Interview: Georgij Makazaria of Russkaja

Russkaja’s latest album Kosmopoliturbo was released a couple of weeks ago and, not surprisingly, rocked our little red boats – the ones with hammers and sickles on them. We managed to snag a few words with frontman and songsmith Georgij to find out more about what makes Russkaja tick…

Kosmopoliturbo has been out for a few weeks now – how’s it doing?

Hello to UK! Thanks, it goes very well, we are motivated and excited about our new album!

Russkaja are a band with a fairly unique sound. Do you find it hard maintaining this from album to album, avoiding straying too far from your core?

No it is not hard, it is a part of our style, playing with different directions. Every year we  are inspired by new music, new inputs, so we bring it into composition and to the stage.

With so many band members, how are song-writing duties handled? Is it an idea dreamt up by one or two of you, then the rest let loose on it? There are just so many layers to each track it’s hard to believe that every bit can be down to just one writer! Even something as initially simple-sounding as “Hey Road” has some wonderful flurries from the brass and strings.

Engel Mayr and me (Georgij) are composing together. We have song ideas and we know how it should be at the end, we are producers. We say to our musicians what we would like to hear and we get it. We write brass, violin… we write all. We sometimes give the musician space to bring some input like solos for live shows or some lines for the brass section.

Do you aim for a variety of tracks in terms of dance-y numbers, ballads and so on or does the mixture just end up like that? Songs like “Radio Song” and “Send You An Angel” really stand out as different in tone to the rest of the albums. Do you aim to include one like this each time?

Yes, it is important to have some diversity, it would be boring to have ten songs in an off-beat at 180 bpm. I love ballads, I like different musical directions, I have nothing against a waltz on our album or a pop-song like “Still in Love”. We are open for all this fun.

How many languages do the band speak as a whole? And how many by Georgij himself? Does he actually speak the languages he sings in, or are some of the songs learned phonetically?

My mother languages are Russian and German. In the USSR I learned Spanish in a special school. Later as I arrived in Austria I learned English in a Business Academy.

On the album I have one song in the Italian language. I wrote it together with my wife, she speaks very good Italian. It was fun to do it! I said what I would like to say, she offered me some Italian phrases, the refrain I had already in my head, so we arranged the lyrics around this. The Japanese part in the Song “Hello Japan” I found phonetically in a vocabulary, than I checked it by my Japanese friend.

I did ask this one around the release of Peace, Love…, but is there a chance of any UK shows in the near future? The amazing Gogol Bordello, who you namechecked the last time we spoke, heartily impressed one of our reviewers at Hyde Park recently, so perhaps a trip with them if you could find a tour bus big enough?

With big pleasure. If you have some ideas how to organize it – please give me contacts. We never found serious agents in the UK, only empty talking. Some of the agents gave big promises about concerts, but nothing happened. We played some years ago at some UK festivals, people loved it, it worked great. I am sure it will work again and again.

You are hitting the road a lot around Germany soon. What is it about the Germans, do you think, that makes them such a metal-loving nation?

Oh, not only Germans like metal – every nation has enough metal fans. Germans do celebrate metal more than all, especially by organizing the biggest metal Festival in the world “Wacken Open Air”. We had the honour to play there even years ago.

Is there one venue in the world you would love to play more than any other?

I would like to play once in Japan and China. I would like to know how they would take our sound. Next year we step to USA and a year later I plan to go to Latin America. We have a big fan-base there, and already have a lot of invitations.

As mentioned before, there are obviously a huge number of influences in the Russkaja sound. Could you name three of your favourite albums of all time which have influenced you?

  1. Sepultura – Arise
  2. U2 – Joshua Tree
  3. Led Zeppelin – Remastered

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