Somojo Magazine

Timur Izhbulatov

Hi Timur, how are you?
Hi, I'm fine, thanks. Just back from my second trip to Crimea, full of impressions.

Which instruments do you play?
I play the guitar but this has little to do with the music I produce which is almost purely electronic.

What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
There was no conscious decision from my side, it just happened. I used to be quite reserved at school and liked figuring out how things work rather than playing with other kids. So, when I took the guitar a whole new world opened to me and it was just the question of time to dive into it more deeply.
I'm in no way against playing in a band. In fact I've been playing with a good friend of mine for at least five years and we got plenty of material. Basically, a huge pile of dictaphone records which just fix some thoughts, plus, sometimes they're my source of inspiration. Anyway, this is just something orthogonal to my current musical activity. Kind of alter ego.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
It's not easy to pin down. I would say it's rock-influenced electronica with a touch of jazz, but this is quite vague. Usually I also add that it's built around funky basslines and realistic sampled drum patterns.
Actually, for me it's more interesting to hear how other people describe my music because often they find very surprising influences in it, for instance, Acoustic Alchemy or John Carpenter.

What have you been up to recently?
In short, forming the reality I live in. This year is rather eventful for me. I quit my job and changed my way of looking at things. Since then I've been just enjoying life, travelling, meeting interesting people and, of course, making music.

Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
No, I didn't think about anything like that. I thought I'd become a writer or a scientist.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
In 80s that was Soviet children musicals including 'The Musicians of Bremen', 'Blue Puppy' and 'Alice in Wonderland', also Vladimir Vysotsky, Alla Pugacheva, Modern Talking and Space. In 90s, being a typical teenager, I switched to rock and started listening to Kino and other Russian bands like Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defence) and Nautilus Pompilius along with popular Western bands like Nirvana and Metallica which later led me to Pink Floyd and RHCP.

How long have you played your instruments?
I first took the guitar in 1997.

What was your first music making experience?
In 1998 I started playing with FastTracker II on my home PC.

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
I spent several years studying composition privately, plus, had some guitar lessons.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
A symphonic orchestra.

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
It's difficult to say. On the one hand, I do more or less same things every time when working on a new track. On the other hand, I never know the result in advance. And if the result is unpredictable, then I can hadrly call this a set routine.
It's an iterative process which is closer to programming rather than recording. I start working on a track when I already have some musical thought, something that I played or sang, and try to make sound of it, then listen, tweak this and that until I'm more or less satisfied. When I get the initial pattern programmed I start playing using it as accompaignment and during this process I take the fragments I like and use them to build the rest of the track.

Would you sign with a major record company?
I'm far from music industry and not very enthusiastic about giving up exlusive rights to a major label.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
Music is not something that I plan. I just take it when it comes.

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
A little too much as I'm completely on my own here :)

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
I like the idea of working with other artists and once I wrote a song together with another guy. That was a nice rock piece for two guitars and a voice, rather funky, and I really enjoyed the process as well as the result. However, I still have very vague understanding of how and with whom I could collaborate in the field of electronic music. Actually, I'm not even in touch with any local electronic musicians. Perhaps, it's time to get more familiar with Moscow electronic scene.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I do enjoy working on new tracks partly because the more I do, the better result I get. And the better the result, the more is satisfaction.

Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
For me the music itslef is personal experience. Sometimes it's caused by some other experience but it doesn't have to be about anything else except itself.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
It's neither easy nor difficult. When something comes to me to later become a track, it's easy, but making it actually happen is hard work. In other words, it's difficult to make it easy but this is the only way.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
I'm a big fan of psybient, so I would name Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad of Carbon Based Lifeforms, Yosi Shamay AKA Capsula, and, of course, Simon Posford.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Missy Higgins, Egor Letov.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
I do this mostly through my online activity on Last.fm as this website gives me the information about listening habbits of my fans and thus allows me to position my work somehow.

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
I have a profile on Reverbnation but haven't been very active there as I can't sustain my presence everywhere. I decided to focus on Last.fm because I already use it a lot and know quite well.

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
I will barely exaggerate if I say the Internet revolutionized music industry. I think these sites are the best promotional tools available for independent artists.

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
I have rather limited experience with these sites but what I think is missing is an open source platform that would help artists managing them in a centralized manner. I know there are commercial services that allow uploading audio content to different publishers, but I would like to see an open extensible platform for this.

How do you relax?
I don't strain myself :) Seriously, it depends. In most cases dancing and other positive physical activity does the right thing. Travelling, meeting new people, socializing also helps.

What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
I'm a computer geek. If you heard of Linux and Python this is what I do.

Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
I'm happy with things as they are. My profession allows me not to think about money and leaves some time for music.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not to my knowledge.

Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Sure. Actually, I think some of my works would make a good soundtrack

Is there anything you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank my family, my friends and everyone else for their support.

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