“Pryamaya rech” (“Direct Speech”) journal: “Be the best version of yourself!”

In the Jubilee year, the founder and leader of “Surganova and the Orchestra” band has no time for her own birthday.

In 2003 she created and took on stage an orchestra, and the 15 years of new sound have pushed her years with “Nochnye Snaipery” into the background. Now she is “Aprelskaya” (“An April Song”) for some people, “Suzanna” or “Murakami” for others, and even a great “Fury” for somebody. It is an exceptional case, when  as a result of subtraction the sum is obtained. Behind the stage of Moscow Jubilee concert “Pryamaya Rech” (“Direct Speech”) journal  tried to calculate the square root of two, when one is born – never less in integrity and substance.

Ironical movement

Svetlana, what events of these 15 years are the most important for you?

The first I can think of is the Kremlin concert dedicated to our 10th anniversary. For me it was a very significant event. I was thrilled to appear on the main stage of the country. It was a large-scale performance. Our fans made incredible dancing flash-mobs: the academic Palace of Congresses had never seen anything like that in its history, I believe. In general, each tour is an important event. We give concerts all over the country, make tours around the world and gather full halls everywhere. I don’t care about super popularity, for me it’s enough just  to know that our work has helped someone in a specific life situation, and  hundreds of letters, posts on social networks or audience responses after concerts  are the evidence of it. Our songs bring relief and give a ground for reflection. It is not the quantity of response, but its quality that counts.

What album is the most important for you?

Each album is dear for me in its own way. It is difficult to single out one. All of them are my children. “Letnik” (“Summer album”), in my opinion, is the most revolutionary one as the concept of sound has changed in it. The album acquired some dancing features and even became a mainstream. I am  interested in working in this aesthetics now, although, to my mind,  “Furia” (“The Fury”), being the most dancing song up to now, refers us to the earlier “Surganova and the Orchestra” band.

By the way, why the orchestra?

All the musicians of the band are multi-instrumentalists. Mikhail Tebenkov plays keyboards, trumpet and samples. Here are three people. Valeriy Tkhai plays the piano, acoustic guitar, bass guitar equally well … I can also be “split into three”, if you wish, I sing, I play the violin, the piano, the guitar … You see, one musician of our band equals to several. Of course, there is some irony in the word “orchestra”, to which we strive in creating our arrangements, but the main feature is that we play polyphony, keep the interaction of musical lines: there is a dialogue between the instruments, there is an orchestra.

It was not only the band that had an anniversary this year, you had a jubilee too. How did you celebrate your 50?

My birthday coincided with a concert in Yekaterinburg, next day we had a concert in Chelyabinsk. Unfortunately or fortunately I didn’t have time for my 50.

Is this a familiar story for you to celebrate your birthday at a concert?

It happens sometimes. Usually I have a birthday party at home, with my family, tasty meal, toasts and presents. For some time my friends used to make me quests with tasks, riddles, charades, written and sealed in envelopes. It is good that there are many secluded places in my three-story house where they can be hidden or scattered. To get a present I must deserve it by going through this labyrinth.

What presents do you remember most?

Once I was given a notebook, it looked like a book and the milestones of “Surganova and the Orchestra” band were printed on its pages. I learned and recalled a lot about myself.

Simple metamorphosis

What do appear first – words or music?

Music comes first more often now, then a verse. The creative task is more difficult in this case, because the musical phrase dictates a certain verbal rhythm. With the melody you receive  a rebus and you have to observe many rules while solving it. The melody sets the pace, drawing, breakdown. This form sets a more rigid framework. Simultaneous appearance of music and text is ideal, a line is born, a phrase, a quatrain with a ready melody, and you just go on with the theme. The seed germinates and it needs to grow.

Is writing an urge, an insight or a working process? You get up, wash yourself, take a pen, paper, the instrument and get to work?


Does the atmosphere of writing matters, as they say it? What is the best place – at home, in the studio, on a road, driving a car?

Texts can be born anywhere. Of course, solitude and, if possible, very thick walls are good when you start working with a melody, with a sound. I still feel embarrassed when I realize one can hear me. Therefore I use sordino when playing  the violin. It suppresses the sound and allows you not to disturb your neighbors at home or in a hotel. Its harder with a voice.  You can’t purr under your breath to warm up, you have to sing loudly. Therefore, I am happy when nobody hears me and nobody bothers me. Silence and solitude inspire my creativity more and more often.

Does it happen that you have no wish to sing, play or compose?  What helps you to overcome the crisis, if it comes?

I do not know the word “crisis”. What does a crisis mean? It is just another stage, like exhale and inhale or inhaling followed by exhaling. There may be minutes, a day,  a year of silence. Lull. Why should you perceive it as a crisis? I have no depression, decadence, I am not embittered at people and do not want to commit suicide. Where  is the crisis? May be less money? Sometimes it is good to sit on a diet. The philosophy of asceticism appeals to me. I will come to it one day, I hope.

The century of greed

You make evenings of poetry, read Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Brodskiy, Polozkova … Is it of any demand in our society?

People have not lost interest in the poetic word. Real, talented, beautiful poetry is the most powerful concentrate of energy of the highest emotional and spiritual experience. People feel it and derive a tremendous recharge from this unconditional touch to the beauty – beautiful speech, beautiful rhyme and beautiful word. Consciousness and speech are interrelated. I am sure that speech determines consciousness. If someone expresses one’s thought with competence, grace and poetry, he a priori never turns to be bad – rude, violent, unintelligent. The gift of speech is the gift of God given to humanity. And poetry is the pinnacle of this gift of God. Of course, it makes me happy when someone seeks to comprehend it.

Don’t you have a feeling that this interest does not come from an inner impulse, but as requested by a crowd for the sake of a good tone, witty remark or the same Instagram, being a tribute to fashion in the long run?

Let this interest be a tribute to fashion, let it raise a wish to join a good crowd. Sometimes the outer determines the inner as a result. There is a reason that many psychologists advise to smile even in a bad mood or feeling unwell. If you find the strength to smile once and again, your spirit, thoughts, form and content will change for the better. Those who go to the evenings of poetry for the sake of fashion or communication will get the positive effect sooner or later. I admit that there is a way to poetry without any internal urge to listen to it.

Don’t you find it too artificial? People read recommended books, save animals, take an active part for the sake of a like on the social networks…

Why not, if you have done something good and got a like? You just do! The main thing is to live consciously! Be the better version of yourself! Develop yourself, your potential, work at it even for the sake of the likes. People will get fed with the game and cease to give you the likes, yet the essence will stay with you – and the outer state will be transferred into the inner.

The world of the right people seems to be around. Yet, at the same time, everything is being done on the surface, somehow, from a scratch … Doesn’t it prove that people become shallow?

Everyone has one’s own serious reasons for that. But, in my opinion, one of the ills of the mankind is greed. We want more, more, more … To make a film, you need to create scenery and costumes, to study history, to have a casting … And not everyone will fit, a particular role requires certain traces  the actor must possess along with charisma, as it is now conventional to say. So it was before. And imperishable works appeared as a result, they are still keeping us warm. But why should you build the scenery today if you can draw it on a computer? To do asap is essential as the competition is high, if you fail to do in time, someone will do it instead. Thoroughness is down. Therefore, we are getting shallow. The race is around. And the race is the outcome of greed: you have to make it, because you need to earn and not to lose. The majority is driven by this strange tendency of the new philosophy – everyone is scared of losing and not getting things done in time! I am afraid neither of losing nor of failing to catch up with time! I just want to have time to enjoy this life, to be able somehow to touch its main secret – for the sake of what we are here …

Source: PRYAMAYA RECH journal

By Vitaliy Lesnichiy