Artists signed to Johnny Jewel’s Italians Do It Better label have a tendency to show up in my end of year “Best of” lists.
My favourite album of last year was “Darkest Dreams” by Krakow Loves Adana and their 2021 album “Follow the Voice” is also on this year’s list. Whilst they’ve parted company with the label, I initially discovered them whilst they were signed to it.
My favourite album of 2019 was Chromatics “Closer to Grey” also on IDIB.
This year no less than 2 of my favourite albums came from the label – “The Internet” by the amazing Glume and “Dazed” by Dlina Volny (which incidentally translates to “Wavelength”).
From the moment I heard the single “Whatever Happens Next” I was confident that the album “Dazed” would be something special.
I was keen to find out more about the band, and happily they agreed to a Q&A session – so here goes!
Live Music Pix: I’ve seen your music described variously as “Post Punk”, “New Wave”, “Darkwave”, “Synth Pop” and “Eurodisco”. Which genre would you describe yourselves as?
Masha: Natálie Zehnalová of The Calvert Journal called our music “Brut-pop” in her article about us. We feel that this along with “Darkwave” describe our music pretty well.
Live Music Pix: How did the band form, and have any of you been in previous bands?
Masha: Vad and I met years ago while trying to form our first band. We’d cover The Strokes, Interpol etc. It was always me and Vad who’d take the numerous bands we’d tried to form seriously so throughout the years we would get together and try and do something more serious. Around 7 years ago I met Ales and introduced him to Vad. We decided to jam and to play something that none of us had played before. In the first evening we recorded our first song and this is how Dlina Volny was born. We also have a short film telling our story, with which we won the Hennessy All I Need contest.
Live Music Pix: What’s your process for writing – do you tend to come up with melody first then put lyrics to it, or do you start with lyrics, or some other process?
Masha: Most of the time we start with a melody and the overall feel of a song. And that’s when music takes me on my journeys, during which I come up with stories or turn my own experience into a song. It really is a journey for me as I never know where I’m going to end up.
Live Music Pix: Your debut album “Mechty” was bilingual (Russian/English) whereas your latest album “Dazed” is all in English, was there a conscious reason for that?
Masha: It was kind of intentional on Mechty. We’d already written a couple of songs with lyrics in Russian and we thought that exactly half-English/half-Russian lyrics would be nice. For Dazed I decided to let go and in the end had no desire to write in Russian at all. I feel like English sounds more dreamy and less harsh. It’s very flexible. I am curious to see what language I feel like writing in for our next release. I love French and would love to write a song (or a few) in French. But that needs time.
Live Music Pix: “Dazed” is your first album since signing to the Italians do it Better label. Some of my favourite artists of the past few years – particularly Glume, Krakow Loves Adana and yourselves have been on IDIB, what’s it been like working with the label, and for example having David Lynch associate Dean Hurley mixing your album?
Masha: God, we’re just really happy to be working with the label that we’d wanted to get on since the beginning of Dlina Volny. It’s incredible to be able to learn from and work with the creators of your inspiration. IDIB have definitely helped our songs get the sound they deserve.
Dean Hurley is a genius! We are big admirers of David Lynch’s work so being able to work with his associate is just mindblowing. It was a learning curve at the start for both of us, but as soon as we got to know each other better we found the sound we wanted. Dean is the absolute best at what he does!
Mike Bozzi mastered the album and he just knew what those songs needed. Throughout the time that we’ve been working together, he has managed to completely understand what we like and what these songs should sound like. We couldn’t be happier with how Dazed turned out.
Johnny Jewel and Megan Louise have a lot of priceless experience in the industry, which they apply to their work with us. They do help with every aspect of an artist’s journey, which is just great!
Live Music Pix: If you were able to choose your level of eventual popularity, would you choose to be a big stadium band, or a band that makes a good living out of music, but underground enough that you can still go to the supermarket without being pestered for autographs all the time?
Masha: Both options are great! As long as we get to do what we cannot live without and share it with the world. We hear that our songs help people and make them feel good a lot. It’s so important! We’d love to go big, though!
Live Music Pix: Your lyrics are often political whilst your music is very danceable. Is it more important for you that people listen to the political message, or that they dance?
Masha: The most important thing is that people feel our music in whatever way is natural to them. I also don’t like to explain my lyrics as I want our listeners to go on their own journeys while listening to us.
Live Music Pix: Female fronted bands I speak to, invariably have problems with sexism, from sound engineers who ignore the female singer and talk instead to the guys in the band, to being turned down for male dominated festivals, to guys with wandering hands at gigs. Have you had any experiences like this, and what do you think can be done to change attitudes?
Masha: I have encountered such an attitude. Although, I have to say that most of the time sound engineers and other music industry people take me seriously as a lot of the time I am the one dealing with them from the start.
I think what we, the women of the industry, can do is do our thing and not pay too much attention to the people, who think we’re not worthy or not professional enough. Because we are and we do not have to prove it in any way other than by being our usual smart selves.
Live Music Pix: In the pre-digital era, I would probably never heard a band from Belarus unless you were playlisted by BBC Radio, streaming has allowed me to discover and listen to your music, but of course the economic model of streaming is very broken where millions of streams pays enough to buy a coffee or something. Tidal has introduced a feature where the artist I listen to most in a month gets paid £2 direct to the band, which seems like a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go – what would you like to see streaming companies do to make creating music more sustainable financially?
Masha: Streaming has become the number 1 listening model. It used to be vinyl, cassettes, CDs. Of course, it’s all coming back now but it is not the same still. If streaming services paid us the same amount of money for a stream of the whole album as the cost of 1 CD, that’d be great. But that would, of course, bring them too little revenue so it’s impossible. Dreams aside, it would be nice to see a change in their business model as the world is changing. What we are getting paid now is a joke, especially compared to the ridiculous amounts of money that the DSPs earn from our very hard work. And I’m not seeing any preconditions for a change.
Live Music Pix: Are there any underground bands from Belarus that you’d recommend we check out?
Masha: Oh yes! We love Weed & Dolphins, Super Besse, Mustelide, Soyuz.
Live Music Pix: Have you any plans to tour the UK?
Masha: For sure! The UK is my second home so we are definitely coming over to give you guys a stunning experience.
Live Music Pix: What’s next for Dlina Volny?
Masha: We’re hoping to be able to tour the new album in 2022. In the current climate it’s more tricky than in the pre-Covid days. Everything from 2020 has been moved to 2022 so it’s not that easy to book shows now. But we’re working on it so do look out for announcements.
Apart from that, we’re slowly starting to work on new music. We’ll see where this gets us. Stay tuned!
Live Music Pix: We look forward to it, Thank you for your time!
“Dazed” is out now on Italians Do It Better.
Photos: Press Images.