Although RUSSKAJA are Austrians by adoption, they make the whole world their home. The Russian Gerogij, representing the band, is the one to blame about the band having no borders, not with languages, neither with music. Ska, jazz, rock, hip-hop, anything fits, with a main goal: To entertain people and spread love instead of war. Kosmopoliturbo is their new album and with it they show us that there’s no place for frontiers.
Subterráneo Webzine: With Kosmopoliturbo it has already been 12 years for you as a band, and you have already released 5 CDs. When you launched Kasatchok Superstar did you ever think you would get this far? What is your balance of all these years?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): It was our wish and I had kind of planned it on my imagination! The band had to go through a lot of expiriences to stay alive!
Subterráneo Webzine: People say that music is a universal language, and listening to RUSSKAJA it becomes true. Especially on Kosmopoliturbo where you travel all around the world: Spain, France, Italy, Russia… Where do you feel you belong to? Do you use your music as a way of stating that there are no frontiers for you?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): We belong to the road! It is calling again! Maybe we need physical borders, but the borders in our brains we do break and practice the opening for multicultural world!
Subterráneo Webzine: As a matter of fact, in your latest album you have included a new song in Spanish: “La música”. Do you think this song could be an example of what I mentioned before? Tell us more about this song!
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Yes! ¡La musica es nuestra religion! We are music fanatics, we are music addicted, we pray to the gods of music, we ask music for something, we thank music for being there. We found it… And we celebrate it with you during the concerts!
Subterráneo Webzine: Do you consider yourselves as pacifists? Do you think there’s too much violence surrounding us constantly?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Yes! We are militant pacifists! We are against every kind of violence and we are not alone! One day love will rule this world!
Subterráneo Webzine: It would be a surprise to find you in any kind of festivals (world music, jazz, metal…) and you have actually already been at some… Which audience makes you feel more confortable? Is it possible to label your music?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): The priority of RUSSKAJA is to play on completely different festivals. Metal or hip-hop… People like it, we got energy typical for metal, we got flow typical for hip-hop, we have some virtuouse instrumentalist for jazz, we play on pop festivals, people like our melodical songs with rock grooves. It is multicompatible!
Subterráneo Webzine: WACKEN is one of the festivals on which you have most played. In fact, another Subterraneo’s writer has recently watched your show there and she really liked it. Is Wacken a reference for you? Do you like playing there?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Wacken is one of the greatest festivals that we had the honor to play on! People are friendly, organisation is on the highest level… And a lot of people came later to our concerts on tour. We are invited to play different Wacken events like Full Metal Boat, Winter Nights, etc. We are proud to be a part of it.
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): There is a lot of diversity on your music and lyrics, and it all has got a common thread: the ease. You have the gift to amuse. What is your secret? How do you prepare a new song for RUSSKAJA?
RUSSKAJA: I let it happen! Normaly I write together with our guitar player and producer Engel Mayr! We found a nice way to combine our two, sometimes, completely different tastes. His musicality makes it possible to feel what I hear and to formulate it. Then we listen to our initial ideas and find out the better ones, before we start to construct the lyrics, sometimes songs need another language. For example “Mare Mare” was sounding for me like an Italian song, I started to imitate my idol Adriano Celentano and suddenly it happened. Later I asked my wife to help me with right Italian words instead of my “cardewelsch”.
Subterráneo Webzine: Do you think that you are an amusing band, or is it your music what pushes people to have fun?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): It is both, we take ourselves as easy and funny, of course we are a little bit cheezy, but we are serious aimed to big success!
Subterráneo Webzine: You sing in every language, but Spanish is a recurrent one in your CDs. In fact, I think Gerogij has family in Spain, don’t you? How did you learn Spanish? Do you speak it often?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): I learned Spanish at USSR in the special school. Special means with Spanish as their main direction. We were preparing for communication with our kamarads in America Latina, Cuba, Chile etc. My sister went to Barcelona, I went to Vienna, so all my Spanish learning was for nothing until the moment we started to play in Spain and write songs in Spanish. Now I learn again, collect again vocabulary.
Subterráneo Webzine: In Kosmopoliturbo you try out with electronic music, reggae (as in “Alive” or in “Still in love”), and it adds more diversity to your ska, jazz, rock, metal music. How did you decide to include these sounds in your music? Do you like new stuff as reggaeton?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): I like all new things that bring fresh air into our off-beats. Electronik, dubstep, trap, stoner rock… Everything is welcome!
Subterráneo Webzine: There are a lot of cliches in the music world. Do you think it is necessary to end them? Do you think that a band like RUSSKAJA does the job?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): No, it is not our first intention to end clichés. They are mostly all true. We try not to glamourize anymore the alcohol, but sometimes in winter we wear the schapka uschanka on our heads.
Subterráneo Webzine: RUSSKAJA is usually tagged as metal. Do you think it has something to do with your signing with Napalm Records? Have you had any bad reviews by metallic zines due to your atypical style?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Yes, it has to do with it for sure, but we are alright with that. We are happy with the work with Napalm and we love the fans from this segment of music!
Subterráneo Webzine: Listening to your stuff, a lot of neo klezmer groups come to my mind, like KOBY ISRAELITE, SEX MOB, KLEZMER MADNESS… Have you ever listened to them or similar bands?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): This I will listen to, but I have a lot of bands that inspire me in my creativity: LE CARAVAN PASSE, DUBIOZA KOLLEKTIV, ROTFRONT…
Subterráneo Webzine: You have already been in Spain twice, and you were well received here. Do you have any good memories of these concerts in Spain? Do you have any good anecdotes?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): It was amazing in the year 2015, as we were touring with Energia album, we had a concert in Madrid and the club was sold out. We were wondering – what happened, why it is like this, but then, during the concert, as I started to sing “El pueblo unido”, the people in the club started to sing the whole song, I got goose flash and tears in my eyes – it was very sentimental for me. One of my most important projects for the next year is to release a best of RUSSKAJA in Spanish language!
Subterráneo Webzine: Here, in Spain, we got a lot of problems with our concert venues. They often have small stages and sound problems. With a band like yours, do you usually have issues to make your music sound good? Has it ever happened that you all could not fit on a stage?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Oh yes, but that could not stop us! We are masters on reacting to situations, places, changes, fitting on every stage, to big or too small… Doesn’t matter, we gonna rock it anyway.
Subterráneo Webzine: RUSSKAJA is formed by many musicians, how do you live the tour/road experience? Does everyone have a say on the bands decitions, or do you have a «spokesman/woman»?
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): We decide together, but sometimes it is for somebody a compromise. It is not possible to please everyone, but we always try to find a decision with which everybody is ok. We travel a lot in many different ways, sometimes we rent a nightliner, which is very comfortable and we feel like rockstars and celebrate our life! Sometimes we fly, sometimes we make a lot of kilometers with our own bus and it feels like hard work… But it is good to have such parabol of impressions.
Subterráneo Webzine: RUS-SKA-JA… Please divide the band’s name into those three blocks, now make a word, with each of them, that could define you.
RUS: Are Russian lust for life, passion.
SKA: Is that rythm that makes you dance kasatchok.
JA : Is the noise that comes out of your body when you put out all the problems that are inside of you! Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks a lot for your answers! If you want to say anything else to us or our readers, this is your time!
RUSSKAJA (Gerogij): Don’t believe the news, be sceptic, realistic and know – all bad happens because of greed! El paz para vuestra casa!