Oleksii Sakevych, a musician based in Kyiv, always balances between musical styles: he plays in a post-rock band Sleeping Bear and makes his solo-project Endless Melancholy. He makes his work quietly and gradually to develop his personality and keep on going. On November 11, Endless Melancholy (exists since 2011) released its sixth album Fragments of Scattered Whispers. In this album, autumn combines with reality and analyses its place within it to settle down and be reasonable. And there are many more things combined in it. We talked to the musician about art, life, and future.
Oleksii, to what extent are you filled with your music today?
As it usually happens after an album release, I feel quietness and silence – I managed to do everything I planned. I want to live focusing on this release some time and then think about something else when the right moment comes.
How often do you feel disharmony in the modern world?
Unfortunately, I extremely rarely happen to catch some harmony vibes today. “The only disharmony is around” – I can’t but cite some old song by a Ukrainian band. It is very relevant today.
Do you care about undervaluation issue?
No, I don’t. If you work enough and in the right direction, you will be valued in a proper way sooner or later. If not, then it means you whether work bad or the direction you chose is wrong. The more frequent thing today is not undervaluation but rather overvaluation – when someone becomes popular not because of the trouble one has taken or an extraordinary talent but via some other external factors. But I can’t say it bothers me – I don’t care about such things, actually.
Does autumn influence you as an author?
I would like to answer differently but I guess it doesn’t. I have noticed that my inspiration isn’t connected with any external factors. It either appears or disappears independently on anything. When it appears, I try to catch the moment and use it as much as I can.
Your new album Fragments of Scattered Whispers album sounds like a puzzle of modern reality, how have you managed to do that?
In this album, I wanted to combine my two approaches to composition – the past and current. I planned to create a wholesome piece where simple piano motives were pouring into firm electronic sound textures – they seem to be different elements but they work as the whole thing. The key peculiarity of the album is its audiotape sound. The point is that I am not and have never been a fan of a pure digital sound that’s why I always try to use some technologies and processes in sound-producing which will make records sound rough and imperfect.
People who are not ready to hear it and perceive the album are likely to get disappointed with it. I like the idea of sound degradation which you can notice in my previous release The Vacation.
This time, I decided to collaborate with a musician who lives in Canada. His name is Krzysztof Sujata (I knew him through his musical project Valiska) and together we were working hard on the album sound – we recorded it on an audiotape several times, using different techniques and effects, and I am very satisfied with the result.
For me, the aesthetic part is very important that’s why I am always very concerned about the artwork. This time, I was lucky to agree with a famous artist and collagist Gregory Euclide (his works, for example, are used as album covers of the Erased Tapes label and such musicians as Lubomyr Melnyk, Bon Iver, and others) about using one of his works for my album cover. He liked my music so it wasn’t hard to persuade him. The artwork turned out to be perfect, it seems to have been created for the mood of the album though it is not so.
Finally, one more important constituent for me is releasing my albums in physical musical formats. I also like when music, except for sound, has material expression. The album was released on Dronarivm label – I have known Dmytro Taldykin, a founder, since 2012, we have discussed a release for a long time; we just were waiting for the right moment and right material. We have discussed all the peculiarities of the physical release. Thus, 150 copies of CDs and 100 copies of vinyl records were released.
What do you hate in a contemporary Ukraine and what do you try to love?
I guess the word “to hate” has an extremely bad connotation and is applied for the feeling I try to stamp out from myself for negative emotions destructively influence a personality. Of course, there are things I don’t like. I don’t like how the war influences people – they have become mean and miserable. Actually, the emotional environment has lately become very complicated, it has an impact literally on everybody around – it is hard to abstract your mind from it, it is depressing.
I also don’t like an ostentatious disrespect to other people, I see it every day in different situations. Unfortunately, our society is still not grounded in mutual respect. As for music, I wish Ukraine were on the tour list of my favourite artists. Well, music I like isn’t popular in Ukraine in general.
I like… interesting and talented people I am lucky to meet in my life. There are many of them.
How much does the Internet help you in popularizing your music?
It is hard to overestimate the importance of the Internet and social networks, and modern technologies in general, in today’s reality. In art regard and the Endless Melancholy project in particular, since I uploaded my first demo and until today, all communication with the audience, its shaping, networking with labels, reviewers, other artists – it all has been done via the Internet as a convenient and effective tool for these goals.
Of course, it is nothing new – the Internet has been built in the lives of almost any person. Along with that, such a simplifying of all the processes has some negative consequences as well, among them, for example, we witness oversupply of the informational space with music that suits all tastes. Looking for and listening to music isn’t a long and tiresome process anymore, you can just open a website, click three times – and here it is, music playing on your device. And it influences the attitude of a listener to it. People perceive music more tenuously and careless.
I was growing up when the music option was limited when you had to take the trouble to listen to music, to “borrow” it, to “copy” records. Without a doubt, it resulted in a more sensible listening process and attitude to a record, as to something which is undoubtedly valuable. As for now, the problem is that a person has to have enough time to listen to two dozens of musical albums downloaded and caringly put into a library while three dozens of albums more are waiting to be downloaded.
If we multiply this number by a quite big percentage of bad music, taking into account that recording and sharing music process, as I said earlier, has completely been simplified, as a result, we’ll have a big number of audio material and a very small amount of something which is really worth listening. Electronic artists even release albums each month or more often. Among all these, there is a thin line between a super talent and hyper-productivity and a simple graphomania. I don’t support such an approach and don’t follow it.
As for me, a musical album should be something influential – an artefact, kind of making conclusions for a certain period. First of all, I would like to create music not just some content.
You have six albums so far, how have they got used to modern realia, are they all equal for you?
I usually highlight my last album among others – I guess it is not strange because it is the most recent and relevant for me as for an author.
My first release Music For Quiet Mornings (2012) is also special for me, though I feel that I have irreversibly got over it, people still like it.
I also want to mention Her Name In A Language Of Stars (2015) because it was my first important step from simple instrumental music to ambient soundscapes. What is now happening to Sleeping Bear?
Actually, we have enough material we would like to record soon but for now, we don’t hurry very much for some reason.
At current hard times, who is a Person for you, and has this term been devalued?
“You shall not make for yourself an idol” – quite a precise phrase. Actually, there are many people I look up to. Their deeds and actions at these hard times are not devalued but rather become more significant.
Interview by Oleksandr Proletarsky
Photo by Oleksandr Proletarsky and from a personal collection of Oleksii Sakevych