Interview: Vladimir Agafonkin of Obiymy Doschu

Obiymy Doschu band

Ukrainian progressive rock outfit Obiymy Doschu has launched their new album entitled “Son” (Ukrainian for ‘dream’), and the band’s singer and songwriter Vladimir Agafonkin tells us about it, but also about the meaning of the band’s name, and more. You can read our review of the album here.

What made you go for the name Obiymu Doschu?

Obiymy Doschu means “Rain’s Embrace” in Ukrainian. This name reflects the melancholic, lyrical, autumnal feel of the music. At first, we wanted to use the English name, and write English lyrics, but eventually decided to write songs exclusively in Ukrainian. It’s an incredibly beautiful, mellow sounding language that fits this kind of music perfectly. Besides, we strive to write deep, meaningful poetry for our songs, and this wouldn’t be possible with a non-native language. It’s better to do your very best for a narrow audience than to be mediocre for a wider one.

How do you usually describe your music?

It’s a unique emotional blend of progressive rock with neoclassical, neofolk and post-rock elements, heartfelt Ukrainian lyrics and lush, beautiful string arrangements.

What is your writing process like?

It usually starts with a short musical idea, typically played on an acoustic guitar, which then very slowly expands and grows with new layers, details and meaning over many years — both as a result of individual writing and band member collaboration. We never rush the writing process. Most of the songs on our new album “Son” were perfected over a decade, with core song melodies and lyrics appearing first, and string arrangements last.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

Musically, we draw inspiration from modern progressive rock bands such as Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Anathema, from darker bands such as Katatonia and My Dying Bride, from neoclassical composers such as Max Richter, from unconventional bands such as Tenhi, The Gathering and Sigur Ros, but also from Ukrainian folk music. As for the meaning of our songs — we draw inspiration from everyday struggles we face as human beings, exploring basic feelings such as love, loneliness, compassion, regret, hope.

Obiymy Doschu - Son

What is your favourite piece on the new album “Son” and why?

Each and every song is my favorite piece — I can listen to them all over and over. But personally I’d like to highlight “Zemle moya myla” (“My dear land”), a love ode to my country. It holds a very important message and connects to me on a very deep level. Ukraine went through a lot of pain and struggle over the last few years, but many people still hope for the best and persevere, working on a better future, no matter what happens. We strive to be among them.

What makes “Son” different?

It’s rare for a rock band to put so much effort and care into music — we worked on it for 8 years, spent 2 years just recording it in 7 different studios, involved 15 musicians including a string quartet on most songs, and patiently worked extremely hard on it despite a very high risk of never reaching a sizable audience.

Today’s listeners tend to focus on easily digestible content, and writing long, conceptual, complex works such as Son is out of fashion. But we still do it because we deeply love what we do, and will continue despite all odds.

What should music lovers expect from “Son”?

It’s a complex, beautiful, emotive, meticulously crafted record with lots of wonderful melodies, great instrumentation and unique Ukrainian charm. We’ve put our souls into this album and it shows. Even if you don’t understand a word, give it a chance.

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

We want them to feel connected to us. To feel that even in their deepest feelings, with all the pain they went through, they’re not alone, and there is always hope, and there is beauty.

OD

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

We don’t tour much. We’re not yet known enough to tour productively, and for Ukrainian bands, it’s usually strongly unprofitable and also draining. It’s also not easy to organize — everyone in the band has day jobs and families to take care of. But we try our best to turn the rare concerts we do into unforgettable experiences.

The studio process is very different, but it’s incredibly rewarding and enjoyable — when you see the songs you wrote slowly gaining shape with the help of many talented musicians and engineers, when the songs start to come together, it’s such a joy. You feel like those are the moments that are worth living for.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Some of my most beloved albums (many of them progressive rock/metal) are not meant to be listened to over and over again, but there are albums that you can listen to forever and never get tired. Those are the kinds I’d take on an island with me.

Death Cab for Cutie — Transatlantism

Sigur Rós — Ágætis byrjun

The Gathering — How to Measure a Planet?

For more information about Obiymy Doschu visit the band’s official website.

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