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I am an indie artist - I write, produce and record my music on my own label Flower Army Records. Please remember that and purchase some of my music legally so I can continue making more of it - for you.
Well, lots and lots. First and foremost, I am working on an acoustic EP, called Fairytales and Satellites, to be out by summer's end. It's all just piano and voice... ok voices, and some beautiful strings here and there. The titles are:
Fairy Tale for Girls
I am very excited about it because unlike HERO, this EP very will be very pure and acoustic. I get so ambitious when I record or arrange these days. Fairy Tales and Satellites is a good counterpart to Hero because it is so stripped down and breathes differently. As a matter of fact, the original takes that are being used were not even recorded to click - they are performances, and it also gives the songs/tracks a different kind of vibe, which is not as polished and very organic.
Plus, the full Hero album promises to be pretty ambitious and full sounding, just like the Hero EP, so Fairy Tales and Satellites provides a welcome harbor for those of my fans who miss Beatrix Runs. Also - Bella Anima is a hybrid pop/opera kind of song, just like Odi et Amo, so since the Hero EP didn't have any opera on it, this should soothe the pain;)
This past weekend I was a guest of B2 at Russia's largest open air rock music festival, aka NASHESTVIE. It means Invasion, more or less. I guested on one of my favorite songs of theirs - Молитва, or Prayer. Actually, I am going to post a cover of it shortly.
By the way, do you see a pattern here: I release an EP called HERO, which then gets used for an epic viral Superman video, and following that I perform at a festival called Invasion? Coincidence? I think not!;)
Performing in front of 120,000 people is quite a high, let me tell you. There was a symphony orchestra and fireworks. I wore a new headpiece, designed by my lovely i102fly:
Ignore the sweater with dots. This photo was taken in the green room/tent and I was trying to keep warm. By evening's end it was FREEZING cold. I thought I would die. But I still wore the dress. Ah, the pressures of performing life;)
Unfortunately that morning I woke up absolutely sick - apparently I had had some sort of food poisoning. Warning: do not eat little cakes in Moscow's cafes you are not familiar with - which I had.
Shura B2, one of the band's two leads, suggested I take some super Soviet remedy which had been developed in the USSR in the 70's for cosmonauts, in case they got poisoned by something in space. Ok. Well, it worked - it tasted like chalk, but by the afternoon I was alive and well and keeping food down, as opposed to lying down flat with my eyes closed.
Note to self: driving for three hours on Russian country roads while sick from food poisoning is not something that can or should be done on regular basis.
All in all, I'd love to do it again. And again. And again. I mean, the performance part, not the food poisoning part. It was unreal, it was beautiful - it was a high of all highs.
Speaking of performing in front of large crowds. Here is a video we just posted of my performance of Dreamer with symphony orchestra in Minsk, Belarus (Minsk Arena), when I was touring in support of B-2. Maybe not 120,000 people, but definitely around 12,000. I was terrified out of my mind, but had such fun. My personal favorite part of the video is when the camera pans across the keyboard player who is having a blast. What else could I ask for, really?:)
Other updates and things coming up or in the works:
- A cute and much delayed fan-sourced HERO video, where I am talking about the song. It features footage from fans and kids.
- Japanese language EP (two songs, Dreamer and Hero)
- Odi et Amo in Chinese
- Two new covers
- Full Hero album this winter
- Full Russian language album this spring
However, there are other big things in progress I am not quite at liberty to talk about just yet... so stay tuned, my darlings;)
The PegBoard Nerds version of HERO was used by their label Monstercat for a remix contest. So now, if you go to YouTube, and type in Elizaveta, what you get is literally hundreds of Hero remixes of all kinds.
A final note to my fans who read this: I know it takes me time to deliver things I promise to you, like the Hero video. However, since I am an indie artist at the moment, a lot rests on my shoulders and sometimes things just take - a lot - longer. This will change soon enough as I am putting together a new team and a framework for myself which will make everything easier. But I am not quite there yet. So I am the CEO, the builder, the artist, and the everything.
Well, except for you, who read this, listen to my music and come to my concerts. Without you, there would not be much at all, so thank you for your patience:)
There has been a heat wave here in Los Angeles in the past few days. My mom in Moscow tells me there is one there, too. Climate change is a reality. I can't believe there are still many influential politicians who are denying this particular factoid - well, specifically, that it may have to do something with humans. We certainly hate to take responsibility.
But this morning I did wake up early, although I stayed up late working on music, and made it to the beach. I ran, I played in the waves a bit, I tried to meditate. There were lots of dolphins going by, past the surfers who kept trying to catch the sporadic waves.
I found myself wishing I had taken my phone to take a couple of photos and it got me thinking about the nature of reality as we are living it now. It's almost as if when we don't share it, it hasn't happened. If you experience a beautiful, spectacular moment, one of the first thoughts is: Oh, wait, I must film this. Certainly, I live in and out of the social media because of what I do for a living. I don't dislike the process, unlike some of my counterparts, which is understandable. In fact, a part of me rather enjoys it at times.
However it brings me to thinking about reality and how fragmented it has become for so many of us. Perhaps I am completely in the wrong here and there's a Luddite hidden in me, but how much of our attention in the moment goes to our device, in order to share that moment and get lots of likes, rather than to the moment itself?
I watched the dolphins go by, and one of them jumped a couple of times into the air, for no apparent reason, other than enjoying that moment, in the surf, with the sun rising, fish swimming and the surfers bobbing up and down on their boards, looking like seals. If dolphins had opposable thumbs, would they have invented mobile phones?
I was glad in that moment I didn't have my phone with me and made a resolution to never bring it to these morning outings. I spend enough time in front of screens, as it is.
And then I wondered about the nature of reality again, and what we make it, and how what we share is often not the truth, but something we wish it was.
I have been to so many parties and events where the whole point was not even the event itself, but the fact that it happened, period. People took photos of themselves, making it look like they were having the time of their lives, when it was not necessarily the case. Or, a half empty room can look pretty full and exciting, when someone takes a photo, which is strategically aimed, placed or edited.
We take carefully aimed and lit photos of ourselves, too, whenever we can. Or photos of the incredible food we are having, places we are, or people we are with. It's all in the editing. But it begs the question: do we share so much because there's just simply so much to share? Life overflows with bounty and excitement? Or is it because if we don't share it's almost as if it didn't happen, and we need to convince ourselves how grand and meaningful our lives really are?
You tell me.
It brings me to something someone very wise told me the other day: "When you create, do it to share, not to prove something". It took me a second to truly get where she was going with this because on the surface it's not that complicated, and begs to be discarded as a cliche. And yet, it's so profound, and it's related directly to what I was writing about above.
Speaking of sharing - I am working on a cover of a Def Leppard song. It's quite, quite different from the original. I am having a lot of fun with it, but there is much more urgent and important work to do, so it's a bit of musical procrastination. And yet, I need to allow myself to do this because sometimes I just need to play around in the musical sandbox without any particular aim or purpose, other than having fun with it. I tend to forget to do that and it's a necessity.
I am back in L.A. and it took me over a week to rest and recover.
As a very intuitive friend told me recently: I have no middle speed. I handle pressure well - I dread it to begin with - but then I also enjoy it and welcome it, perversely. And when I am idling, I find myself feeling lost and much more likely to fall prone to depression.
I am filling in the blind spots on this blog, so don't be surprised to find backdated entries with photos. The truth is, my last two months were so hectic that apart from Facebook and Twitter, I had no time or wavelength to sit down and write here. I know, I know: you have heard it all before. But us, artists, are an emotional kind of breed. Do not hold our unfulfilled promises against us - we will betray you time and time again. Instead, if you can, take what we can give, when we can give it:) We are certainly imprefect that way but we do come through, occasionally.
There is a lot of clarity in my life right now; certainly more than a few months ago. I know where I want to be, and it seems that L.A. is not that place for much longer, at least not exclusively. That's ok, I have had enough of sunshine to last me another 20 years, I have work here, but some of it can also be done elsewhere, like recording. I think I'll be spending more and more time away from L.A. in the coming months and I am ok with that. In particular, I am drawn to U.K. and Russia at the moment. I want to go somewhere with woods.
In general, I feel stronger and more grounded, although a little battered by the recent two months, which were amazing, but also rather tumultous for me on personal level.
There are simply too many stray thoughts in my head wanting to be released right now, so bear with me as more backdated entries appear in this blog over this week.
For now, I am back to daily work on music because my plan is to have a full album's worth both in English and Russian by this fall. The response to the HERO EP has been overwhelmingly positive, but I already feel I can do so much better. Whatever else life may bring me in the coming weeks, my creativity is alive and well, it's bubbling up in my chest and bits and pieces of songs and poems in four languages are flitting around my head, challenging me.
I also have a show in L.A. this week at a new space downtown called FiftySeven. This may be my only local show for the time being, except for a performance at TEDx Hollywood next month, so if you're reading this, come on out. It's free.
Also, I have been struggling with what is going on in Ukraine. Mostly, my pain is for the people and their desire for a better life, which they so deserve. Unfortunately that desire exists on both sides of the divide, as it often does.
I can't make any political blanket statements because I believe the situation to be far too complex for that. Russia and Ukraine have ties going a long way back and their history and bloodlines can't be separated and that is part of what makes this so sad and also so volatile. Maybe it's a bad example but it's internal family feuds that go on for years and, oftentimes, for generations.Wounds heal slowly in these scenarios and resentment simmers on and on. It can be like that with countries, too.
For myself, personally, half of my heritage is from Ukraine: my father's complete ancestry is from around Don river. His father - my grandfather - was a generational Cossack, while the mother was 100% Ukrainian. My mother is Russian - if you consider that her father was Russian, but the mother - my other grandmother - came from Belarus. My blood is mixed. My sympathy stands with the people of all the Ukraine. My hope is that they will be able to see beyond their differences and long standing frustrations. Ukraine is a beautiul country with incredible potential and wealth of natural resources. Its land is classified as the most fertile in the whole world.
Why is it that so often it is people and countries who possess the most potential for greatness seem to have been given the hardest trajectory?
What I do condemn, however, are various agendas lurking behind the popular movement, as they always are. I pray for peace, and on my end, what I can do is write music that can, hopefully, heal in a very small way.
The song below was set to lyrics by an early 20th century Cossack poet N. Turoverov. Post-revolution of 1917 he immigrated to the West to escape the bolshevik oppression, but he hurt for his homeland and was unable to ever fully separate himself from its pull.
This song is not a political statement - rather it's a way for me, personally, to process grief through what I do best: sound + voice.
I have been asked to translate the poem, and I'll try my best in the coming day or two.
I have actually written three more songs to Turoverov's poetry in the recent week. I think I will release them as an EP this summer. I am getting the taste of the language back again. I love writing and singing in Russian. Oh, who am I kidding? Roots are roots. Wherever you go, there they - and you - are.
Let me tell you a story. About a year ago the TV show So You Think You Can Dance used my song 'Meant' in a few numbers for their latest season.
The dancer who auditioned to the song caught my eye. Her name was Malece Miller, she had a short blonde pixie hair cut and looked incredibly young, but possessed enduring and striking poise for someone who is just 19.
We connected on social media and became friends. Fast forward to recent weeks and my original idea to film her dancing to one of my songs came to life thanks to the beautiful work by an extraordinary director Nicolas Randall. In this particular video she performs with another brilliant young dancer and SYTYCD contestant, Nico Greetham.
This is the video for one of HERO EP tracks "Sorry":
I performed at 16 Tons and it was amazing. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people came. Secondly, there was a real synergy between myself and the two new musicians on stage with me.
The drummer is an incredibly talented and sweet guy who is the official drummer for B-2, the band I have been touring with - Boris Lifshits.
As I booked the show, I realized I had no bass player because the bass player who was supposed to play with me completely flaked on me last minute. So Boris asked his brother, Sasha. It was a pretty special occasion, also because prior to this show, they had never played together.
We rehearsed together for the first time the day before. Needless to say, I was terrified. See, I am pretty used to doing impromptu acoustic events/concerts. I have charts, all that. No problemo. But involve a drummer with a full kit and an electric bass player - and now it's a real band - and that requires special handling.
And yet, when we rehearsed, I walked away feeling like I was floating. Sure, it wasn't perfect. But there was something. And that something felt pretty amazing.
We had another run through next day, the morning of the concert. Shura B-2 joined me on two songs and there were a lot of fans of the B2 band who came out to support me.
I had such a good time at the show, I just wanted to turn around and do it all over again.
And it looks like I will have more than one chance to do it again, and pretty soon:) More on that later.
In one week's time my EP Hero will be released to the world, as will the EP "Как Дети".
I am in Minsk, and this is where we performed last night. I really love it here. And this is a photo of the arena from the other night where the concert was:
I really don't see how it gets any better than this, really, except that if this was MY concert 100%... but I guess that is just something to work towards starting now. Performing in an arena is so addictive. I loved every minute of it.
I have had so much fun performing with Shura & Lyova of B-2! And doing this with an orchestra on-stage has been such a treat.
One week to go until my release of the Hero EP, the official music video for "Sorry", the "Как Дети" ЕР, which features three new songs in Russian.
А если вы читаете это по русски, приходите ко мне на концерт в это воскресенье:
I am on tour in Russia, supporting a veteran Russian band, B-2. I get to do the opening set, but then also sing seven duets with them throughout their own set, PLUS sing one of my own songs with orchestra.
Yes, I forgot to mention that there's a symphony orchestra, too, in addition to the band.
I am loving every minute of it. So far we have done two cities - Kursk and Oryol. The audiences in both were so warm and welcoming, it was like a dream. Maybe it is a dream. But it's also a homecoming of sorts. After all, I am Russian. I grew up here. I may not have spent the recent years here, but the roots run deep. For my opening set, I sing songs both in English and Russian.
The political situation leaves a lot to be desired... and here's to hoping it will improve, and very soon:( But as for this moment, I am here to sing for these people - and hopefully remind them that sometimes you do get through, that life is not JUST struggle - sometimes after years of struggle you do get to live the dream.
On top of that, the PegBoard Nerds version of my single Hero is so, so good - and the Superman video it's attached to has gone viral - over 5 million views in the last two days. Here's the thing: I am already in heaven thinking about the fact that in the last 48 hours 5.5 million people have heard my voice.
That's enough for me.
But the response is mostly so positive - and today my site crashed because, apparently, the traffic to the site was too heavy for it to handle. This had never happened to me before: a definite first.
Hero is a very special song for me. I'll tell you why in the next post, though, because it's midnight here and I am absolutely knackered. Tomorrow's another show. See you then, goodnight.