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The Ukrainian instrumental post-rock quartet Krobak came up as quite a surprise for me at the beginning of the year, when I finally had the chance to listen to their 2016 album "Nightbound". Here we exchanged a few words with the band's guitarist Igor about this release and other things, let's get started!
Hello Krobak, first of all, welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine.
Igor: Hey guys, Igor's here! Thanks for having us.
Could you please give us a brief introduction of the band for our readers, especially about how and why it came to be (also as something very different from your other project Stoned Jesus)?
Well, Krobak was my first proper musical project — even before Stoned Jesus, actually! Back in 2007 I was fascinated with post-rock and post-metal and decided to try to play something in that vein. After a string of DIY one-man-band bedroom-studio releases I put Krobak on hiatus — only to return with a full-band line-up in 2012. They're wonderful people and they are Natasha (also in H.Soror) on drums, Asya (also in Small Depo) on bass and Marko on violin. Since then we've released two albums ("Little Victories" 2013 and "Nightbound" 2016), and toured Europe and Ukraine.
I have listened to your latest release "Nightbound" and it left a very positive impression on me. When there is an instrumental approach to music, the imagery and song titles of course tend to become even more important in order to understand a concept. What was the main idea behind this album?
Wow, positive? Are you sure you've listened to Krobak album? Ahahah, just kidding. There's no actual concept for "Nightbound", but it really flows just like a tiny live set: a slow burner to start things with ("Stringer Bell"), a banger afterwards ("No Pressure, Choice Is Yours"), an epic finale ("So Quietly Falls The Night") and an encore ("Marching For The Freedom We Have Lost").
Who takes care of the visual and communication-related aspects of everything Krobak?
We try to work with different artists, there are no real limits in the art section. I would say these days Natasha is more in charge of communications and booking with me being superbusy with Stoned Jesus, Asya living in another city and Marko having a nine months old baby!
It was quite interesting to hear recognizable violin parts throughout this record and, as you have also said elsewhere, a personal vibe to a genre that sometimes might tend to get a bit repetitive. Are you thinking of incorporating other instruments (or even some sort of vocals) in your future work?
No vocals for Krobak, that's for sure! We don't really want to turn our pieces into songs, you know — sometimes vocals and lyrics demand too much attention from a listener, leaving the music itself sort of bland, devoid of interpretation. Marko also plays some guitar and keyboards, so these are welcome in the future. Besides we had H. Soror's sax player Mykola guesting on "Marching For The Freedom We Have Lost" in "Nightbound", so the instrumental palette is never limited.
Personally, I often interpret post-rock as an expression of essentially positive feelings, which at the same time acknowledge the existence and even necessity of obstacles. This balance between different aspects of the human spectrum in turn constitutes our self and our perceptions of the world. Would you say this view applies to your work in "Nightbound"?
Well I started listening to post-rock with Godspeed You! Black Emperor way back in 2006, so there was no space for positive feelings in my experience! [laughs] I used to hate those happy post-rock bands like Explosions In The Sky, I've always thought post-rock was supposed to be bleak and hopeless — just check earliest milestones of the genre like Slint's "Spiderland" or Talk Talk's "Laughing Stock". With these bands being an obvious influence, we went further, incorporating elements of world music, prog rock, psychedelia and drone ambient into Krobak's material. I can't really say "Nightbound" is a perfect post-rock album, a 100% genre album, but it's quite a strong and original instrumental music album for us.
Is the live show environment lively in Ukraine for bands like yours? Do you get many chances to perform around the country? Also, have you already started working on eventual tour dates in other European countries?
Well, with post-rock having been out of fashion for years and us being pigeonholed as a post-rock band it's not that easy. We have this semi-cult status here in Ukraine, standing apart from the genre crowd (from any genre crowd, to be fairly honest), with this small but devoted fanbase, but it's way more difficult for Europe. Fingers crossed for some summer fests appearances and maybe then a mini-tour later!
Something tells me that you all are music fans and concert-goers yourselves, what were the shows seen in 2016 that you would define as the most memorable?
Oh yes we are! Natasha is a part of KiraiGigs, Kiev's hippest video crew for filming live shows and events, so she's been to dozens of those last year. Asya is an avid festival fan, her yearly list usually includes Primavera, Open'er, etc. And yours truly with almost ninetyshows played with Stoned Jesus last year… yeah, I still have an appetite for other people's live music! My personal highlight includes seeing King Crimson in Poland last September, splendid!
What about new albums from other artists? Also considering that 2016 was quite a lively year for music.
It truly was! That's why 2017 looks pale in comparison… So far only Mastodon, Fen, Elbow, King Gizzard, Soen and your fellow Italians — Julie's Haircut — caught my attention; also looking forward to Kendrick Lamar's fourth LP, dude's a genius.
Thank you very much for being with us, we hope to see you soon in Italy. Feel free to say something to our readers, as I am sure many of them will be interested in your work.
Pleasure is all ours! Thanks for your interest and feel free to check our music on Bandcamp. Cheers!