Results for Russia

interviews

Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus, the alter ego of electronic singer/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova, has already released five studio albums, despite being only 26-years-old. While her first album The Spoils was a lo-fi effort recorded in her bedroom in 2009, Zola Jesus has since developed an expansive, orchestrated sound featuring gloomy synthesizers and string arrangements. In creating her atmospheric songs, she draws equally on her love of classical music, industrial and mainstream pop. Her latest album Taiga is named after the Russian word for“forest,”appropriate as the music manages to evoke the feeling of the deep, dark woods. The woods are, in fact, close to her heart – though currently based in Seattle, Danilova grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin. She joined Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance at the Virgin Hotel in Chicago. Zola Jesus discusses the difficulty of seeking out transgressive music in an isolated community, her childhood love of opera, and taking inspiration from filmmaker David Lynch, who also remixed one of her songs.

Go to episode 497
dijs

Jim

“"Open Your Eyes"”The Lords of the New Church

This week we looked at the music, past and present, of Russia. Jim thought about one band that curiously made a splash there: The Lords of the New Church. The band was somewhat of a supergroup, with punk pioneers Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys, Brian James of The Damned, Dave Tregunna of Sham 69 and Nick Turner of The Barracudas, all coming together to play, what Jim readily admits, a 1980's sound that mixed punk with goth. While he didn't love most of their output, he really loved the first single that penetrated the Iron Curtain: "Open Your Eyes".

Go to episode 429

Jim

“The Return of the Giant Hogweed”Genesis

Jim's been thinking a lot about Genesis lately – and no, not the most famous version of the band with Phil Collins on vocals. Before hits like "I Can't Dance" Genesis was an unabashedly nerdy prog rock band, and that's the iteration of the group Jim wants to celebrate with his DIJ pick. 1971's Nursery Cryme with Peter Gabriel on vocals fit wonderfully into Jim's teenage world of renaissance fairs, Isaac Asimov, and Dungeons and Dragons. No track embodied the group's proto-steampunk ethic better than "The Return of the Giant Hogweed." Gabriel tells the story of a Victorian explorer who discovers the hogweed in Russia. Unaware of the plant's carnivorous tendencies he brings it back to England to the royal Kew Gardens, where it proceeds to wreak havoc. Listen for Steve Hackett, mimicking the sounds of the murderous plant on his guitar.

Go to episode 353
news

Music News

While this year's Fourth of July has already come and gone, the spirit of independence is still alive and kicking for indie record labels like Domino, Ninja Tune, and Sub Pop. They, and more than 700 others small labels from across the globe, recently signed the Fair Digital Deals Declaration, a manifesto of sorts that seeks to standardize the way artists and music companies deal with digital music sales. Among the five main points the signatories swear to abide are clearer explanations to artist about what their cut of digital sales will be, as well as a commitment to supporting artists who oppose their music being used without permission. Jim and Greg certainly support the intent of the quasi-policy, but they wonder what effect it will ultimately have, as there's no clear way to enforce it.

Speaking of the independent spirit, Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot isn't done raging against the Kremlin. Its two most outspoken members are now suing the Russian government in the European Court of Human Rights for the violation of their rights during their original Russian court proceedings, and for the treatment they received during the nearly two years they spent in prison following the group's“sacrilegious”protest/performance inside a Moscow cathedral in 2012. Beyond financial reparations, the members' lawsuit also wants to set the precedent that freedom of expression cannot be stifled in Russia, even though at the time of their sentencing, the majority of Russians supported punishing the women. Jim and Greg wish them the best fighting the good fight.

Check out our World Tour visit to Russia.

Go to episode 453

Music News

The song contest/political science experiment called Eurovision took place on Saturday. Jim and Greg have been looking forward to the weird and wonderful phenomenon since speaking with expert John Kennedy O'Connor last month—and Eurovision 2014 did not disappoint. This year's prize went to "Rise Like a Phoenix," a power ballad belted by Austrian diva Conchita Wurst, the drag persona of Mr. Thomas Neuwirth. But the real star of the evening? Politics. Though some considered Wurst's win a victory for tolerance, it outraged conservatives in countries like Russia and Belarus. Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine turned the conflict over Crimea into a fight for the spotlight, and the audience showed disdain for Putin by booing the Russian act. Americans may not“get”Eurovision, but 180 million viewers can't be all wrong…

In other bizarre international news is a story from the New York Times. Apparently the people of China have gotten used to saying "goodbye"—or, more to the point, "get out!"—to the dulcet tones of one Kenny G. All across China, the elevator jazz giant's 1989 hit "Going Home" is played at malls, gyms, libraries, and even wedding banquets to signal the day's end. Many don‘t know the song’s name, but they know to pack up and leave once it starts playing. And while China's non-existent royalty policy means that the sax-man makes very little off his ubiquitous tune, Kenny has taken it in stride, joking that at Chinese concerts, he plays“Going Home”last to keep people from leaving early. Greg thinks that China has managed some impressive social engineering—almost Pavlovian, says Jim. But our hosts can sympathize: Hearing Kenny G makes them evacuate the premises, too.

Go to episode 442

Music News

Former Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight is facing life in prison. He was arrested for murder and other charges in connection with a hit-and-run incident that left a man dead and another in critical condition. It's a Phil Spector-like fall from grace from someone who practically defined West Coast hip-hop in his heyday.

There were quite a few developments this week in the world of digital streaming. SoundExchange reported that it paid out $773 million in royalties in 2014 for digital performances. This suggests that streaming services and satellite radio may be closing in on old-fashioned terrestrial radio. Even Jay Z wants in on the action: he's reportedly bidding on the Swedish streaming company Aspiro. Meanwhile, Spotify has put the brakes on its planned expansion into Russia as the ruble tumbles and rumors spread that President Vladimir Putin is clamping down on media and social networking sites.

Go to episode 480

Music News

If you‘ve ever felt like a musical pariah because you just couldn’t get into the latest“it”band, you may want to consider a trip to the Netherlands. In the latest issue of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Dutch researchers say that while treating a patient for obsessive-compulsive disorder using an electrical implant in his brain, they inadvertently activated the area that may affect musical preference. Before treatment began, the patient wasn't much of a music fan. But, while receiving electrical stimulation via the implant, he suddenly became one of Johnny Cash's biggest fans, going on to purchase all of The Man in Black's CDs and DVDs. When the implant's battery ran out, though, the patient regressed to his pre-music indifference state. It's fascinating stuff and Jim wonders if the implant could get even him to love Bruce Springsteen?

This year's "American Idol" has been crowned. But beyond winning the TV contest, North Carolina native Caleb Johnson has been winning comparisons to Meat Loaf. In fact, Marvin Lee Aday's Facebook page was flooded with notes of congratulations. Meatloaf was happy to hear that Johnson brought "some real rock ‘n’ roll back on prime time TV." And the new Idol may even star in a possible remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's sure to nail a rendition of "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul."

In other contest news, Russian authorities were are not pleased with the recent crowning of drag singer Cochinita Wurst as the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest. So put off are they, in fact, that they plan to launch not one, but two alternate Eurovision copycat competitions that will be free of anything "moral[ly] degrading." The Russian people are having a more mixed reaction, with one fan even planning to open upscale beauty parlor named in Wurst's honor.

Go to episode 444

Music News

Last weekend was the famous Eurovision Song Contest, the“World Cup”of music. A fixture in Europe since 1968, past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves. Eurovision never fails to feature weird music and geopolitical controversy, and this year was no exception. Singer Jamala from Ukraine beat out Australia and Russia for the top prize. Russia was irked by Jamala's song choice, a track called "1944," about Stalin's exile of the Crimean Tatar population – with obvious connections to today's crisis in Ukraine. Better the countries fight via silly pop songs than actual guns, Jim argues.

Get your sunscreen, hats, and wallets out for the first Desert Trip! The new music festival will be held in the same location as Coachella, and with its septuagenarian lineup, it quickly acquired the nickname "Oldchella." Desert Trip will feature six major acts from the 1960s rock scene: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Ticket sales have already exceeded a record $150 million – thanks to ticket prices reaching into the thousands. That's not to mention the $6,500 resort packages. Jim thinks that for that price, they ought to air condition the desert.

Go to episode 547
world tours

Russia

Last year, Jim and Greg racked up lots of frequent flier miles during the Sound Opinions World Tour with trips to Sweden, Japan, South Africa and Mexico. This year, just in time for the Winter Olympic Games, they grab their passports once again and head for Russia. Moscow-based author and music critic Artemy Troitsky serves as their guide, lifting the shroud of the Iron Curtain to reveal Russia's complicated rock ‘n’ roll history. Up until the mid-1980's, the Communist government heavily censored the media, so listeners eager to hear the latest Beatles or Beach Boys song from the West had to rely on pirate radio stations and an underground market of reel-to-reel tapes. According to Troitsky, the tense environment actually helped push many artists to quietly rebel and make relevant and provocative music right under the noses (and ears) of the government. Inpsired by artists in the West, bands like Aquarium, DDT, and Nautilus Pompilius started making their own music complete with poetic and thoughtful lyrics which fit in nicely with Russia's long, rich literary tradition. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the mid-1980's, media censorship was relaxed some, and many more underground acts rose to the surface. However, for every topnotch band like Kino, or talented singer like Zhanna Aguzarova that emerged, there were three lackluster pop and chanson (a type of Russian country music) acts which specialize in fun and nostalgia. These musical styles continue to dominate the Russian charts to this day, but Artemy says there's still plenty of non-mainstream Russian music to be excited about with rappers like MC Noize, electro-punks Barto, and agit-rockers Pussy Riot, unafraid to challenge the status quo and explore new sonic frontiers.

Russian artists featured in this episode:

  • Mashina Vremeni
  • Center
  • Nautilus Pompilius
  • Aquarium
  • Natalia Vetlitskaya
  • Lubeh
  • Zemfira
  • t.A.T.u.
  • Pussy Riot
  • Kino
  • DDT
  • Zhanna Aguzarova and Bravo
  • Noize MC
  • Barto
Go to episode 429