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Infidel Interview #132: Dark Phenomenon

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

Hello, my name’s Roman Radchenko, I am 32 years old. I am the author of the lyrics and music for all Dark Phenomenon songs. I also create all the arrangements and play almost all the instruments on the recordings. Besides, I also sing my songs. In short, Dark Phenomenon is my creative pseudonym. I am the Dark Phenomenon. I was born in Krasnodar, this is quite a large city in the south of Russia, near the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Since my birth this is my hometown.

How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

Well, the fact is I did not live anywhere except Krasnodar so it's hard to imagine for me. I visited some cities in the European part of Russia, but I didn’t spend a long time there. The grass is always greener on the other side. The only thing I can say that my town has a relatively warm climate. It is a rarity to see the snow in this place. I don’t like cold winters, so I think I will feel very uncomfortable if I live in the north regions. I can definitely say that the local scene did not affect me in anyway. Synthpop/New wave scene doesn’t exist as such in Krasnodar. At least I don’t know about any ideologically related bands with whom I could performing together or cooperate in some way.

What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

In the near future my energies and thoughts are focused on a new album. I've been working on it for many years and it's almost ready. About what the distant future will bring us I think it’s hard to imagine. Perhaps, if I did not give up my music at 30, I will continue to do this until the end.

Interview continues after this video and all further streaming and picture content...

What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?

I love a huge number of bands with a huge range of genres - from Abba to Sex Pistols. But I definitely can choose the so-called “Big Five” of my favorite bands. There are: Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, New Order, Iris, Oasis. I thank all of them for their inspiration and influence. In other words, these are my creative teachers, and I am very proud of this.

What are your thoughts on genres in general? Do you find them creatively helpful as a template to work with? Or do you find them restricting? Or possibly somewhere in between? Now that the internet has caused so much crossover in music, would you even say genre labels are relevant any more?

As I said above, I listen to a wide range of music genres. Of course, it puts an imprint on what I'm doing. So, I decided to make my own songs in absolutely different genres. At the same time, I decided not to change the name of the band and not to be divided it into several music projects. This is a very difficult way. As a rule, listeners prefer to choose music in narrow genre direction. I understand all the risks of this, but I cannot go the other way. So the new album will be conceptually consist of two absolutely different parts. One part will deal with old school synthpop revival, but the other side will consist of guitar based rock songs.

So much has been said, and it sometimes feel that every word combination has every been taken. As a lyricist myself I know the pain of how hard it can be to articulate something in a way that is both engaging to the audience and uniquely artist. How do you find inspiration for your lyrical poetry?

Any negative facts and feelings that abound in the contemporary world and life are an excellent source for poetry inspiration. And, in some ways, this also applies to music. The more stress, the worse the life, but the better the songs. I'm not looking specifically for some sources of my lyrical poetry. I constantly feel the overdose of pain, injustice, suffering, hatred and other things, it fills up my lyrics like a floodwaters.

When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?

Usually, the melody appears in two ways. The melody comes to mind by itself and immediately or it appears during improvisation on the piano. Then this melody plays for a long time in my head and at this time I come up with an arrangement and structure of the song. So when I start working on a project, pick up sounds, record instruments and so on, I already have the final version of the song in my head, in my mind. I do not often improvise while recordings. This is not my method, I don’t like it. I know for sure: it should sound like that.

I wouldn’t say that I have any particular techniques or tricks. Sometimes it happens that I do not write anything for a long time. And sometimes, in that case, I say to myself: “Well, now you MUST sit down at the piano and write something”. And, as a rule, I write something.

Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?

I've been playing the piano since 1994, and since 2001 I've been composing my own songs. And of course, it definitely changed my life. But at the same time, it is a strong psychological exhaustion, it takes away forces, vital energy. It's hard to explain, but when you put too much into it, sometimes it happens.

Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?

I am inclined to anarchy-liberal views. Although I understand that in the current reality anarchy is a utopia. States and governments often act as an instrument of violence and repression. I really think if the money that's spent on big geopolitical games, weapons and so on went to the treatment of diseases, science, art, humanism, animal protection, so perhaps the world would become a better place.

If we talk about religion, formally, I consider myself as the Orthodox Christian. But for some things I have my own view. I always try to do what the soul tells me but not as someone says it or it's written somewhere.

Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?

I think if I can record and publish at least 2/3 of what I have already written, before I die, it will be the final achievement. My songs are a part of me, essential part of me, so even after my death they will remain. And that means I will live forever, I will never die.

Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?

Unfortunately, there are no methods. There is no regime to manage it. I often go to bed in the morning, get up after dinner. And I feel absolutely dreadful about that.

For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?

It’s a quite difficult question, because I have not played live since 2012. Dark Phenomenon is the “one man band”, that’s the reason. But I don’t think that I would have done while performance something expressive or impulsive. Perhaps I would look like a monument or a mannequin. Although, who knows.

Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?

No, the Dark Phenomenon is my one and only. In fact, I do not really like “over” collaborations.

I don’t like when I listen to an album of some band or artist, and there are “feat” opposite each song.

However, I would be glad to work with any band from the list of my favorites. Cause I really love and respect them.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

I constantly have to overcome a few problems. Maybe you'll be surprised, but I do not like to record my songs. I hate the technical aspect of sound recording. All these buttons, toggle switches, wires, PC programs ... It's torture for me. What I love is to compose melodies and write poetry. But all this I do.

Another point is that English is not my native language. Before going to the studio, the texts are checked. Sometimes they revisited and worked through. This is a big responsibility, I think. And it takes time.

Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?

A few people help me in this, but I control everything. Now the Internet for many people is the single opportunity to go out into the big world, the single opportunity to declare yourself. But at the same time, due to the fact that everyone can post anything it becomes more and more complicated. And even if among the huge information variety is something interesting, not many people will dig it without any recommendation for this.

In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How about music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?

It’s an urgent question for Russia because people don’t buy music here. That's not the way it works here. Even if people have enough money they will not do it. This is due to the mentality. And this is bad, of course. At the same time, I totally welcome free streaming. This definitely helps to promote music. In some cases, I think it is acceptable free mp3. People have to know what they need to pay for, and whether they need to buy it. But if someone wants to get wav with all additional materials etc, so then please pay money. I think this is a good compromise.

When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by, and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration? Do you participate in the gaming world? Avid reader perhaps? Maybe cinema fan? Combination of some lol?

Despite the fact that I don’t like to interact with the real world, I've never been addicted to computer games. This is not for me. I also cannot call myself a big fan of movies, although sometimes I watch films and go to the cinema. Beginning from my childhood I have been interested in geography (now I have a higher education in social geography). Besides that, I have always been interested in history, demography, urbanistics, civil shipbuilding and aviation. From the World Literature I can mention Lermontov, Bulgakov, Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Salinger, Bradbury, Oscar Wilde.

Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

I think it's fantastic that the world has platforms like you. In the world of total brand- dependence it is like a feat to introduce listeners to new names, to give information about new bands and so on. Thank you! My best wishes to all the participants and managers of the Infidel Netwerk! Do what you do! Good luck!

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