Earlier this week saw the release of the debut album from yet another brilliantly enchanting male/female electro-pop duo, Celebrine. Celebrine are made up of Katya Logacheva and Ilya Dmitriev. They hail from Moscow and their first LP, Happy Tears, blends distinctly 80’s elements of ethereal wave, synthpop, and goth-tinged New-Wave with the sounds of our own generation’s most likable postmodern, electronically-driven divas. Although it seems as though it might be a while before Celebrine wash up stateside, in the flesh, Happy Tears is currently available, courtesy of NON Records, and Ilya Dmitriev recently took some time to tell me about the band’s history.
Izzy Cihak: So you’ve been around for a few years now, despite the fact that your debut LP is just dropped. What have been the highlights of the group so far?
Ilya Dmitriev: We’ve been making music together for quite a long time already, and have known each other for about 10 years now. At the beginning we were just uploading songs to Soundcloud and filming first videos. But eventually we started performing at some pretty hype events here in Moscow, and some festivals as well. All of this brought us to Chicago-based Glenview Records, on which we released our debut 12”, “Selfdestructive Boy,” with nice remixes. “Selfdestructive Boy” somehow became our signature song, along with the very 80’s-inspired video we did for it. And despite the fact that we really love this song, that is not all we wanted to say musically and style-wise – for anyone who’s already heard the new album, this is quite clear.
Last spring we were contacted by Amsterdam-based NON Records, who proposed two singles and an album release — it was very exciting, since we were just in the process of finishing the debut LP, and have been in love with The Netherlands’ electronic scene since our teenage years. Two singles were released this autumn — “Beauty Of The Rhythm,” with remixes from Renkas and an idol of our childhood, Legowelt. It’s quite a haunting dance song, with a mysterious, Lynch-like, early 90’s house feel. The other one is really different – ‘Cellar Door’, which is more like a new wave rock ballad and was completely recorded live, partially in the bomb shelter in the suburbs of Tel-Aviv. We feel the difference between these two peaks from our album clearly reflect our very wide tastes in music. We are not limiting ourselves to one particular genre – we provide our very own distinct sound, with Katya’s amazing voice making us somehow stand out from anything.
Izzy: And is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about you and your process of creating music? There’s not a ton of information about you available.
Ilya: First of all, all our songs are collaborative, adding something to each other’s vision. Because we are quite different people, having two ambitious (sometimes polar) points of view on the same thing, it makes our music more rich, but it also causes a lot of tension, so it’s really hard from time to time 🙂 Katya writes all of the lyrics and vocal melodies, with rare exclusions.
We love vintage analog synths and drum machines, old 12-bit samplers, and trying to use laptops just like the 21st century’s tape recorder, playing most of the things live, and then cutting it. But we are open to new technologies as well – there are a lot of good things happening now on the musical instrument market. For example, the Swedish company Elektron are making amazing things; we just bought some which are great for live performances. Even big companies like Korg are starting to understand the power of raw, unstable, analog things: of something real happening under the metal lid, not just 010100011. Both of us have a cool cozy studio where we also live, in the centre of Moscow – a few kilometres from the Red Square and from each other. There we’ve done most of the album work.
Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
Ilya: We grew up with a ton of music on our cassette Walkmans, from IDM to glam-rock, but somehow in the mid-2000’s we shared a passion for the electro-pop revival; names like Fischerspooner, Tiga, DJ Hell, etc. We also love The Netherlands’ scene – Legowelt, Bangkok Impact, Orgue Electronique, Cybernetic Broadcasting System, that later became Intergalactic FM. We listened to a lot of early Italo Disco and Electro, as well as New-Wave, DM, etc. We are both cinema addicts – Katya even dreamed of being a director in her teens, so now we also implement this passion in making our music videos. We both love sci-fi, and the occasional modern blockbuster – we grew up on classical cinematography, though.
Izzy: Is there a particular track on Happy Tears that you’re most fond of at the moment… or do you prefer not to choose favorites? I’m a bit obsessed with “Hypochondria,” which seems to blend all of the greatest aspects of the popular and the subcultural that the 1980s had to offer.
Ilya: That’s a hard question – I don’t think we share the same opinion on which one is our favourite! Also it depends on the mood. Let’s just say we’re fond of the whole album itself.
Izzy: Since 2014 is coming to an end I’ve been asking all artists this: Have you had any particular favorite releases to drop this year, or have you seen any performances that you found to be especially inspiring?
Ilya: While in The Netherlands, our label friends introduced us to their three amazing releases, upcoming in 2015: Palmbomen and Bear Damen’s LPs and Antenna’s EP, which really appeal to our tastes. We love TRUST and the album, Joyland, he released in the beginning of 2014 – and Salad Days by Mac DeMarco. Another great album is by our friend Nicolas Estany, under the name Visonia – Impossible Romance. We’d also recommend Gesloten Cirkel ‘s Submit X – despite the Dutch name, he’s from Russia originally, and lives in Berlin now. We’ve been really busy with album work this year, but have been to a few cool shows here in Moscow, including Ceephax Acid Crew, SSION, Mac DeMarco, Emil Strunz, Oval, Blue Hawaii…
Izzy: And finally, how do you hope and plan to spend 2015? Any chance of some touring?
Ilya: We actually have huge plans for the next year. We’ve already started work on the second album, and you can also expect some new EPs and videos soon. Less than a month ago we visited our label in The Netherlands for the first time and had two live shows there. That was great, and we wish to have a European tour in 2015, yes. And for now we’re having some gigs here in Moscow!