Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW WITH CAPRICE (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther

Can you tell me the history of your group (how did you meet, when did you decide to start playing together and so on...)
In 1996 Inna and I decided to find musicians to record our first album Mirror. It was a project involving 10 musicians – voice, bass, drums, keyboards, several strings and woodwinds. This is how we first met, but only two years later we gathered together again to play live. The first lineup of Caprice all went to the same Art College in Moscow. In November 1998 we set up several dates at Moscow clubs and started performing Elvenmusic. By that time the drums and bass had disappeared, but the harp was added.

How do you go about the process of composing songs?
I just sit down and compose. It is a routine work, like working in an office (but very pleasant). It’s really difficult to describe it. The part that depends on inspiration is the most evasive, so when inspiration comes I very often have to neglect other things that have been planned before. “Polishing”– i.e. working on polyphony, clear harmony, form, melodic beauty of every note – can be done at any time and does not need inspiration.

How much time did it take to complete Elvenmusic 2?
The songs were composed quickly and with a lot of pleasure. Then it took some time to write them down on paper for the musicians to play. This part of the process was the most boring. The recording took five months, and was more enjoyable than any other Caprice recording. It was like flying! Andrei (the sound engineer), Inna and I understood each other perfectly and felt exhilarated when things started to shape. Of course, we did have some problems. For example, the harp for Message to Legolas (which is about two minutes long) was recorded for two days, and we almost gave it up, but then suddenly everything was in its place! Now Tanya (our harpist) says it is her favourite song on the album?.

Where would you place your new record in today's scene?
I don’t know! Probably this can be much better done by journalists whose knowledge of the scene is far deeper than ours.

In your opinion which are the differences between your records?
They talk about different things. Elvenmusic is half about Tolkien’s elves, half about faeries. Iluvatar’s Children is totally dedicated to The Lord of the Rings. Songs of Innocence and Experience look at the dark and light sides of William Blake’s poetry. So, basically, whatever the subject of the lyrics determines the subject of the album.

People link you to gothic music, but I don't think it's right. Do you like this?
Some of our songs are sad and melancholic. Also, some gothic bands use a lot of harmonies that we use. The difference is that we do not portray just sadness and desperation in our songs, but some other feelings as well. As said before, it is very difficult to relate our music to one category. There is a bit of neoclassic, a bit of ethereal, a bit of folk, a bit of progressive, a bit of gothic.

Do you have any ideas about the third chapter?
Yes, half of it is already composed. It will be totally dedicated to the wonderful world of modern faeries - not the Tolkien’s elves, but the ones described in many European legends. These elves probably live on the ether level in our world, or in the world parallel to ours. It will be in their language, Laoris, not in English. The songs speak about the beauty and mystery of the forest, the strange psychology of faeries, the different perception of time in that world…

Your last two albums were inspired by Tolkien's tales and a lot of artists refer to Tolkien too, do you think to have something new to say regarding these themes?
We did not hear any Tolkien-related work at the time of composition of Elvenmusic and Iluvatar’s Children. That’s why we can’t compare. I think every artist says something unique. Also, we will think that our goal is achieved not if there is something “different” in our music, but if the listener can see in our music the reality described in the poetry.

In your opinion why is Tolkien still considered so modern and interesting after so many years?
The fact that there is so many Tolkien-related music and art (and even literature!) means that his works are great, although some people say he is just a writer for children. If he had been that simple, he wouldn’t possibly have had such a great impact on so many artists.
There is much more to Tolkien’s writing than just silly hobbits in a nice fantasy world. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that what he wrote about did take place at some unimaginable place or time… He just reflected this, adding, of course, something from his own personality. He was, on the one hand, an immensely deep and wise man, but on the other hand he was just a human; and no human can know for sure what happened in some other world or time…

What kind of music you are shooting for, is it contemporary classical music or a cross between pop music and classical music?
There are a lot of classical elements in Caprice music– the choice of instruments, the polyphony, the complexity of musical language. At the same time, we play songs – the most popular and understandable musical form which might be a pretext for describing Caprice as a cross between genres.

Which are the artists that have inspired you most, are there any in the pop/rock scene?
Musicians – none. We love a lot of various music, but we are not actually inspired by any of it. Poets and writers – those whose lyrics are used in our albums.

Is there anything particular in the pop/rock music scene that you like?
Oh yes. We are “omnivorous” ? A musical product in any genre can be interesting if it is talented music and if it is well performed and recorded.

How did you get in touch with the label Prikosnovenie?
They contacted us after they heard our song on Edge of the Night – Russian Gothic Compilation. It was in 2000, and since then our collaboration has been very fruitful. We released one album every year, and we have plans for at least two more releases.

Have you been satisfied with the promotion and the distribution of your albums?
Yes, we are very happy with the way Caprice albums are distributed and promoted in Europe, Asia and America. There is one thing, however, we would really love to achieve – make Caprice better distributed in Russia and the ex-USSR.

What kind of response to your music are you experiencing from the audience?
Usually positive. However, sometimes we feel sad because it is clear that often the audience needs rhythm, not depth in music. We know that a serious listener will listen to our albums many times, so we put into them a lot of things that can be understood only after the music is heard several times. But at concerts the main thing is releasing energy, so we try to play the most energetic and easy-to-understand songs.

Can you tell me about the musical scene in your country?
I do not know much about it, so I’ll just say a few general words. Arts are on the rise in Moscow now. There are a lot of wonderful concerts, and lots of talented groups in all genres. We’ve recently come back from a trip round Europe, so we had a chance to compare Europe and Russia. We were very happy to discover that the level of Russian musicians is extremely high.

Russia is experiencing a difficult period of transition, what is your opinion about these times?
The difficult period was over about five year ago – in Moscow, at least. I must admit that the province still has many problems. But Moscow is wonderful. There are a lot of opportunities, and it is possible to concentrate on art without having to think about the materialistic side of life.


Reviews (in italian): Elven Music; Elven Music 2; Sister Simplicity; Elven Music 3;
Kywitt! Kywitt!; Masquerade

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