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Caprice (Russia) - Jan.2002 « back to interview index
Caprice are one of the latest sensations on Iris' fine line of Neo-Classical talents. This lenghty ensemble gathers musicians from the Bolshoi Theatre and the Gennady Rozhdestvensky's orchestras, under Anton Brejestovski's command and accompanied by Inna Brejestovskaya's wonderful voice and with their first proper album. "Elvenmusic", they bring their own vision of what 'Music of the Elves' should sound like, in remarkably crafted compositions which are complemented with poems by J.R. Tolkien taken off his "The Lord of the Rings" saga. We have questioned Anton to find out some more about the project.
Could you start by telling me about the intentions behind a project such as Caprice and how did the idea of realizing this came up??
In 1996, we decided to record "Mirror" - our first album. We needed some classical instruments to "colour" the pallette of the album. But the real Caprice began in 1998, when the ten of us gathered together to play a series of "Music of the elves" concerts.

It seems that this was mostly a solo-project that grew into a more serious thing, right?
It would be more correct to say that it was a Progressive Rock project (voice, keyboards, bass and drums) that grew into an academic-sounding one - harp, strings, woodwinds, voice, no bass guitar, no drums. We saw such change of sound as the only means of growing as musicians and making more exquisite music.

Where does this fascination with the fantasy world that you bring to life in your music come from?
I do not know, just like I can't say where any music comes from. But we have read a lot of descriptions of real faerie music in several books which (among other faerie-related things) talk about the experiences of people who somehow managed to get into the parallel world (where faeries dwell) and hear their music. Our music is an attempt to show what the music written by elves, not by humans, sounds like.

How do you 'translate' this into your every day life? Do you find some sort of parallel between the fantasy/fairy world and our human world?
Not a lot. I would say that some people's faces look very much like faerie faces (such faces have attracted me since very young childhood) and some people (mostly from artistic circles) behave in 'faerie ways' - meaning that one moment they are fascinated by you and the next moment they forget you. They are very emotional and passionate, and devoted to beauty. Such qualities definitely belong more to other worlds other than our own.
When I am in the forest I always try to feel the presence of this parallel faerie world, but the chances of actually seeing faeries and especially getting in touch with them are minute. It is almost impossible for us (and maybe for them, too) to move onto a parallel level. It's as if you were in a building with adjacent rooms but without doors; it's impossible to move through walls, although what's in the next room lies very near.

How do you feel about other artists that find inspiration in Tolkien's work, by the way? Which do you find interesting? There are various (Black) Metal bands that have picked up on his writings, for instance, but I think you went for a rather unique approach, though.
I have never heard anyone's music related to Tolkien, except Pavel Fomitchev, a Russian composer who lives in Chicago and whom I met through the Internet. His music is very beautiful, and very much 'elven-like'.

Do you find inspiration in any of the above mentioned artists? What would you consider to be the influences for the musical side of Caprice?
What really inspired me in writing faeirie music was literature and art, but never other music. In literature, Tolkien's works, and especially his poems, and as far as art is concerned, "Faeries", by the British artists Brian Froud and Alan Lee, was of an immense inspiration. Also, our song "Merrymaking of the Forest Elves" is a "photograph in music" of a wonderful illustration to "The Elves and the Shoemaker", by Peter Stevenson.

What did you have in mind when you were composing the material for Caprice? I mean, when you were putting the words to music, what sort of feelings and expressions were you most interested in capturing?
Maybe the poetry used in Caprice's songs carries 'photographs' of the faerie/elven world, both of past and present. I just tried to transfer these images into music. Whenever I write a song, I need the words first. The actual meaning of the words is not even important to me, but the phonetic aura that some words have. The flowing of poetry is very inspiring, but only if it is really talented poetry, which means it is both beautiful phonetically and carries a vivid image. Bad poetry results in bad music, or no music.

The composition for the most part is very close to Classical music, and many times it seems to be a perfect soundtrack for a ballet piece too. What do you think?
Well, it can be related to classical music only because 'classical' instruments are used a lot. About the ballet - many people say my music is very suitable for dancing. In fact, only three days ago at a concert some people jumped from their seats and started dancing to our music, although almost all the time signatures are 5/4 and 7/4, time signatures which are almost never used in dancing.

Could you tell me about the musical education of the various people involved in Caprice and their background, by the way?
They all have higher musical education, and now most of them play in very good orchestras, like Gennady Rozhdestvensky's orchestra, the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra and so on. I am very happy to give my music to such talented and professional people.

What is this about your non-human singer, by the way? Who is Ostlupusmmeon and what is his role in Caprice?
We cannot talk about him much. Ostlupusmmeon's voice was recorded not in the studio, but somewhere else, and then added into our music. This is one of the proofs of the faerie world for us. We can only say that he has a human form, but he is not a human himself.

Most of the lyrics are taken off Tolkien's work, which is quite perfect for what you have in mind, I suppose. On the other hand, have you ever considered the chance of using some of your own writings?
"Mirror" has my own lyrics (in Russian). The idea of "Mirror" is human life; from birth to death (or to put it more precisely, the inner side of our lives), and what happens after death. It is very sincere, very personal, but unfortunately not very high quality poetry. This is why I refused to use more lyrics of mine in the subsequent recordings.

Do you think that the fact that there will be a movie covering The Lord of the Rings in a few months has brought some extra bit of attention to Caprice as well?
We have not felt any extra attention. But if somebody turns to our music because of this film, we will be happy, of course.

You've also used some material by William Blake, isn't that so? How does this relate to the concept of Caprice?
Very much. On the one hand, Blake clearly felt other worlds's presence and a lot of his poetry is about his visionary experiences. Faerie world is also described in his poetry, in all its diversity. On the other hand, it's just first class poetry, and it is simply a great pleasure to write music to such lyrics - deep, philosophical and full of inspiration.

You have been picked up by Iris, which is with no doubt one of the most interesting labels for this genre of music. How did this happen?
By chance. Our song appeared on the Russian Gothic Compilation, which was distributed all around the world, and the label contacted us.

How are things working with Iris so far, by the way? Are you pleased with the efforts put into "Elvenmusic Part I", and with the artwork on the album, for instance?
We are immensely happy to work with them. It is very important that not only our music tastes coincide a lot, but, even more important, we are quite similar as people. We both are enchanted by faerie worlds, too. As far as artwork is concerned, Adelaide, the label artist, is very gifted and very professional - what else do you need for high quality design? We have plans for the future, too, and we are very happy to feel their support.

The recordings were done for a rather long period, from what I could see. How did this process took place and how was it like to see it all come to life?
We worked very carefully. For example, "Lullaby", one of the shortest tracks on the album, which has the least number of instruments, was recorded after many hours and many wasted days. Generally, the recording of this album was a mixture of extreme pleasure and extreme exhaustion.

I just heard about the plans to re-issue your previous demos via Iris. When can this be expected and what will this consist of? Does this mean that all of Caprice's material will be available to the general public?
At the moment we are working on some additional material for "Songs of Innocence and Experience", an album based on William Blake's poetry. It was recorded in December 1999, but released only on CD-Rs. Iris (Prikosnovenie) is releasing "Songs..." at the beginning of 2002. As far as our first album "Mirror" is concerned, it was released on cassettes in 1998, and at the moment we are not planning to re-release it.

There will also be "Elvenmusic Part II". Is there something that you can tell us about this already?
Oh yes. This is something for us to look forward to. The album will be called "The Evening of Iluvatar's Children" because it will tell about the last days of Elves, Men, Dwarves, Ents and Hobbits described in JRR Tolkien' s "The Lord of the Rings". This is the second part of the Elven trilogy. As soon as "Songs..." are released, we will start recording this big 16-song cycle.

I know that you've done some live performances with Caprice in Moscow and you've also been to Poland recently. Could you tell me a bit about these events?
We perform in Moscow quite regularly and enjoy it. Caprice is not a studio project - we have so many musicians because we like richness and beauty of live acoustic sound. In Poland we performed at Tolk Folk festival in Bielawa - an annual international event, which we really enjoyed. The atmosphere of the festival left us exhilarated for weeks. We look forward to more tours!

You've also appeared on Russian TV a few times. How was this? How does the media react to Caprice in Russia, by the way?
There are several programmes on the Russian TV where a band plays live and then answer the host's questions. We took part in two of those, in 2000 and 2001. For the first performance, we were very nervous - for me it remains as nothing but a grey blur of anxiety. The second one was much easier, we were less nervous and enjoyed it immensely. The media reaction to Caprice is usually quite positive.

Do you feel that the fact that you come from Russia has made things harder for you in some way?
I don't think so (but if we did not live in Moscow, things would be much harder. The Russian capital and Russian province are very different). The only thing which is really difficult for us is touring. The distance between Moscow and Poland - the closest European country to Russia - is almost the same as between Portugal and Poland!.

Thank you immensely for your time, and congratulations on your fine work with Caprice. Do you have some final words for the readers?
We are very pleased that our music is played in Portugal. I have a friend who plays in the Lisbon symphony, so we know that Portugal has very fine musicians, and it's a great pleasure for Caprice to find some response in Portugal. I hope it will be possible for Caprice to play a concert in your beautiful country.

interview by João Monteiro

"Elvenmusic Vol. I"

CD 2001, Iris

"Songs of Innocence and Experience"

CD 2002, Iris

"Elvenmusic 2 - Evening of the Iluvatar's Children"

Digipak CD 2003, Iris

"Sister Simplicity"

Digipak CD 2004, Prikosnovenie
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