Ygodeh is a Latvian band who recently released an EP called Dawn Of The Technological Singularity. Time to find out more about Ygodeh! Thanks to singer Victor 'Feka' Rinkevich for answering my questions!
Please tell us how it all started! And what does the name Ygodeh mean?
It began back in the fall of 2009 when I was approached by the band's founder and guitar player Pavel 'Piton' to take part in the recording of a new material. This happened just after the scrapping of his previous band Disease, which so far is used to be the longest-living metal act in our hometown Daugavpils. He told me that he was planning to launch a new project that had a more progressive edge to its sound. He presented me some samples and I found the idea quite fascinating for myself. Thus, we started off as a duo recording some demo tracks where I handled all the lyrics and Pavel made all instrumental arrangements. Then, in the early 2010 we opted to contact two good friends of ours, who resided in London - bass player Potap and an ex-Disease drummer Vadozz to take part in the recording. Naturally this kind of separation made the recording process quite difficult and time-consuming as well as it disabled us of giving any live performances. However, the situation is going to be improved this summer when all of the bands' members will reunite in England to start rehearsing.
The name of the band remains some sort of mystery for everyone except its brainchild Pavel, who coined this word and denied any explanation for it right from the start stating that it's a magically charged term, which will lose its properties as soon as its meaning is revealed.
You released the EP on your own last year and now make it more widely available via MDD Records. So you already got some feedback, are you happy so far?
Yes, for sure it was a major success for us. It's the first case in the history of our hometown when the band managed to get a support of a foreign label. And for us, as a completely unknown band from the outskirts of Europe, it was a great chance to reach out for wider audience. After the recording sessions for our EP were completed we started an intense scouting for a potential label via internet. Before we came across MDD Records we received several propositions from other companies, but the terms they proposed for our cooperation were a mere rip-off in our respect so we had to turn them down. MDD were the first, who was able to offer us more or less acceptable conditions, so we got in.
You call your style 'Synthetic Tech Death', how did you come up with that description?
Well, we applied this description mainly for the sake of originality. It just was an attempt to invent something different that would save us from putting Ygodeh in one row with thousands of other bands playing death metal. It derives directly from our sound. All the sonic effects that appear on our tracks such like symphonic instruments, dance beats, etc are made artificially, they are synthesized with a help of computer and incorporated in our music alongside traditional guitars and drums.
You seem to listen to a vast variety of bands, which are your main influences?
Yes, that's right. Each of us has his own preferences in music that sometimes extend far beyond metal. They include blues, drum'n'bass, rock, ambient, some classic numbers as well as disco hits from various ages. Speaking about the bands that influenced Ygodeh - these are mainly old school death metal acts such like Carcass, Death, Pestilence, Martyr, Morbid Angel and some prog metal monsters like Dream Theater, Wintersorg and Ihsahn. But we're really no way into such styles like deathcore or nu metal. In my opinion it's like a fast food for your ears - easy to satisfy your hunger, easy to digest but leaving no particular impression afterwards. The only exception from this stuff for me is Slipknot. I instantly loved their music when I first heard it ten years ago and it's still driving me crazy. There's something sick and extremely grotesque about the way they express themselves and I was never able to find any analogue to it yet.
How long did it take to write the songs? Where and when did you record the EP?
It took us almost a year to record our EP. The recording of guitars and vocals took place in the Piton's apartment where he arranged a small studio so we have to express our gratitude to his neighbors and wife for their tolerance. As a rule the whole process was going according to the following pattern - first Piton introduced me to a rough copy of the fresh track with guitars and computer generated drums for me to think about its lyrical concept. When I was ready with the text I paid him a visit and did the vocals. Then, the recorded material was sent to our band mates in London where each of them filled in their own lines. And the final mastering took place again here in Latvia. So, as you can see it was quite a hard process but we did our best to make it smooth.
Why the title Dawn Of The Technological Singularity?
The possibility of this EP's coming out to the world owes very much to the modern computer and internet technologies. We live in the age of unlimited possibilities when you are able to become a millionaire or make yourself widely known practically without leaving your bedroom. It would cost us a fortune to have this EP recorded in a professional studio but due to enhancements in computer and programming industry we made it without any gross expenses and the quality proved to be almost identical to the CDs that are produced with the help of high quality studio equipment. The term of 'technological singularity' denotes an ultimate state of technocracy, by which society becomes fully dependent on its own inventions and technologies. So this is exactly what we may already witness now - the future begins today.
Let's talk a bit about lyrics! What's the story of Thus The Will Of The Swarm? Influenced by the novel of Frank Schätzing?
It's a shame to admit that I've never heard anything about this author nor read any of the works written by him. The source of inspiration for this song came from a cult computer game StarCraft, which I'm a great fan of. As a matter of a fact, it was recorded in the wake of the release of the game's long-awaited 3D sequel. And I just decided to celebrate this event by dedicating this track to one of the game's playable parties - a race of carnivorous insectoid creatures called Zerg. Someone might consider it childish to write lyrics being inspired by video game, but here I'd like to say that there's a deeper meaning to it. Generally it deals with human fears inflicted by the laws of the wild nature that are always merciless and cruel. Nature never bothers about the question of morality, almost all of its aspects are based on a simple principle of 'survival of the fittest'. That's why from the very beginning of its existence our civilization had a hostile relationship with the beasty reality of the woods and steppes filled with predatory fauna. The unexplored always intimidated us and this phobia had been carried on throughout hundreds of generations up to now firmly rooting itself in our subconscious. So each time you watch a horror movie depicting some bloodthirsty monsters like aliens or whatever just remember that this is an another artistic manifestation of these fears. The track by itself is the fastest and most intense in the EP. It was deliberately made to show the brutal and chaotic nature of the wild world.
Lord Of Rays is dedicated to Nikola Tesla. Why?
I just considered it necessary to devote a song to this brilliant scientist, whose deeds and findings remain quite underrated even nowadays. He was a sort of prophet in his own time and he was always surrounded by a veil of mystery making his figure a cult one. Disregarding the fact that his image had been extensively exploited in a pop culture not so many people know what kind of person he's been in real life and what his main merits were. Still, almost everybody knows the name of Albert Einstein, but he wasn't even a half of genius Tesla was. Personally for me he was even more than an outstanding physicist - he was a wizard. On the whole the song not only provides a poetic narrative of Tesla's life and his inventions - it also dwells on a topic of the willpower, how far the one might go and what perils he's ready to face to achieve his goals.
Am I right that The Red Plague is about the former communistic regime, the Soviet regime? You used some choir sequences... They sound like from an old Soviet movie... Did you take it from an old movie?
Yeah, you're absolutely right. This particular track is an insight into a tragic fate of the Red Revolution and totalitarian regime, which was established right after it by violent and forceful methods. It is a warning that any kind of a system that relies too much on oppression and violation of basic human freedoms would ultimately collapse. We decided to include it in our EP since all of our band's members were born in a former USSR, of which Latvia had also been a part, and were raised in traditional Soviet way according to the values and morals of that epoch. The choir sequences represent an attempt to amplify the atmosphere of the song and in a way it's also a little provocation that might come as an unexpected surprise for a great deal of our listeners, especially those, who are familiar with Soviet realities. They were sampled from the archive footage of some unnamed Kolkhoz workers' celebration.
What are the stories of the other songs? What inspired you?
Well, as a lyricist I'm trying to avoid centering myself on one particular concept or idea. Each of our songs is a separate story with its own set of problems, feelings and artistic methods of expression. Some of them are political satires, some reflect mystical experiences, some narrate about survival in extreme conditions and trying not to lose one's humane beginning and some represent contrastive and poetic comparison between the beauty of life and peaceful existence as being opposed to haunting world of war and death as you can see it in Before The Skies... There's one track on this EP, which was inspired by a motion picture I'm used to be a great fan of – The Matrix. While being a gripping sci-fi action / adventure thriller on the outside it still implements a very complex ideology behind, which has spawned thousands of possible interpretations. In my case it is a story of a struggle for individual freedom, preserving your inner self and spirituality, which nowadays gets more and more diminished by extensive worldwide propaganda of consumerist values, which is stuffed in peoples’ heads right from their early childhood.
Latvia isn't famous for metal... Is there a vivid metal scene? Is it difficult for you to play live?
Considering the critical situation of our present economy and a massive exodus of Latvian residents to Western Europeans countries as a result we've got quite a poor situation with metal music now. Some three-five years ago it was completely different – there have been a plenty of good bands that made a qualitative professional music such like Neglected Fields, Sanctimony, Preternatural, Flaying, K.O., Fimoz, Infected, Brute Chant, Distant Light, Gatling, Nycticorax, Death Rise, Collide, Huskvarn, Anti and a whole bunch of lesser metal acts, which are worth mentioning here. By now the great deal of them are defunct what is a great pity for many headbangers here.
As I've already mentioned, so far Ygodeh haven't played a single live performance. But taking into account what we've learned from our previous experiences we can firmly assure you that it's not a piece of cake especially when you're dealing with extreme metal music. There're certain things you have to manage all the time when you're on a stage – being accurate and precise in respect to what you play, avoiding any extra tension, which is very likely to be caused at such events and interacting with the public in the pit plus making a good show. After all, live performances must include some theatrical elements to make them juicy and sustain the interest in your listeners. You should agree that it's a kind of boring thing just to watch the musicians resembling monuments even if the instrumental part is cool. Besides being a skilled musician you should be a good showman capable of driving the crowd crazy. The combination of these two elements is a key to success in your live shows.
At the moment it seems like every other day a new band from Poland is popping up. Can you recommend some Latvian bands? Or some from the other Baltic states?
Yeah, Poland has got one of the best metal communities in the world. We can name you a plenty of Polish bands that had left a distinctive mark in our own musical development. These are Behemoth, Decapitated, Lux Occulta, Vader, Hate, Skeptic and Anal Stench. All of them are true monsters in respect of technicality and speed. Speaking about Baltic states I may advice you some black and death metal acts such like Tharaphita, Unholy Fables, Inquisitor, Grol, Rotting Cock, Katafalk and a couple of Lithuanian power-metal monsters such like Spicy Beats Of Scandal and Creeptor.
Back to Ygodeh... Have you started writing new songs? Collecting ideas?
Yes, we've already got two rough copies of new tracks called Amidst The Derelict and Renegade Messiah. But the further creative activity seems a bit hampered now.
Any idea when you'll start recording? Will it be another EP? Or a full-length album?
Well, we hope to arrange recording sessions of our new material in a professional studio so that we would be able to produce a worthy LP that's gonna be a next step forward in our musical evolution. The given EP was produced by our own forces and was mostly of a demonstrative purpose, it was an attempt to draw some attention on a part of international producers, media and fans what I think we managed to do quite well.
What are your plans for the near future?
I've already mentioned that before – our main goal now is to have all the bands' members united in one place and start rehearsing together. We expect that happen by this summer. Then we may proceed with some local live shows and if everything goes smoothly we might take part in some bigger events such like festivals or tours. But by now it's a very distant perspective. First we have to pull ourselves together and then probably we'll be again the first band in the history of our hometown to get relocated abroad!
Thank you for your questions!
Looks like this is just the beginning of Ygodeh and that we will hear more of the Latvians sooner or later... Keep an eye on them.