By Harriet Kaplan
Gayana is based in Moscow, Russia but hoping to expand their music and fan base throughout Europe and the U.S. by singing lyrics in English “to attract a worldwide audience.” The group formed in 2013 and released its first album “Reborn” and now is promoting its latest effort “Kingdom.” Fronted by the group’s namesake, Gayana Boytsova, and her husband, Vova Boytsov, both artists spoke to BoC. They discussed their love of 80s music and how that sound and the well-known musicians associated from period have influenced the band’s style, their songwriting process and collaborations and how “Reborn” differs from “Kingdom.”
Can you list the band members and instruments they play?
Gayana: The band “Gayana” is named after Gayana Boytsova, the band’s front woman and songwriter. Vova Boytsov is Gayana’s husband and the producer, musical director and bassist. Ilya Kamaldinov plays guitars. Pasha Kovan is the drummer.
Is Gayana based in Russia? How did the band members meet?
Vova: Yes, Gayana is based in Moscow, Russia. Gayana and I met around 2010 at a band rehearsal (pretty typical for musicians, isn’t it?). At that point it was a completely different musical project. Gayana and I were friends for a while, and then it grew up in something ‘more’, if you know what I’m talking about. In 2013, we got married and released our first album “Reborn” the following October. So we consider 2013 as the year that Gayana really ‘started’. Our guitarist Ilya joined in 2013, and Pasha joined us at the beginning of 2015 completing the current Gayana lineup.
Does everyone share similar musical influences?
Gayana: Vova and I definitely share some similar musical influences — from Chaka Khan, Phil Collins and Genesis to John Mayer. Obviously, we live together so we get exposed to each other’s music when somebody turns the stereo on! Ilya is more into jazz, rock and fusion stuff, and Pasha has been involved in playing a lot of instrumental music. We all feel there is a point at which the divide between music in terms of genres and styles, disappears, and you start experiencing music as a whole with all it’s variations.
How does the songwriting process work? Is it collaborative?
Gayana: Usually, Vova starts with some demos and arrangements, and if I like what I hear I start adding some vocal melodies and harmonies. In other instances, the songs have come from my demos and sketches. However, many of the songs are collaborative — ‘Suspend’ and ‘Reborn’ from the first album, and ‘Matilda’ from “Kingdom”. For these, I bought in the original demos and Vova rearranged and worked on them further.
Vova: After we get all our demos arranged and the vocals are recorded we invite Ilya to write and record the guitar parts. Another example of Gayana’s collaborative process is the track ‘The Judge’ which was co-produced with Ilya. This came about at a rehearsal at our home studio. I had just purchased an old school drum machine (a Roland R-8 from 1989) and came up with a drum pattern. Ilya immediately played some chords over this with a vintage Roland Juno-106 synth — and that was pretty much it. The next day Ilya sent me his main guitar melody and I added some other instruments to finish it off.
What inspires the lyrical content of the songs? How is Kingdom different from the band’s 2013 debut album Reborn? How did you choose both album titles? They sound very specific. Is there a theme around both?
Gayana: With lyrics, the first album was pretty traditional, mostly love stories, etc., apart from ‘Lego’ and ‘Reborn’. These were the songs where I felt I had to share something more valuable and important. ‘Lego’ is based on scripture — about the wise and foolish builders; one who built their house on sand and the other who built on rock — it is a bout having solid foundations in your life. ‘Reborn’ is song about how a person can change, who is searching for a purpose of his life. We felt that song also summed up our own experiences so we used it for the album title. The new album “Kingdom” continues on with the theme of rebirth but somewhat more directly. Many of the songs explore a spiritual journey between man and God, searching for some kind of righteousness. As a band, we feel that these themes are vey important in an age where there is a lot of meaningless commercial pop-music.
Why 80s pop? Did Gayana grow up listening to it?
Gayana: I wasn’t born until 1992 but I think that the music of the 80s is in my genes. As a baby, I was no doubt exposed to a lot of 80s hits that my mom would play. I’m sure this influenced how I think about music. Now I’m older, I look back at 80s music and think it has a really unique and sincere sound. As a band, we all fell in love with the 80s sound and decided to reproduce it in our own way.
What is it like being a band in Russia? Is the band primarily playing gigs there and in Europe are plans to tour in the U.S.?
Vova: I think that music business for indie artists in Russia is in it’s formative stage now. However, it is growing rapidly and many new artists are creating fantastic music! Gayana primarily plays gigs in Russia, but we definitely plan to expand towards Europe and US. It’s just the matter of time. This is the one of the reasons all our songs are sung in English, so that they can reach a worldwide audience.