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Progressive Rock Interviews


Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Yuri Volodarsky of RTFact from 2018

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?
I was practically born with music. My mother (Regina Weinstein) taught at the Stolyarsky school - piano and duets (violin, viola, cello). I remember falling asleep and listening through the thin walls in our apartment to Tchaikovsky's variations on Paganini, and to Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. When I was four years old, I was a member of Tatyana Kagel’s boys choir. I liked to sing in the choir, but the rehearsals started at 9 AM, and I did not like getting up at 8 AM on Saturdays. I eventually refused to go to the choir, although for this there was another reason: I wasn’t chosen for one of the Street Children's Chorus in Carmen in the Odessa Opera Theater. Shortly I was enrolled in a rhythm ensemble at the House of Scientists. There was more action there. Of course, it was not the Opera House, but there were many girls around. I began studying piano. I remember my mother scolding me for watching TV in the reflection of the piano surface, when football (soccer) championships were on. After I finished the eight-year program, the most interesting thing began: I joined a school rock band (in the USSR it was called a vocal-instrumental ensemble), and we called it "Hungry Bones." The band broke up when we all graduated ... but this is just the beginning of my musical history.
If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I would have probably made a good mechanical engineer, as this was my first field of study at the institute.

I made two inventions in two weeks, but realized that the pace of life at which I wanted to work was an order of magnitude higher than that of the department where I worked. And I decided not to return to this profession. I began producing a lot of television, something I like to do other than music. Generally speaking, in the USSR we weren’t taught specialized professions, but rather the ability to understand primary sources and special literature. Meaning that if I did not study music, I could create new types of energy, study micro- and macro-worlds, travel into space, or at the very least, open a club and entertain friends and casual visitors.

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
Initially, we decided to name the group ARTIFACT, but after studying the Internet and social networks, it became clear to us that it was such a widespread name that it would be difficult to differentiate our project from thousands of others. The choice of the name was greatly helped by Dave Grout, who wrote most of the lyrics for the album. He is a talented musician and poet, philosopher and a man who speaks several languages. We jointly decided to keep the sound of the name, but to spell it RTFACT. And we think we made the right choice.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Undoubtedly, these are classical Russian composers, such as: Borodin, Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. And European kings of classical music: Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

And of course the prog rock kings of the 60s-70s: Emerson, Wakeman and John Lord, and the groups King Crimson, Triumvirate and Gentle Giant.

What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
It seems to me that the best thing about my music has not yet been told. Although I’ve written and played music for friends since the age of 16. And many good and warm words were spoken about it, such as:


Good Mood

Emotion of the day

We received a very large number of reviews on RTFACT. There were some very potent words, such as: "... this music is like a drug." It's good for me, and I want more!" That’s a direct quote. This music is a powerful drug that has no side effects. Actually, all statements are on the Internet; it is enough to type RTFACT. Life is Good

What's ahead for you?
The release of RTFACT’s next album!
I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Each of my songs constitutes a certain state of energy, an emotion that encompasses the state of the soul, the colors of time, the smells of thought. My songs are time machines that allow the listener to return to the state I was in when I conceived and created them.
MSJ: How did you link up with the guest musicians on your album?
I want to express my sincere admiration for my co-producer, arranger and sound engineer Eugene Sharikov, who is not only a professional musician and producer, but also a good friend. He has a huge number of musician friends with whom he has played or met through other friends. I have the impression that there are very few people like him, and musicians understand and appreciate it. And, of course he has been in music for so many years that musicians trust him. It's almost like actors trusting an experienced director inviting them to work on a movie. They join the project because they know that the movie will be great.
Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
I hope that the basic composition of musicians will remain the same. But we plan to invite a few more virtuosos, who will contribute something unique to the next album - players like John McLaughlin, Frank Gambale, Stanley Clarke, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean Luc Ponty, classical vocalists Natalia Netrebka and Ildar Abrazakova, as well as Alan Parsons as sound design producer.
Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Pirated downloads and streaming kill business. Stories of gratitude toward pirates for sharing and popularizing content, I think are fairy tales. A lot of projects have died because they were stolen by pirates. Creators did not continue on their creative paths because they were not commercially viable. It is not always possible to find money for your second project when the first one was stolen and did not bring profits, or at least did not cover the costs. By the way, is piracy a profession or a vocation?
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
I would not confuse fans and professional pirates. Fans do not cause such damage to show business as torrents. I would classify fans more as information carriers and content promoters.

Fans who engage in piracy can be excluded on YouTube and Facebook. Torrents persist, however, going unpunished. One could say they are "tough nuts."

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
I suppose in order to determine the arch nemesis I’d fight, you have to define my super-hero abilities, wouldn’t you? Before the fight with the villain I would use these abilities to produce and promote RTFACT's second album.
If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
The combined composition for a musical group is like a national football team. Even if they have the best players, they will never have time to play and/or agree on the style of the group.

But I was delighted with the combined group of Earth, Wind, Fire and Chicago. These two groups sounded very powerful together on stage.

My hand-selected team from the world of music would have to be include:

Freddie Mercury - vocals

Brian May - guitar

Jimmy Page - guitar

Jimmy Hendricks - guitar

Keith Emerson - keys

John Lord - keys / orchestra

Jaco Pastorius - bass

Tony Levin - stick

Phil Colins - drums

Bill Bruford - drums

The London Symphony Orchestra

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Combined military brass bands would play everything from classical music to funk.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I have not bought CDs for a long time. I went back to vinyl. Last year I bought over 400 vinyls, starting from the classics of the prog and rock eras and ending with rap music. (this is a given when my son and I go to Amoeba music.)
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I recently re-read Clifford Saimak's Goblin Reserve and the Isaac Asimov trilogy with Commissioner Bailey. The worlds of these writers I think will never become obsolete.
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
On December 1, I took my son to a concert of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, where Jeff Scott Soto sang - a wonderful show and an unforgettable after party with a lot of photos. After that, returning home from Oakland to San Francisco,  we stopped just a couple of minutes at Safeway to buy water. It was after twelve at night. In the street there was no one. And not a single car was parked. When we came out, there was a parking ticket on the car for $105 - street cleaners. In a word - cashiers! But it did not spoil the impression of the concert!
Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I do not like new musical equipment. Most companies have moved into a virtual world, every year producing new pictures of old devices (plug-ins). Thus young musicians are immersed in the illusion that this is a great sound. The production of music equipment ended in the 80s - 90s and has not changed in professional studios.
Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
There are no bad genres. There are bad performers and low-quality productions. I do not really like country music, but I listen to James Taylor - you can listen to it forever. And what Bruno Mars now does in pop music can no longer be called "pop music." Any genre in music is good.
What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
As for music, it was one of the first concerts of my prog group "Experiment" in the late 70s. I collected sound equipment from several friends to outfit the big hall of the Polytechnic Institute (1,200 seats) for sound. My engineers did not have time to assemble it as a unified system, and the sound was terrible. But the worst thing for me was that immediately before this concert, the first locally-built polyphonic synthesizer in the city was assembled, and it categorically refused to be tuned. Although on the positive side, the acoustics whistled and buzzed, and the synthesizer made sounds that were terrible to imagine, and all this was perceived as the intentionally created avant-garde sound of a young prog rock band
If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
In music - Mozart, Freddie Mercury, Jon Lord

Not in music - Tesla, Salvador Dali and Alexander Dumas

What would be on the menu?
Of course, the menu from Anton Chekhov:

three varieties of vodka, Kievan flavored spirits, Chateau Laroze, Rhine wine and even a pot-bellied vessel made by Benedictine priests, herring with mustard sauce, sprats, sardines, sour cream, black caviar, fresh salmon, pancakes, sea snails, sturgeon soup, steaks, and more.

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
The methods we used to create Life Is Good, while laborious and time-consuming, have yielded some very satisfying results! We plan to use this same “algorithm” to create a lot more music. Just as cultural artifacts are objects of historical value to archaeologists, we hope the music of RTFACT will enthrall and delight listeners, and inspire other musicians to explore the rich musical landscapes of the past. Thank you for listening! 
This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at
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