Just before the New Year Yakutsk hosted a grand event – ‘Tabyk’ Ethno-Rock Festival. One of the headliners of the Festival – punk glam rock group ‘The World Domination’ from Germany. The following is the interview with Valerian Herdam and Frithjof Rödel.
- Please tell me the history of your group.
Valerian: Frithjof Rödel and I first met around 1999. He had invited my then-band (The Yucca Spiders) to play at a show that was hosted by his then-band (Acoustica). We started talking and later he asked us to record a song or two at the studio he was (and is) running. In the recording studio, we got along really well, having similar thoughts about music but still being different enough to create some tension and a quite interesting result in our musical work. Basically, just by fooling around with the stuff we had recorded with my band we came across the concept and musical style that later evolved into what we were about to do together in The World Domination. So, after a few years recording with our respective bands, we decided to try doing something together (without defining it right away), so in 2004 we set a date, met, wrote and produced our first album „The Big One“ in a week’s time. And, in the words of the late great Hildegard Knef „it all went downhill from there.“
Frithjof: I founded the group with Val in 2004. We met during the production of a record of his former band "The Yucca Spiders."
When we found out that we really liked to work together we decided to do an album.
We did our debut in just one week, writing, recording and mixing.
And we keep on going.
- Valerian, since I know you have something to do with Yakutia personally? Can you tell us a little bit of your family?
Valerian: My mother was born in Yakutia. She’s from the village of Khamaghatta. When she studied agriculture in Moscow in the early sixties, she met my father (who was there studying the same thing), they fell in love and married, still in Moscow. My father went back home to the GDR (East Germany), and in some time she followed him there. They had two children, my older brother Ayaal and then seven years later, me. We went to visit the family in Yakutia in the nineteen eighties and the next time was 2010. Sometimes relatives were visiting us, too. The places we live are just pretty far removed from each other, so we don’t meet very often. But I have always felt very welcome, and I like the way I’m regarded as a brother from Europe. Maybe some things I picked up from my mother have manifested in my personality that seem to be a little quirky in my home Germany, but perfectly fit in Yakutia. I can’t really pinpoint these, but it’s a feeling that I have.
- What can you say about the style you play? What inspires you?
Valerian: The music we play in The World Domination is a mixture of two basic elements: a variety of dance music on one hand and more aggressive garage punk and glam rock sounds on the other. Most of the times we reuse tropes, clichés which we transport into a different context, this way creating a new perspective (hopefully). I am personally a fan of older rock music like 50s Rockabilly (like Johnny Burnette, Charlie Feathers), 60s and 70s punk rock in the broader sense (from The Monks to The Sex Pistols to Blondie), but also German proto-techno music (like Neu!, Kraftwerk), of course DEVO, actually too many artists to name them all individually. But it’s an open concept. Inspiration may lurk in about everything we perceive, be it consciously or maybe even unconsciously. A song, a TV advertisement, something interesting somebody says in a conversation or maybe a good or even a bad meal will do the trick, just to name a few examples. Being at the Tabyk festival and being with the people we met in Yakutia was definitely inspiring.
Frithjof: Most of all attitude. I am not so interested in skills or success of a musical project.
I am looking for music with real initial inspiration and authenticity.
I am more interested in the fact why people make music and not how.
The more emotion (whatever emotion it is), a piece of music or an artist transports the more it attracts me.
- Your plans for the future (new albums, shows, fests etc.)?
Valerian: Currently we’re working on a new album. Well, a bunch of new songs, anyway. Prior to our trip to Siberia we pre-released the song „Insectify Yourself“ on YouTube. But we also do shows all the time, mostly in Germany. Of course The World Domination is hoping to come back to Yakutia one day, maybe even in the near future?!
- Your impressions of Yakutia? Val, how did you meet with Yakut relatives?
Valerian: It was my first time in winter, so the cold alone was hugely impressive. As musicians, we’re used to travel, but this trip was something else. I’d like to cite German writer Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) here: „Trink, o Auge, was die Wimper hält/ von dem goldnen Überfluß der Welt.“ (Drink, oh eye, as much as the lash can take, of the golden abundance of the world). We had so many awe-inspiring encounters in Yakutia, it was an almost exhilarating experience. Thankfully, there was some time to meet my relatives. They were super-loving as always and I was very glad to see them all. Some of them didn’t know what to expect music-wise and were a little shocked, I suspect (the term „чересчур“ was used), but they were all very supportive, I’d like to thank them for that. I’d like to especially praise my sister Ekaterina Shaposhnikova for making the whole thing possible. Also, it was very heart-warming to meet my 90 year old aunt Olga Shaposhnikova. I’m only sorry I couldn’t give everybody the time they deserve.
- What struck you most (if that at all)?
Valerian: Being received as part of my family living so far away from my home was a very special experience. It’s so cool to be home in a place that’s in so many ways totally different from my usual home. Often, when I hear the Yakut language (hardly understanding a word) I feel strangely touched inside. Hearing Yuliana Krivoshapkina sing a song about the dance of the cranes in an almost private environment really swept me off my feet. It was so beautiful; it literally made three grown men cry. If the whole journey felt like a hurricane, this was the eye of it.
- How did you like the TABYK Festival?
Valerian: I liked it a lot. Since the line-up of the festival was very much multi-faceted, it was kind of like a roller-coaster ride of musical enjoyment. The ethno-heavier acts such as „Yat-kha“ left a more lasting impression with me, actually broadening my horizons in unexpected dimensions. To us as music lovers and as a band it was liberating to have left the cultural context we’re usually situated in Germany. The pop music world (well, just as the society in general) here is often very competitive and as a band, we wear our „coolness“ (even if it’s self-deprecating) almost like an armour sometimes. I personally felt pleasantly stripped from that.
Frithjof: For me personally Yakutsk was a big surprise. From our point of view on the map it’s really far out.
But once there it felt very close and not at all "far away"!
We met nice people, great artists and a stunning nature.
We had the pleasure to get a deeper view into the Sakha culture by Tujara Shaposhnikova. That was very interesting.
Facing the cold and meeting the Yakutians brought me close to the point what’s important in life: to survive and to make friends.
The Tabyk was very well and professionally curated. Artists hosting and presswork were exceptional!
And playing our music to people who are not linked to our music scene was a good experience. It proved that the language of music is truly international.
I was also touched by the local music. Yuliana really made us cry with her Crane-song.
Art, Culture, Love and Humanism are the real World Domination! Not Money, Religion or Superpowers.
- Thank you a lot! I wish you success in everything that you do!
By Alexander Pakhomov