Motorama: "We are tired of the global political media."
Since forming Motorama in 2005, bandleader Vlad Parshin has established a reputation for having a frosty disposition, offering dry, succinct answers in interviews and not giving much away when performing live. But given the band take inspiration from a distant and disconnected era of Soviet Russia, his character feels like an extension of their sound.
Their latest LP Before The Road, however, offers the glimpse behind the veneer: Parshin relishes full control of the band's musical output, writing, recording, mixing, and mastering their records. But forming his label I'm Home Records helped enable greater autonomy over the band's releases, seeing Motorama produce their dreamiest and most optimistic work to date whilst keeping their mystique intact.
With a new album out and a UK/Euro tour scheduled for later this year, we spoke to Vlad about how his influences, about how he ignores outside opinion, and uses the past to paint his vision of the present.
What does the LP’s title, Before The Road, mean?
The name is about a moment before a decision or a journey. It’s also from the first verse of the song ‘Today & Everyday’, released as a single in 2020. It’s a figurative title.
There’s definitely more of a disconnected, dream-like quality to the EP. What kind of body of work did you set out to make?
The idea was to make a classical for our band guitar album with simple looped bass lines, danceable drum grooves. But at the end, we’ve added some synth arpeggios and Polyvox lead solos for the last two songs.
What was it about post-punk and Soviet new-wave music that drew you towards these genres, and what did you feel you could communicate when you started Motorama?
I have been a music lover since my childhood. It started with the music for the Soviet movies and cartoons. Eduard Artemiev was one of my favorite composers. Another huge discovery was Ennio Morricone and his music for westerns. And then new wave and post-punk, bands like Kino, Zvuki Mu, and Nikolay Kopernik. Motorama was a way to express musical taste or an experience as a mixture of all those influences.
Which artists/musicians in particular have influenced you as a musician over the years?
As I mentioned in the previous question, as well as Kraftwerk, New Order (and their song ‘Dreams Never End’).
Are there any particular artists or genres that influenced Before The Road during the writing and recording process that isn’t apparent in your previous work?
I don’t think so. Nothing in particular.
‘Pole star’, to me personally, felt like a yearning for some direction/guidance, as if you were looking towards the light to lead you out of the darkness (without wanting to sound overly clichéd). What’s the story behind the track?
You’re right. This song has a metaphoric meaning of the search. It’s about the chase for a dream” or a “unity”.
Lyrically, what inspires you to write?
Life around and some authors from the Silver Age of Russian poetry, for example, Alexander Blok, and Nikolay Gumilev.
Is your music ever politically motivated, and do you feel like post-punk music has to be inherently political? From the outside looking in, Russia seems like a unique place to live as an artist given the atypical political backdrop.
It depends on the band. We are not the kind who are spreading the so-called “rebel” or “riot” ideology outside Russia. We are tired of the global political media.
You’ve previously described your hometown Rostov-on-Don as “depressing and uninteresting”, but has your opinion changed since the pandemic? In reflection we’ve all relied on ‘home comforts’ and being near our loved ones.
I love Rostov and the people living here. It seemed depressing for me before, mainly because of my decadent views. I was depressed and annoyed, now it’s getting better.
For obvious reasons you’ve rescheduled your EU tour to Nov/Dec 2021. Is your UK & Ireland leg of the tour still going ahead as planned, and how eager are you to go back on tour?
We’ll see. It’s hard to program tour schedules nowadays. Of course, we’d love to come and play.
What made you decide to start your label?
Financial aspects. We wanted to control many things, the release dates, formats of the release and digital incomes.
Looking at your personal Instagram account, it’s evident you’re an avid photographer. Your images seem to capture a calm, peaceful quality in what are usually energetic, dynamic environments. Is there a relationship between your music and your photography? Does your music inspire the imagery or vice versa?
I guess that our songs and photography are intertwined. Photography is my family tradition, and I’ve just added some music to it.
I noticed an interesting through-line with your album artworks; the focus of compositions seem to shift from people urban environs to nature and natural vistas. Is this a reflection of how your music has evolved over the years, or how you and your perception of the world has changed?
That’s an interesting analogy. I didn’t think about it before. Maybe the next sleeve should be with a concrete jungle with the drones and wires covering the sun.
You’ve released music since Motorama’s formation on a remarkably consistent basis. What keeps you creative and productive?
I have a powerful charger. I come home and plug the cables from the back of my head into a jar with a special liquid essence made of boiled sacred roots and burned medieval books.
What’s next for you and the band?
We are going to live our lives. And rehearse a bit.