Anna Rose Greenberg, Traffic Director and DJ for WOBC, recently spoke with Leonid Chernitsky, drummer for the Russian ethno-industrial band MystTerra. MystTerra are known for their energetic songs and creative orchestration.
Anna Rose: What is MystTerra’s mission? What do you set out to accomplish when making your music?
Leonid: Well, it’s our life to play music. I think everybody that makes music for a great part of his life is some kind of a fanatic. Three men in this band have known each other for about 15 years. We’ve played different styles and at last we found what we can do best in music.
Anna Rose: Do you have any upcoming projects or tours?
Leonid: We are regularly on tour. Russia is very big and suitable for these things, but we still play very few gigs not in Russian-speaking areas. In terms of projects – we have a pair of music projects aside from MystTerra, but MystTerra is the main one.
Anna Rose: Are you planning to release any new music with MystTerra?
Leonid: We had a release last summer, a split album with another band from Ukraine. This is new. Now we’re planning a single just for the Internet. It will be fresh stuff from us and, besides, the material may possibly look interesting for potential editors of the third album. But for now it’s just plans.
Anna Rose: How do you go about translating the songs you cover into Russian? You have truly wonderful covers of songs that were originally in German, Breton, and English on Far Wanderings’ Winds. What’s your translation process?
Leonid: Well, this is not so hard…all the songs we translate from languages other than English have a parallel English version, as a rule. But, of course, there are some interesting moments. For example, while translating a song from the Faroe Islands, I got consultations from a specialist who lived in Scandinavian countries for a long time. The song is called “Драконье золото” (Dragon’s gold) and it’s a version of a song played by TYR, “Regin Smidur“. It’s a traditional Faroe song and we play it in Russian. You know, there’s the saying: “A translator must know one language: his own.”
Anna Rose: MystTerra has a unique sound that has been described as ethno-industrial. How would you define ethno-industrial?
Leonid: Ethno-industrial…it’s nothing special, just words showing that we use traditional music tools and synth elements in arrangements. We need these words just because of the fact that every thing needs a description.
Anna Rose: Do you have a favorite Slavic legend or folk tale?
Leonid: My first book had Russian folk tales for children. There are a lot of them. Every man and women here knows them. I think all people in the world should know such tales of their country. But for me, there is a special moment. I was born in Siberia, in cold Yakutia. It’s not so far from Alaska. But, I suppose, colder. And in my childhood I liked to read legends of Yakut people. They are similar to the native peoples of Alaska, but descended from another place.
And, I think, these stories are my favorite too.
Anna Rose: How much of these folk stories and traditions end up in your music?
Leonid: In a direct way, not so much. We play just one really traditional Russian song and it’s not so old. 19th century. I think it’s possible to find roots of native Russian culture in songs of MystTerra, but more indirectly…I think, that goes for all real music in any country. For example: Rammstein. They are a real German band, but don’t play traditional German songs.
Anna Rose: What have you been listening to lately?
Leonid: Nothing interesting. I’m working as a musician in other bands, so I have to listen to their music. When I want to enjoy music I’m usually not listening to rock or anything heavier. Choir singing, new age…just relaxing from the decibels.
Anna Rose: How do you like to prepare yourself before a show?
Leonid: Drinking vodka…just joking. I like to play live shows. These are the best minutes in my life and do we need to prepare ourselves for such minutes? I don’t know. Just going and playing.
Anna Rose: What do you like to do during your free time?
Leonid: Being with my children, of course. My life is primarily playing drums, spending time with my children, and my house needs attention too. The first two things are most interesting while traveling.
Anna Rose: Where do you most like to travel?
Leonid: Most of all across my own country of course. After I travel all over the whole of Russia (it’s hard but possible), I dream of travelling to the Americas – both South and North. They are very interesting for me. But I go just to the places where I’m playing gigs…so it will be not very soon.
Anna Rose: Can you name three of your own songs you particularly like?
Leonid: I like military and revolutionary songs. We play one such song: “Полюшко-поле“. Other two…”Varyag” and “Sacred War“.
Anna Rose: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Leonid: Of course. The main thing – I’m always very glad to be listened to by a non-Russian audience. It’s very important for us. And I’d like to thank very much your radio station and you personally for such a possibility. An even better thing is just to be watched by you all, live. I believe that day will come. If somebody liked the music we play I’m happy, and we’re doing everything not in vain.
Thanks very much to Leonid Chernitsky!