KKM: To start can you tell me something about you and talk about your artistic development? Since when do you actually like music?
Mike: For me, it’s all thanks to my parents. My father had a huge collection of vinyls which I used to listen to a lot. Then there was a musical school, my first experiments with making tracker music at the age of 16, followed by crazy club rave nights with my trance and hardcore projects.
Rush: I’ve also been into music since my childhood. We had a pretty big vinyl collection too, I listened to it day and night. Then I got a tape recorder, so I started recording my favorite tracks from radio and TV. I think I still have these self-recorded tapes stored somewhere in my parents’ place. As to why I started to do my own music, well, that’s probably because of this teenage desire to impress girls. They’re always fascinated with musicians, you know :-)
KKM: Is there such a thing as a fundamental idea, which hides itself behind Unity One?
Mike: Well, I wouldn’t use the word “fundamental” here, because it sounds as if we propagandize some kind of ideology. We simply stand for unity and bonding between people regardless of state borders, skin color, religion, and so on.
Rush: Right, we may sound too romantic and idealistic in this, but united we can change the world for the better.
KKM: How, where, and when did it come to the founding of Unity One ?
Mike: It was 2005. At that time, I wrote mostly hardcore music, but already started doing tracks inspired by Colony 5 and VNV Nation. It happened so that around that time there was a VNV Nation concert in Moscow, where I saw Rush’s band opening the show. I was impressed by his voice and performance, so I found him in the crowd after the concert. I remember that we talked a lot about music, favorite bands and other things. Next day I sent him a demo track to check out and that’s how it all started :-)
Rush: Yeah, I remember, I liked Mike’s demo so much that I immediately sketched some lyrics and did vocals for it. It was the first version of “Join The Light”, which is now the opening track on the album. At that time I was already a sort of an accomplished musician, I had my own band, where I did everything from music to lyrics. After meeting Mike, I thought that it would be a good idea to hand over most of the creative duties to someone else and concentrate on the vocal part instead. Unfortunately, shortly after we met, I had to move from Moscow, so we put the project on hold until 2012, when we finally released our first single “Infrared” and started performing as U1.
KKM: Why did you decide to name yourselves Unity One? Does it put you behind for a deeper meaning?
Rush: As far as I remember, it was Mike’s idea.
Mike: It’s short for Unity Of Nation Earth :-) Just joking, of course. The name was born around the same time we started recording first demos. The idea behind the name is pretty straightforward. United as one, we are stronger, separated – we are weaker. So the real power is in unity, it’s what helps us reach beyond the limits. Hence the name – strong and powerful, just like the classic futurepop we both loved at that time.
KKM: How was your last album (the band is about to release their debut album, they only had singles before) received by your fans? Which were the (scene – sector) press’ reactions?
Mike: Both our singles got a pretty much positive feedback from fans and reviewers alike. “Infrared” even made it to the top ten in the DAC (Deutsche Alternative Charts) charts. Judging by the reaction of fans at our concerts, the new tracks from “Awakening” are gonna live up to and even exceed everyone’s expectations.
Rush: We also got some very nice feedback from the bands we played with like Covenant, Solar Fake, Assemblage 23 and others – all of them were quite impressed with our music. It’s very encouraging. We put a lot of our energy and emotion into the songs, so no one’s gonna be left untouched :-)
KKM: Did anyone support you, or did you do all by yourselves?
Mike: First of all, it’s Andy, who runs SkyQode, the label we’re signed to. He’s actually like a third member of the band. He did most of the lyrics on the album and took active part in the creative process. And, of course, I cannot but mention all the DJs and concert promoters who supported us since the beginning.
Rush: I think that for every musician the most important support comes from the family and close friends. At least, this is what helps me keep doing what I do. What concerns the music part, everything done within our project is the result of hard work that the three of us – me, Mike, and Andy – put in the band.
KKM: Do you need any particular inner mood or a special atmosphere when you compose new songs? Are there any particular places where you can better concentrate when you write new songs and lyrics?
Mike: I usually draw inspiration for my music from various visual sources. It can be a movie, a book, or just this crazy life that’s around us. I absorb these visual signals, interpret them and then transform them into sounds and melodies. I don’t really need a special place for this, it can happen on my way to work or back home. Sometimes I simultaneously come up with a rough lyric idea for the melody I just composed in my head.
Rush: When I do my music, the right mood and environment are pretty important. The best place where I can concentrate on music is my home studio, it usually happens either very late at night or when it’s almost early morning. As for lyrics, I can come up with it everywhere – while walking somewhere, or standing in a line, or sitting in a public transport.
KKM: What are the themes of your lyrics and in which way they influence you? Do you believe that lyrics are more important than music, don’t you?
Rush: Music is the universal language that you can speak to anyone on Earth with. If someone doesn’t feel your music, no lyrics can save it. Still, for U1, lyrics are important. The red thread that goes throughout the debut album is the theme of realizing your inner strength and refusing to give up struggling for a better life, a better world.
Mike: To me it is always important to find this subtle harmony between meaning, phonetics, and music itself. I think we managed to achieve this on the album.
KKM: How important is in your opinion the image and personal appearance of a band in the current music scene?
Rush: I think it’s pretty important. If you’re a real artist, your image should be recognizable. It really affects the audience greatly. Like someone said, you will never have a second chance to make the first impression If you failed it, it’s likely that no one’s gonna come to your next show. But, of course, I don’t mean that fancy costumes and tons of make-up guarantee any success. Rather it should be a balanced combination of your image, stage charisma and the quality of music you perform.
KKM: What is your favourite audience? Is there a special one, you would like address your music to? Is there “the” difference between the German (should be Russian, they had no shows in Germany) audience and the audience abroad?
Mike: We never thought about it. For us, every audience we play for is great as long as we get this emotional feedback from them during the show. We played shows in Russia and outside, in the UK and Italy, I can’t say there’s much difference in how people react to us. We haven’t played in Germany yet, maybe it’s different, but I hope that it’s not :-)
Rush: There’s no specific audience we address to. Of course, we kinda belong to what is often called the “dark” scene, which is slowly fading away. But I know many people who have no idea what the dark scene is or what futurepop is, still they do like our music.
KKM: What can you tell us about your upcoming Live performances?
Mike: We have a couple of shows planned in Russia this year. We’re also actively looking for opportunities to play in Europe in general and Germany in particular. We have many German fans; some of them even came to see us performing in Italy last year. So, if anyone wants to see us live, tell your local promoters to invite us! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to stay updated.
KKM: How do you imagine Unity One? What is it with you on the stage that’s special?
Mike: Rush is a natural born performer :-) When on stage, he is in his element. I’ve seen bands that are great in music, but are not really great in live performance, and I’ve seen the opposite. We are great in both :-) And it’s not that I’m bragging, that’s what people keep telling us after our shows.
KKM: How important is the (musical) success for you?
Mike: It is important, no doubt. But success is not just about how much money you earn with music, it’s about how much positive emotions you get back from your fans. If you don’t feel it, there’s no need to go on.
Rush: I agree, it is pretty important. Why bother doing something if you don’t want to reach success in what you’re doing? But like Mike said, it’s not about money, but about a degree of satisfaction with the current state of affairs.
KKM: How satisfied are you with the results achieved so far and what would you change if you could turn back time?
Mike: It’s hard to be fully satisfied, there are always things you like to change here and there. Still, I’m quite proud with what we’ve done on the debut album. But the best thing is that now we can finally move on and start doing new things.
Rush: For me, everything we’ve done so far is a kind of a prolonged prologue before the first chapter. I’m quite satisfied with it, but the real thing starts with the release of “Awakening”. The only thing I wish would be different is that we started this chapter earlier, not 6 years after releasing the debut single :-)
KKM: How could you describe your music to those people who haven’t listened to it yet?
Mike: For those who’s already into futurepop music and the like, I would say if you love anything from VNV Nation and Neuroticfish to Colony 5 and Assemblage 23, then you definitely have to check out our debut album!
Rush: If you have no idea what Mike is talking about, just imaging a euphoric, danceable music with meaningful lyrics which is inspiring, sincere and with a touch of hope for better things to come.
KKM: What do you want to in the near future (musically) with
Unity One to achieve?
Rush: My dream is to play a stadium show. Hope it will come true with U1 one day :-)
Mike: I have many music ideas, and not only for U1 but for other projects as well. So I hope to realize them some day. But first, I want to start writing our second album and finish it no later than the next year. And of course I’m looking forward to more concerts outside Russia, I really like travelling to different countries :-)
KKM: Thank you very much for this interview, all the best for the future and of course I´ll let you know, when I want to come to see you play ;-)!
written by Claudia Tomaszewski
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