in your hands knowing it’s yours, you made it and that no one can take that away from you is a pretty incredible feeling.  Getting to that point though, getting the material recorded and the release prepped, especially when it comes to working with an entire band can be a little bit stressful to say the least. How is it recording for Atomic Simao?

Dima:  During the process of recording with the band the idea is to relax.  So it flows.  Breaks are done for the relaxation, no because of stress.

Jora:  We have some smoking rituals before recording.  No stress my friend! 

Do you all utilize studio space to record or is it more of a do it yourself kind of thing you do with your own equipment in your own space?

Dima:  Mostly the studio.

Jora:  We found a great place for recording in Kharkov; Driben Indie Records.  Our own equipment in our own space sounds fantastic though!  Maybe one day we can afford it.

Does Atomic Simao do a lot of prep work before you record music or is it a lot of improvisation and you just kind of try and catch lighting in a bottle?

Dima:  Mostly the second option.  

Jora:  Nodo and Sphyro; 90% improvisation.  But we’ve prepared the material for a new EP, or maybe even an LP.

Volkoff:  As a new band member I believe that we'll record our new material very soon... Then I’ll tell you if you want.  

Your first release that I’m aware of was 2013’s digital self-release Nodo.  Can you share some of your memories of recording the material for that first album?  Was it a fun pleasurable experience for you all?  Where and when was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Dima:  It was recorded in the end of 2012 at the same studio we sued for the second one, in Kharkiv.  Only two our present members took part: Jora, and our Kharkiv colleagues.  This was the lucky result of suddenly finding musical supporters in the city.  There was no bass player, so guitarist Artem Janovsky recorded the bass part at home on his own.  He also facelifted the material, mixed it and put it in order.  I was in the band when it was released, but didn’t take part in this album.  As for the equipment, it can partially be seen in our studio recording videos.

Jora:  I remember when Artyom called and said, “Dude, come to Kharkov for a record.  We want to do some jams, Hendrix style”.  After we finished talking I went right out to buy a ticket.  I can also remember when we came to the studio there wasn’t a bass player, which was shock for me!

You followed up the Nodo release with another digital only release Sphyro late last year (2013).  Was the recording of the material for Sphyro very different than the work you did for Nodo?  Where was that recorded?  Who recorded it?  When was that and what kind of equipment was used?

Dima:  Like I said, it was recorded at Dribben Indie Records studio in Kharkiv, the same as Nodo.  The differences in recording were that more people took part in it and that it was recorded during two different sessions on different days in March and April with slightly different lineups.  The bass player for the first session was Oleg Kasianov from Kharkiv who’s partially responsible for the sound of tracks like “13”, “Sun in Everyone” and “Bye” (check out a side-project featuring him at the Sailtale Dubhe Bandcamp page).  The second session of bass recordings belong to our Kyyiv friend Vova Yakovenko from In Red, Descending, Vacancy on Flight etcetera, who brought in some prepared ideas for the record as an exception.  Sax for the second session tracks was recorded in the studio and at home for the first session.  Almost all the editing, mixing and premastering was done by Artem Janovsky.  There’s also some unreleased material from those records we’ve kept for a possible later release.  In my humble opinion Sphyro contains more changes and variety when compared with Nodo’s more solid concept, which is nice.

Are there any plans for a physical release of either one of the albums or are they going to remain digital only for now?

Dima:  Yes, for now there are plans but no hurry.

Jora:  I agree with Dima, we’re going to release Nodo on vinyl near April or May of 2014, but we’re in no hurry.

Does Atomic Simao have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single I missed or a song that appeared on a compilation or something?

Dima:  There’re a lot of drafts and older, plainer sounding material that came before Nodo which included the participation of our guitarists Jenya and Artem, some rehearsal drafts from different times featuring Vova Yakovenko on bass, our sitar player Roma and Simao’s first bass player Vanya Volokita, who also toured with us at different times.  Besides that, there’s recorded LQ audio and video from a lot of our gigs and recording process in the studio.  Moreover, some material recorded for Sphyro wasn’t released, and some of that was posted on YouTube and our Facebook or VK group pages.

Jora:  There’s a lot of unreleased material.   You can follow us on our VK page to find some new videos from our shows as well.

With the release of Sphyro not long ago in 2013 are there any other upcoming releases planned or in the works at this point?

Dima:  For now it’s only a plan.

Jora:  Spring.  

Where’s the best place for our readers to pick up your music?

Dima:  Bandcamp.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Atomic Simao at?

Dima:  VK or Facebook.

Are there any major goals that you all are looking to accomplish in 2014?

Dima:  For Atomic Simao I guess, it’s to go on.  Go forward.  

Nikita:  Making the music is a major goal.

Jora:  It’ll be great to take part in some local and or international festivals.

Volkoff:  To record our new material with the current lineup and release it, to play many shows across the Ukraine and outside of our country, to participate in foreign music festivals...

Dvoryashin:  To me, and I think to all of us, it’s necessary to record  material we’ve got at last, to fix it, and to start working on new stuff.  And I’m willing to be on Jazz Koktebel open stage this autumn.

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

Dima:  Can’t tell for the whole year, but currently our schedule is about five shows a month.

Volkoff:  We have a few shows in Kiev this month (January).  Then we'll visit Lviv and Ternopil...  I hope there’s more to come!

Jora:  Like Volkoff mentioned, we’re going to visit Ternopil and Lviv, a picturesque pearl in Western Ukraine, and then we’ll go in to Sumy and return to some gigs in Kiev.

Have you all toured yet?  If so do you all enjoy touring and what’s life like on the road for you all?

Dima:  There have been no great worldwide tours for us yet.  We had a couple of shows across the country and have played abroad, but it isn’t like five gigs in a row, in different cities.  These trips were always fun, nice experience for us.  There’s something new to see, some interesting places to visit, people and colleagues to meet, funny stories, etcetera. 

Nikita:  It’s like having some kind of rest.

Volkoff:  Touring’s like an adventure!  We had a great show in Belarus last month.  We played in a very nice town called Gomel. 

Jora:  Touring is always fun.  New cities, new people, new atmosphere, new emotions!  I love it!
After this last trip, we’ve become a family.  

Dvoryashin:  Touring with Simao was really fun and really an adventurous time.  That was a great trip to Gomel.  It gave me a fresh and free feeling of life.  It was a really, damn good time!

Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with so far?

Dima:  A lot of them are good.  For example, DoZa, Polska Radio 1, Penguinsmeat, Bomg, Curse of Vendigo, Johnny Be Gut, Keepleer 18...

Jora:  Polska Radio One, DoZa.

Volkoff:  Polska Radio One.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Dima:  Don’t know.  I think for me, ‘how’ is more important than ‘who’, but I enjoyed touring with my good old friends Keepleer 18.  It was nice to meet them there after having not seen them for ages.  

Jora:  Amorphous Androgynous, Radiohead, Red Snapper, Massive Attack, Oscillation…

Nikita:  “Atoms for peace”?

Volkoff:  Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Todd Rundgren, Amorphous Androgynous, Air, Tame Impala and many-many more...

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Dima:  Maybe these are small details rather than whole funny stories but, herons flying in front of our stage during a Simao show at daybreak, us coming out onto the stage right from our beds in our tent right next to it, or the stage falling to pieces during the performance and fans bathing in the mud.

Volkoff:  Every our performance is like a funny story.  I can share two funny moments; the one with a hat which can be seen here, and the drum fall episode which can be seen here.

Dvoryashin:  Well, it was Gogol Fest.  It rained a lot and rain was dripping on our stage through a bunch of holes in the roof.  So we played in puddles and I hid under an umbrella with a kaossilator, so people could only sometimes see my head on this dark stage.

With all of the various mediums of release available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Are there any plans to release Sphyro physically in the future? If so do you have any idea on what medium?

Dima:  We were asked by the fans regarding CD and vinyl.  There are plans and some propositions.  It’s just a plan so far.  It seems that these mediums are in demand.

Jora:  Vinyl is a good one!  We’ll be looking for a label in the near future to release Sphyro.

Volkoff:  I’d like to see our records on vinyl and cassette tape.

Dvoryashin:  I can only be proud of owning Soviet vinyl.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dima:  Too big to go into details.  It all started with the conscious purchase of a Thriller cassette during my childhood.

Volkoff:  I have a lot of different music in various formats; LP's, CD's, tapes, digital.  The LP's are my dad's collection from the past.  The CD's, tapes and digital music have been collected by myself; a lot of different genres, really, too much!

Jora:  A lot of music on cassettes, CDs and a ton of digital stuff.  Sometimes it’s useful to hear the silence. 

I grew up around a fairly large collection of music and I was always allowed to listen to anything I wanted as long as I didn’t mess it up.  There was always something amazing about wandering over to the shelf, pulling something at random off, popping it into the player, looking at the artwork, reading the liner notes and letting it transport me away to another world.  As a result of this experience I developed an appreciation for physically released music from a fairly young age and don’t think I’ll ever fully kick the obsession.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Dima:  Yeah, I remember creating something like self-made records with artwork when I was younger, it was really fun.

Nikita:  In my early years I listened to music on cassettes.  That wasn't anything special though, I love to feel the music inside never mind the format.

Volkoff:  I had the same kind of connection as a kid.  But now music is almost completely digital, the magic’s disappeared...

 As much as I love my music collection I can’t take it on the go with me, or at least I couldn’t.  Digital music has taken care of that problem almost overnight bit there’s no cure all’s and with the good comes the bad.  While digital music may be exposing people to a whole new world of music that they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to, and this interview is a prime example of that as we are separated by great lengths and a language gap but I still found your music and am able to instantaneously communicate with you, but illegal downloading is running rampant and music is being turned in to a more and more disposable commodity rather than a proper product even.  As musicians during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Dima:  My opinion is positive and you’ve described a lot of the advantages.  Everything’s good as long as the proper product still appears and finds its listener.  I don’t think that existence of some people who think of it as a disposable commodity cancels out good music.

Jora:  It’s a great chance for everyone to share their music all over the world!  I think it’s wonderful.

Nikita:  I think that music should be free for anyone who wants to hear it in digital format.

Volkoff:  Personally, I like the "name your price" approach, so ever listener can pay any price they’d like to pay.  There’s too much legal involvement by major labels and their bosses.  Like David Crosby sang, "Music Is Love"...  Digital music must be free to share and paid for voluntarily.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it.  As a result I rely more and more on bands such as you for good reliable tips on who I should be listening to.  Is there anyone from your local scene or are that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Dima:  Keeping in mind different styles, maybe something like Gadzzilla Project, Mazzafunka (ain’t sure they still exist), Coreadore, etcetera.

Jora:  Polska Radio One, Snakecharm, especially their last release Mandala, DoZa and Landmark.

Nikita:  Have you heard this band?

Volkoff:  Check out that Russian band I mentioned before, Polska Radio One.  I, personally, listen mostly to foreign, and frequently old, bands so I can’t give you much advice about the local scene.

What about nationally and internationally?

Dima:  If you like Atomic Simao, you should try RayJa Expedition from Kharkiv, which are both side projects of our guitarists from Nodo and Sphyro.  I’ve mentioned some of other interesting Ukrainian and Russian bands earlier.  I recently discovered an interesting and partially Ukrainian band Ummagama.  Additionally, Hedgehog In The Fog, The Toobes from Belarus and Cats Park from Russia. I won’t go any further internationally because I think there’s just too much music to talk about, for a short answer at least.

Volkoff:  Last year’s discoveries for me are two Australian bands, Tame Impala and Pond, and then there’s Lilacs & Champagne.  Also, I discovered the old DIY-band The Cleaners From Venus which is currently being reissued by Captured Tracks label.

Jora:  You should hear the new bomb from Amorphous Androgynous!  Their latest soundtrack album The Cartel is awesome!  Also, I discovered The Oscillation; great guys!

Thanks so much for doing the interview, it was a real pleasure to catch up with you and talk about where the band’s heading and everything you’ve already managed to accomplish.  Before we sign off is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about with me or our readers?

Dima:  You know, for me it’s interesting and surprising to see how music can cross borders and can have a life of its own regardless of the author’s expectation or design, figuratively speaking.  It can find an audience that can appreciate and value it even more than the author and those people find something that the author didn’t even know was in the music.  The listeners can see it from another perspective and there’s always an audience for any kind of music.  That’s what I find interesting; it’s always surprising and nice.  For me, it’s like music has more power than I as the author can ever imagine.  That’s why I say to all the people who appreciate our music, thank you.

Volkoff:  I’d like to say thank you to every person who reads this material.  Stay tuned to Atomic Simao!

Nikita:  You didn't ask the question about the meaning of everything, but I’ll answer it anyway.  It’s love.

Jora:  We really didn’t expect that our music would go so far.  We appreciate the interview, Roman!
 Keep calm and listen to Atomic Simao!  Cheers!

(2013) Atomic Simao – Nodo – digital – Self-Released
(2013) Atomic Simao – Sphyro – digital – Self-Released

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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