Antony's Kalugin interview for Japanese magazine EURO-ROCK PRESS
Prepared by Takeyuki Miwa
- As this is our first interview with you, let us ask your profile first. Please tell us your date of birth, the first instrument you played (with or without formal education), and major influences. Are you a full-time musician? If you have your main business (or side business), please explain.
Hello Takeyuki, My name is Antony Kalugin, I am 36 and was born on 11th Feb. 1981 in Kharkov (which is the 2nd biggest city in Ukraine) into a family of architects which is why I studied and graduated at the architectural university as well. The first instrument I played was a synthesizer, I was self taught never entering music school or university and I had only a year of private music lessons. My heart and ears were my teachers and of course the cool and magical music that was played to me by my father when I was a child. I’ll never forget when I heard the “Delicate Sound of Thunder” Live EP by Pink Floyd – and you know what, I always thought about this mood and fantastic atmosphere. I knew that there will be a time when I’ll produce something like this, when people will forget about everything while listening to the music, they will just dive into the depth of the magic inspirational ocean. I never worked as an architect, but the skill of a designer helps me when I’m doing the artwork layouts. Yes I’m a full-time musician and really happy with that, as it’s the main part and role in my life – to make someone's life brighter is the greatest pleasure for me.
- Is the KARFAGEN your first professional band? Or did you play with any other professional band before?
Yes, Karfagen is my first ever band – I started to compose and perform music with friends when studying at school at the age of 15 I recorded a cassette of my compositions, playing everything by myself.
- Can we understand that currently active bands/projects are as follows? If there is any band that has already been disbanded or one that you have already started newly, please add.
AKKO (ANTONY KALUGINS KINEMATIC ORCHESTRA)
AKP (ANTONY KALUGIN PROJECTS)
Yes, it's all my projects and they're alive the only thing is AKP (ANTONY KALUGIN PROJECTS) is the brand for KARFAGEN, SUNCHILD & AKKO.
- Do these bands have any different and specific musical direction/sub-genre?
Oh, yes indeed, a lot of people keep wondering why I’ve created so many projects, the main reason is that I do love classical art rock, sympho rock & neo-prog as well as some new age, ethnic and classical rock stuff, I think that it's nice when you have ability to compose what you like in a different ways. Karfagen is more instrumental classical art rock with the sympho rock, you could compare it to Camel, Happy the Man, Renaissance, Windchase, Greenslade, Focus, Gryphon, Pell Mell, Schicke Führs Fröhling or the band from your country Ain Soph (A Story Of Mysterious Forest – what a great album!) Sunchild is more art rock with neo – prog, mainly vocal project with some influences by Pink Floyd, Genesis, The Flower Kings, IQ – just to name a few. AKKO – is my dedication to the ambient, new age music something like Mike Oldfield and Real World Peter Gabriel’s works. Hoggwash is the project that originally was created by my dear friend and partner from Caerllysi Music, William Mackie. So it's more Uriah Heep, Styx, Supertramp or sometimes even Queen style music!
- It seems that you have many musicians around you and you use different players for individual works. Do you organize a network of musicians (or management office)?
I like to have on-board different talented musicians – it's so inspirational and emotional, they bring the flavor and unique charm to the music, whether it's bassoon, flute, ocarina, oboe, cello, sax, violin, accordion, clarinet or electric guitar solo it's all part of a concept, colors of the musical landscape of the album!
- Can you name a few your modern favorite art rock – prog rock albums / bands to date.
Back to 2000, I was so impressed by the Flower Kings “Retropolis”, Transatlantic “SMPTe”, Spock`s Beard “The Light” – what a revelation it was! So fresh and emotional, a New era of modern Prog! I've discovered that music still can surprise you and inspire. Later I’ve heard “Leonardo” and Ayreons “The Final Experiment” – 2 modern rock operas – powerful and innovative. I'm really pleased that there are musicians who keep the flame of the Prog Rock alive and are doing it on high level!
- All the female musicians look beautiful. Is it because of selection or are all Ukraine female musicians beautiful?
))) Especially when they sing, or play! Yeh, we have a lot of pretty ladies in our country and of course the most beautiful are musicians)
- The first label of KARFAGEN was Canadian Unicorn Digital. What was the background of this release from Canada?
It was the first Karfagen step in a world of prog music. I'm grateful to Michel Saint-Pier, he did great job for the introducing the band to the audience, we're still in good relationship and I hope we'll share the stage with Mystery one day. So the first two Karfagen albums “Continium” (2006) and “The Space Between Us” (2007) were released on Unicorn, also the artwork of these two albums were created by Jhonas Thuren of the “Xinema” fame (Sweden), who did lot of artwork for Mystery and some other label bands as well.
- After that, you have been cooperating with Will Mackie in UK. What kind of person is he and how did you get this connection with him?
I was lucky enough to get in touch with William I think in 2005. He was the person who has inspired me to do the record and start professional producing of music that we both love so much (sympho art rock). It was a gift of luck! As I “met” Will on the first day of my home surfing in the internet! Now William is my dear friend, music partner and real brother in arms.
It's the man who always supports me while creating the music. I've visited him several times and can say it's a soul connection – we're good together.
- Your 2011 album, LOST SYMPHONY, is referred to as an album dedicated to the lovers of CAMEL's SNOWGOOSE. Are you especially influenced by this band?
Camel still is one of my favorite bands – love “Mirage”, “Snow Goose”, “Harbor of Tears”, “Rajaz” and even “Breathless”, which is not to pathos and poignant – it has gentle tenderness and “watercolor” mood in it. Lots of my work is a little influenced by this band and I think “Lost Symphony” & “Solitary Sandpiper Journey” are vivid examples, I am really impressed how the orchestral instruments are naturally merged with the rock palette of the “Snow Goose”.
- In LOST SYMPHONY, Cuban guitarist from ANIMA MUNDI guested. What kind of connection was it?
Roberto Diaz from “Anima Mundi” is nice man and guitarist – I was thrilled to hear their album “The Way” – I thought, wow, this guys breath the same air as I do! It's a fantastic piece of art and that it would be great to have Roberto as a guest on a few tracks! I wrote him and he kindly agreed to record some for me! And he did some parts not for “lost Symphony” only, but some guitars for the Sunchild “As Far as the Eye Can See” (2011). I'm really pleased with our collaboration indeed. And hope one day to create our joint project!
- Please let us know if you have been invited to any foreign band and played.
Not yet, but gladly would.
- Please also tell us any artist or act you have involved with for guest appearance, production, or engineering in Ukraine.
I was involved in “Modern Rock Ensemble” and “Inside the Sound” – this are two great bands from Ukraine and really worth of to be discovered! “Inside the Sound” is the band of my guitarist and good friend Max Velychko, it's mainly guitar prog rock of high quality! “Modern Rock Ensemble” is a sympho eclectic art rock that was highly acclaimed by the audience.
- Please introduce Sergii Kovalov, bayan player who regularly participates in your band to us. Besides, what kind of instrument is bayan? Please also tell us about having a bayan player in a rock band. Does he have impaired vision?
Sergii is my good old friend! He stands with me from 2000. He's a fantastic talented musician with a unique music vision and feeling. I know that it’s not so common to have bayan (knob accordion) in rock music, but it's so natural for the style of Karfagen / Sunchild, Sergii is the mastermind of the Karfagens “Aleatorica”, very folk influenced album! And he contributed greatly on the new album “Spektra”, creating the Latin puzzle of words in the track “Terra Incognita”. Yes, Serg is blind, but he's like the Stevie Wonder of prog – folk art rock, his ears are his eyes!
- The artwork of each album is always beautiful and artistic. Do you have any persistence to artistic taste or policy you cannot compromise?
Artwork is the “face” of the album and it brings the mood to the music. As I’m a designer myself it's very important for me to have well constructed and sensible artwork. I bring on-board interesting Ukrainian painters whose paintings just compliment the music. From 2010 till 2014 I was working with Alla Navrotskaya and from 2015 till nowadays with Igor Sokolskiy. They are true talented masters!
- Once there was an announcement that album production had been delayed due to the political unrest in Ukraine. Does the politics intervene musical activities in Ukraine?
It's a hard situation in Ukraine nowadays, but there was the time when people were killed on the streets of our capital… I understand that people of art should stay apart from politics – but it was the time, when lots of things lost its meaning and value – humanity, life, trust, freedom… There was the time when no matter who you are you had to go to the army to kill for the sake of the oligarchs and it frightened people…
- How about the current situation of prog rock in Ukraine? Are new acts coming up? How about venues and festivals? Do you have a listener base to some extent?
Unfortunately there's not big scene for the prog rock in Ukraine. It's more popular in countries with more stable situation and decent life. When you have enough time and ability to listen, to understand, to care, to enjoy music variety, not to be just blinded by the second rate pop culture that fills your heart and brains with a substitute but of course I have a listener base in my country and these people are a welcome exception. I hope there will come a time when people will calm down and discover the bright, different musical world that's around them.
- Please tell us about the conceptual theme or story about a new masterpiece, SPEKTRA.
Spektra is the ninth Karfagen album and mainly it’s based on a Greek mythology. Thus “Olympia (Quadrology)” is the corner stone of the whole concept, also its base is mans glory, deeds and wisdom, you could call it Odyssey’s sympho rock journey through Time and Space. The album is divided into three chapters, which is like sides of a vinyl. Musically it's mainly instrumental with just one song with Latin lyrics in it. “Terra Incognita” is a sort of art rock hit song, though the length of it is just 3-1/2 minutes. Spektra is like mixture of a “Lost Symphony” and “Magician’s Theater” but with more keys oriented flavor. It has a cover that was painted by Igor Sokolskiy especially for the mythology concept of the album. I'm pleased that this album was highly acclaimed by the audience. It has everything they love so much in Karfagen.
- Any future plans which you would like to mention to our reader.
Karfagen will be part of Veruno 2Days+1 Prog Festival in Italy and Prog Sud Festival in France, but first of all there will be a LIVE CD-DVD “Breaking Free Tour Live” the release is scheduled on late April – early May and as always will be available through the www.caerllysimusic.co.uk , it will hopefully show a high level of live performance musicianship, it will be our first proper Live release. In 2012 was an “official bootleg” (live in France) released as a DVD only, but now it will be a proper statement with proper sound & real emotions! Hope you'll enjoy it as well very soon! ;)
- Have you ever visited to Japan? If yes, what kind of impression do you have?
Unfortunately I've never been in Japan, though I know that you have a lot of people who love the culture of art rock. I know that you have a lot of prog rock bands, with some of them I've met on different fests – the first one was Baraka in 2009 on Crescendo Fest (FR). They were great!
- Please give a message to your fans in Japan.
First of all, I really appreciate the fact that I have some followers in Japan! Thank You so much! Please don't lose this ability to discover and to explore new horizons of art rock music! I wish you all Love, Happiness and Peace! Help us share and expand the world of Prog!
I Hope one day to come to you with a show! Stay tuned! Cheers!
Thank you very much.