Pinkshinyultrablast Discuss Debut LP, Saint Petersburg & Thunder Pop! jimmy 18/12/2014 features, interview, shoegaze Five years after the release of their debut EP, Russian five piece Pinkshinyultrablast are ready to deliver their first full length ‘Everything Else Matters‘! The band sat down for an interview ahead of it’s release next month to discuss the songwriting process, their native Russia, Strymon FX pedals and the inspiration that Nicki Minaj brings! A thankyou to bassist Igor, singer Lyubov, drummer Sergey, electronic wiz Rustam and guitarist Roman. First off, I love your single ‘Umi’ – definitely one of my favorite dream pop tunes of the year! Lyubov’s vocals sound amazing. What was the inspiration for the song? Thanks so much! It’s a tough question to answer. There are definitely songs on the album that somehow descend from one or the other particular musical inspiration that we, ourselves, can track down. ‘Umi’ is not really the case. We had a question in one of our previous interviews whether we chase after a song, or let it chase us. I think ‘Umi’ really is the latter, it’s one of the songs we had very little struggle with, where the melody appeared naturally and with ease, and without any particular source of inspiration. Maybe it requires a bit more distance though, to find references. Music critics and listeners would probably be better judges than us here. What’s the Pinkshinyultrablast creation story? How did the band first form? Well, I guess it just kind of happened at some point. We were all kids, freshmen to senior years of college, living on the same block, hanging together, all friends. We realized we each really wanted to make music, our future drummer and bassist already being involved in a project at the time, wanting to do something different though. So we figured, why not give it a shot? We found a space and began to practice regularly. In terms of how much we practiced, our band has always been a noticeable commitment to each one of us. Over the years, the initial structure of the band has transformed, as it often happens with bands. Now it’s the five of us. Rewinding back for a moment, were you surprised how well your debut EP ‘Happy Songs For Happy Zombies’ was received internationally? There’s a lot of love for those songs. We’re definitely surprised! We weren’t really expecting anything much, just recorded whatever it was we had on our hands and felt like at the moment. The whole process took up three days, we kept it pretty lo-fi. It was important for us to have the EP released somewhere outside Russia, since we knew it didn’t have much potential here. Happy songs for happy zombies by pinkshinyultrablast You must be excited to finally release your debut album ‘Everything Else Matters’- congratulations! What went into making the record? Has it really been five years? For sure, we’re really excited! It took so long! In part because for quite a while we lived in different places, in part since we haven’t always had enough money for the studio, the sound engineer and all that involves more or less a decent recording. These factors delayed the whole process by a lot. Over the course of the years certain things have transformed and only recently took their final form, so, in a way, the music only benefited from the delay. We don’t really regret anything. Was it a collaborative writing process? Or has Pinkshinyultrablast got a chief songwriter!? Always a collaboration. One of us can pitch an idea for a song, but it then would always be reviewed collectively. Making songs is a multi-step process for us, with first the carcass of a song taking form - bass, drums and guitar, then vocals and keyboards taking up their places. The final version of a song can differ from the initial draft quite drastically, and it’s always a matter of some collective consequent decisions. It’s an extremely dynamic record, with spacious dream pop songs as well as explosive, aggressive rock songs. Was it a conscious decision to cover a lot of ground stylistically? Well, it’s hard to tell, it’s just that the songs turned out being quite diverse from the very beginning. We did want to move away from the stylistic solidity of our first EP though. At the same time, during the final stage of working on the LP, we were trying to make the record become somewhat more wholesome. It was great to had been able to play dream pop during the times of our first EP, but at a certain point, while working on this album, we realized we don’t want to limit ourselves to only the means of shoegaze. In short, we’ve always wanted to play pop music with an explosive character, that is, what we call it, “thunder pop”. How did you end up partnering with Club AC30 (a London-based label) for the new album? We emailed Robin from Club AC30, wondering if he would be, by any chance, interested in working with us, since we had some new material ready. We weren’t hoping for much, since we aren’t really known, and lots of labels often don’t even respond to these kinds of emails. To our surprise though, not only Robin responded, but said they knew who we were and would be interested in checking out the stuff we’ve got. And then we just wound up being signed. What are your most loved pieces of gear? At some point each of us (except the drummer *laughs*) has become loyal to Strymon FX pedals. The five of us have a bunch of Big Skies, a Timeline and an El Capistan. While mixing, we used all those to work on spacial sound processing, plus an Eventide reverb. We aren’t really gear geeks though. We like effects, but don’t actually use that many different ones. We just like to have our melodies immersed in reverb. By the way, speaking of reverb, we used almost no digital processing for the drums when making the record - live room, hall, or even church. We are planning on keeping it that way in the future. You’ve said previously that the Saint Petersburg music scene isn’t very inspiring. Can you elaborate a little on how the city affects the band creatively? It definitely is a bizarre place - a bit of solid mystical dybbuky feel from Gogol, a bit of creepy bloody background from Dostoyevsky. It has a distinct sense of decay and former splendor. It’s a small place, where (geographically) everything is within reach, and young people mostly know each other. The pace of life here is slow and summers feel long. Maybe it’s the simultaneous sense of a dead end and, strangely enough, room to make new things, the ambiguity of being on the margin, and not in the center of the global scene. As much as we sometimes feel isolated from the global musical scene, we also get a sense of inner freedom from its judgments and structures, which, in turn, probably enables us to explore more. Russia produces some great shoegaze and dream pop bands. I’m thinking of Aerofall, Motorama, Sounds Of Sputnik and Lava Lite! Any reason for that? The weather perhaps!? Perhaps the weather indeed, to which the occasional feeling of absolute reclusion and isolation must be adding up. But also, these bands are more of an exception, than a rule. If you could assemble a fantasy band – who would be in it? Here’s one from Igor (our bass player): Vocals – Udo Dirkschneider Guitar – Ricthie Blackmore Guitar – Kirk Hammett Bass – Marcus Miller Drums – Tico “The Hit Man” Torres You’re obviously fans of Astrobrite, taking your name from his 2002 LP ‘Pinkshinyultrablast’. What are your biggest musical influences? Among those would be Stereolab, Landing, Stars of the Lid, Cocteau Twins, Steve Reich and Astrobrite indeed. Sonic Coaster Pop, Coalter of the Deepers,Windy and Carl, Ponytail, Pterodactyl and Pre should be mentioned here. There are so many more though. In fact, pretty much anything we like and listen to has a certain amount of influence on us, be it 90s Hip-Hop or Death Metal. What are your top records of the year so far? R.: This year I was quite impressed by several records: Snowmine’s ‘Dialects’, the Fresh and Onlys ‘House of Spirits’ and I thought Wye Oak had a pretty cool album ‘Shriek’. These are the ones that first come to mind. I was really waiting for the YOB new album, which actually turned out to be slightly disappointing. I.: Wye Oak – ‘Shriek’; Todd Terje – ‘It`s Album Time’; Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – ‘Soused’; A Winged Victory for the Sullen – ‘Atomos’. L.: Oh, I’m mainly just waiting for the new Nicki Minaj album, which comes out in a few days. What’s next for Pinkshinyultrablast? Is an overseas tour on the cards? We wouldn’t really want to give premature promises and talk about things that are yet too abstract. We’re trying to put things together, and will be informing everybody as things actually do come up. But hey, keep an eye on the updates! Will do. Thanks for the interview Pinkshinys! ***Pinkshinyultrablast’s ‘Everything Else Matters’ LP is available from January 26 through Club AC30(UK), Shelflife (USA) or Vinyl Junkie (Japan)*** Visit Pinkshinyultrablast @ Soundcloud @ Instagram @ Facebook.