We chat to one of Moscow’s rising electronic and D&B stars.
Kedr Livanskiy’s story isn’t exactly commonplace. She’s an alternative electronic artists from Moscow who was born in 1990 at a dramatically transitional time for Russia – the end of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Russian Federation. Fast forward to young adulthood and a displaced-feeling Kedr joined the directing department of the Moscow school of New Cinema whilst maintaining an interest in music that led her to forming a DIY music group with like-minded creatives called John’s Kingdom.
They’ve since kept a buzzing and raw scene thriving in Moscow and Kedr herself is due to release a debut EP on 2MR early this year – she has already made waves with the excellent and chillingly unique track, ‘Sgoreat’. Keeping all this in mind, we understandably jumped at the opportunity to get to talk with Kedr about the liminal joys of Moscow’s border country, the importance of being an individual and why music is all about raising a middle finger to “objective reality”.
Your story is very unusual: can you tell us a little bit more about it?
I lived in Moscow, wrote music, played shows, filmed music videos, developed gradually… In general, engaged in the development of Russian electronic scene with a group of like-minded people. Then, on a wonderful day I received an email. It was Adam from the label 2MR. It was funny because at first I thought that it was a group of swindlers and speculators, because of my poor English I have not correctly translated some terms of the contract that they offered me. Also the label was brand new, I did not find any information on it, and in my mind it was advanced online fraud. So I lied that I have some major Russian label and did not respond to emails for a month or two. But Adam was persistent and there was such a curiosity from him that I came around and everything turned out well. Now we have a great working relationship together.
How would you go about describing your sound, it’s so unique?
I do not think about the people and about the nature. I think about the sound. I think about how to synthesize the sound to get the mind into the right state, how it feels inside, to get as close as possible to capturing the sound and not compromising on that. Of course, experience, nature, surroundings, people – all those things are recycled within, but I feel this occurs on a subconscious level. They transform into feelings and images that are then reflected in the song. But they still are not so tangible that they can be explained. And in general, if they could explain why, then why make the song? If a person is listening and he/she was born some way, he/she fantasizes under this persona and they will interpret it their way. Anyway I just do this the way I do it! Music should be divorced from objective reality, fuck off the reality. So my music is not about reality.
Does Moscow still seem like home / what do you love about it?
I am not inspired by the historical center – the beautiful areas with repaired roads and neat embankments. As a citizen those things suit me, the city has become comfortable and clean and that is good, but my inspiration lies entirely outside the city center. I’m interested in the border area, most often around train stations, outside flea markets, dilapidated garages built in the late 80s and some deserted spots on the outskirts. I like the places where the town transitions into countryside, the forest boundary, the border of ordinary reality which you have created for yourself. The question is, what do you want to see and what do you subconsciously ignore? My Moscow is clearly not a tourist brochure. it can be seen in my videos, I try to capture that feeling there. BORDER MOSCOW.
In terms of musical inspiration, who do you look to as your favourite artists?
Now is a very interesting time for music, it seems only a couple of years ago I could still adhere to some sort of stylistic framework in the choice of music, where I could count my favorite artists on my hands and also my favorite periods and styles. Now, everything is so blurred, the boundaries and sheer amount of music is staggering. I think in this age of information technology people like tracks more than artists and certain styles of contemporary electronic music can quickly become boring. If we talk about older, established artists that I think create music that has much stronger ties to their personal reality, some of my favorites I still love to listen to are Spacemen 3, Mazzy Star, Angelo Badalamenti, Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa and many many others. On the other hand, I feel electronic music is based on other principles and criteria and perception of a different type, therefore I should probably talk about the tracks for the most part but I will name some artists anyway: Boards of Canada, Autechre, Leonardo Martelli, Legowelt, Patricia, Florian Kupfer and Inga Copeland. I really like dub and old school jungle, electro and etc. And much love to the music from Russian labels GOST and Johns Kingdom!
Cinema is obviously a passion of yours: who are some of the directors/the films you admire?
Cinema inspires me to make music, the same if not more than the music itself. In different periods I like different films. I like American cinema very much, some favorites are The Last Picture Show (it’s like if J.D. Salinger was shooting the movie!), Two-Lane Blacktop, Donnie Darko and all David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick films. Generally I feel closest to Russian and American cinema, not so much French cinema, although I really love Leos Carax. My favorite Russian directors are Tarkovsky, Kira Muratova and Aleksey German.
Have you decided on music as your path, or is making films still something you’re interested in?
I really want to make a movie. But it is a very time-consuming process that requires communication with a surprising number of people, it requires an incredible amount of teamwork and clarity of vision. As a director, you also need to possess certain leadership qualities to lead this large group of people, to have talent is not enough. Especially if you’re shooting a movie in Russia, where all through they ask for rigidity and great strength! Right now it is too much for me, but I’ll build myself up to it and am always working on it. I hope by the time I’m 30 years old I’ll feel ready, but now I want to focus only on music. Music for me is the most convenient and enjoyable way of expressing besides film, I do everything myself and do not need to communicate with anyone. Nevertheless, I shoot my own video clips, I produce them myself and I have at least 5 completely recreating the image, the reality of Lebanese cedar which is in my mind both musically and visually. Maybe I’m just an individualist and I’m not easy to work in team…
What can we expect from the upcoming EP?
You will like it 🙂
After the EP, what’s next for you…an album?
Where would you like to be in five years/the future?
I prefer not to think about the future. Trying not to be pretentious here, but it’s true to my style. I believe that if you focus wholeheartedly IN THE NOW everything will come to you, even things you do not expect.