Starsoup is a band emerging from within Russian which is beginning to stir up a healthy appetite outside of its homeland through debut album Bazaar of Wonders. Creating an enticing weave of heavy and progressive metal invention fed and inspired by a wealth of additional flavours, the album is a compelling adventure which coaxes emotions and imagination with evocative narratives and excellently crafted and skilfully invented enticing songs. To find out more about this awakening creative presence within world metal we had the pleasure to talk with band creator vocalist/guitarist Alexey Markov. Looking at the project’s origins, its first album, opportunities for Russian metal and more, this is what Alexey unveiled…
Hello Alexey and thanks for talking with us.
First of all please give us some background to Starsoup, its origins and the history of its core members.
Well it’s basically a one-man band, but this man (me) doesn’t compose all the music. A big part of Bazaar of Wonders was composed by Andrew Gryaznov – our fellow keyboardist and composer, and there are two songs by my good friends Lex Plotnikoff (Mechanical Poet) and Dan Mescher (Nazgul band). I wrote most of the lyrics and I was the one who financed and produced the record, because in fact I was the only one who really needed it. A significant part of the album was recorded by session musicians.
How did you and Andrew meet and what was the spark to working together?
I met Andrew in a band called Crime of Passion where he played the keyboards and wrote music, and I was invited to sing there. A few times we split and re-appeared, but then the band ceased to exist and I decided I wanted to record our material (because I felt it was good). The spark… well I loved Andrew’s tunes and probably my ideas somehow supplemented his.
Did you have any prime idea or direction when forming Starsoup?
No, totally not. After all we only had 4 songs which we wanted to record. And we just did 🙂 The album is basically something that happened in the process. Maybe it turned out unusually ballad-esque and slow-paced to my taste.
The band is a studio project, was this always the aim of the band or just how it has worked out to this point?
That’s a tough question. I think every musician wants to perform live at some point. Frankly speaking, I’m a bit scared I won’t be able to play (and sing!) the material live as accurately as I did in the studio. I’d say the studio project wasn’t the aim, but right now I don’t have a serious desire to make it a touring band.
What are the inspirations which have most impacted on your ideas for the band and sound?
I think it’s the feelings. When I read a book or watch a movie, or meet somebody, I get new emotions and sometimes I remember them; if they’re strong enough. I wanted the songs to be emotional, not technical.
You have just released your debut album Bazaar of Wonders on Sublimity Records; I believe it was a long time in the making so it must be a relief to finally have it out there for public consumption?
Yes, definitely. I feel much better now as this is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Time to enjoy life for a few days and then start doing something else 🙂
Was there anything in particular which held up the album’s creation?
I was waiting for the cover art for a very long time, then I had to find another artist, but fortunately Mr. Smerdulak did an amazing job and I’m happy I chose him after all. The artwork turned out to be wonderful.
How has responses for Bazaar of Wonders been so far in your homeland and further afield?
Strangely enough the response in Russia is very moderate. Some people only hear the accent, some don’t enjoy that it’s not in Russian (why should it?!), some don’t like the musicianship or the songs and it’s kind of customary to get this awkward message through – to the author (me). It’s totally different abroad. We got some very nice reviews from the US, Italy, Greece, Israel and other countries. I really enjoy reading them.
Is it hard for Russian bands to get attention outside of its borders or with the internet have you found it a relatively painless thing to be noticed?
I think it’s harder for the Russian rock and metal bands because no one sees them as serious contenders on the international stage. But now we have ARKONA with their immense success abroad so they kind of opened the road for the rest of us. Internet helps too, as this interview was organized by our friends at GlobMetal Promotions – and this is so cool we’re doing this.
The album at times brings to mind the likes of Dream Theater and Fates Warning as well as other bands like Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold; you are musicians who are unafraid to explore numerous styles to create your melodic landscapes?
Yes, Starsoup won’t stick to any one style. It’s my field for experiments. I start thinking that probably standing next to Dream Theater is a bad positioning for Starsoup. After all it’s just another league – 5 best musicians from the best music school in the world with half-a-million $$ recordings next to my $10k record produced in the middle of nowhere by a guy with very little musical education. I mean I’m flattered standing next to them but this comparison is just a predefined loss on all fronts.
The album sees several guest musicians involved in its making; are they playing your sounds or is it a proper collaboration with these artists and they are fully involved in developing their parts?
I never told anybody what to play. In fact a few times I was surprised how it turned out. I’ll stick to this in the future 🙂 After all I can play almost everything myself. Why call anybody else to do that if they don’t put a piece of their soul in? I let them do whatever they wish.
How do songs generally emerge from first seeds in your songwriting?
Sometimes I just play the guitar and some melody appears – or just a chord progression. I play it a few times (even for a few weeks) and try to imagine things. Sometimes the inspiration comes, sometimes it doesn’t. Or I might have a melody in my head which I try to arrange in some interesting way. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff or a rhythm figure that gives me a feeling of flow. I don’t have a universal recipe.
Reading the information around the band and album, I get the impression that you went into the studio to record a quartet of songs including your debut single Angels which drew great responses upon its release, but ended up with a lot more ideas and potential songs which led to an album instead, is that how Bazaar of Wonders came about?
Yes, the songs were emerging themselves in the process of the album recording. I know they usually don’t record the albums like that – usually the band has all songs ready, books the studio and then records the drums, the guitars, the bass, the solos and then the vocals. But we didn’t have this option – this way the album would never have appeared. But I will surely do the 2nd album the “traditional” way.
Is there anything specific upon the album which gives you the greatest satisfaction?
I like how the cd turned out. It’s a finished and self-contained product from the songwriting to recording and production, to art and design. I love to hold the disc in my hand, putting it into a cd player and listening to it from the beginning to the very end. It sounds different when you look at it as a whole; much better than one song at a time 🙂
You mentioned that the project has not played live yet, is that something you are hoping to do in the near future?
Not in the near future, although I’ll be probably giving some acoustic concerts in 2014. So I’ll be definitely playing a pair of Starsoup ballads – Rumors of Better Life and The City and the Stars.
What is next for Starsoup?
We look forward to releasing a pair of new singles in 2014 – and of course one or two videos. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll manage to create another album next year 🙂
Once again thank you for talking to us, have you any last words or thoughts you would like to leave us with?
Stay metal! Don’t stay silent: write about the music you like, share it with your friends and don’t miss the gigs!
Read the Bazaar of Wonders review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/starsoup-bazaar-of-wonders/
The RingMaster Review 30/12/2013
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