Interview for "THE MICK" Magazine ¹27,
11 december, 2006, by Mick Mercer

Legends in Russian Goth circles, MOON FAR AWAY have been respected since their seminal "LADO WORLD" album, which has now spawned the "ANTI-LADO WORLD" compilation, where bands have paid their respects. All quite unusual, and somewhat esoteric, here we find out from ASH what matters most.

- Some of your music draws on ‘medieval’ sounds, and obviously this is something which happens the world over. What is it about your favoured historical music which is different? You must have heard other bands from other countries – is there something in Russian music from the past which is distinctive to your country, be it certain styles or instruments?

- Just a single thing for Your understanding: all the “medieval” elements that You find in MOON FAR AWAY music – its not a dead musium, but Tradition, which was reborn in our time – and its living here! And, looks more “alive” than drum’n’base, children-like “serious” guitar heroes or Britney. I really dont know why “medieval” bands of the world plays that kind of music – but I know: the Russian traditional culture sings and speaks by MFA “Belovodie”! I think, it possible to say what we made the new dress for traditional songs of our Motherland, Nothern Russia, borrowed the Form of the modern ethereal/dark-wave Europinean tradition. As for me, I very like ESTAMPIE, TMLHBAC, ELIJAH’S MANTLE, FREIBURGER SPIELLEYT, HORTUS MUSICUS, ATARAXIA and QNTAL among the “medieval” bands. And DEAD CAN DANCE, of cause.

- Are such instruments easy to find, or do you make do with whatever is the modern equivalent?

- We are not really collectors of decrepit musical instruments. Yes, we like them as a culture synbols, but the good sound for us is more important. For example, my gusli (some like Russian dulcimer) is electric, but sounds fantastically. We also use many whistles and fluits, different percussion – even stones! – some hand-made acoustic instruments, but samples, too.

- You seem to have a more mournful rather than depressing sound, yet the imagery in the records tends to be quite bleak. Is there a reason it seems this way?

- Some young goth-bands, who very try to be “serious” looks very funny for us. Our music is like our inner space – sometimes dark and sad, but sometimes light peacefull. We dont creat one or another mood “especially”, but follows by way of different energies & emotions. I really dont know, what kind the next my song will be!

- On ‘Whitewaterland’ there was only a couple of lively numbers. Was that because you were dealing with a dour or serious subject?

- The correlation of acoustic and electroniñ pieces in MOON FAR AWAY music is always dependents only by artistic idea. And I dont think that folk songs must sounds only acoustically. So I feel myself on musician fields – but, yes, “Belovodie (Whitewaterland)” is the most full of acoustic instruments among MFA albums.

- You have landscape photos on your website?

- Yes, one of the pages of our web-site called “The Soulovetsk Islands by MFA eyes”. It’a a group of islands in a cold White Sea, on which banks our city Archangelsk lies. Spiritually, these magical places where the ancient Ortodox Christianity monastery situated, are very important for us – as the inspiration source for our music and visions.

- ‘Lado World’ is an old work – do you know (as in, do people explain their feelings for it) why its reputation has survived? Was it a special record for people when it first came out? Was it one of the first there to achieve a certain kind of impact?

Yes, I really think "Lado World" became a milestone for the Russian Gothic scene of 90's. Ant it was the first strong Russian darkwave\goth record for many listeners in our country and the world. This album gifted us the first fans outside Russia. I still very much like that album, which became the mirror of my soul at that moment. And, may be, our listeners likes "Lado World" as a part of their own history, the re-release of this album was rather succesful.

- It’s certainly a mixture, from old and new, from dour to sparkling sounds. Why was that? Some people have one main style of music they like to explore, and other bands many. Why have you come to music in this way?

- I played may kinds of music in my life - acoustic-rock, experimenta, post-punk. But for 10 years MOON FAR AWAY is most optimal form of sound for me, which let me have a great artistic freedom. That symbiosis of the ancient cultural content, powerful spiritual moods, and modern technical possibilities (absolutely artistic freedom, again) may give us only that Postmodern epoch!

- What, looking back, did You learn from it - what influence has it had on Your later work?

Just the strong knowledge of who I am in music.

- Did you learn anything from the cover versions – did they tease out strengths, or show problems, with the original songs?

- I think not. But now I'm less certain, that MFA goes the right way.

- Were some of the people who did remixes too young to have known of it first time around?

- Of cause, some of the bands, who took part in "Anti-Lado World", was a young people in the time of original "Lado World" release, another - not. Anyway, it not a problem for someone.

- Did they approach you, or did you approach them for the remixes? Why did you actually want the remixes done?

- I just sent a news-letter to my friends about the future project. This kinf of collaboration, something like "tribute" (but I don't  like this word for its pathos) was a fresh musical experience for me. And some of my friends did the cover-version or remix - I say them great thanx!

- Are you seen as Old Masters of the Russian Goth scene?

- Yes, many people thinks so. And our first album, “Lado World”, was named by reviewers as “the first Russian pure Gothic CD”. As for me, its just a part of MOON FAR AWAY mythology, now I’m don’t care about it. I’m try to be outside from any terms – they are can’t describe the “living” creation process, of cause. And unfortunatly, today the “Gothic” word meens just the name of teenagers clothes-fashion style for me... The most part of young “goths” in Russia knows and listen black-metal\love-rock only. Pure children...

- Is it Goth that you are seen closest to? Or Ethereal, or even neo-classical, ambient etc?

- You know, if You need to name the style for journalists or, for example, for press-release of new album, we goes the most easy way, - and names it in one or two words. We prefer to name our style just as “ritual neo-folk” (of couse, if You dont think that we may to name “neo-folk” only bands like FORSETI or DEATH IN JUNE), but it contains the elements of our lovely ethereal, gothic dark-wave, neo-classic and ambient, too. (As for me, all these terms are ways of the modern Gothic style as it is.) So, I dont see any problems with all these terms, united in our music – it is the problem for reviewers and sellers. But, may be, no problem for anyone - today, I hope, we may talk about some original MFA-style, in general.

- Do you ever envy bands with guitars and synths the way they can deploy their sounds so easily to invoke energy? Your music is often quite formal.

- Tastes differ, they say. We just go our own way.

- Did you think the bands were too respectful with their remixes? Only ID MOLOTOV and DJ DIRTY really attacked them, and NECRO STELLAR got frisky?

- Oh, I really liked ALL of the remixes and cover-versions on “anti-LADO WORLD: people vs MFA”! Every was a great gift and surprise for us! Every band performed MFA song in their oun style, all the songs are original. What reason to do some “twin-songs”, very close to the originals? One of the most pleasure things was that Italian CHIRLEISON and HEAVEN FALLS HARD from US especially learned Russian language for to sing MFA songs! And I very sad, that not all of the works was included on the disk.

- Do you have cats (I am asking all the bands this)?

- Well, yes, I have a cat, his name is Master. Now, when I answer your questions, he drowses on my knees... As for Anastasia, she don’t like cats.

- Nobody makes a living from their music – do you have interesting jobs, or is the music again a way to block out normality?

- We prefer don’t speak about anything, no-concerning to our music.

- What’s with the pagan-style masks and robes I see you wearing on your website?

- No pagan elements, I thing. Anyway, the Mask is just one of post-modern art symbols. And for us Musk is a sign of no-face of a real artist. The God stands behind of all highest Arts, no human emotions or ambitions. We dont want to have something similar with our “everyday persons”, working in studio or standing on stage during a concert. We just want let the God to say by our music... And my studio is full of not only the instruments and sound equipment – bit Russian Ortodox Christianity icons, too.

- Is this music YOU – or do you see it as music? Is it the artistic interpretations of your feelings, or creations, in music and words, of what you see around you?

- The last of Your variants is something like journalists job... Now. We just try to listen our souls - and The One, who speaks through them.

By Mick Mercer

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