We speak to the wonderful Rostany as they prepare to take to the stage for the Belarus National Final for Eurovision 2015 in a couple of hours. They come with their contemporary song ‘Electric Toys’ and we spoke to them from where their unique sound comes from to their thoughts on Conchita Wurst winning the contest this year.
Where did the name ‘Rostany’ come from? Does it have a meaning?
In Belarusian it mean “crossroads” or, figuratively, “change”. It describes the concept of what we do — change the way electronic music is played.
I read that you are the “First live-only Electro House band performing DJ style music by manually playing each note without backing tracks, pre-recorded looped parts or DJ playback” – could you explain what that means and how challenging is it to then make your style of music using this technique?
Electro House, Complextro, modern Dubstep are dominated by DJs who play the material they record, mixed down and mastered in their studios. As you may guess from the word “complextro” it is indeed a pretty complex music in terms of arrangement — lots of parts, melodies and atonal sounds emerging within an instant.
Plus, you have to deal with side chain effect that gives a pumping feel to every upbeat on instruments like bass, synths, noises — the technique that make modern EDM easy and pleasant to dance to. It is relatively easily done in studio, but very problematic to perform live in real-time, unless you play live instruments against a pre-recorded a sequenced playback, which is done by artists like Prodigy, Depeche Mode, Pendulum. Playing EDM live without playback is a problem.
This is probably the reason why performing musicians have bypassed these styles so far. The ROSTANY decided to take up the challenge and bring Electro House, Complextro and Dubstep to a next level. We spent about two long “shoe-gazing” years of slaving on our Macs to make our live performance sound like a mixed-down studio track.
You are certainly a band that are not afraid to enter competitions as you were in ‘Reload of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’ in Belarus. Can you tell us what is the appeal of putting yourself up for scrutiny and to be judged at contests?
All the world’s a stage. At some point we realised that one doesn’t have to take art and even life too serous — it’s just a game. What do we want from it? The fun. As long as it is fun for the artist he can transfer the emotion to the audience. And it seems to be the essence of what an artist does — he is a bridge between the non-material word of feelings and the reality. So playing at Eurovision or any other competition is just another show for us, where we do what we are to do — entertain.
I know that Viktar and Anton were in a band together ‘DALI’ and then your musical styles grew to the point where you then created ‘Rostany’. Did you find it difficult to find Sergei and Vladimir to make up the complete group of Rostany? What made them the ideal fit for Rostany?
We went a long way before we found the right ones. It turned out to be a real quest game to find a drummer who can properly play electronic drums. We tried even the best jazz and rock musicians in Belarus, but, although there were great professionals, electronic drum set seemed like a new unknown instrument for them because it needed a completely different style of playing.
Of course, it is easy to play electronic drums with acoustic drums preset. But as soon as we switched the sounds to hard electronic dubstep drums all riffs kept falling apart — and it went on an on with many musicians we jammed with. Finally, less than half a year ago we ran into Sergei Kuchinski, who had spent about 7 years playing electronic music on his Octapad and electronic drums.
We immediately realised he was the musician we had been looking for. Vladimir, having just graduated from Saint Petersburg university as a music producer, initially joined our band as a sound engineer for live performances. But he turned out to be a real connoisseur of electronic music, great keyboardist and dancer. Everybody decided to invite him to join the band on the stage.
Performing live appears to be very important to Rostany and you have had some very high-profile performances like that at the Ice Hockey World Championships. What is it about performing live that makes it enjoyable and important to you?
When you play live, and its only when you play live, you become a real story-teller that shares some ideas and feelings he has come up with. And there is nothing like the roar of the crowd that feels the same, that manages to decipher your message when you sing a word or play a note on your keyboard or guitar. This is real communication, this is a talk between people you understand, the people who understand you. When you play live every instant is important and unique.
You sound like you are on a journey with your music. From your first songs ‘Alright’ and ‘Friday 13th’ (which I love) to ‘Electric Toys’. How do you think your music has evolved and grown?
There seems to be more evolution going on within us. We are becoming more confident of what we do. It seems like we are growing out of our “imitator’s” clothes — we feel like trend-making now.
I know you were involved in a very unique musical project in Belarus called ‘Forth to the past’ – Could you tell us about what that was and how you became involved in it?
The ROSTANY were invited by Belarus National Television producer Anatoli Vecher. For his TV project “Forth to the Past” he needed bands and performers that could bring authentic Belarusian songs closer to contemporary audience. Most of the guests of the show simply covered the folk songs. We decided to preserve the song’s original beauty and the style of the performer. Since three of us are music producers it didn’t take us a while to sample the choir’s signing pitch it correctly and incorporate the wonderful authentic folk sining into our song Daisy Chain.
Now you already have a link to Eurovision that not many people might know about. Would you like to tell us about ‘Daisy Chain’ and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest?
It was chosen by the First Belarusian National Channel as one of the soundtracks that played during Junior Eurovision Song Contest national selection.
Viktar we have read that you are involved in various social movements from the ‘European Youth Parliament’ and ‘Amnesty International’ to the ‘Last Dawn Project’. Could you tell us about why you got involved in these projects?
To start with, I’ve studied languages — English, German, Swedish, Polish — I’ve always felt very international and it was natural for me get involved into an NGO where youths from all over Europe discussed issues that worried them and wrote European Parliament style resolutions that were afterwards passed over to the real European Parliament — it was pleasant to feel a part of it, to know that your voice is heard. Later I became President of European Youth Parliament in Belarus. We were trying to bring Belarusian young people closer to the EU and its ideals. I suppose this all was not in vain.
Amnesty International videos we made and ‘Last Dawn’ project were philosophically very similar. We all uphold the idea of creating rather than destroying — especially when it comes to human lives. In the latter project, which was a musical released on DVD’s, I took part both as a songwriter and as a singer performing a part of Socrates who was put to death by the country he loved.
Did you look at Eurovision this year in Copenhagen? What did you think of the show and how big it was?
It was magnificent. We loved the show, the modern style hi-tech stage and some very professional performers. It seems like Eurovision is regaining its reputations as a serous global music show.
What did you think of the winning song from Austria’s Conchita Wurst – ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’? Did you like the song and the performance? Would you ever consider doing a song with Conchita?
Conchita Wurst deserved to win the Eurovision contest. Very professional and beautiful singing. Of course, everybody rumoured about the scandalous show and compared all pros and cons, but for us it was, first of all, a very professional singer. Well done.
Let’s talk about your great song ‘Electric Toys’. Firstly who wrote the song?
Like Lennon and McCartney, Anton and I do everything together. I wrote the song’s music, lyrics and arrangement, Anton continued with sound design and mastering.
What is the song about?
The song is about the unstoppable technological progress that may “dread” or “embrace” — but we have to live with it. It’s about iPhones that become an integral part of human body and about continuous copying and pasting everything.
What is the writing process like for a complex song like ‘Electric Toys’? How did you begin writing the song? Was it a beat, a melody or a lyric?
I just had to test my new Logic Pro X sequencer and made modal the synth riff that you hear in the verse.
‘Electronic Toys’ is a very contemporary song. There is nothing else like it in the Belarussian National Final. Do you think that the Belarussian public and jury are ready for such a modern song? I hope they are!
Our guess is as good as yours. But we’ve never asked ourselves this question — we just do what we think is right.
So how will you present the song at the Belarussian national final? Have you started to speak with Belarussian TV on how you stage your performance or how does that process work?
Some of our innovative crazy ideas for the show did not pass. Even though the TV production said to them we have a pack of other trumps up our sleeves. We promise you’ll see robots jumping out from the screen.
You style of music has hints of Depeche Mode and The Prodigy and Erasure and Kraftwork. Who would you say are your influences musically?
You made a good guess about the Prodigy and Depeche Mode. We would probably add Wolfgang Gartner, Skrillex and Pendulum.
In the National Final you are competing against other well-known acts and song writers – Like Alexander Rybak and his band Milki and others like Napoli who have been in the national finals before. Does this challenge motivate you try even harder to win?
Art is not a sport. We alway do our best on the stage, even if it is not a competition, but an ordinary concert.
If you were not a musician what would you have been?
Politician. But it’s harder to make people’s life better being one. I prefer being a musician.
Well if Viktar and Rostany were politicians we would certainly vote for them. They will take to the stage tonight in the hope of winning the Belarusian Eurovision 2015 selection. You can watch LIVE HERE at 20:00 CET.
We wish Rostany the best of luck tonight. Remember they are singing the great song ‘Electric Toys’ and for all our readers in Belarus they will perform number 7 in the contest! Get voting.
Author/Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source : Eurovision Ireland