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Gnoomes “It felt like a therapeutic journey with your own thoughts and subconscious mind”

The Russia-born, Slovenia-based 'stargaze' band chat about their blend of kraut techno and kosmische pop, the war in Ukraine and adapting to playing live as a duo, ahead of their Sheffield gig at Delicious Clam next month.

Gnoomes band

Hailing from Perm in Russia, Gnoomes combine their loves of shoegaze and techno to produce music which is pulsating and atmospheric. The Slovenia-based four-piece use the term 'stargaze' to describe their blend of kraut techno and kosmische pop.

Originally a four-piece but currently touring as a duo, Sasha and Masha Piankova are heading to Delicious Clam in Sheffield on 6 April as part of their UK tour.

We’re a couple of weeks away from your upcoming UK tour and we’re really looking forward to welcoming you to Sheffield in April. How are you feeling about your upcoming live dates?

[Masha:] It's been a long time coming with the visa issues we had last year, but we are happy that we are able to do it now. We're happy that we can travel and meet our friends and connect with a new audience.

It’s just over a year to the day that you released your latest album, Ax Ox. You’ve previously described it as “a metaphor of what’s going on to our country.” How do you reflect on the album and what were the key themes you wanted to put across?

[Sasha:] We’ve changed since that time and our reflection of that music is also slightly different, because now we are focusing on collecting new ideas. That record was very important in our discography, but for now we are moving onto other things.

However, I still think that it's one of our key records. I don’t think it’s too rebellious in a way. We could go further with it, like with the themes that we took, but in a way it's still weird.

We are still afraid of saying things out loud, because we have families back in Perm, Russia. Our ex-bandmates also live in our hometown. We recorded Ax Ox before the war [in Ukraine] started and we were feeling like many things were wrong even then. But when we released it, the war was ongoing for a year and it became obvious that those things that we were expressing in the album received new meanings.

For example, on ‘The Neighbor’ that comes to your place and starts knocking at your door and you're starting to feel nervous about him, like a panic attack. We wrote it before the war started and now we're performing this on stage and everyone understands what I'm speaking about, you know?

It’s really cool when the music starts to take on a new meaning. It's a wonderful record and having produced it ourselves it felt like a therapeutic journey with your own thoughts and subconscious mind. I'm just regretting that we are not able to play this record as a four-piece because it was supposed to be played like a full, proper rock experience.

The album received excellent critical acclaim, including a place in Norman Records Best Albums of 2023. Which songs from the record are you most looking forward to performing live on the UK tour?

[Sasha:] We had to rearrange songs for playing as a duo and it took time because we already performed the album live as a duo and we saw things working and not working.

I'm pretty happy how ‘Eternal Trans Siberian’ sounds, but mostly we are really into playing the transitions between the tracks. We are exploring new territories with jamming between the tracks and so on.

Can we expect some new unreleased music to be played the tour? How does the new sound compare to your previous material?

[Sasha:] Yeah, for sure! It’s our ten-year anniversary of our first EP, It's Moonbow​-​Time, Boy, which we’ll be playing too.

It’s more electronic for sure. We both love DJing and in a way we're trying to bring this excitement that we have when DJing and try different things with a live audience.

It’s your first album sung entirely in Russian. Is that something you’ve always wanted to do?

[Sasha:] I always had this imposter syndrome regarding my English and I always felt reserved about using English language like I was pretending to be someone.

We started to record the album right before the war started and it was beautifully timed for music in Russia. In terms of the Russian music scene, we saw that there are so many artists like us and the audience want to hear our songs in their own language, and I thought that would make the music blossom even more.

[Masha:] Unfortunately, the music scene isn’t the same in Russia anymore. Pretty much all of these artists are based in Belgrade now. Although this is more convenient for us now, being based in Slovenia, as it’s a lot closer to us.

We’ve touched on 'The Neighbor', which is a brilliant track, energetic whilst remaining urgent with its pounding drums and empathic chord progression. Does this song in any way embody a sense of optimism or escapism from your recent difficult experiences as a band?

[Sasha:] Yeah, it's like an isolation thing. In a way you become the neighbour and the neighbour becomes you.

During Covid times there is a sense of danger in the air every day and that's what we felt when we were doing this track. We still feel that way when we go back home to Russia. It’s called inner immigration, when you stay in a place where you used to live, but you are not there anymore. Sometimes people don't want to hear us doing well abroad, because you ran away. They used to see another side of us, like we live among the evil now.

[Masha:] Not everyone is like that though. Our musicians, for example, that used to play in the band with us, they're not supporting the current regime, but they just don't have any choice other than to stay. There are many people who bubble themselves because they don't have an opportunity to travel anymore or to purchase Western goods of any kind.

This album incorporates more techno elements than your previous two records, with Loops and Ax Ox providing pulsing electronics. Were there any musical inspirations for this more dance-oriented album?

[Masha:] We're really into electronic music to be honest – like ambient and dub techno.

We really like the early Warp records. Also, Daniel Avery – we're big fans of him. We like Kompakt Records, the coding-based electronic label – so many artists from this label are amazing.

Are there any plans to record more music this year?

[Sasha:] We have a tight schedule for the next three months. We have music tours as a duo and also we’re working as tour guides in Slovenia when we’re not on the road!

We are really into playing gigs now and during the autumn we're going to be ready to record a new LP.

Learn more

Gnoomes’ new digital single 'Uletai' will be released via Rocket Recordings on 29 March. It will also be available as a limited-edition cassette tape, which you can grab at their show at Delicious Clam on 6 April.

by Daniel Atherton (he/him)
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