The first time I saw Lucidvox live – two years ago, late night, downstairs in a dark bar in Budapest – felt impossibly exciting. Here were four young women who seemed to be channelling something more powerful than the sum noise of their instruments, barely lit on stage by a wreath of lights in the shape of a tree. It was transcendental, like stumbling into a 1972 ‘Join Hands’ era Banshees performance that’s been sped up for efficiency purposes.
The next time I see the band, we’re walking out onto a drizzly English pier in search of a café. The Moscow band have just rushed over to Brighton to perform an early afternoon set at Horatio’s as part of The Great Escape, and now require a few hot coffees and the odd glass of wine. Admittedly it’s a slightly less glamorous setting, but I suppose life can’t be all ruin bars and palinkas.
Selected by RUSH, the new music initiative whose stated aim is “promoting the most promising Russian musicians outside the country and establishing an international cultural dialogue,” Lucidvox are one of several Russian bands starting to make waves in the UK and beyond. Shortparis have grabbed most of the attention, with Glintshake and Spasibo also reaching beyond the traditional cultural borderlands of Moscow and St Petersburg.
With a third album on the way on their live reputation continuing to grow following a UK tour, Clash spoke to Alina, Galla, Anna and Nadezhda to find out what the future holds for Lucidvox – and the underground Russian scene at large.
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The last time you spoke to Clash was in Budapest in 2017. What have you been up to since then?
Alina: We’ve mainly been touring, particularly in Eastern European countries: Belarus, Poland, Hungry, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia.
Anna: We also played Denmark. It was very windy!
I believe this is your first time visiting the UK. Were you all fans of UK bands and artists growing up?
Alina: For sure. When I was a child, I was a big fan of the Beatles… English bands are huge all over the world. We couldn’t play rock music if we didn’t listen to English rock first.
Nadezhda: Thom Yorke had a very significant influence on me growing up.
Anna: I used to listen to Blur on repeat as a teenager!
Galla: I was really interested in Joy Division and Pink Floyd.
Is being Russian an important part of your identity as a band?
Alina: We write lyrics about personal thoughts and feelings so the debut album's title has nothing to do with politics. It's very hard to do an accurate translation because the word ‘Земля’ has a lot of meanings.
The most relative is ‘My Space, Your Space’. But being Russian is definitely an important thing for us - our lyrics are on Russian and we want to show by our own example that there's a lot of interesting things going in Russia.
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How big a part does the past play? I know that you incorporate Slavic folklore into your songs, for example.
Alina: I think we have two lines. The first one is when we’re trying to find our sound. The second line is our lyrics and inspiration.
Galla: We want to mix music from the old world and tradition with our experiences. Nadezhda: I think it’s also important for us to translate a little Russian culture into the world. We love American and English bands, but we also want to show something unique from Russian culture.
Anna: There are many people all over the world who have no idea what Russia is – they only think in stereotypes like communism, Putin, or vodka. We want to show the world that there’s a lot more going on in Russia.
What other things do you write about?
Alina: It’s all about our inside feelings, our inside experience. We all generally write lyrics about ourselves. But we’re in the heart of culture, so we can’t separate ourselves from that culture and history. Nadezhda: Maybe we’re not political in our lyrics, but we are still political in our lives. We are feminists.
Anna: Our lyrics are very personal – as four women who live in the world, inevitably we have obstacles and targets and problems. We can’t hide from that fact.
Is the format you release your music on important to you?
Alina: During this tour we’ve been asked for vinyl at every gig. I think it’s important to have something physical, because after the show people want to take home a piece of what they’ve just seen.
And a new album’s on the way?
Alina: We’ve already recorded some songs, and we’re working on a few new songs. We’re experimenting a little bit on this new album – there are more keyboards, for example. Today we played new songs and I feel the audience were totally open to that sound, so the feedback is good so far!
We’ve been playing together for a long time, so we’ve got some experience and we’re getting better. When we made our first album, the sound was nothing like what we’re doing now.
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Words: Matthew Neale
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