Gnoomes has been together for just over a year and they’ve already invented their own genre. While their music has been frequently tagged “shoegaze,” a fuzzy alt-rock subgenre that peaked in popularity in the late 1990s, the Russian rock trio has donned their music something slightly different – “stargaze is like a human state, when you’re lying on the grass with your friends, telling funny stories, and watching shooting stars.” I was drawn to their wistful, psychedelic sound when I came across their recent single “Roadhouse” on Clash Magazine. Gnoomes’ debut full-length album NGAN! will be released on October 16 through Rocket Recordings. Read our conversation below, in which you’ll notice their thoughts are almost as dreamy as their music.
Labeling Men: What does Gnoomes mean in English?
Gnoomes: …It’s a kind of thing that appears instantly in your brain and you can’t explain the origins of why it got into your mind…. Gnoomes are your Freudian-superheroes.
Labeling Men: You live and make music in Russia's Ural Mountains, or as you put it to me, "the middle of nowhere." Does being geographically isolated influence your sound?
Gnoomes: The Urals are very convenient for making music. They have a great sense of inspiration. We mean the nature, the history & mythology and people of course, even the stupidest ones. As for the isolation, this is perhaps the main reason we make music. We wanted to break free from Russian realities and connect to the rest of the world through our songs. We let the influences pass through our experiences and as a result, we created something brand new. Maybe the realization of this fact keeps us from living in Moscow or Saint Petersburg. We are quite happy to catch the world tuning here in Perm, but of course, we dream about gigs abroad very often.
Labeling Men: Do you all have other jobs aside from making music?
Gnoomes: Yeah, we have to work because you can’t live the musician life in Russia if you’re not a pop star…. People don’t want to spend money on psychedelic concerts. That’s why we were forced to take the “experimental stuff” away from our track-list. Speaking about jobs, Dima is a radio-speaker, Pasha is an electrician, Sasha is a postgraduate student and he earns money as a musician on some events. We strongly believe that these spheres make our characters stronger. Sometimes it gives some benefits like a studio for rehearsals in a radio station building.
Labeling Men: Is there much of a music scene where you live? If so, what's it like?
Gnoomes: It is maybe surprising but Perm music scene is very different. Russian youth is very keen on retrograde Russian rock and all kinds of metal. Besides there are a few bands that sound really great, for example: Markaria Rho, Anton Ripatti, and Babaka Band.
Labeling Men: You told Clash Magazine that "Being in a band is the one thing that keeps us from Russian madness." What is the Russian madness?!
Gnoomes: We consider “Russian madness” the misbalance between people who have real sense of humor and people who exist and don’t suspect how funny they are because of taking things too seriously. Aside from the lack of oil and money, Russia lacks people who understand esthetics. That is why Gnoomes’ music aims to make people laugh and dream about something sacred.
Labeling Men: What is your favorite song you've created and why?
Gnoomes: It is always very hard to choose our favorite tune. All of them have merit, but we’d name “Roadhouse,” because we succeeded in using many different types of feelings and references, and it has very unique sound. This song is our vision of “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk, but a more psychedelic version.
Labeling Men: What are your vices?
Gnoomes: Our main vice is that we all have heads in clouds. We can easily forget things, even lose tickets for a plane. Sometimes we need to make more constructive decisions but we can’t find them because of the endless state of being “spaced out.”
Labeling Men: What’s your pet peeve?
Gnoomes: …When our friends start to think that we’re too fixated on getting the success, we think it’s a total misunderstanding of what we’re doing.
Labeling Men: If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gnoomes: Definitely Deluxe by Harmonia
Labeling Men: Dream collaboration?
Gnoomes: If we only had a chance we would make a record session with King Tubby and Conny Plank… maybe next life.
Labeling Men: Best live show?
Gnoomes: For Pasha, My Bloody Valentine. Sasha considers Bardo Pond the best concert he has seen. We really hope that someone would say the same about Gnoomes in the future.
Labeling Men: Favorite song of 2015?
Gnoomes: Aaaaand the best song of 2015 is… “ “Scratch The Snow (Sweet Surrender)” from Moon Diagrams (a project of Deerhunter’s Moses Archuleta). This ethereal kraut-techno track will make you forget everything for 10 minutes.
Labeling Men: When are you most inspired?
Gnoomes: We are mostly inspired in the late spring when trees turn into green and early autumn when the “good summer days” seem to end. The wintertime is made for reflexing and rehearsing a lot because you can go mad when it’s 30 below Celsius.
Labeling Men: What are you working on currently?
Gnoomes: Now we’re currently working on new material, and we feel that our sound is changing, but we don’t want to know where it exactly leads. Let it be a secret for all of us!
By Anna Dorn
Photographs provided by Gnoomes