Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview with Bichkraft

Bichkraft - Mascot
Bichkraft is minimal, intense, and rather danceable. The group, comprised of four Ukrainian boys - Dima Novichenko, Jenia Bichowski, Serzh Kupriychuk, and Jenia Machina - makes music inspired by both the industrial pop of Wax Trax and the DIY ethos of a band like Minor Threat. It's also psychedelic. I find myself wedged into the groove and creak of a band like Spacemen 3 at times - leaning and snapping along to a whirring, undulating bassline. Wharf Cat Records just put out their excellent debut LP Mascot, an eight-song meditation on being disoriented, but perceptive in an oppressive place

Coming from Kiev/Kyiv, Bitchkraft is fairly unique, at least to me. I personally can't think of that many bands from the area other than Pseudogod (from Russia) and Kino (from when it was all the Soviet Union) and this Soviet Punk comp. I know that it's both an advantage and disadvantage because a listener like myself may concentrate too much on context and not enough on the substance, which is more than compelling in itself. But on the other hand, it might draw in someone curious. To me, an already-more-than-a-little-paranoid type, I find myself in odd solidarity with the band. Trip Warner, one of the three people who runs Wharf Cat Records, sent me an English translation of their lyrics. The record starts out with "There are erased numbers on your road/Of flowers that fought all night when/Water was washing off their youthfulness/And all of them are with me/All of them are with me/I did not even know." And I can't help feel a shiver - does the narrator identify as someone watching the flowers or the flowers themselves? And where the hell are we if we can't read the numbers on the road?

I don't know. And I don't think I ever could until it's too late.

Jordan Reyes: Tell me a little bit about the bands in Ukraine. What are some of the bands that myself and others reading in the USA should know about?

Dima Novichenko: Bryozone, Indirect, Karr, Pree Tone

JR: What are shows like in Kiev? Do you guys get many touring bands that come through?

Jenia Bichowski: Shows in Kyiv are like anywhere else. It’s usually clubs or bars for about 50 people. Some people get crazy and some don't. We often have problems with local venue sound-engineers and we don’t have as much free beer for musician as we want. Also we have great D.I.Y festivals/gigs. For example we have annual festival in forest near Zhytomir which is pretty unique for Ukraine and other nearby countries. It's commonly believed that Ukraine is visited by a small amount of touring bands, but we’re not talking about RHCP. For example The Obits performed here for the same 50 people and Michael Gira drove through in his cowboy hat and his ex-girlfriend was here. Even Genesis P-Orridge performed here not long time ago.

JR: When did you guys start the band? How did you guys meet and know each other?

JB- We played in different bands before Bichkraft, on the fringes of the same scene. So we knew each other in one or another way. After we played in garage bands together, we started Bichkraft. We’re often moving from place to place, but it looks like we have enough equipment and skills to settle anywhere we want.

DN: We all knew each other except for me and Serzh. We barely understood that we'd play together when it all came about so when we first met for rehearsal I said “Looks like we’re going to play together today” and Serzh was like “Who the fuck are you?"

JR: When did you write and record the music for your debut LP Mascot? Did you record it yourselves or in a studio?

DN: It all started in the garage in winter. So it was always near -20c and we drank pu-erh tea all the time and just wrote songs. Then, as the snow melted, we moved to another place where we recorded the album. It was in the basement of one of our houses.

JR: Where did you get the name Mascot for the LP?

JB:We were just smoking cigarettes on the terrace of the house and figured out that “Mascot” is the name of cigarette paper we were using. So we named the album after it.

JR: How did you end up linking up with Wharf Cat records for the release? Seems like a long ways to go!

JB-They deal with bands we like so we just wrote to them. Now we have great contact, and even introduced our cats via Skype, so it’s really serious and we must continue to work together because of a sense of duty to our cats. Wharf Cat is inspiring us so we can concentrate more on music.

JR: Are there any particular ideas or events that influence or inform the music that you make as Bichkraft?

JB: We mostly play our music intuitively so it's hard to say what influences us at that time. Maybe it was making drum-machine for one or gardening for other. Even now we can’t say something particular about it, each day isn’t like another.

JR: Does the political climate, especially between Ukraine and Russia, have a big impact on your music? How?

JB: Of course it influences us, but indirectly like any people who live here. We don’t want to associate our music with politics because there's too much of that here.

JR: There does seem to be a bit of paranoia in your music. As much as I enjoy the record, it is unsettling too. Is that indicative of how you guys feel on a daily basis?

JB – Paranoia? Who is asking that?

JR: Do you guys get to tour at all?

JB: We already toured this year and we want to make it as far as we can.

JR: What all is in the future for Bichkraft?

JB- We are working on new album and when our driver will come back from Georgia we’ll tour for Mascot somewhere outside Ukraine.

DN: We need to get our shit together and make many new things. At the moment we moved at new place again so it’s all a bit gypsy thing. who knows where we'll find ourselves in the future?

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

Bichkraft: Thanks!!!

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