Steeped in folk and dark metal heritage but with a love for experimentation and acoustic explorations, Russian one man band OFFRET sat down with us to talk about his recent transition from hardcore punk to atmospheric metal, some details on the concept of the project, and some politics.
The self-titled EP from OFFRET was released as a limited edition of 444 marbled red/black vinyls and comes with a heavy cover and insert with lyrics and liner notes. It’s available now via Sieve and Sand Records (France), Vox Project (France), WOOAAARGH (Germany), Dingleberry records (Germany), Shalosh Cult (Germany / Israel), trvs records (Russia), MANCHIKHA (Russia), Kosovo.Pole (Russia), Towner Records (Russia). The record was featured on IDIOTEQ in January 2017 – GO HERE to see the original article.
OFFRET will release a joint split with the Black Mare project of American singer Sera Timms and a follow up to the self0titled EP later this year.
Hey Andrey! How are you my friend? How’s 2017 been treating you so far? Where are you at the moment?
Hi Karol! Everything is great.
I live in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. It is a pretty big and old town, not far from Moscow.
Oh man, I’ve just checked the details and the city is indeed huge (!), but it’s also a 6h drive from Moscow! I guess it this is something you call “not far” in Russia, huh? Haha!
Tell us more about the city. Have you spent your whole life there?
Yeah, for Russia it’s pretty close, haha. The road to Moscow will take about 4 hours by highspeed train.
I was born and grown up here in Nizhny Novgorod. I like that the town is not so huge and crowdy as Moscow but not a podunk town in the middle of nowhere :)
During Soviet Union times the city was closed for foreigners cause there are a lot of military factories and other industry here. As I said earlier, the city is old and has a rich history. By the way, our local guys liberated Moscow from the Polish army in 1612, so the history of Poland and Russia could have another scenario.
But whatever, it was a long time ago. And one more interesting fact. The history of Nizhny Novgorod Technical University where I was educated started in XIX century in Warsaw.
Ha! Very interesting. The history of our nations has been largely divisive, there’s no doubt about it. Despite the obvious facts and current brawls between our governments, do you believe that is still a common bond between Russia and Poland, both being Slavic nations?
Yeah, of course I think that some connection does exist. All the Slavic nations have the similar mentality and when you start to communicate with people you feel it subconsciously. And I liked my staying in Poland. There was one interesting incident in Warsaw during our tour that was pretty surprising and nice for us. One old woman at the street has heard our speech, greeted us and wondered – Russians in Warsaw? So all the metes and bounds are just in people’s heads. But if to think more seriously about that I suppose that the main reason of our historical misunderstandings was Christianity. You became Catholics and we became Orthodox. So religion had divided us and became the reason of all our troubles.
Sure, but I guess your respected president not necessarily cares about the religious context. What’s your view on the theory of Russia moving to end the European Union, NATO, and creating a huge sphere of influence in the Eurasia region? How much are you into politics?
Sure, today religious differences mean not so much, I was talking about the historical background that has become the beginning of our national separation. In that time religion used to play the huge role in people’s identification as a friend or foe.
I’m not deep into politics, I feel the dirty game and propaganda from all the players so it’s pretty hard to get to the truth.
But if you ask such question I can say a few words. I don’t think that our president is trying to move the European Union to the end. It’s impossible and absurdly just like if EU was trying to collapse the Russian Federation. But Putin probably doesn’t mind to destroy NATO and that’s pretty easy to explain. NATO is a military alliance that was historically created against the Soviet Union. You can argue with that but after World War II the USSR was not able to really fight with someone, especially to attack Europe. The country was exsanguinated and ruined. Like the Poland also, but not the USA. Moreover in 1954 the application of USSR for membership in NATO was rejected. Why? You know that the USSR doesn’t exist for more than 25 years and in 90’s Russia also wasn’t able to attack cause we had a lot of domestic problems. While NATO not only hadn’t ceased to exist, they continued their further expansion. That is why as a citizen of a neighboring state I have the reasonable question – Hey, what for? Who this military alliance is going to fight with?
Actually it is a pretty broad topic that is better to discuss somewhere in the kitchen at night as almost an old russian tradition, haha.
Fuck Putin, fuck NATO, music is always better. So let’s talk not about politics.
Ha! It is with great pleasure that I switch to music, haha. Let’s start off with some information on your background. What’s your story?
In the 2000s we had pretty interesting and unique scene in our city. There were a lot of metal, hardcore, mathcore and other bands who made you to maintain a high level. I used to play in FOR YOU.EARTH for about 8 years, it was something like a mix of chaotic hardcore and post-metal. By the way, we played a few shows in Poland during our European tour in 2014, but we collapsed after it finished. At this time I’m not very interested in hardcore scene of Nizhny Novgorod.
What caused the transition of your area of interest?
My band collapsed as many bands who we shared the scene with for different reasons and there wasn’t any other new bands which I liked. Maybe I just became more demanding, I don’t know. Now I’m pretty bored to visit a hardcore or metal gig. I’ve got the feeling that I have already seen and heard it everything in more interesting and crazy showings. So I’m getting bored or begin to bitch about it.
At this moment I’m more interested in writing and arranging music all by myself.
How did your interest in being a complete solo act begin? What served as significant influences for your first steps in this field?
To the moment my band collapsed I already had some new material which we never used for any reasons and would be pity just to delete it all. I was too lazy to gather a new band cause it would take much time for searching musicians, rehearsals etc. Besides there could be different contradictions and opposing opinions between the members and compromises as a result. At least we had it all in our band. Sometimes it can be useful but sometimes it’s really bad. I was tired of this crap and decided to do everything by myself, I just felt this way was much more simple then. Moreover it was something new and unexplored for me. In some case I even was excited if I can do that or not. So I’ve never had any examples to follow and never got inspired by someone. Probably it was like a testing myself, some kind of challenge.
What kind of concepts do you explore via OFFRET?
Firstly I have to say that I attach much importance to my lyrics. May be it means even more than music. Actually that is the reason why all my lyrics always were in Russian, I just can’t express myself so well in English, especially if we talk about poetry. I guess Russian also gives some unique and special feeling to my stuff. But I also wanted to give an opportunity for people from all over the world to understand something, that’s why I’ve translated all the texts and published them on my Bandcamp page.
Almost each person has such a dark corners in the depths of his mind where some creepy and dark thoughts are hiding. Sometimes they can be really horrible, scaring or dirty. Something like that. I have formulated it as a short foreword to my debut EP: “Songs about the dark side of human”. Actually it could be called this way.
But I don’t think that music or any other creative actions really need to be explained or commented. I don’t like to do that and prefer listeners to find that out. And I can say why.
For example, if my songs were about class inequality or the environment it would be pretty easy to explain. As an external factor such things usually excite people a lot, that’s why it is pretty easy to discuss them. But you hardly ever want to tell everyone about things you saw last night in your dreams even if it worried you a lot too. It’s pretty hard to tell such private things in interview. But I can write a song about them without revealing the card and this way I like more.
While creating and writing songs I am always alone with myself. It is an intimate process and I think even my wife doesn’t know how it’s going. By the way my experience shows that the best ideas usually come at night. Maybe because I can focus entirely on it or maybe bats bring them to me, haha.
Oh, no doubt!
You’ve teamed up with a LOT of DIY labels for this release. How did you come up with this model of promotion and distribution?
Well, it was quite obvious. We should start from that fact that I have my own local label called Opposing Music. And even though it’s suspended now and used only as a small distro, I met a lot of label keepers from Europe and Russia during its functioning since 2009.
You know the vinyl printing is quite expensive nowadays. And of course it’s almost impossible to find the one big major label to release a debut EP of unknown one-man project from Russia. But actually what for? It’s much more simple to gather several interested DIY labels. Moreover it will be closer for the kind of music I produce.
But that all started spontaneously at the day I’ve just shared my EP on the Internet. My friend Andrey from Moscow label TRVS Records offered me to make the tapes. And just a couple of days after that I’ve already discussed my EP with Antoine from Sieve and Sand and we’ve decided to release it on LP. Andrey has supported this idea so I’ve had two labels at once!
Then I understood that if the fate helped me it’s time for me to contribute too. I used all my contacts and started searching on facebook. I wrote to many labels in Europe I already know or never knew before, and some of them agreed. Mostly they were my friends or guys I’ve already met, but there were people who I’ve never known before like guys from Russian label Towner Records. And also some labels contacted me on their own at the right moment like Shalosh Cult based in Israel and Germany and cassette label Breathe Plastic Records from Netherlands.
In my case I have a lot of labels, they all are from different countries and I think it’s amazing. People from Russia, Germany, France and Israel will get the opportunity to buy my LP from the nearest label and pay minimal shipping costs for it. Also a few copies will be sold at Consouling Sounds from Belgium. By the way, if anyone wants to trade or distribute you can mail me, I’m open to offers.
Alright, so wrapping it up, what are your next steps, both recording and touring-wise?
Besides the split I’m also writing the new stuff at this moment but I haven’t decided how to release it yet. It can be one more split or maybe a new EP or something else. I’ve already recorded a few demos of my new tracks but the working process is often interrupted cause of some organizational issues connected with 12” LP’s releasing.
I’m not sure about live shows actually. I get a lot of questions about it and I feel that I will have to do it soon or later. But at this time I just have no idea how to perform the recorded material technically. I’m afraid it will takes not only a few guys with guitars but the whole orchestra. Cause despite of the apparent simplicity of the material it is not so simply arranged, and that’s probably the main feature. Moreover I don’t want to play a typical show somewhere in the club, it’s pretty boring. Would be great to do it just several times a year but in some interesting places not intended for such type of performances. I’ve already had the experience of such events in my past, for example we organized a night festival in the forest. Such things are remarkable. So I want to make something special for Offret too.
Apart from OFFRET, do you have any new creative outlets on the horizon?
Unfortunately no, I don’t. I used to draw merch and cover art, mostly for my ex band and some friends. But I understand that it takes much time to cultivate this skill. So at this moment I’ve decided to keep my mind on OFFRET only.
Alright Andrey, thanks a lot for your time. It was a pleasure. Feel free to add you final words and take care!
Thank you too, Karol. Was nice to talk to you. I wish your zine more interesting interviews and good news which all your readers including me will enjoy.
And I want to wish everybody to do what you want, develop yourself and stay true.
From Russia with love, haha.