kedr livanskiy's euphoric music is an electronic fairy tale
Her new album 'Your Need' is about living life between nature and the dance floor.
Photo by Dmytrij Wulffius.
When i-D first spoke with Kedr Livanskiy in 2016, the Russian electronic musician described her music as “an attempt to enhance reality and imbue it with new characters and forms.” A year later she brought that reality to life on her debut album, Ariadna. On each dreamy track, she played with mythical, fairytale-like themes and used synths, drum machines, and her own cascading voice to tell the story of a character (a “hero”) galavanting around an urban jungle.
On her latest record, Your Need (out May 3 via New York electronic record label 2MR), Livanskiy worked with St Petersburg producer Flaty to create a brighter, genre fluid version of electronic music that was inspired by DJ culture and decades-old dance music subgenres like ghetto house and UK garage. “Separately, in our own solo projects, we don’t sound like this,” she says. Lyrically, the narrative is similar to that on her last album — a mythical hero exploring an urban jungle — but this time she cycles through a broader range of moods and spends more time in a state of euphoria. It’s an active album that reflects the duality of existing between nature and the dance floor. A lifestyle that Livanskiy seems to cherish.
Livanskiy was born in 1990 and grew up in the years immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a child she split her time between Moscow and a village where her grandmother lived. Yet despite moving frequently between the two contrasting landscapes, she says, “I don’t remember anything related to the city. All my memories [are of the] village, nature and [my] grandmother.” It’s an odd paradox, to remember one place but not the other, but it might explain why Livanskiy’s music has an unusually restless quality that references both past and present trends in electronic music.
i-D spoke with the Russian electronic musician about collaborating with Flaty, spending time with her grandmother, and being obsessed with nature and mythology.
Can you describe the town and the culture that you were raised in?
I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, but my parents raised me. My grandmother was a very bright woman, and she was very musical [even] though she worked as a teacher of literature. She sang a lot during the day, at parties and at numerous feasts. She loved to gather guests on the summer terrace — people drank tea and she [and I] would sing for them. That's how we lived. My grandmother also taught me to love reading. All this is intertwined in my childhood consciousness. We were not limited to the city, we ran and frolicked at our pleasure and climbed trees near the river. The world seemed full of miracles.
You’ve stated previously that you don’t like to call yourself a musician. How do you like to describe yourself?
Since [saying that], my sense of self and my attitude towards myself has changed a lot. Today I call myself a musician.
What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I don’t want anything, it’s for others to decide. I love when a person has their own perception of my music. Sometimes people share their feelings and they don’t coincide with my own at all, but I like it. One guy made a proposal to his girlfriend during my song “Destructive Cycle,” when I performed it on New Year's Eve. That really touched me, even though the song is certainly not the most joyful for the occasion. I hope they are still together.
Where did the idea for the mythical hero you sing about on this album come from?
The hero of this album is quite real. I call him the hero of the urban jungle. This album is saturated with the energy of the city, and the [people] in it. The hero is you, it is me. Each song on the album characterizes a certain internal state, and they are all very diverse. The music contains a whole range of emotions, from anguish and sadness, to a feeling of fullness of life and ease of being. In the days that the album was created, literally all these states were experienced by me, so in that sense, I know what I'm singing about.
You often write about mythical gods and goddesses, and other fabled creatures. What is it about the mythical world that you find most interesting?
I don’t think that [the mythical] world is too far from us. I also feel like the world is filled with energies and beings that are not visible with ordinary sight. As Paracelsus said, “it is not man who sees thanks to his eyes, but his eyes see thanks to man.” This sensation is lost by the man of the rationalistic mechanistic era in which we live, but if we work in this direction then life becomes much deeper and more magical.
Are there a lot of people in Russia interested in mythology and folklore?
Hard to say. Artists, linguists, anthropologists — these people are interested with a higher probability than, say, a bank employee. Although who knows? We often underestimate the people around us.
What can you tell us about working with Flaty?
Separately, in our own solo projects, we don’t sound like this. Cooperation gave us [this] unique sound. I think it gave birth to something new for him and for me. It was a great experience.
What did you do in the downtime, when you weren’t creating music together?
Briefly, I was depressed. I lost my connection to myself. I didn’t particularly like what was [going on] around me and I wallowed in the abyss of self-reflection and stopped letting the world in. It was a hard time, but thank god it’s behind me. Such states paralyze both life and work.
What does your creative space look like?
I'm working to make my space as cool as possible. And sacral. Besides tools, there are many pieces that inspire me — favorite records, books, candles, all sorts of artifacts that I’ve collected in various places, stones and branches and pieces of trees. They all fill me with their energy. I have a huge “Buffalo 66” movie poster hanging on the wall (my favourite movie from when I was a teenager).
Can you describe your favorite place in Moscow?
The river near my house, I constantly go there. It is truly a place of power. I’m in my element there.