Check out this interview I did with KGB. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
A.I.: Alexei Ivanov
P.T.: Pavel Toropygin (band leader)
A.S.: Alexander Stoyanov
How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?
A.I.: For me it is very important, it’s like my secret name, my hidden essenceю If I wont play in KGB, I just won’t play at all… However, it is difficult for me to answer what the name of the band brings for other people.
P.T.: Of course, the name, like many other moments, contributes to the creation of the band’s image. We used this name as an associative designation of an unknown hidden power. The choice of the name is rather not connected to our political views and came into our mind for a very strange reason. But I let it remain a mystery.
A.S.: Energetic understanding of the mood of the music that the band performs. It is not easy to invent the name, to choose from an infinite number of words and phrases. KGB for us at that time reflected a lot of something strong and thin at the same time.
I wanted to start a band in the 80s but couldn’t find the right people to do so with. What was it
that made you want to do the band?
AI: We met spontaneously, came to a music section that was more like vocal-instrumental ensemble. We came there because we just wanted to play and perform on stage. We played what we were offered, gradually became friends on the basis of some personal musical preferences. I think we began to exist as a group from that moment.
PT: Desire for self-expression in this particular way.
AS: Our band has several times reborn from a large number of musicians and genres of music. It resulted into the group of musicians where only like-minded people with similar musical preferences remained.
With so many genres and sub-genres of metal today what is your definition of the music you play?
A.I .: We love to play non-standard rhythmic pictures and non-linear harmonic moves. We play something technical, partly melodic but I cannot uniquely adjust our music to a specific genre or even several genres.
PT: I am not so familiar with the modern genres.
How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
A.I .: Everything is discussed within the band, everyone can offer their own version with the explanation on why it should be performed in this or that way. I personally tried to make the transition from the end of one song to the beginning of another. It should be a continuation of a musical history, logical in its development and melody, but solely for my taste and understanding.
PT: The beginning of the track should sound advantageous on the after-sound, on the echo of the previous one. The alternation of tempos and moods can be useful to create the necessary contrast and not to tire the listener.
I am fascinated by how people can still come up with things that hasn’t been done before, chord structures that hasn’t been written, sentences that hasn’t been constructed before. Where do you find your inspiration to create?
А.I .: It is either already hidden inside you your mind and it’s breaking out of you, or it is the result of a long creative search and rejection of the material, if you set high selection criteria.
The first is the gift of God, which perhaps is not infinite (well, definitely in some cases).
The second is patience and perseverance, and certainly a great love for music that can withstand these endless searches for several successful melodic moves.
The first appears very rarely, as this phenomenon is unique.
The second is much more difficult, and therefore also rarely occurs.
But I can share my thoughts on where to find the first one. This is when a person is deeply in love and is inspired by his love, or vice versa: person just has strong feelings associated with the loss of a loved one, it hurts very much, but it still kindles the divine spark of talent in him. I do not know other ways though.
PT: This happens in different ways. Sometimes during the search while playing an instrument. Sometimes the idea may arise and sound in finished form. At such moments there is a clear idea of how it will sound, for example, at the concert. Sometimes elements from other people’s musical ideas can inspire you. Exactly the elements from different music genres may inspire you. That is, you just take them into your collection because they seem to be valuable for you. This is of course not about quotes but about principles, features.
AS: Inspiration for making music can come from everywhere. Mood, history, film, music that you hear, accumulating of all these things at one moment turns into your “musical riffs”, which intertwine with the ideas of other KGB’s musicians and allow you to create new songs
How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc.?
A.I .: Unfortunately, I’m not good in it at all. I can only evaluate it from the point of view whether I like the proposed option or not like, but it will be difficult to analyze what I particularly like or don’t like.
PT: We were doing all the artworks by ourselves, a little bit and only of necessity. I think that the visual part should not be too specific as it should not disturb listener’s imagination when he or she enjoys it.
I get the feeling that more and more metalheads too are just downloading single tracks. Is the
album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
A.I .: Maybe someone has released albums that wholly mean more than the particular tracks, but I suppose I don’t have enough to understand such albums. I listen to only individual tracks from the album, those that I liked more than others. I cannot even listen to the rest of the tracks at all, or listen very rarely. It is unlikely that it can kill music, with the amount of musical material that exists today, it is impossible to listen to everything, so people choose what they like best to get most pleasure. This is kind of a natural selection in music. In general, to be honest, I don’t like to listen to someone else’s music and almost don’t listen to it!
PT: Digital format significantly influenced the way music is distributed. And although the album, especially on a physical medium, is not as relevant as before, it gives a special feeling and attitude to music.
Are we killing our beloved metal scene by supporting digital downloading or can anything positive
A.I .: Perhaps I did not quite understand the question correctly, but if the question was whether the ability of a digital download of individual tracks, rather than the whole album is to the benefit of metal, then it seems like I have answered it in the previous section. This is natural selection, only really worthy compositions will survive.
PT: The topic is very multifaceted. There are pros and cons. The digital format is an evolutionary phenomenon and gives many possibilities. Our task is not to become drown in these opportunities, try to rethink the new reality and realize the values that do not depend on technology. Live performance is one of such values. Well, the fact that the number of many “enchained” to the sofa can be answered like this: you need to write so interesting music that people would like to hear it live.
Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
A.I .: I had an opinion that we are nowhere and nobody needs our music, except for a small group of our acquaintances and individual music fans of this kind in the places where we sometimes performed. Unfortunately it seems so for me.
PT: This is not the biggest problem of our group since we are playing a little. But there are opportunities for performance.
What does the future hold?
A.I .: Nothing stands still, something new will appear and will force out what is popular now to the background. It will force out but not destroy it completely, and therefore the things that have been popular before and what is popular now will continue to coexist.