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Pic by Dima Komarov

INTERVIEW: Atypical Russian Pop Artist I.L.Y.A.

Hi I.L.Y.A., welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, thank you for having me! I’m very excited. Lots of cool things happened to me in last few months.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Pour It Out”?

Sure, it’s probably the most personal song I’ve released so far. It’s about attempts to abolish bad addictions, hurtful experiences, and bad memories. Also, I experimented with music styles. It’s kind of a mix of hip-hop and indie pop. I’d call it “hip-hop”. I wanted to create a universal related piece of music. We all have something bad that happened in the past that’s quite hard to forget so maybe that song may help someone to get over with problems and to move on. I’d be very happy if it helps at least one person,

Did any event, in particular, inspired you to write this song?

Unfortunately, yes…. two things. First, I ended my first relationships in New York last fall and I had a very bad aftertaste of it (feels like I still have a bit of it). I wanted to purify myself from all that, you know? Secondly, I just noticed that there are lots of people around who may seem very happy but have lots of inner problems, for example, drug addictions, toxic relationship experiences, childhood trauma, and they don’t allow them to move forward purposefully. Sometimes you just wanna clean yourself from it all and that is what the song is about. That’s why I choose it as the first single from my EP and so I’m kinda self-purifying before starting a new cycle of my music.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Oh yes, it’s gonna be a good one and very soon. We shot a music video in Moscow this spring. It’s very personal as well as the song itself because all the locations where we shot relate to my past too.

The single comes off your new album Hybrid – what’s the story behind the title?

So, it all started in fall 2018 when I had an interview with one German music magazine where they asked a question if my music is a hybrid of European and American music. I never thought of it in this context but as I realized that they were really right and that word kinda stuck in my head. When I started to understand the whole concept of the EP, I noticed that it’s really a hybrid, a hybrid of different cultures, music styles, and genres. I feel like I was always a hybrid because I made many songs on edges of different genres. That’s just who I am and what I like. Also, I like to raise different topics in my songs from something every day to more universal.

How were the recording and writing process?

It took a while. I started last summer and I wrote so many songs, really a lot, and I liked them all you know. It wasn’t very easy to select songs for recording. The main aim I wanted with this EP is to represent different sides of my music artistry. That’s why the EP turned out to be so versatile. Half of the songs were recorded in Moscow, the rest in New York. I did mixing and mastering in Bali, Indonesia. Now it feels like it was the best place for it. The EP turned out to be quite international!

What role does Russia play in your music?

I’d say that growing up in Russia made me look at many things differently compared to a regular American artist. Surroundings were different. Also, I listened to many Russian-speaking artists which affected my artist vision too. In general, music in Russia is different. I have no intentions to recreate it but it definitely influences me partially whenever I write a song.

What aspect of Russian traditional music did you get to explore on this record?

I wouldn’t say that I got deep into traditional Russian music while working on my EP, I feel it’s just too folk for pop music but I definitely got inspired by some Russian music of the 90s and 80s. Also, I may say that I really like some soviet songs because they are so powerful and positive. It’s like a communism mood booster! That’s impressive. I think about it when I write every song because I want to make messages of my songs so universal and powerful too.

How did you get to balance your classic roots with your much modern influences?

I feel like classics are good but to make any progress you need to evolve. You still can take into account because it’s timeless and thoughtful. I don’t really try to balance. I just do what feels right but also staying on the adequate side.

How did your transition from Russia to NYC get to change your whole musical perspective?

I’d say that I started to look with a more wide angle at my music, even fewer genres restrictions for myself. I just started having a more strong and confident vision, making hybrid pop songs with meaningful lyrics.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

There are actually so many things that can inspire me. It can be literally anything, for example, a very meaningful conversation with someone, some beautiful scenery or significant experience. It usually comes suddenly and usually for a song and lyrics at the same time. I just write a song whenever I feel a need for it inside. Usually, when It happens I try to do it a soon as possible because I can’t think about anything else but writing a new song.

Any plans to hit the road?

Nothing that I can confirm so far but I’m definitely having a solo show in New York soon. Can’t confirm any other regions. We’ll see how the EP goes and follow me on social media for announcements.

What else is happening next in I.L.Y.A.’s world?

I do have lots of ideas for future projects. I’ve already started writing songs for my next EP/LP. And I’m definitely gonna do more duets with my fellow musicians. We have some interesting ideas. “Hybrid” is just a beginning.

Watch here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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