Interview: Viktoriya Yermolyeva, pianist
girl with magical fingers
of pop, rock and metal bands you would never believe they could sound good on
a piano, are now a common thing and this is exactly what Viktoriya plays the most.
The energy this girl posesses penetrates into every note and gives it a special
colour, showing in a spectacular way how fingerboards can serve for performing
any popular musical genre. That is, if they are in good hands
from Bor, SERBIA
is not an educated pianist you can only see in a concert hall while playing well
known melodies from classical plays. She shows to the public her professionalism,
remarkable talent, elegance and sophisticity together with her somewhat wild,
avanturistic, restless spirit, which is notable with the first tones of her
interpretations. It is something that puts her in the line of professionals
with great individualism and distinctive style.
Viktorija, also known as
Vika, has been playing the piano since she was four. At the age of six,
she started attending a special musical school for talented children. When
she was 17, because of her excellent grades, she immediately enrolles the second
grade of the Conservatory school (Musical academy) in Ukraine. After that,
she finished postgraduation in two more academies: Rotterdam and Weimar.
Besides that, she privately took classes with professor Lazar Berman, at
a private pianist academy in Italy. She is a well known name in her profession,
but also people who are not professionals in the world of music and are not familiar
with her numerous awards won in Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Ukraine and solo
performances as well as with symphonic orchestras, still managed to recognize
the remarkable talent Vika owns.
YouTube page you can see new comments from her fans every day. Still,
we are talking about a kind of music that is totally different from the one she
studied during the years. Covers of pop, rock and metal bands you would
never believe they could sound good on a piano, are now a common thing and this
is exactly what Viktoriya plays the most. The energy this girl posesses penetrates
into every note and gives it a special colour, showing in a spectacular way how
fingerboards can serve for performing any popular musical genre. That is, if they
are in good hands. Viktoriya speaks for WAVE magazine about how
she made this big turnaround when it comes to genre.
is not that common for a professional pianist to show interest for bands like
Metallica, Megadeth, SOAD, NIN, Iron Maiden, Machine Head... Do you personally
like and listen to this kind of music in your free time, and how much is it different
from the music you listened to while you were studying?
- I was always
listening to this stuff, and dancing to metal, rock, "industrial", for
many years before I even considered to do something beside classical music. It's
not that different from the music I was listening to while studying classical
piano - 15 years ago I was listening to Sting, Deep Forest, Enigma, Genesis,
Michael Jackson, Nirvana. Later I discovered NIN, Massive Attack, Radiohead,
Metallica. Speaking frankly, I was never listening to classical music for
myself. My mother is a big fan, and I used to dance to "Moonlight sonata"
as a kid, and sure loved playing it. But somehow I rarely felt like listening
to classical music. Of course, there are some pieces I love listening to, but
mostly I just prefer playing.
How did your professors react, did they
even know about your affinities?
- When I started playing metal and
similar things, I was already done with my study, so I didn't feel like asking
anybody's opinion on that. First of all, I guess - I don't want to know what they
think. I can imagine the answer, and I don't need to hear it. I do what makes
me feel good.
did this turnaround happen - from classics to more agressive music? Does it mean
that you could not imagine yourself sitting at the piano in concert halls for
your entire life?
- I guess it just happened. For a long time I didn't
know what exactly to do with my life, I was raised to be a classical pianist
- that means you either become a concert pianist, or you are nobody. The only
other way would be to start teaching or look for a job as an accompanist. I thought
at the time, that I didn't have the courage to make it as a classical concert
pianist in a way, because I rarely enjoyed to actually play solo recitals. The
whole atmosphere, including the public, just didn't feel right.
around the world and playing at big concert halls was something that I would
write in school as my "dream", but it never really seemed to be
the truth. I also rarely felt that the people involved in classical music, were
"my kind of people". I was a lot more attracted to jazz musicians,
for example. I decided to study jazz, but I didn't get too far with improvisation,
especially in the traditional style. At some point I just stopped everything,
and I did nothing for a few months. Then I tried to imagine, what actually
would be my true dream, what would actually make me happy. And in my mind it was
to be on stage with someone else, and to play something together - but not classical
Immediately I came across a Dutch MySpace project,
it was "making a rock band". I got far enough to have people from the
TV at my place. But since I didn't have anything "rock" like to play
at the time, they didn't choose me. I suppose they even made fun of me in a way
they usually do on TV shows, you know. It made me angry, so I said to myself that
I am going to make it without any help. The same day I heard a new Metallica song
when my boyfriend was playing it. I told him, out of pure boredom, that I was
going to cover it for fun, and I did. So that's how it started.
it mean you will not get back to the classical music?
- Probably not.
I'm still playing with a friend of mine; a very young but awesome violin player.
I also play some performances here and there, I just don't want it as a full time
thing, but I do still enjoy it.
are your favorite musicians? What song was the hardest for you to cover and did
you ever consider giving up because you could not work out a good melody?
My favorites are Trent Reznor, Thom Yorke, Brad Mehldau, Steven Wilson, Henry
Rollins, Jaco Pastorius, Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, Cliff Burton, Layne Staley,
Lazar Berman. Once I gave up without even trying hard - but it was a 20 minutes
long track from the seventies. I thought I would get crazy before being able to
finish it. It was jazz and psychedelic, and jazz scares me in a way - I think
I'm not good enough yet as a jazz musician, I only started studying - enough to
get too serious about it, but not enough to actually do it right. Some songs that
I'm proud of would be some tracks from Joy Division, NIN, Guns 'n Roses, Tool,
Machine Head... I made a few hundreds covers so far, I can't name all the
ones I really like.
Can you tell us more about the process of making
a song? How long does it take?
- The process used to be pretty short
earlier, I would write down - arrange - and record a video within a few hours.
Now I'm a little more serious about the end result. I write down what I
hear from the record, then I play as long as I have to, until it becomes clear
to me, how to arrange it best for piano. Then I start recording the song, and
sometimes that means many hours of non-stop playing to be more or less happy with
Your website is quite popular, there are more and more fans. At
first, you did everything for fun, but then it turned out to be your job?
Yes, covering songs and making sheet music is my main job at this moment. But
it's not like I really had a choice, I basically had to start taking care of
myself completely overnight. For a short while it was scary, because the only
thing that came to mind was to tell the people on YouTube that I really have to
start doing requests. Otherwise I would have to stop making covers and become
serious about finding a regular job. Of course, this would mean abandoning the
dream of what I really wanted out of life. I'm very lucky it worked out.
any band or well-known music name already offer you an engagement, a project or
showed any interest in work with you?
- I met the band Immolation
in the beginning of May, they wrote me a very sweet e-mail after having covered
their song. I also exchanged a few e-mails with bass player from The Sound,
and some other bands. But no actual projects so far.
What are your expectations
for the following period? What are your wishes, your goals?
- I'm recording
the last few songs for my first CD of covers, and recently I got a manager
- Darin Roche, and signed with the label - Granville Records. I
had an idea to form a band at some point, but it didn't really work out. We'll
see about the future. My biggest dream is still to be on stage with some of the
musicians that I love, that would be awesome!