"No! We don`t give interviews! " – " No, listen, just let me read you the first question..."
– Waits, persuation, reinforced disclaimers and finally – cherished: "Okay, wait." door closes ... In the dressing room behind all this there is a handful of foreign journalists. Everybody is waiting. Heartbeat quickens... A minute or two, fifteen. Then, all in the best traditions of classic cinema – the door opens, a bright light falls on the protagonist and as an invitation to a better world, is: "Pass".
Did I fear? No. Did I feel adrenaline? Oh yeah! Conversations with Sergei Shnurov can be considered as professional baptism for journalists. One extra or superficial question – ceremony is cancelled! He very rarely gives an interview. Part of the image, reluctance to talk to the press? Or maybe a clear principle: "Here is my work – sort it out yourself".
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome: chief hooligan of Russia, God forgive me, show business. Why “God forgive me?” Because narrowing him down to a certain format is at least injustice.
Phenomenal person, although it is already a cliché. Rock musician, actor, tv presenter, writer, poet and artist, "chief marketing specialist of Russia" (as he calls himself), human and according to GQ “the musician of 2016”, additions are listed to the names of saints (sheet attached).
Salvador Dali once said that he would never have bought his work. Would you, as a spectator, listen to Shnur?
No. But, if I needed an advertising campaign, I would definitely order it from Shnur. Probably just because there is nobody else.
Hence, cord works on the demands of the market?
Of course. All work on the demands of the market. Just someone is aware of this, but someone is not. Someone currently makes up his mind that he is engaged in some alternative, although an alternative – this is just one of the market segments.
When about a musician, you can say that he is not the same?
So it's constant work on oneself?
It is important to remember that the context is changing endlessly, and you cannot stay with old ideas under new conditions. Or rather, you should understand that ideas, even if they are old, already play in a completely different way. Life and time are very accelerated, the context is changing faster than you can realize.
But when you "have to work to earn", the creative process loses its soulfulness …
It does not lose anything. For some, money may not be a motivation, for me money is motivation. I am very respectful of money, especially the money I earned myself.
Is your music a reflection of your inner world or, on the contrary, an attempt to hide it?
Any fake, one way or another – let it be crooked, let it be indirect, let it be the other way around – somehow or another is a reflection of the inner world. Man cannot produce what is not in him. So even if I am masking, I am masking only by the means that I have inside. In humans, non-humans, there is no longer anything. Of course, I always try to lay the semantic background in any of our works - songs and especially video works. In general, if you structurally analyze the songs, they are not as simple as they seem at first glance. And, by the way, a book will soon be released in the publishing house called New Literary Review, it will contain articles by respected philologists and linguists about our humble art.
Once you leave the emotions on stage, you feel exhausted?
No. I do not have deep devastation or moral fatigue, rather the opposite: after the concert, I find it harder to calm down.
Here is the problem. I am not leaving the scene like any runner or boxer who then drops dead. My adrenaline still walks and walks! It happens that five hours I still can not sleep. Such a surge of adrenaline, the whole range of chemical processes! “And then what?” – you ask. Nothing, then you fall asleep. No, this is not a collection of yourself as puzzle pieces. I don't get tired on the stage – I like it there, I live there and I feel organic, like a fish in water. I sometimes in some everyday situation is more complicated than on the stage.
How is the creative process?
Always different. Here approaches can be very different. Initially, of course, the musical component is thought out, and only then the text is selected. Russia is a literary-centric country, not rhythmic, so the words are very important.
In general, it is in Russian blood – to suffer, cry, Russian literature is based on the tragedy ...
Russian blood composition does not differ much from other nations. Another thing is that the social background creates this kind of reality. Cultural continuity also contributes to the strange effect of "suffering" – that's what I would call it. This is a perfectly wonderful Russian rock and Russian pop music. But I do not think that the best that Russian culture has given the world is based on lyrics. For example, I really like the sound of Kalinka Malinka. Honesty! Or "Along the St. Petersburg." This is a dance song!
Emotions in any nation, by and large, can soar so high and so low. Simply, we have shifted the accents: we have a look at Russian culture and at the Russian people – as if they were destined to suffer. This is not true! And Leningrad overcomes this. Today our society has adopted the stamp of the victim. What are good stamps? They work. If one has worked, then it will work for you. So it spreads.
Social virus. Everybody starts to talk about his “hard way”: that he is “a guy from the district”, “he didn’t sleep at night, but did his job”, “spent the last penny”... I don’t have that in my biography. I have always been successful, I have always been fine. Therefore, I, unfortunately, will not be able to share such sorrows.
What is better than to sing today?
It doesn't matter what to sing about. The main thing is to hear a new language. This is the most decisive. Shnur's language is not just a scolding. A new language is a language the people speak. Language always changes, it is not a constant structure. And if you hear these new joints, new connections, new words – you either understand, feel this language, or create it, like Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, or hear it, like Brodsky heard the language of the 1970s and 80s.
Brodsky felt very well the language of his era. Although he is all so antiquated of himself, it is clear that in antiquity Brodsky could not exist. He is an absolute product of the 60s - 70s...
Those whom you named are quoted today. Do you think Shnur would be cited?
No, I do not think so. After all, if we talk about methodology, Shnur is inconsistent. Brodsky is consistent, Mayakovsky is consistent. And Shnur is engaged in inconsistent things: I expand the boundaries of art, and this is the most interesting. And by the way, good that we started the interview with Salvador Dali. We are somehow close in methodology and approach.
If you return to this genius, with whom you are so close, then it is known that Salvador Dali corrupted his environment in every possible way. Is the cord going the same way?
I dream to do it more, better and more often.
Because it is easier? After all, the forbidden always attracts. To drag on the wrong path is much easier than to form, educate, pull to new levels ...
Nobody needs to pull anywhere. Let's deal by taking everything in a historical perspective. For example, if we take the XVIII century, there were two percent of literate Russians, and maybe one.
But humanity must move forward, not backward...
You know, maybe computer games move forwards... In general reading – a practice that hasn`t spread so long ago. The fact that people now communicate using the same smartphone has led to the fact that they have started writing much more than reading. People have become writers! Whether this is bad or good, nobody knows. And it is the people who change the language, although quite recently some have not written at all. The only thing that they had to write was statements to the police or residential office. And today, people write texts of huge volumes. Is it good or bad? Is this not education? Is this not a civilization?
Let's take a break from world problems... Is this your first time here in Baku?
Yes, for the first time. I managed to walk a little. I do not know why, but I had a slightly strange association: it seemed to me that this was some kind of eastern Paris...
So often referred to our city.
Yes?! I guessed?! Great! It looks like Paris.
You definitely have no old-fashioned city, and ideas about Islam and the Caucasus can only be stereotyped. A successful combination, I really liked it.
I must say, you are noticeably younger ...
Yes, I lost weight. I just ran – overweight is difficult to overcome long distances. So I run ten kilometers a day, which is a lot. I don't need extra weight right now.
Interview: Arzu Jaid Photo: Sergei Bermenev
The interview was published in the fifty-fifth issue.