Interview for “GOTHIC BEAUTY” magazine (USA),
february 2006

A map of Russia shows the city of Archangelsk in the far North on the coast of the White Sea.It appears remote, not a place where one would expect to find a connection to the goth community? But there is the home of MOON FAR AWAY and the origin of their music. Their latest CD “BELOVODIE”honors the specific environment and spiritual culture of Russia in vivid music that is gothic in a true sence, celebrating the beauty and power of creative forms that have endured from past times. With the release of “BELOVODIE” on both Russian (Shadowplay) and French labels (Prikosnovenie, distributed Stateside by Projekt)? The music of MOON FAR AWAY is no longer remote to listeners around the world. Discover more in our correcpondence with composer and musician Count Ash.

- Who are currently the members of MOON FAR AWAY? When and how did each of you discover your interest in music, and when did you begin to work together? 

- The actual lineup are Anastasia (vocals), and me, Count Ash (all instruments, programming and vocals). Our previous female-vocalist, Anea, leaved the project after two earlier albums, “LADO WORLD” and “SATOR”. She became a mother. Our third member, Heleg, who was our photographer for many years, now lives in another place. I started my musical activity in MOON FAR AWAY in 1994, after the playing in local post-punk and experimental/post-industrial bands. I just understood that music might be something more powerfull and serious, not only teenage play. For Anastasia? MFA is her first music project.

- The music of “Belovodie”, as its title indicates, is linked to the environment that it comes from.  Where is the place “Belovodie” (Whitewaterland) refers to? Why is it significant – is this the place where you live and work?

- Originally, Belovodie (translatable to English as “Whitewaterland” )  is an enigmatic place from deepest Russian myths and legends... Its a perfect, sacred and bright land, which is hidden from “normal” people by transphysical veil. It is a ancient-Russian image of Heaven on Earth. We lives in Archangelsk region, which lies on banks of the White Sea. And sometimes we think, that Belovodie is somethigs close for us and our Motherland...

- The songs on the album are credited as traditional northern Russian lyrics.  How did you discover these songs? (Are they part of a regional history which you unearthed through research, or is such music present in “everyday” experience (as holiday/seasonal songs, familiar folk songs, etc.)?)

- In fact, all of the songs are very ancient and deepty ritual. Some of them were collected by me in folklore expeditions, others learned as a member of folkloric pagan theatre, where I sand some years before. Most of these songs are from seasonal rituals, but in the song “Death” we used the original funeral cry from old woman of Onega district, Archangelsk region. Very, very powerfull thing...“Arise The Red Sun” is the old song of kazaks, members of Russian warriors casta, who lived and hid in the Russian North after their medieval riots. It is a hymn to the rising Sun, to Nature and the human Will. The song was an early track recorded for “BELOVODIE”, using the vocal sample of MOON FAR AWAY’s first female-vocalist, Anea.

- Many songs carry an atmosphere of ritual – a repetitive or continuous chorus that raises or names power, in a solemn fashion, such as in “Na zore,” or in a dance, as in “Ne veli vetry.”  Many songs also refer to the elements.  What are some of the spiritual origins of these songs, or of the culture that created them, that you wish to impart to your audience?

- Songs of “BELOVODIE” are dedicated to higher spheres, a Russian national Spiritual Cosmos. Speaking for myself, I’m into Orthodox Christianity, a very deep and true Russian religion which, even in our days, has many elements of Slavonic paganism. Its is some kind of dualism: from one side, a very strong and high spiritual school, and from another – the real things, that helped the people of Middle Ages Russia in their life in the body of mother-Nature.This faith still keeps many ancient elements, holds many mystic moments and, to my mind, is closer to the original philosophy of Christ, than Western Christianity. And also I’m very interested in philosophy of Russian writer and visionary Daniil Andreev and his great book “The Rose Of The World”. From this point of view, MOON FAR AWAY is a contemporary spiritual music project, trying to make every song as ritual!

- Which instruments do you use that are particular to Russian folk music?  Which among them is a favorite of yours to play?

- In MOON FAR AWAY’s music we are use such traditional Russian instruments, as gusli (kind of calillon or hand harp), balalaika, many different whistles, bells and percussion. We us stones as percussion too. Some of our instruments are hand-crafted by ourselves. As for me, I like very much to play gusly – this instrument is kind of a part of Russia’s epic past.

- Why do you choose to integrate synthesized sounds with acoustic instruments, rather than playing strictly traditional or “folk” music?

- We just live in XXI century, and its not interesting for us – only reconstructing the distant past. Our musical credo is to create the new forms for old ideas, but keep the original spiritual basis. Synthesized soundsgive us an absolutely creational freedom. So, MOON FAR AWAY is not “just another folk band”.

- Photographs of your performances show you in white masks on stage.  Why do you wear these masks?

- Our masks and clothes symbolize the fact, what the real artist does not have to own a face, he is just medium between the Lord, His Will, and people. A real artist is someone who forgets his private life to speak in a higher language, to tell people of higher ideas. Our live-performance – not concrete ancient rituals, of course, but something very archetypal in form and close to every man.

- The simultaneous release of “Belovodie” on two labels (France’s Prikosnovénie and Russia’s Shadowplay) will allow a larger audience to hear your music. Are your earlier releases (and compilations in which you appear) still available, or do you have any plans to re-release them?

- Right now our Rissian label Shadowplay is re-releasing the debut MOON FAR AWAY album, “LADO WORLD”. It is a remastered vesion with a bonus-CD,  kind of a “tribute”, where MFA songs are played and remixed 17 bands from all over the world and in absolutely different musical styles , from neo-folk and goth-electro - to ambient and techno-death metal! I thank very much two American bands, DREAMS IN EXILE and HEAVEN FALLS HARD, for participating in this project. And I think, our second CD, “SATOR”, also will be re-release in a near future.

- Thank you for communicating with “Gothic Beauty”!

- Thank You “Gothic Beauty” and all American listeners, and excuse me for my English! We’re Russian very mush, we know!

By Carolee Harrison








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