Sinoptik: "We want to be appreciated for our music, not merits"

Sinoptik: "We want to be appreciated for our music, not merits"

Sinoptik’s victory at the international music contest The Global Battle Of The Bands 2016 in Berlin was a great achievement for the young band. The political situation in the country forced the musicians to leave their native city and move to Kyiv. Answering the question about returning to Donetsk, they just shrug shoulders. However, even with the experience of abroad performances, the band puts best efforts to be heard in Ukraine. On May 31, after the return from Germany, the rockers celebrated their win with the free concert in the heart of the capital. In the early evening we were able to talk to guys and learn firsthand the details of their participation in the contest. The Ukrainian rock stage, working on the latest record and foreign experience. These and other topics in the extensive interview with Sinoptik's trio: Dmytro Sakir (bass), Dmytro Afanasiev-Gladkykh (guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Viacheslav Los (drums).

Hi, guys, how are you?

Dmytro Afanasiev-Gladkykh [hereinafter — D.A-G.]: Very, very good. We are, frankly, a little bit tired after such a long trip. But we’re quite good.

First of all, congratulations on the first place at the GBOB. How did you estimate your winning chances, how strong the rivals seemed to be?

D.A-G.: I’ll speak for myself, I have not expected it. Guys probably have hoped, right? [laughs]

Viacheslav Los [hereinafter — V.L.]: I know that we would win.

Dmytro Sakir [hereinafter — D.S.]: There is no sense to start a war which can not be won.

D.A-G.: And I followed them for the first time in my life. I flung myself and went. [smiles] Now I will do like that constantly, with a few notes. [laughs] They will be little.

Did you watch the performances of the other bands?

D.A-G.: Of course!

D.S.: We practically watched all of them.

Did you like some of the bands?

D.A-G.: There were several, not just one.

D.S.: There were around five or six very strong bands. The Australians...

V.L.: I just can not remember the name... Switzerland — Cold Bath, Czech Republic — The Atavists.

D.S.: We listen to them [The Atavists — Noizr] in a car.

V.L.: Vice Versa are also cool guys from Greece.

D.S.: And they played heavy music.

D.A-G.: I liked the Norwegians. They also played heavy.

V.L.: But I can not remember how they’re called [Viacheslav means the band Vorbid — Noizr].

D.S.: Yes, there were the guys, I think, they were 17 years old. They are simple guys, came on stage in Slayer T-shirts with guitars and hit so hard! And I was like — "Wow!" — then thought, okay, the music is clear, it’s influenced a lot by the bands like Metallica and Slayer whose names they’re wearing on their T-shirts. But what it’s to play on such level in their age. I have not seen bands that played so powerfully.

How would you compare the level of organization the GBOB in Ukraine and Germany?

D.A-G.: Both were held at top-level and I really liked it here, because It’s hard to find a fest in Ukraine with a such level organization. But now, as it was ten years ago, a reputation is maintained and everything was really cool. Here we have a cool club with a curtain — it’s very comfortable, when you play with a band and there are many people on stage, but the curtains are dropped and you can calmly prepare for your performance. And here, in Ukraine, there were also very good bands as well as there and, and Dima threw me out...

D.S.: And some of them may have gone instead of us.

D.A-G.: Yes, and also win.

D.S.: It’s our opinion.

D.A-G.: Yes, it's our opinion. After all, we have not listened to ourselves as others have.

The official press release mentions the difficulty in obtaining visas to Germany, so was or not your trip to Berlin questionable?

D.A-G.: Yes. We, all the Ukrainians, do have difficulty in obtaining a visa in any country. [grins]

D.S.: There are many documents.

D.A-G.: Yes, a lot of red tape and you never know for sure — will you obtain a visa or not, but you always have to pay money forward. No one petitions for you, doesn’t do anything, but thanks to our good friends, one man, his name is Taras, he helped us to draw up the documents correctly, and maybe somehow it helped. We made visas and five together went to represent Ukraine.

As far as we know, you had 8 minutes in total for playing.

D.A-G.: Yes, two tracks, or one or three songs, but for 8 minutes.

V.L.: And someone did play three songs. [smiles]

And performing time certainly was controlled and no one would have allowed to skip it, as it was in Kyiv, would they?

D.S.: There was a man who timed the performance of each band and then the jury could see who missed the timing.

V.L.: Maybe it somehow influenced the assessment.

D.S.: I was told that yes, if someone broke out of the timing it affected their estimations.

And how did you deal with this time limit?

D.A-G.: We went beyond the allotted time for 20 seconds, or, perhaps, we could fit in it instead, because of adrenaline we could play a little bit faster. But it’s very difficult. You know the saying,"varnished tale can't be round"? It’s, frankly, right, on the one hand, but it seems to me, that jury understood and later we found out that they did understand [smiles]. If I were in their shoes, and saw that a band played for 20 seconds longer, but it was really professionally, then why not?

D.S.: But we had to cut a 7-minute song to 5 minutes. We cut "White Cats".

D.A-G.: "White Cats" and we a little cut "Alex Is Her Name".

D.S.: Just 20 seconds.

Have you planned to play "Mother Song"?

D.A-G.: No, but maybe if we played it, the result was approximately the same. We decided to take the most firm songs and it turned out how it happened.

D.S.: In this competition it is important to engage the viewer directly, immediately, from the beginning to the end, grab audience for all 8 minutes. There were bands with the blast first song, but they wasted the crowd with the second one, and you already knew that you didn’t mosh as you did to other groups.

V.L.: Especially because there were 14 bands.

D.S.: Yes, and you were like — "Hop!" — and that’s all. You've lost focus.

D.A-G.: Yes, of course there was some complexity, but somehow we wiggled out. And, perhaps, we were very strong energetically, because we were on tour, played a lot of gigs, and it’s very important when you play constantly and feel the band as a unit. It’s even more important than what songs you’re playing.

In a recent interview, you admitted that you do not feel Sinoptik a popular band in Ukraine. What do you think that this win means in our country? Perhaps the question of demand will be changed?

D.A-G.: We are certainly very grateful to everyone who writes and talks about us today, because it’s very important to us. A lot of people because of this advertising in media can not only learn that the Ukrainian band Sinoptik won the worldwide competition, but they can also listen to our music. It’s more important to us than the significancy that we have presented our country. Of course, it’s important that we won as the Ukrainian band, but more important for us that people listen to music. What percentage of these people — we do not know, but we would like it to be the maximum.

D.S.: Yes, we want to be appreciated for our music, not our merits.

D.A-G.: Yes, because we were exactly the same band before this victory and if our band had been mentioned at that time, it would have been cool. But we must be thankful for small mercies. [smiles]

Why, do you think, making a claim about oneself abroad sometimes is the only way to become famous in Ukraine?

D.A-G.: But it always happens everywhere, all over the world.

D.S: A prophet is not recognized in his own land. No wonder this saying exists.

D.A-G.: The Greeks say: "A man to become a famous philosopher needs to become a famous philosopher in another country". I do not know how it sounds in other languages, but I think this saying is everywhere. [smiles] The same case was with The Rolling Stones during their first USA tour, the same thing happened to Jimi Hendrix, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin.

You, Dmytro, once said that in Britain the situation is the opposite that the British support native bands and do not care about others’ thoughts.

D.A-G.: Yes, they are trying. British support musicians and offer their musicians around the world, saying that our musicians are the coolest.

So Britain is different in this from the rest?

D.A-G.: They love their music and for them there is no other music, well, they like American bands, and the Americans like theirs. They have balance.

D.S.: They see themselves, and they truly are, trendsetters, they are the creators of this music, and believe that if they set it up, they are the main ones.

D.A-G.: They have it in their blood. They are not only the creators of the music, they’re the creators of everything the most interesting.

D.S.: [smiles] They still have that imperial thing when they owned the world, and they like continue to do it, keeping it in the subconsciousness.

D.A-G.: And the main thing is that they respect themselves and say: "Here we are a cool nation that can offer you this, this and that".

V.L.: And it would be worth learning.

D.A-G.: Yes, for our people.

V.L.: Because we have a lot of coolest things. Get at least the same beer.

D.A-G.: Yes, elementary!

V.L.: Elementary, we arrived in Berlin and thought that it would be interesting to taste the cheapest German beer — and bought beer which costs in Ukraine, if to change it, around 15 UAH.

D.A-G.: It’s the cheapest beer there.

V.L.: But it’s just impossible to drink it. It’s not a drink, it's just a bitter water. And then we came to Ukraine, went to the store, somewhere in the village on some road...

D.A-G.: In the Western Ukraine.

V.L.: We bought "Opіllya" or some Volyn beer for 14 UAH — and it was possible to drink! And it was really cool.

D.A-G.: For me it’s a top-class beer, for example.

V.L.: Yes, and their beer at such level costs 2 EUR, for instance.

D.A-G.: It’s a small real-world example, and we somehow treat everything native like: "Oh, well, it’s "our", so, it’s not "cool".

So, you, using a beer as example, show that even bad bands in the UK band are praised?

[Chorus]: No, no.

D.S.: You know, people in Ukraine have a specific attitude...

D.A-G.: They absolutely do not notice the underground stage, not at all. They understand that it doesn’t enable promoting the policy, because the musicians are honest and do not want to participate in this whole crap. Pop music is easier to promote because it’s mostly presented by one man with backline or it’s a music of some pop band which, again, is aimed at the mass (it’s easy to understand, over which you should not think, do not need to do anything) and this how they simply control masses.

D.S.: You talk about masses, and I want to tell you more about such thing that we have. When any underground band, whether from France, from Finland comes to Ukraine...

D.A-G.: From England, especially.

D.S.: I notice that all my Facebook timeline just begin to buzz, so, I’m calling, "Guys, has anyone heard of this band?", and everyone, "What?". I have called five people, who, I believe, look into a matter, and none of them knows about this group [claps] — and this band gathered a full house at the Sentrum club.

D.A-G.: Or full Atlas. [laughs]

D.S.: And some Ukrainian band who have burnt the midnight oil for five or six years...

V.L.: Or even for ten years.

D.S.: A striking example is 5 Vymir, guys purposefully and for a long time... They do not push in pop music, now they began to attract a wider audience, but in the past they only focused on the Kyiv’s underground. And how there were 500 people at their gigs, so, the same is now. And it’s not the guys’ fault, they did advertising in the subway, they tried to show it off.

V.L.: And they play cool music.

D.S.: Yes, and their music is great, but people don’t care.

D.A-G.: But if it has been written "5 Vymir, the United Kingdom" or "Finland", there would have been a full house. Such things I noticed during the Euro 2012. When any foreign fans come here, in Ukraine, everybody starts look at them like this [rolls his eyes, speaks with a gasp]: "Ahhh, fo-reig-ners!". He sits like this [shows], as a king, and they all rush around him [mimics it], just give them a mirror and they will change it to gold, as it was in Africa. But, folks, stop it, you need to respect yourself.

As far as we know, the band who won at GBOB was offered several awards to choose (contract with the label, recording in leading studios, tour organizing and money reward). If I may ask, what did you choose?

D.A-G.: Guys, now, we do not remember anything, because we were so embarrassed by roads and the five day tour... We'll have a conference on Skype tomorrow and we’ll find out all details. Tour, album recording and video are presented there.

So, you’re in a whole package, aren’t you?

D.A-G.: Yes, and something else is there.

D.S.: Yes, and 100 000 USD. [all laugh]

D.A-G.: But in any case, the Internet already knows better than we do what’s going on.

What do you expect from this package?

D.A-G.: For us the most important thing is a tour because you meet with people, and your further results are only up to people, for whom you will play for the first time: how will your CDs, your music be listened to and bought. If we were faced with a choice — either money or a tour — we would have chosen tour anyway, because we know how to present ourselves on stage.

D.S.: The main thing is to drive people to the concerts, so that more people will listen to you live. I looked on statistics on the Internet. Yes, the number of shares and likes have grown, but when I checked Bandcamp, well, there were plus 20%. Because people say, "Oh, yes, cooll, well done", but nobody came and listened. And a man who came to your concert and liked it, he is your fan, your listener for good.

V.L.: If you don’t disappoint him.

D.S.: A striking example: we played one concert in Iassy at the club with the same size as this one [means Kyiv’s MonteRay Live Stage — Noizr], and then we were invited to the radio, our tracks were taken for broadcasting. Just the DJ came to our show and he liked it, he took our tracks to his radio, invited us to the festival in Romania, where we performed before the GBOB, and he also promoted us and in September we are going to play at the festival in Bucharest.

D.A-G.: That’s bookers... After our last European tour, we signed a contract with the bookers and even before winning at the GBOB we were announced at the Bucharest Blast, and what other bands are there? [turns to Dmitry and Viacheslav]

D.S.: Within Temptation and Agent Fresco.

D.A-G.: I do not know these bands. I’ve asked the guys, I just don’t have a clue, I’m listening to a little bit different music, but that’s quite cool.

D.S.: Are you kidding, it’s Within Temptation...

D.A-G.: I do not really know them, I have not listen to Nightwish! [laughs]

It’s an interesting line-up. Within Temptation plays symphonic metal, and you — psychedelic/stoner rock.

D.A-G.: I will say more. In Iassy, when we were added to this line-up, we were just in the middle, before us there were three groups and after us — two. When we came there, we felt a little out of place, because they were playing some sort of brutal, hard metal, thrash.

V.L.: And the audience was appropriate — in black T-shirts, long haired.

D.A-G.: Our band was listened probably by two hundred people, who were for that moment at the club in Iassy. But we came out, played and realized that everything was cool. And now I'm waiting for our next tour in Iassy. Therefore, it does not matter for whom you play, vice versa, it’s even more interesting when you can offer people something different. A crowd become tired of listening to a gig with the same bands, go figure, what it’s like to listen to the same music, so [the line-up] was diluted and, apparently, it worked out very cool. Therefore, we are not nervous that there will be a symphonic metal.

Since you mentioned the radio, tell us whether you have any experience of getting to the Ukrainian radio stations? We know, Internet radio Submarina plays your music.

D.A-G.: Yes, Submarina broadcasts our music, it’s the first powerful underground radio. Aristocrats, Skovoroda... Even Uzhhorod’s radio Tysa FM.

V.L.: Radio ROKS also talked about us, we are thankful to them for that very much.

D.A-G.: Yes, Radio ROKS broadcasts us before the GBOB. They did two reviews for our album, we thank them very much.

V.L.: Yes, it was very nice to hear these reviews from them.

D.A-G.: And today we were at Prosto Radio.

Yes, Prosto Radio focuses more on genres like these.

D.A-G.: But I would not say that if we play stoner, we exceed some limits.

V.L.: At least we try to avoid them.

D.A-G.: Yes, we have never driven ourselves in any scopes and we understand what and how needs to be done.

As you said earlier, holding up Pink Floyd as a model, you aspire to have no genre, because it should be just Sinoptik.

D.A-G.: Yes, it would be very nice. And it was me who said this. [laughs]

D.S.: Nowadays, music genres are mixed very much and, I think, the critics just do not have time to come up with new ones. Earlier, there used to be jazz, rock and roll, hardrock...

V.L.: Blues!

D.S.: Blues. And now we come up with a million of genres and everyone mixed them: metal, hip-hop, thrashcore and symphony...

V.L.: ...orchestra also plays near.

D.S.: Yes. Now, it seems to me, it took a back seat, music is music, but eclectic is everywhere now. We listen to these Czech guys [The Atavists — Noizr] in the car. The song may start as The Black Keys and end up as some wild metalcore.

V.L.: And in general, everything sounds good.

D.S.: Yes, but in general it's cool. So, why not?

D.A-G.: Here we have an excellent example! Just yesterday came out the great video clip by the band Fazzer. Bobby, aka Ilya Pesotskiy, from Detroit Family, who is also the organizer of the Ukrainian GBOB, plays here. They also have three people in the band as we do, and yesterday they released the video, I've listened to it and immediately called him and said, "Dude, there is no style. There is no style and this is awesome". I really liked this band when I saw them live for the first time.

As for LP "Interplanet Overdrive", it was mixed by fairly well-known producer Maor Appelbaum, wasn’t it?

D.A-G.: No, we mixed it by ourselves. It was mixed by me and Sasha put final points, our sound engineer. Tracking also was done by us in different rooms, studios — wherever it was possible. It was like an experiment. But after mixing, there was such a serious thing as mastering. It’s the most expensive and the most important thing. It's like retouching photos. Maor Appelbaum did it.

Comparing with the previous record, how big is the difference? After all, as far as we know, the first album was almost entirely created on your own.

D.A-G.: Yes, I did mastering. For me, the difference is very noticeable. If I explain to everyone what the difference is, it will become noticeable for everyone. And now it's only on feelings. If people do not even realize it, they feel it. They’re nobody's fool and you should be honest with them. [laughs]

D.S.: People are not always able to describe or explain it, but they’ll say whether they like it or not.

D.A-G.: It’s possible to compensate something. But, if mastering is done very cool, better than even Maor have done, people also will feel it. It’s a very important thing. I would say, it’s the most important in music creation.

D.S.: In terms of sound.

D.A-G.: Yes.

Last fall, you presented the interesting video clip for the song "White Cats" on the Japanese girl Sadako. Why did you take to this legend, what attracted you to it?

D.A-G.: Well, it's just a very interesting story. It was not easy to recreate, but thanks to Lena...

V.L.: Who, in fact, suggested this idea.

D.A-G.: Yes, we have common ideas how to make a beautiful video, which is connected with the lyrics and at the same time isn’t connected with it. We have talked for a long time, sent her the track, she listened to it, read the lyrics and said: "Let's do things like this" — in terms of picturing. When she has told everything, we realized that it was it. And only through this collaboration we have created, I think, very cool video clip. It’s my personal opinion, I’m very satisfied.

D.S.: I also can add that the secret is simple: you find a person you trust the work with your material. We found the Born Vision Studio, the director Lena, we have seen her works and said to her: "Here is our music, our idea, but then you're doing it by yourself, because we trust you to do it". Just as we trusted Maor, sending him works for mastering — he sent them back to us and we could not do anything. We trusted him, he did work as he saw fit. The same was with the video clip. And they did it really cool, we liked it. I remember that we gave one or two updates during the production, but a little ones.

D.A-G.: The same thing was with our second video. It was a task to make it as easy as possible and show the band. We came up with a simple idea and it turned out the way it did. It’s quite another thing. And there is no need to combine them. People somehow draw parallels.

V.L.: And it was shot with another director.

D.A-G.: Yes, Vova Shtun has done work for a certain period of time. Guys, the video clip was being shot for 8 hours. With a budget... [smiles thinking]

V.L.: ...which is ashamed to say. [laugh]

D.A-G.: Yes. Our people are ready to make a professional work for that kind of money.

D.S.: By the way, when we were asked at the GBOB, "You have such a cool video: how much, where, how?", and we said, "We shot it in Ukraine, for this price". "How much?! We're going immediately to Ukraine to shoot video clips!" [laugh]

D.A-G.: Yes, it comes as no surprise that Tame Impala have shot their video...

D.S.: And not one, they have already shot two video clips in Ukraine. The guys from Radioaktive Film, who filmed "Vidlik" for Onuka, they also worked with Tame Impala.

V.L.: The European filmmakers come to us to shoot movies, because it’s cheaper here.

D.S.: Yes, but here we have all the same as there.

V.L.: And the quality is not inferior at all. It, by the way, shows that we should be proud of these people, professionals, that we have and be proud of the products that they produce.

D.S.: And support them.

V.L.: And do not look only to the West.

Also, the band's members told us about their favorite metal and rock albums. Read about them in our new column "Tastemaker".

Interviewed by Yuri Somov, Anastezia
Translated from Russian, photos shot by Anastezia
Noizr Zine thanks Evgeniya Lulko for helping to organize the interview