ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages

Interviews of Prog

Andrew Mara-Novik
Andrew Mara-Novik

SV: Well, let us begin with a forced question: how was the band formed and why did you decide to call it Fromuz?

AMN: The group was formed in the summer of 2004 when my comrade (guitarist Vitaly Popeloff) and I decided to play instrumental music, as they say, "from the soul." Later drummer Vladimir Badirov and keyboardist, arranger and composer Albert Khalmurzaev joined us. We played music founded on our collective creative energy, where it is typical for everyone to introduce something of themselves, their own understanding, their own feeling, and their own worldview. The result has turned out to be something original, extraordinary, and forceful. Our own musical handwriting gradually matured, and has developed into our groups trademark sound. Already by the spring of 2005 we had appeared with our own solo program on the stage of The Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan. This concert was recorded, taken from video and will be released on DVD format. I would like to note, with pride, that our debut received a lot of high regard from musical critics. They started to talk about us in the ranks of amateur progressive music. And as a result we signed a contract with the company 10T Records. In the following months we are planning the worldwide release of our album, which will be called Audio Diplomacy. Our creative activity continues to develop. We constantly try to move forward, to look for new ways of embodiment in the life of our creative design; we constantly work with new musical material. Now, we have accepted into the group a second keyboardist. This young talented musician is Evgeniy Popeloff. He is the son of our guitarist Vitaly Popeloff. Now it can be said that we have two generations of musicians working in the group. It is impossible not to find this reflected in our creative work. Thus at the present time the group Fromuz looks like this: Andrew Mara-Novik--bass, producer; Vitaly Popeloff--guitars, midi-guitars; Vladimir Badirov--drums, percussion; Albert Khalmurzaev--keyboards, samples; Evgeniy Popeloff--keyboards. As far as our name is concerned. Like I had named one from my own compositions. The significance is this connection, from Uzeb (such is the group). Later I thought that it might be possible to call our group this, after all Uz would indicate Uzbekistan where we live and perform. The boys liked it and we started to call the group Fromuz.

SV: Lets speak about some of your musical influences: about those bands which are in some part responsible for you making music today.

AMN: Primarily, my musical biases were, for the most part, formed when I was still in my early youth. First of all, Yes, King Crimson, UK, with whom I will never cease to be captivated, even to this day. Later I was fascinated by ELP, Asia, Uzeb, Dream Theater, LTE, Cosmosquad, and listened to a lot of Jazz-Rock. For me in my own specialty I will always have my idol, Tony Levin. Though musicians such as Mark King, Mick Karn, Alain Caron, and Kurt Hauenstein have had a sufficiently strong effect on me.

SV: In what musical line do you identify Fromuz's sound? Secondly, how do you feel about Progressive Rock?

AMN: We never aim to play in any kind of definite style. In general I consider that to music in a genre is the fate of musical critics, and not of musicians. We play what we feel, about what we think, and play that which gives us pleasure. I consider Liquid Tension Experiment to be the closest to us in spirit. If talking about conventional classifications, it seems to me that our music would be placed in the genre of progressive fusion (if, of course, such a thing exists). In my opinion Progressive Rock is intellectual, philosophically saturated music performed at a high level and intended for the prepared, thinking, and feeling listener. Unfortunately there are not many.

SV: What motivates a group of talented musicians such as you to make Progressive Rock instead of any other type of more accessible and more economically lucrative music?

AMN: I will say again: we play what we love. In doing so it is completely unimportant for us if this music enjoys popularity or not, if we are paid money for it or not. The pleasure, which we receive while creating and performing our work, stands much greater than any dubious short period of popularity. For us music is an image of life and not a means to earn money. Of course, if we were to be paid well for our art, and we didn't have to think about daily bread, and could concentrate only on creative work, that would be simply wonderful. At the same time we won't necessarily always be playing precisely that kind of music. We are growing, developing, and to us it is already tight within the limits of one genre. But one thing I can accurately say is that we will always play the music from which we receive moral satisfaction and pleasure.

SV: Internally how is the work distributed in your compositions and arrangements?

AMN: The organization of our creative process is not very distinctive. We don't have a clear differentiation between composition and arrangement. Everything is built on feeling, on emotion, on association. We create collectively. We don't have a concrete composer or arranger. It is possible that any riff, theme, or sound serves as the basis for the creation of a work of art, or maybe the impression from having read a book or having seen a film. Of course, every one of us is able to come up with a whole composition, this frequently happens. But when it gets into the hands of the group, it may find itself looking little like the original variant. Everyone puts his own concept and feeling into it. We regularly have a lot of arguments at rehearsals. We try to play every suggested variation. And after, together, we come to one opinion. Fromuz is the author and arranger, and not specifically one of the musicians.

SV: Do you have a discipline for compositional work or do you believe in starting from free form?

AMN: I consider it impossible to have rules, canons, or laws in the creative art. Like our experience demonstrates, the music that sounds more interesting is far from the conventional notion.

SV: Your music spread to be much more intricate and elaborate than that of the common new bands of progressive rock. How do people in your country receive a musical proposal such as Fromuz?

AMN: That is a very painful question. We don't have such a thing as progressive rock. We have very few connoisseurs and admirers. Therefore we almost don't appear in Uzbekistan. And we have not been invited to other countries. I hope that this is a temporary phenomenon. Unfortunately progressive rock appears to be the property of the select, as peculiar elite music. And this, in my opinion, is completely untrue. This direction must develop more intensely, more actively, more aggressively. But! Funds are necessary for this, and those who have them prefer to invest in commercial music projects, which don't offer anything of use to anyone, except for our own investors. Furthermore. Our music differs from new progressive groups because we don't take examples from anyone nor do we imitate anyone. By the way, how many instrumental progressive groups can you name?

SV: Do you have a particular opinion about the current scene of progressive rock in Uzbekistan and in the rest of the world?

AMN: Like I already said the progressive rock scene is a kind of phenomenon that simply does not exist in Uzbekistan. And if speaking about progressive rock around the world, here my opinion is very ambiguous. There are very interesting groups, but very many are young, whom are occupied with a situation that artificially replaces the true notion of progressive rock with a semblance of it, a certain clone, even a caricature. Which is why it is considered that the philosophical essence of progressive rock must be concentrated in the texts of the songs. I consider that rock- is, first of all, music. It is precisely the musical expression that defines this genre. Unfortunately there are not many of these kinds of groups. So for us everything is still to come.

SV: Of the new bands at international level, which ones do you think are the most important for their musical contribution?

AMN: In principle, I can name those same groups, whom have exerted a certain influence on me. To spell it out more specifically, I can add- Man on Fire: literate conceptual creative work, -JBK: true musical philosophy. I am not afraid to repeat- King Crimson- an unsurpassed masterful collective monster.

SV: Do you think that today in day, inside the whole progressive scene, dose a genuine philosophy exist of innovating?

AMN: The philosophy of progressive music, undoubtedly, exists. But it is expressed differently. It seems to me, that the modern world system of education and raising the young, gives little attention to their concept of philosophy. Therefore young groups frequently substitute philosophy with certain verbiage, phrases, ideas, which look unusual, mysterious and clever, to draw attention to themselves. But this is not philosophy. It can be named snobbery from art or ostentatious intellectualism. The true philosopher is one who states ideas objectively, not directing them on a concrete social layer or a person. He does not aspire to draw attention to himself he lives like this. And if it is true philosophy, it is interesting to everyone.

SV: Returning to the band, how would you say that your musical development will continue in the future?

AMN: Oh-oh! Wouldn't we like to know! Certainly, we shall aspire to grow, to develop. But it depends on, whether we shall be claimed. Music cannot develop inside itself. Listeners are necessary for the growth of music. Just as air, water, and food are necessary for the growth of a person. The more we play, the more fans we will have, and we will develop more intensively and more interestingly. But unfortunately this does not depend on us. We are not capable of organizing ourselves all around independently. And we have not yet met with anyone who can, or more importantly wants, to do this. He is probably a subscriber of Nucleus Magazine.

SV: Is this your only group or is some of you participated in other parallel works?

AMN: Like I have already stated, Fromuz does not bring us any income. And, certainly, everyone earns a living in other ways. I have a small private company, which specializes in advertising.

SV: Which are the musical objectives of now in more with Fromuz?

AMN: Our basic purpose - is to show the world, what we are capable of, to acquaint people with our creativity as much as possible. I am confident, that they will enjoy it, our music will force them to think and feel more, and it will make them even better. In general, we aspire to perform, perform and perform. To perform anywhere, as much as necessary and when necessary. And this will in turn move us toward a new creative summit. Unfortunately, for now these are only dreams. But this would be the desired result.

By Sergio Vilar & Cyrus Rogers: May 10, 2007.

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