2014 05 19 Портал Kompass: интервью «The five-headed dragon of Russian rock»

Корреспондент — Куликова Александра

Diana Arbenina, lead-singer of Russian rock band Nochnye Snaipery. Source: ITAR-TASS
The lead-singer of Russian rock band Nochnye Snaipery spoke to The Kompass about London, her poetry and why she wishes she had met Kurt Cobain

On 19 May 2014 the London audience was treated to an acoustic performance by Diana Arbenina, lead-singer of popular Russian rock band Nochnye Snaipery [Night Snipers]. Taking place at The Garage in Highbury, the concert was part of the band’s 2014 tour, which celebrates its 20th anniversary with dates in Russia and abroad. The concert opened the second part of the European leg of the tour and saw Arbenina’s «unplugged» energy electrify the very welcoming audience with a solo performance. We caught up with Diana a few minutes before her gig.

It has taken you so long to come back to London following your first concert here!

Indeed. The first one took place back in 2001, and since then going on tour abroad hasn’t really been a priority for our management team. But this year I’ve decided that we should think of the countries where Nochnye Snaipery are known and where people are actually waiting for the band to come and play a concert. This is my second time in London this spring, though: in March I participated in the SLOVO literary festival, where I recited my poetry. The plan was to come back here with an electric concert, but the band couldn’t get visas on time, so we’re here with an acoustic programme instead.

What is the Nochnye Snaipery’s fan crowd in London like?

I think London is a very dignified city, but at the same time it has a wild spirit veneered by this facade of reserve. I enjoy playing for an audience who is well-behaved but can get up to something crazy sometimes, and this is the sort of people that I expect to come [to my shows in London].

Do you have a favourite place in London that you look forward to visiting again?

I like London’s tiny streets and alleys. We are currently staying near Hyde Park and it is wonderful, because you forget that you’re in a city.

Do you perform any songs in English?

The thing is, I could write songs in English – I’m a linguist by education, after all – and we did translate some songs into English at some point. But I love the Russian language and I’m very grateful for the capacity I have to express myself in the words of my native tongue. I enjoy reading in English though and I’ve always loved foreign literature. I even grew up reading foreign fairytales rather than Russian folk tales. Language and nationality are not important, but the philosophy I tap into when reading Hemingway, Remark or Marques has given me a lot of what I then put into my work.

Have you ever played with British musicians?

We’ve played with Muse in Russia when they performed there for the first time and were still mostly unknown to the Russian audience. They were amazing, and I remember I was astonished trying to figure out how such a talented young band could still be so little appreciated in Russia.

Who would you play with if you could?

I wish I could meet Kurt Cobain. His sadness is something I very much associate with.

Would you say there’s a difference between Diana the musician and Diana the poet?

Of course, these are very different selves. I think of myself as a two-headed dragon. Actually, I also write prose, and it is a very different genre. Besides, I’m a painter and a mother [Diana has twins – a boy and a girl], so I guess I’m a five-headed dragon!