Andrei “Lanes” Terskikh: Taking Electronic Music Virile
How do indie artists become world renown without the backing of entertainment lawyers or publicists, you might ask?
If you ask New York City based electronic producer/composer/arranger Andrei “Lanes” Terskikh how he has done it, you will hear his earnest story about going virile on the Internet as his means of availing himself to world-wide opportunities for his music.
He comments, “100% of my following has come from the Net. Since I don't play live so far, the online outlets are the major channels of exposure for my work. I have invested lots of time to build my Internet presence and it takes more than a minute to keep it all up on an interactive level. Out of all sites hosting my music, the most permanent are my own turf, www.www.lanespro.com , my Myspace page, www.myspace.com/lanespro, my page on Soundclick, www.soundclick.com/lanes, and my page on ReverbNation, www.reverbnation.com/lanes. My website have all the links so it's best to check it first.”
Whether or not the Internet encourages artistic endeavors and creativity in people, Andrei speculates, “Frankly, I doubt it. I don't think any technological advances can carry any positive impact on human nature. Internet has definitely opened an entirely new level of communication and information access as well as a whole set of tech possibilities never available before, but I see it neither as an influential source nor as a boost for creativity.”
Andrei reveals that he discovered his need to make music in his teenage years. “I think I was about 16. Me and my high school mates were under a huge influence of this whole hard rock/heavy metal wave, so we started our own band and needed proper repertoire. By that time I picked up some skills as a guitar player, plus my older sister had taught me some piano basics, so I decided to give it a shot as a songwriter, and somehow I came up with few tunes that we were able to turn into full songs. The most powerful of my early inspirations was probably The Scorpions. We were totally addicted to their music and image. We lived on their songs, so no wonder our ultimate dream was to become as huge and influential as they were at the moment.”
While growing up, Andrei was also exposed to his family’s talents. “The most creative person in my family was probably my uncle. He used to work as a head drummer/percussionist for a local opera house and he was the one who introduced me to a world of drums. I was about 14 when he invited me to his studio for the first time, and as I look back now it was definitely one of the biggest impressions of my life. Just looking at his more than extensive set of tympanis, tam tams and bongos was mesmerizing enough, but that was before he showed me how many sounds can be extracted from each piece of his ‘kitchen department.’ How to create a perfect percussion harmony, how to improvise creatively, and most surprisingly to me, how one man can be a full scale drum orchestra all by himself. He was totally something else.”
After much soul-searching, Andrei settled on electronic/illbient music as his style of music, making compositions with an array of elements from ambient/orchestral-tinged atmospheres to trippy-industrial tones. “Electronic music per se is a quite challenge for a musician. It is not a kind of issue universally agreed upon, but in my opinion, this genre takes a lot more skills and knowledge to operate than any other, all the way from the moment you start writing a song to taking your whole show on stage. It also allows me to express my ideas to much fuller extent, mostly due to additional sound dimensions that I can open and experiment with.”
He clarifies that having the most technologically advanced gear does not compensate for an artist’s lack of creative ideas. “No latest and greatest toys will do much good if they are not used to their fullest potential, and it takes time and patience to master it all properly. Better equipment is not a primary factor in making better music. Creative potential is.” He specifies, “The principal marketing trick of music software manufacturers is to fool their potential customers into a delusion that having the right software is all it takes to become another Mozart. People, please!” He implores, “Believe me, it takes more to be different. You gotta have a different set of mind to start with.”
Andrei’s strong stance about his music fostered his desire to become a solo artist as he responds, “I would never feel completely satisfied with just being an addition to someone else. I always wanted to build my life around my own ideas and my own projects no matter how clever or ridiculous they might seem. Probably the most important issue when faced with a dilemma of going out on your own or joining some team is to decide on how clear your creative vision is, and whether you got enough skills, energy and patience to materialize it all by yourself. Frankly, when it was my time to make that choice, I couldn't say I felt completely secure on that, but I did believe in my ability to learn and progress and I knew that I'm not gonna quit no matter what.”
His second solo album, MI>Hydra Missing, Fear The WorstSmoke & Mirrors,and it catapulted him across the Web. “Hydra is the second one. First album was Smoke & Mirrors of 2005. I just don't like to attract attention to it because, in my opinion, it wasn't perfect production-wise and was more like a first attempt in music, which surprisingly to me got liked by some people including KUCR 88.3 FM's Music Director, but I still try not to mention it anywhere.”
He resumes, “I released Hydra because I had enough material to put in as a cohesive record. It took me about a year to write it and I actually had more finished tracks than I have chosen to include in it, but I felt like those which made it to the album were consistent in terms of harmony and vibe. As to EPs, I'm not a big fan of EP format, mostly because I don't think it is wide enough to represent the full spectrum of my sound. I'm not planning to release any EPs in future and even if I decided to make a compilation out of my own remixes, I would still go with LP.”
The music ideas for the songs on Hydra Missing, Fear The Worst came from various influences. “’In SpiraLS’ was influenced by my dear friend Spira Saxe from Trancient Dreams. She has managed to create a beautiful audio-visual aura around her and I got emotionally affected by it. ‘Soft Light’ was inspired by a series of interchanging images I saw on one of world's top flash websites. ‘Hydra Missing’ track has gotten out of my blind experimentation with sound effects. ‘Hello Stranger’ has appeared after I saw some extended documentary about deserts and their optical phenomena. I never know what kind of impulse will hit my imagination next.”
For the title track of Hydra Missing, he elaborates, “I didn't really have a clear-cut idea for this particular track. I was playing around with a set of abstract sound effects, looking to create a pattern which I could more or less organically transform into a melody line, so I came up with this dark sequence of noises and whispers building up and turning into a rolling ambience that would keep the haunting element for a while, but then become twisted and shift the whole polarity of a song to end up with a liquid and exhilarating finale. It was basically a sonic imitation of a mood swing. This track was definitely fun to work on. I never got stuck at any point, no parts were clashing, all accents seemed to be in right places. I am planning to remix it later this year.”
Andrei’s upcoming third offering, Fractal Collapse, delves into new music ideas. He discerns about the album, “Each track has come from different inspirational sources, be it other people who impressed me in some way or be it a result of a blind jamming or some pattern that I saw in an abstract sound effect or something visual/cinematic that has touched my emotions. Funny enough, I have no idea how exactly does it all get translated into my music.”
He cites, “The more I write, the more meticulous I become. It's inescapable. Attention to details is one of the most important aspects in electronic music making. The more parts are used in one track the more delicate becomes a balance between them. Changing one element can require changing the others which are related to it. Having the same effect added at different points can bring absolutely different results, so you have to keep looking for an optimum, and it is really easy to get lost in it. It is rare that I can clearly see the point when a track is in its final version, and I should not touch it anymore. Even when it happens, I always know that I will keep teasing myself to try more distortion with it or to extend a finale, etc etc. It is a sickness.”
He admits about the creative process, “I try to be as critical to my music as I possibly can, and I keep looking for imperfections in it even after it has been checked and rechecked. The hardest part here is to know when to stop and leave it as it is to avoid any overdoing. It is one fine balance which, as I have mentioned before, is not easy to establish.”
This became an issue for the track “Amyland” from Fractal Collapse, which he says about the song, “Altogether it was the 8th edit that I decided to leave [it] without any further changes, musically, original version has remained almost the same all the way through. It is some technical details and sound effects that I kept fine-tuning for a proper match with the rest of a song. Only the last draft has gotten a new piano addition to its finale.”
He dedicated “Amyland” to singer Amy Lee, which he explains, “Amy Lee is a songwriter and lead singer of Evanescence. She is one of the most impressive self-made artists around who managed to break through solely on her talent and energy, and who had enough integrity to stay true to her image and style all the way to the top. From what I know, it is close to extinct for a signed act not to become affected by commercial challenges and to be able to keep expanding his vision in the same independent manner he used to have before he has got a contract. Amy did it. She has kept her original appeal and she has proved her point. It was her story and her music that inspired me to write ‘Amyland.’”
Regarding the sequence of the songs on Fractal Collapse, he remarks, “I usually decide on song sequence right before an album goes to post-production, and the only rule I use for it is to avoid placing tracks with similar vibe and tempo close to each other. Spreading them apart helps to make their differences a little brighter.”
He expresses about the title of the album Fractal Collapse, “As to the title, it's a bit metaphoric. It means a breakdown of an irregular structure, every part of which has a shape identical to a shape of a very structure as a whole. It is a property known as self-similarity. I have chosen it for the album title because the main elements responsible for my tracks form and content are identical despite the obvious musical differences between songs and even between parts of the same song. It is a kind of signature which is hidden inside every one of my tracks. So the album as a whole represents a fractal which is being reduced to a set of its identically shaped components represented by individual tracks.”
Both albums Fractal Collapse and Hydra Missing, Fear The Worst are distributed through CDBaby.com, whom he endorses without hesitation. “I only have a contract with my distributor, CD Baby, who is taking care of online store placements and physical CD orders. It is the biggest distro company for independent artists in US. They have very flexible terms and conditions. They take very reasonable commission for their services, and most importantly, they are doing a very good job. I found them when I was doing research on the whole subject of distribution a couple years ago. Official CD release date for an indie like myself is the day when CD Baby opens a separate page devoted specifically to new albums. That day they begin to take physical CD orders and offer digital downloads. It usually takes few more weeks before music starts to appear on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, etc etc. They have a list of online stores they supply worldwide and wherever else I would like to place my album is up to me.”
He reflects, “Marketing music is not that much fun, especially for an indie. It takes a ridiculous amount of time and requires a whole set of non-artistic skills.”
Andrei has some ideas about where he would like to see his music marketed. “I would be very happy if Fractal Collapse was picked up by electronic shows on college radio. As far as I know, their MDs and DJs are not contractually bound to spin whatever their sponsors tell them to, so their playlists and rotation schedules are almost completely based on their own decisions and tastes, and that's why I rate college radio way higher than its commercial counterpart. Independent films, especially in sci-fi/ fantasy and horror genres, as well as mystery and suspense/adventure videogames would also be a proper placement for my tracks.”
He discusses that electronic music offers numerous opportunities for song placements in different media outlets and its creative prospects are limitless for him. “Electronica for me is just a matter of personal preference and, although I do believe its general boundaries are a bit higher than those of other music styles, I don't see it as a basis for placing into VIP area. I just consider it a completely different form of music which requires a set of different skills to make and manage. As to what I dig as a listener, I love gothic/ industrial rock, especially by Collide, which in my opinion is one of the most impressive bands in this genre, not speaking about the fact that they gracefully manage to rule their whole empire all by themselves. They are definitely top of their game.”
Andrei strives to be at the top of his game. Each successive album shows a new level of expertise for Andrei. He claims, “Believe it or not but I can't afford to waste time on trying to conceptualize my artistic status. It's not such a big deal for me. I want my music to make some difference and touch emotions, not my ego to keep blossoming on a non-stop media coverage. “
Maybe media coverage is not Andrei’s game, but going virile has been one of his biggest goals. He figures that the more sites featuring his music, the greater he increases his arsenal of exposure and finding people who will like his music, and that is every indie artists wish.
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