Young musician Maхim Kulsha: “We do not entertain the public”

Where do popular young music projects start? What ideas are embodied in unusual sounds and why is it important to “bend” one’s path? A musician from Minsk shares his thoughts.

- Maхsim, how important is fashion and trends for a musician today?

- I believe that if you decide to make music, you should pick a direction that is close to your heart. And work with it. Looking over at fashion, constantly readjusting yourself and jumping from one style into another, whether in music or from outside, always gives a feeling that the musician is betraying himself and selling more. Of course, you should know how to transform music to accompany the present reality. Regardless of style. But you should not lose a sense of proportion.

Finding your audience is just a matter of time. Fashion is too fleeting a concept for those who make music. In music what is important is an understanding of oneself.

- Which of the European countries or neighbouring countries does Belarus have the most in common with musically?

- Lithuania and Latvia are similar to Belarus. They have many young, independent bands and interesting musicians; they hold many festivals. For now it is not the same here, but we are moving in that direction.

- What direction of Belarusian music do you represent?

- We do not set ourselves a direction in any way. People say that we play post-punk and cold wave. Maybe, we agree. We never thought of this much, the train is moving forward and we do our thing without looking back. We don’t have time for such a diagnosis for now.

- What does the public expect from musicians today? Is there a message capable of capturing, attracting an audience? 

I think that there is no right formula for “how to capture an audience”. You can play pop music and then maybe you’ll have a wider audience. And you can play hard underground, but then your fans are more loyal. The public as usual expects sincerity from musicians in any manifestation: you can stand or lie on stage, tear off your last shirt, the main thing is to be sincere, do it for yourself. The viewer can feel it, you will get the returns.

If a musician is conveying some message through his music then the listener will be someone who relates to this message. The main thing here is not to betray yourself or the listener, either the listener will feel that the musician is not sincere in what he’s doing or the musician will think that the listener is missing something.

- What ideas influenced you and formed your vision of music, sound, performance on stage and your musical activities in general?

It was an ordinary winter, we were bored, so Sasha Sinitsa, Pasha Mikhalok and I decided to break the grey days and play for pleasure. Without any plans or vision we were able, in a couple of rehearsals, to come up and record several demo songs. We posted them on the Internet, and somehow something came out of it, a few magazines, friends liked them...It all happened quite quickly. We probably realised that we were playing music only when we began recording our first album and went on tour to Riga, Moscow, Tallinn.

I am sure that we were influenced by our life experience, the music we listen to, the films we watch. We haven’t analysed these ideas deeply, but in short all that we do is what we like: the songs we write, the instruments we use, the sound we make, how we perform on stage. I think that the listener/viewer picks up on that and also experiences a similar energy.

We refuse to get published intentionally in popular non-specialised publications for artificial promotion among those listeners who don’t even care about this music and don’t like it.. It’s not for us; we won’t find likeminded people this way.

Our audience is those people who get interested themselves and not those who we have to solicit. We are not representatives of the entertainment art. We do not entertain the public.

- How did you come up with the name SUPER BESSE?

- There is such a city in France, a ski resort. We found it by chance. Our bassist Sasha likes mountains and the Tour de France, he identifies with French culture. Someone suggested the name, we agreed especially that SUPER BESSE sounds like “super devil” in our language. It came out great.

- There is a lot written about you, you get invited to perform. How do you explain such an interest in your music?

- Many note that our concerts are interesting and expressive in manner. Even in those countries where listeners don’t know Russian, they like our music. Maybe it’s the energy.

- Where should musicians be heading today so as not to end up on the margins in the future? 

- If a musician wants to make his own music, then he needs to simply “bend” his own path. In addition to that, if you want to write music not just “for yourself” and be in a closed underground circle, like some ascetic musician, then you need to try to get your music out to listeners. For this the best thing is high-profile festivals, musical showcasing. Solo concerts in your own town are not likely to bring any results except for experience performing on stage. Only friends and friends of friends usually go to such concerts. But if you try to send applications for participation in various festivals and showcases, this is already a step in the right direction. And if you get a chance to perform at a festival you need to free yourself and show yourself the way you really are, sincerely, without affectedness or stiffness. Then such concerts would only grow in number, and they are a good opportunity to find your listeners, those who you would enjoy playing your music to.

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