To begin with, could you introduce yourself and give me an idea of your musical background and early influences?
My name is Yurii Popov. I am a musician from Ukraine. I started to make music (relatively conscious) around 15 years ago. Of course, the first attempts were pretty naive and teenage-oriented. Something like a punk-rock band with a rehearsal base at my friend’s loft. Anyways, at this point, I play guitar in progressive / post-metal band NUG and have two more music projects: 58918012 — ambient / dark ambient / experimental, and noteaf, which is a lo-fi hip-hop / chillhop alias of mine. To be honest, I don’t even want to list artists that influenced me because the list would be incredibly long…from Cannibal Corpse to Robert Rich.
What is your set up and your favourite piece of gear?
Well, at this point I will talk only about my own project (58918012 and noteaf). My setup is incredibly simple: iMac, DAW, small MIDI controller with a few faders and buttons, audio interface, monitor headphones, tape recorder, dynamic mic, and mobile phone recorder. Also, sometimes I use the guitar. I really like to mess with the tape recorder. It makes the sound very warm and gave that nice lofi taste. Lots of my ambient pieces are based on field recordings (recorded via my mobile phone).
How would you describe both the ambient and the post-metal music scene in your own city and in Ukraine in general?
Hmm…it’s kinda difficult question for me. To be honest, in my city (Ivano-Frankivsk) I don’t know post-metal or ambient projects at all. At least I may just don’t know about them. Overall in Ukraine, I know a few, like Endless Melancholy, The Memomachine, Octopus Kraft (which is a project of the vocalist of NUG). Can’t remember more. In general, heavy and experimental music scene in the last few years become much stronger than before. At least, I can say it because we played some festival gigs before the pandemic and the WAR and I opened a lot of strong bands for me.
How has the live scene been impacted by the pandemic in the past couple of years and has lockdown curtailed your creative life?
Live scene, obviously, was injured pretty hard. Some bands tried to play online shows though (we also participated one of them “Inter City”). But the creative side developed even more (at least for me). We began to work on our second album with NUG. I also released a lot of music from my projects during these years.
In your ambient work you address feelings of anxiety in albums like Four Days, but also veer towards a lighter tone with Lullabies that pays tribute to Ukrainian culture. Can music provide refuge in these dark times?
Of course — yes. As I said on my Bandcamp page: “Music is one of those things that makes me really happy and calm”. Unfortunately, since the war started I just can’t write music at all. I can only listen to relax a little. In general, the range of styles in the 58918012 project is incredibly wide. From dark techno, to ethnic, everything in between, and beyond.
There has been conflict in the Donbas region for a number of years, but Ukraine is now facing a full blown invasion. Granted that the situation on the ground is evolving very quickly and dramatically, could you give us a sense of the current state of play on a day to day level in your own city in terms of transport, food chain supply, medical care? And what have been the more immediate changes in your life on a personal level?
At this point we can only talk about WAR as a fact. Russian invasion is definitely perfidious, aggressive, and very bloody for Ukraine. But our army and population are stronger than ever. We are all literally holding hands with each other in defense of our freedom, democracy, and of course our motherland!
My city is calm now. Sometimes we hear air raid sirens (which is also pretty unpleasant, especially in the middle of the night). But in general, the community is very strong and ready to defend. In any case, we’re doing our best to create a solid rear for our army and to help refugees from the cities on the front line.
What can one do to help the artistic community in Ukraine? And are there any local charities that operate in your town/region you would like to highlight?
I think, the best way to support musicians is to stream/buy their music. And here is the link to support ZSU: www.savelife.in.ua/donate/
Finally could you recommend a book / film / artwork about your town / and or your country?
It may sound strange, but I don’t like to read, watch movies, etc. I think that the best way to feel the Ukrainian vibe is to visit it. But it’s not the best time to do that. I hope that this nightmare will end soon and people from around the world will be able to come out and see the beauty of Ukraine <3
Btw, my new album “Needle Tip” will out on March 10th. It’s incredibly dark stuff.