interview with XENA /Ксена Иванова/

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Personal questions about the band and their members:

Have you played in any band before? No, I haven’t ever played in any band before. I started to play music in 2011. And this was the year when I gathered the band for my music project.

How will they do that you began to enter the field of music? Everything happened by occasion. I was working in the office, being the Head of the Financial Department. Once in the evening, when we didn’t have an access to the Internet, I came to the client support service (they were working 24/7 with full Internet access). While I was sending my emails there, the guy who was working in the client service told me that he was studying at MGIMO University and that he needed a singer being also a composer to be nominated from his University in the R’n’B song contest among Moscow Universities. He couldn’t find the right person to represent MGIMO. Just for fun I suggested him my own song and told him that I can represent his university despite the fact that I wasn’t student at that time and I haven’t been studying at MGIMO as well. So, I took part in that contest and the song “Sorry, Baby” won the special Best Song prize. And that is how it has begun. During the preparation for this contest I took some vocal lessons. My teacher was the famous Russian singer and the frontwoman of Russian band “Guru Groove Foundation” Tatiana Shamanina. She told me that she liked my songs so much, that I had to stop working in the office and start making my music career. Since that time in a half a year I left the office job and started working in the music field.

What's your name? / Who plays what? / How old are you? My name is XENA. I’m 32. There are 5 members in the band: me, drummer, bass, key and guitar players.

Have you had previous members? We have different musicians playing with us in different time.

Did you do music already when you were small? I wrote my first song when I was 15. After that I was writing, and writing, and writing. There have been a lot of songs written. There have been more than 200 songs already. Despite this I’ve started playing and making music only in 2011. When I was small, I was never singing or doing music.

Where are you from? I’m from Russia. I was born in Moscow and I’m living there by now.

What year was started the band? The band has been started in 2011.

What do you play music style? We play R’n’B, Neo Soul, Hip-Hop, Funk and POP.

What inspires you? My inspiration is people. Different situations, ups and downs, friendship, love stories - everything influences my music. I usually write when something happens in my life. It comes from nowhere and immediately turns to the pen and music in my ear.

Do you use earplugs when you appear? If you mean in-ears – yes, I use them as well as stage monitoring.

How have you evolved since you started with music? Since I have started to play music I’ve made already 6 video clips, debut album and a lot of gigs, festivals and so on. I’m doing music always and I ain’t gonna stop. Now I’m thinking of recording the second album, choosing sound producer and the album style as well because I want to do something different right now.

Do you have any other interests or jobs outside of the band and the music? No, I have no other jobs because all my time is devoted to music creation. If talking about sports – I am fond of snowboarding and every year spend my holidays in the mountains.

Are you looking for the booking company, what are your thoughts and requirements around it then? I think each artist is looking for the booking company because we all are interested in gigs and we’d like to perform the more the better. Usually we pay from 10 to 20% to the booking agency. The only requirement is to have a Contract and 50% prepayment.

Are you looking for record labels, what are your thoughts and requirements around it then? I think that I will be looking for the record label while recording the second album. I think that the record label should provide artist with some PR support and also with money investment into the project. It is impossible to shoot video clips and to record high quality music without any financial support.

Questions about your music and lyrics:

How will that you do music? Music comes as I’ve already said before from nowhere. It just appears in my head, I hear it and I write the lyrics and the melody at the same time. I cannot predict this process, it’s just coming out.

What are your songs about the whole? My songs mostly are about love. Sometimes it is something social on the topics that bother me. I am inspired by my way of life and usually I write the songs about my past or current relationships.

Who writes the lyrics? Me.

Who does the music? I usually write melodies and then I give these melodies to the sound producers who make the complete songs of it.

When you do a song, you start with the music or the lyrics? I start with both. They come out simultaneously.

In which environment do you usually do your songs? I always do my songs when I am alone for sure. More often it happens in my bedroom or bath, also in my car or in the nature.

Do you play only original songs live and also covers? No, we play only original songs. I have so many songs to play and to record, so I don’t have any time or desire to play someone else’s songs. I want to do my own music. The exception is the covers, which I

sang on the Ukrainian Voice TV show. We include them to the program, but they are also in my author interpretation.

What language are you singing about? I am singing in Russian. I think that the artist should achieve something in his own country, on his own language. When I do that I will start singing in English for sure, just to expand the boundaries and to get new experience. Questions regarding your gigs and performances like:

How many have come at least to your concerts? We don’t have a large audience yet, so it is about one hundred people. But the best thing I like about them that each time It’s a new audience, new people.

How have you done or intend to do it to get more audience at your gigs? I do nothing to get more audience at my gigs because I am not a PR manager and I don’t know how to do it. I am doing music and managing my project but I don’t do anything to get the listening audience. I just think that it is someone else’s job and it is really hard to find a real PR professional. The only thing we do is posting news and posters on our profiles in social media.

Which age group drawn mostly to your concerts? Actually, my audience is very different. It may be fourteen years old girls with their mothers and fifty years old businessmen on the other hand. It is hard to say who is the majority. Approximately it is about between twenty-five and thirty both men and women, something like that.

Do you play always the same songs live or vary it? We have different music programs. We have an acoustic program with guitar or keys or all together. Sometimes we add cajon and acoustic bass, it sounds really amazing. Of course, we do have our album version program with playback. We try to do something different each time and to add some new songs to every gig.

Do you have any ordinary place where you usually play? No, we usually play in different clubs and we prefer different places just to try something new every time.

Each was led first gig? We had our first gig in September, 2011.

Each was led last gig? The last gig was in December, 2017.

Where have you been playing this year? This year we were playing on different corporate events. Also, we had an acoustic solo gig in the bar in the center of Moscow.

Where do you have plans to play the rest of the year? We usually don’t plan our gigs, we play where and when we are requested. But each year we have our solo gig in some fancy Moscow bar/club.

Which countries have you played in? We have been played in Russia and Ukraine.

Questions regarding your merchandise:

When did you sell merchandise? Actually we don’t have merchandise, so we don’t sell it. Again, we have no one in our team to take it on. The only thing we are selling is our printed and signed album on CD.

What are your merchandise gadgets? Where can I buy your Merchandise? We can send our album on CD by post mail or you can buy it at our gig.

Questions about your views:

What do you think about downloading more music than buying CDs nowadays? I think that it is a normal process. People are living in the high technologies age nowadays and it is easier and faster to download music then to buy a CD. I think that the most loyal fans buy CDs just for having something material from their favorite artist while the digital sales are number one.

How to think and do you think the music industry has changed since they started downloading music? Well, it is hard to answer this question. I guess there must be some social surveys on this topic.

If you prefer downloaded music, cassette, CD or Vinyl? I usually download music. Sometimes I listen to CDs in the car. I also have vinyl player because it gives magical and incomparable sound. It also brings special amazing atmosphere.

What would you do if the music is not the fans? I think that if it happens, I will just continue to do my thing.

What about the guards' job at your gigs and stuff? Actually we don’t have guards at your gigs. We don’t put it in the rider, maybe because we don’t have a large audience yet. And we haven’t had any reasons to ask for the guards. Usually we’ve got friendly atmosphere because we are doing some holiday for everybody, so we don’t have any problems during our gigs.

Those attending light and sound how much they have helped you really if you think about? As we don't have big audience, actually we are not thinking about the light and any scene decorations. But we do have a sound engineer.

What do you think of my work? Well, I believe that it is extremely necessary thing. With your help people know something new and interesting about creative people.

How believe and know that this interview will help you in Brazilian music? I have been to Brazil once and I think that it is some other planet area actually. It doesn’t look like any

other country I’ve been before. I think it has absolutely unique own music and it is so much different from Russian or European.

What are your role models or idols? I don’t think that I have any idols or role models, but I do have three women in my life who influenced my music a lot. They are Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. Their music inspires me and I listen to their albums from time to time and I can never be tired of them, each time I find different magic there.

What do you think they are age limits on some concerts? I think that it is normal. There are different gig’s formats and I am not sure that all of them are suitable for the children due to the lyrics or gig time. I have a niece, she is sixteen years old, so she is not allowed to attend the gigs without a grown up all by herself. I have to come with her to all the gigs of her favorite rock stars. I can’t say that I am happy about that but I think this is much safer for her.

Why do you think they are? The music is different, the language is different, the behavior is different and the audience is different too. Sometimes children cannot stand by themselves, cannot take right decisions and can get into the trouble. I think that grown-ups should accompany children and support them in case they want to attend the gigs of their favorite bands or singers just to be right there for them in case of something happens.

Is it easier to draw inspiration from older bands than bands that are active today? I don’t think there is a difference between older bands and the bands that are active today. I believe that there are so many different cool bands nowadays and in our past. There is just a lot of talented music around. And it doesn’t depend on its age. I think it’s the question of do you like it or not, does it have an impact on you or not. So, music is about music not about its age.

What advice would you give to other bands and artists? I think that artists should do music from their heart. Because when you do something honestly and when it comes right from the bottom it will be heard for sure. And only in this case music finds its listeners.

How tags you up before a concert? I did not get the question.

Do you have new material in grams? I did not get the question

What is your website? My website is www.xenamusic.ru

How can I get you? We have a concert director, he is usually managing our gigs. Concerning the interview, you can always contact my assistant Nadya Skripchenko at pr@xenamusic.ru.

What are your plans for the future? The main goals for this year are to take part in the Russian Voice TV show and to record the second album. Also, it would be great to shoot some video clips in the nearest future.

Do you have anything to add?

I think it is the good point that people listen to the music they love, but I wish they could also support their favorite artists with likes, comments, shares and a dollar ;)

We are playing R’n’B, Neo Soul, Hip-Hop, Funk and POP. We usually mix these styles and make our own unique and recognizable sound.

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