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Nova Art: The Challenge Of Being Yourself

Interview with vocalist Andrew Nova from Nova Art by Vera in August 2009

Russia has been a blank area in metal – surely in progressive tinged art metal – for a long time. Still, though things slightly change, exceptional interesting bands are quite a unique item. Moscow based Nova Art is one of these exceptions. They have worked on the sophomore album ‘Follow Yourself’ for about four years, but with staggering result. Some of you might have seen the band at ProgPower 2006, it was their first West European gig. Because Nova Art needs some decent recognition, we contacted the band for more information. Enigmatic front man Andrew Nova took the time to lead us through the Nova Art history and told us – among other things - about his cooperation with Deadsoul Tribe moving spirit Devon Graves. It is high time to check out this excellent band!

Andrew, you are the moving spirit and founder of the band. Can you tell me what was going on in your head around 2000, being a man with ideas and a great voice… but musicians were wanted I guess, if you wanted to realize your musical ideas. So what happened in the early days?
Well, at that period I did have ideas and I really needed musicians to make these ideas come to life, you are right. And to find the people to start up a band I used all the means I had then: I put up the ads, asked my friends if they knew someone, I searched in the rock college where I was studying on vocal. All the ways I tried indeed.
But when I found people to play together we made it mostly in a studio. The period from 2000 till 2003 was quite a turbulent one, musicians changed in the band and finally I was left with a feeling that I needed to start up all over again.
Luckily I came across people who really wanted to make music and were ready to do that. I came to know Konstantin Ganulich (Nova Art bassist) and Oleg Izotov (guitarist, later he had to leave the band and now was a special guest on Nova Art new album “Follow Yourself”).
So by 2005 we had material to record an album. In the same year a new drummer joined us – Stanislav Kulikov - who’s in the band now. In 2006 Konstantin Sdobnow (keyboard), entered the band. On the whole, Nova Art appeared to finally have its backbone then.

Did you have bands or musicians you looked up to and can be seen as influences?
I guess, in the very beginning it was Dream Theater. Today it is still the band we like, but the spectrum of all our flavours is quite big – from classic rock to most extreme and heaviest ones.
So far I’m personally taking real interest in bands like Deadsoul Tribe, Evergrey, Pain of Salvation, Guano Apes, RHCP, Slipknot, Korn, Opeth, Amorphis, Sieges Even, Nevermore, for example.

Where did you live at that time (in Moscow I guess). Was your home not a huge problem to start a band and even more important: to reach something with that band…
Well, we lived and rehearsed in Moscow, rented studio room.
At first it was difficult sometimes, but it’s always like that when you begin something, isn’t it?
Moscow has always been the center of all the musical life in Russia and now it is easy to reach to EU, for example. So for promtion Moscow is one of the best cities in Russia.

A first demo was finally expanded to become your first album ‘The Art Of Nova’. Can you tell something about the (style of) music on that debut, compare it with ‘Follow Yourself’ also?
”The Art of Nova” is smoother, I’d say. There is not much of an aggressive spirit in it; the main thing about it was the atmospheric flow. This was our first and so to say our ‘pilot’ work. It was mostly prog thing, we tested. Our new record, “Follow Yourself”, took us way more time and effort to make. There we used what we’d learnt working on “The Art of Nova”.
Each track on “Follow Yourself” took its place – we tried to make the record complete. We traced a lacking emotion and wrote a song with such an emotion. Some tracks were re-recorded several times and some were left aside at all. But finally, I believe, we reached up for a solid and various record at the same time.

After that first album you did a mini tour through Russia. What about this experience?
Well, it included a few towns as we didn’t plan any long journey. But it was a touring experience anyway.

In 2006 you were the first Russian band at the famous ProgPower fest in the Netherlands. Was it the first trip and gig abroad for the band too and can you tell as much as possible about this happening? Did you enjoy it? What about (organizing) the trip etc…
ProgPower fest was the first sign of interest to our band from abroad. It made us understand that we could play just as European bands do, be equals and compete with them. It was a great feeling. ProgPower was some kind of a trigger to us. After it we realized we needed a new record of a high quality in all the aspects – in material and in sound quality.
This fest was a really joy for us. We like how it was organized and of course the fans! They were really interesting in what we did and it gave us strength to play the best show.

Can you tell something about the musicians that take part in Nova Art at the moment? How long are they in the band? What about their background?
Well, as I said, the band got its stable line-up around 2006. The last one to join us was our guitarist – Artem Kleymenov, he came in 2007, but today we are not sure if we’re working together further or not.

So the band’s stable line-up is:
Me, Andrew Nova – vocals
Konstantin Ganulich – bass
Stanislav Koulikov – drums
Konstantin Sdobnov – keyboards

Before Nova Art, our bassist and I played gigs in different bands, but neither of us released any records at that time. Our drummer, Stanislav Kulikov, played with Nordream band and recorded an album in the early 2000’s, they also played in a gig with Theater of Tragedy in Russia.

Did they contribute in the writing process of ‘Follow Yourself’?
If we speak about the writing process – it is my work to write a draft of a song, a more or less rough version of it. Then I show this draft to the guys and if they have any ideas, suggestions or tricks to add, we try them and add further.
On the whole, to make a good album it takes all the band musicians to understand what it is about and feel it. So we all are involved into creating a record anyway.

If I read the lyrics and look at the title it feels like there should be a concept or story. Is it? Can you tell a bit more about this story and/or the lyrics?
If we speak about a concept, I’d say there is a conceptual trilogy “Deliverance” that includes “Would My Soul…”, “Medium” and “Sense Of Life”. This is a kind of a story, yes. All the other tracks are not much connected, except that they are all following the same line – the theme of being yourself, what it feels like and how difficult it is. It’s a kind of a right you need to fight for today. It’s not that easy to really follow yourself. “Follow Yourself” is a challenge. There are lots of moments in life when you have to stop and think for yourself if what you are doing is really what you want, or probably it was somehow imposed on you…

The album was recorded in several studios and that process must have been different from the first one. Can you resume the steps how ‘Follow Yourself’ was recorded and came into being?
First of all we found the studio to record drums, guitar and mixing. We’d been looking for it quite a long time, and finally we stopped at Kohlekeller Studio (Sieges Even, Crematory and so on). A bit later we realized that vocals should be recorded with Devon Graves, and so we chose his studio Deadsoul Temple for it. The rest of the instruments, bass and keyboards, were recorded in Russia.
A considerable difference between our 1st and 2nd album was in recording. The thing was that we recorded the whole “Follow Yourself” at home and what we did in the studio was re-recording all the parts with better quality. So all in all it was like we re-recording the whole album two or three times. It helped us take into account all the preferences to the album sound that we had.

A thing that leaps to the eye is your cooperation with Devon Graves. How did you meet him/get to know him and how was it to work together?
I mailed him before ProgPower 2006. At that time we had an idea of playing a cover of one of Psychotic Waltz songs. And so we started corresponding by e-mail. When in 2007 Devon learnt that we were preparing a new album to record, he suggested working together. Of course, I could not miss such an opportunity! Finally he was producing vocals on “Follow Yourself” and there were no regrets I decided to go this way. Devon Graves is a very open mined and creative person. He liked our music and he really appreciated my voice. He helped me how to use my vocal potentional right and corrected some things in lyrics, still sometimes he made me sing a 10-second piece for 30-40 times running! Devon was like ‘polishing’ the material all the time. But the result of this work is perfect. No matter how much strength and effort we put into it. As to our work together in future - we've got no particular plans so far, but I believe we'll definitely have a chance like this again!

Many people talk about your excellent use of the English language. What did you study? Something with art as well? Languages?
Actually, I do not write lyrics. I have authors to help me. I only tailor the words to feel the lyrics better. And… So far I find English more expressive and more appropriate to the music we play. In addition it’s an international language and it helps way more people listen to us and understand what this is all about. Still if I come across some lyrics with a real grip in Russian I’ll surely try to make it a good song.

How should you describe the man (you!) who intrigues so much with his live performances?
Well, I just feel right at home when I’m on stage. I just enjoy and have fun.
But don’t get me wrong – I treat live performances very seriously; I’m thrilled and nervous every time before I’m going on stage. I try to do my best. But for me it really hard for example, to sing alive lyrical parts as I sing them in the studio, especially the aggressive parts. But I guess main thing is that you should really love the process! That is the best way to make the best show.

Are you planning to play gigs or come over to Europe soon?
Well, this is quite possible, but no particular plans so far, to be honest.
We spoke with some promoters and hope something might work.
If you have any ideas about our live shows please feel free to mail us to: info {at}

If there is any news I forgot to cover, please feel free to add it here…
Well, I’d rather say a few words to the readers, if you do not mind :-)
We’d like to thank you and all the readers who’s been with us though this interview :-)
We really want to know your reviews of “Follow Yourself” and always interested in what you think and what you feel about our album and band! We appreciate your opinion whatever it is!
The more you share the more it is possible for us to play for you live shows.

To occlude: with which bands would you like to tour and what do you hope for in the near future?
It would be great if we could play with such bands as Pain Of Salvation, Evergrey, Textures, Deadlock, Amorphis, Disturbed, System Of A Down or Karnivool… Who knows… Maybe one day soon! :)

Geplaatst door Vera op donderdag 03 september 2009 - 22:42:57
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