Hailing from St. Petersburg, Originally formed as Cheekbones, now Chkbns, the band is sisters Aneliya and Emily and their friend Slava. Since 2011 the trio has released three mini-albums (“Eat Sleep Mom Dad”, “Private Fiction” and “This Time”) and a bunch of videos, including an EP-length film for “Private Fiction”. Earlier in the year, we featured latest single “Bodyless”. I described it thus the nagging, dreamy, ethereal multi-layered new single….. I really love the keyboards, it’s almost like they’ve been lifted from another tune and add another whole dimension to the song. This is the first song that I’ve heard by them and I can’t wait to check out some more!
Not only did we get to hear more, we got to interview them too, they to make us smile 🙂
When did your musical journey begin?
Emily: When five-year-old me danced to Madness’s `One Step Beyond`.
Slava: I was three. My dad put me Telex on bobbin tape player.
Aneliya: When I was twelve I started to record my poems singing them over my father’s cassettes via the inbuilt microphone of the tape recorder. I kept doing this until I got my first acoustic guitar at the age of fourteen.
What was the first piece of music you loved, and why?
Emily: I think it was a song called `Varvara` by Russian band Bi-2. Probably, I loved it because it contains rock music and ethnic music, and this combination resonated with me.
Slava: Telex’s compilation. I think I loved it because of samples.
Aneliya: My parents told me that at two I was really into music from Bollywood movies.
Why did you modify your name?
Slava: I don’t like vowels.
Aneliya: Oracle told us to do so because a rock-n-roll band from Switzerland with the same name uploaded their music to iTunes earlier.
Tell us about the video for Bodyless
Emily: It was the first time when I played in the school gym. The experience of setting up a drum set on tree roots is unforgettable.
Slava: I am in there.
Aneliya: I wish we could reward the kids, who act there, with more than bananas.
What is your favourite piece of music that you’ve written and why?
Emily: All my drum parts from This Time EP and parts I wrote for the songs that will be in our next release.
Slava: Arpeggio that comes after first chorus in ‘Blue’.
Aneliya: They change. Now it is ‘Xenophilia’.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?
Emily: Bonham’s drums on ‘For Your life’.
Slava: Crystal Castles’ ‘Baptism’.
Aneliya: I have never thought about it.
What artist(s) has been your biggest influence and in what way?
Emily: Every artist whom I`ve ever come across.
Slava: Radiohead, Trent Reznor, Kraftwerk, Rammstein.
Aneliya: Radiohead, Fever Ray, Damon Albarn, Boards of Canada, Depeche Mode, Ace of Base.
Name a song that affects you deeply?
Emily: Jonny Cash`s interpretation of ‘Hurt’ and Bob Marley’s ‘Natural Mystic’.
Slava: Radiohead’s ‘All I Need’.
Aneliya: Radiohead’s ‘Where I End and You Begin’. I had it as an alarm signal for two years and it still gives me shivers.
What’s are the best new bands you’ve heard recently?
Emily: I haven’t heard them.
Slava: ‘The Soft Moon’, ‘Daughter’, Levi Pattel, `Crystal Bats`.
Aneliya: Everything you hear for the first time counts as new, right? I discovered Beach Fossils this week.
What is exciting you about the music scene in St. Petersburg or further afield?
Emily: There are some local bands, which take their inspiration from old music and transmit the spirit of the past times, and that excites me.
Slava: There are more things that frustrate me than excite in the local music scene.
Aneliya: I rarely leave home, so I’m not very much aware of the current state of St.Petersburg scene. Seems like, people here continue to make music and create bands, even in winter, and that’s wonderful.
What’s your idea of success?
Emily: My idea of success is the ability to express yourself most fully and to be at peace with yourself.
Slava: If in twenty or thirty years someone knows Chkbns I’ll know I have succeeded.
Aneliya: To reach those who need what I do and to help them and inspire them till I’ll die.
What question would you like to be asked that you never are and what would your answer be?
Emily: ‘Emily, do you want to be a sailor?’ and my answer would be: ‘Yes, and by the way, I think that I have already been a sailor in one of my past lives.’
Slava: ‘Have you ever seen a Sasquatch ?’ and I would say: ‘Probably, I have.’
Aneliya: – Aneliya, would you like me to comb you?
– Please, do!
Do you think Russian bands get enough exposure in the west (UK/US)?
Emily: I am not sure about the exposure other Russian bands get, but I would like more people to know about our music in the west.
Slava: I don’t think it gets enough exposure. Buy it should.
Aneliya: I have no idea what is enough for whom. However, I’d like more people to know about our songs regardless their place of birth or living.
What next for the band?
Slava: I think we should take some more letters from the name.
Aneliya: Bright future, of course! We are working on a bunch of songs for our next album.
We also ask everyone we interview to do a sketch/drawing or a photo for us – then we put them here