“We have a new reality – we will bring Russian musicians to Russia”

— First of all, please tell us how are things going at the Fields festival this year?

– The festival did not take place last year due to the pandemic, we postponed it to August 4-7, 2022. We planned to significantly update the lineup and also renegotiated with previously approved artists. We wanted to return with an updated announcement in mid-February, and at about the same time the conflict in Ukraine escalated.

Even before all the events began there was a certain panic. Some artists made it clear that they would have to withdraw from performances if the conflict escalated. There were alarm bells, but we hoped nothing would happen in the end. But it happened. Literally, in the early days, some of the musicians refused to perform, regardless of which way this situation arose. We have decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude in this regard. Whatever our guesses, we can only hope for the best.

We have agreements with venues and partners. It is clear that some foreign brands that are expected to sponsor remain a big question mark. But in addition to sponsors, there are cultural institutions – foundations and embassies connected with European countries. Even if they somehow work, it does not guarantee the future of artists from these countries.

– If the festival takes place, will it be necessary to change the program a lot?

– Actually, we have completely adapted to this scenario. Of course, we do not expect too many foreign artists in our staff. At least. But to somehow soften the situation, I can say this: Our festival has always been about exotic and unexpected music from all over the world. In the past years, artists from Egypt, Iran, Argentina and Indonesia have performed with us. It has always been difficult for us to expand the geography of our cadres. Given the current situation, it would make perfect sense for us to follow this path. So theoretically, we can work with artists from countries that have not declared a cultural boycott of Russia.

Another thing is that the cultural boycott is the position of individual artists and cultural figures, not just states. Therefore, official “friendship” with one or another state does not automatically mean that from there all artists are ready to go to Russia.

– Signal Festival, where you curate the music program, has not yet made any statement about the holding. I take it the team is in a wait-and-see position now?

— We continue to prepare the festival. I can only remind you that although Signal’s last two years have not been easy, there has not been a single cancellation or postponement in the five years of its existence.

– In the background of all events, guests began to return tickets?

-Of course, a certain number of people rent tickets, but I think the main reason for this is due to financial obligations. I believe that in the current situation many have lost their jobs and life has become significantly more expensive for them, even if they have not lost their lives. Now everyone needs real money: 2, 3, 5 and even 10 thousand rubles will not be superfluous for anyone.

Speaking of Fields, you mentioned that some artists are starting to refuse to perform. Do you theoretically allow the festival to be held only with Russian musicians? How profitable is it in terms of business?

– To be honest, even before this whole situation and even before the pandemic, I did not feel a vital need for foreign artists. If you consider it purely from a musical point of view, I would be happy to hold festivals only with Russian artists. It’s not some kind of nationalist or protectionist stance to support a “domestic product” – the truth is there are a lot of really cool, really unique musicians out there right now. In terms of my taste and stage knowledge, I can only put together a lineup for at least 100-150 artists from Russia.

But at the same time, I have a tremendous interest and curiosity in everything that happens outside the country, and as a person living in a global world, I can not consciously close myself in the void, I simply choose Russian and reject everything else. Therefore, I can say: We will do our best to bring musicians from the countries where possible.

Festivals like Fields largely need foreigners, because the Russian scene is still in its infancy – if we are talking about artists in the Fields format, that is, traditional avant-garde, electronica, author’s pop music, etc. In terms of media coverage, it is not so advanced – for us there are only a few format artists who can collect at least a thousand people on their own, so foreigners are such a “cheating” technique in this regard.

Another thing is that in the current situation, when there is no “Pain” with Nick Cave on our next dates, when the rivalry has disappeared and people are left with no other choice, perhaps foreign headlines are no longer such a necessity.

— What do you think about the refusal of foreign artists to perform in Russia for political reasons? Is this such an initial reaction that would take several months in a more or less normal scenario, or do we run the risk of being without imports for a few years?

— This situation reminds me of the case of Ten Walls, a Lithuanian electronic musician who was somehow scandalized for his homophobic position. It was canceled almost all over the world, but still continued to perform at some festivals.

There are always those who do not fit into the general agenda or who are neutral about what is going on. I hope there will be people who ignore the context and only move from the agenda of a particular cultural project or festival. True, sometimes it is very difficult to close the binding eyes. Ten Walls aligns homosexuals and pedophiles, this is medieval brutality for the developed world. I’m afraid that in the eyes of the world cultural community, Russia has now turned into a kind of Ten Walls.

As for how long that will last, it’s hard to say right now. One can only hope for the best. Even before the events in Crimea and Ukraine, there were always artists who, in principle, refused to go to Russia. For some reason I couldn’t understand them. If you respect your audience, your fans, you know they are here, they are waiting, then what is your difference from country politics? But now I’ve come to understand them much better – artists have the right to express their protest in any way.

– There is such a feeling of “cancellation” – as if from one extreme to the other. For example, Pink Floyd promised to take down all of their music in Russia. Do you think this is fair to peaceful listeners?

– I think that this does not make practical sense, since the addressees of this message are aware of long-standing events and are able to form an opinion about themselves. Moreover, it was they who sought to create an idealized Russia nonetheless, which often expressed some sort of alternative position through culture. But now they are ultimately excluded and seem to have lost all faith in their abilities.

— Is there anything positive in such cultural isolation? Does this give young artists a chance to express themselves?

– Half of the Russian artists have already gone to neighboring countries. Now their performance will require additional budgets for import. We have a new reality – we will bring Russian musicians to Russia (laughs). And given that the ruble fell quite sharply (the conversation took place on March 17, when the dollar exchange rate was 108 rubles – socialbites.ca), they will probably want to buy b.abouthigher wages.

In addition to composing, the artist also promotes it through social networks. Half of them were recently blocked in Russia. Of course, if they only worked with the Russian audience, they could limit themselves to VKontakte and Telegram, but they cannot cut all ties with the outside world, since most of today’s artists are oriented to the global market. As a result, they have to leave here to do full-fledged marketing internationally and feel comfortable.

As a result, we see that the cost of a Russian artist increases by two or three times, or even more, depending on his salary.

– What will happen to a supporter’s profession in current realities?

– Supporting is a big thing. There are those who hold festivals, there are those who give small concerts in bars and clubs. It seems to me that, of course, this will not go away completely for several reasons: there are people who stay here who do not want to or cannot go. They all need to live somehow, be fed morally.

— How do you and your colleagues experience what is happening in the industry?

– To continue. The first weeks were very difficult. The feeling that the world is coming to an end because everything we’ve been doing for years seems to have collapsed. I have been involved in music events for 10-12 years. I remember that in 2014 the ruble also fell a lot and the euro rose from 45 rubles to 80 rubles in a few months. It seemed at that moment that we should forget about imports. But 2-3 years passed and the purchasing power was back. Even though ticket prices doubled, people continued to go to festivals and concerts. We can say that there are more festivals.

There have always been heroic supporters in Russia. They opposed all these conditions. It was hard, but if there is a will, you adapt to that reality and eventually something happens.

In recent years, a pre-sale culture has developed in Russia. This is very important for the organizers: when you see the dynamics of ticket sales, you will know if your event has prospects. And then came 2020, the pandemic. And the industry created over the years began to decline again. Due to the curfew and restrictions, everyone has suffered from these endless transfers. Against this background, people decided that it is not worth buying tickets in advance, otherwise you will not expect your money back.

We’re slowly starting to recover from the coronavirus – and now it’s a new problem. Thank you mayor [Москвы]This lifted restrictions on visiting concert halls when artists were gone and people couldn’t afford to go anywhere. (laughs). But it’s probably better than nothing.

I want to believe that we can overcome this. Now everything turns into walking on a thin rope. If our field was risky, it is now desperate in every sense and even critically dangerous.

The event industry, which has not recovered from the consequences of the epidemic, is once again going through difficult times: Russian and foreign artists cancel their concerts, it is announced that the festivals will be closed. socialbites.ca spoke with Andrey Morozov, founder of the Fields Inventive Music Festival and curator of the Signal music program, about the challenges organizers and event organizers are currently facing – and do we still have a chance to hear our favorite songs this summer? live.

Source: Gazeta


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