QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Valentine Yastremskaya and Dmitry Returns (Narwhal Tusk) June 2020

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello. Thanks for taking the time for the interview. Are you well and are you healthy?

Valentine: Hello! Thank you, everything’s alright!

Dmitry: Hey! Thanks fo having us! Everything’s going well, thank you!

Pix 666: What does your band name mean and why did you choose it?

Dmitry: Long story short, we wanted something that captures the essence of our music. Days back narwhal’s tusk was considered a cure for all diseases, and that’s exactly how we feel about music in general and hopefully our music, as well. Music cures, and that’s what we wish to tell the audience.

Pix666: Who are your musical idols?

Valentine: I like different kinds of music. In any genre, the main thing for me is sincerity. Inspiration: The Gathering, Sarah Brightman, Metallica, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Russian folk songs.

Dmitry: My musical horizons have broaden over the past years, many of them are far from metal. That doesn’t in any way mean that I stopped enjoying listening to the heavier side of music spectrum, it’s just about the general diversity, I guess. I grew up listening to classic rock. Later came Iced Earth, and they will always be my favourite band, no matter what, but when we were recording ‘In Despair’, my main influences were The Gathering, Lake of Tears and band like that. When we were working on our next EP ‘My Absolution’, I was really into The White Buffalo and Babylon Zoo.

That doesn’t mean I’m not into them now, that just means I was listening to those records more often, than the others at that particular time. At the moment, I enjoy listening to Misty Boyce and latest Myrkur record. It’s especially funny because of her version of ‘House Carpenter’, as we were planning to release a similar version of another English folk song, ‘John Riley’ on In Despair. So, I guess, we’ll have to release it someday. As for the heavier side of things, among my latest personal favourites are the new Demons & Wizards record (I’m also a huge fan of the two earlier albums) and Nemesea (their latest album is so great!). The new VV EP is also just amazing.

Pix666: How can a band work together during quarantine? Are you currently working on a follow-up album to ‘In Despair’?

Valentine: At the moment I am engaged in self-development, I sing songs of different genres.

Dmitry: I’m very focused on writing right now. We’ve been together for a long time, so we feel each other musically, as a band. There’s time to write songs, and there’s time to rehearse them and play them live. Right now, it’s writing time. We’ve been working on our upcoming album ‘Wasted Wonderland’ for some time, and you might have heard some of the new songs on ‘Memory Lane’ and ‘My Absolution’. Some of the songs were re-recorded due to technical issues, some will be wrapped up a bit. Right now, I’m also writing the material that will go beyond ‘Wasted Wonderland’, as it’s a bit different conceptually.

Pix666: Do you have concerts (with audience) planned for this year? How difficult as a Russian band is it to get booked for gigs in Western Europe? Are there any additional problems with visa for the departure, or have these problems eased a bit?

Dmitry: It’s hard to tell right now with all this pandemic thing going on, but we were definitely going to play some gigs for the audience. Online concerts never were our thing, so we didn’t even consider the possibility. Nothing beats interacting with real people at a real venue. As for playing in Western Europe, we’re always open to any offers. We’d love to spread our music as far as possible. No problems with visas at all 🙂

Pix666: How beautiful your voices are is especially noticeable in the acoustic version of the song ‘Memory Lane’. It is time to spread these voices around the world. Are you ready for the next step?

Dmitry: Thank you! Just say when and where, and we’re on our way 🙂

Pix666: How are your friends and families? How do you stay in touch with them, what kind of technics do you use?

Valentine: Yes, it’s interesting!

Dmitry: Everything’s fine, thank you. We’re trying to connect remotely, which is quite easy and convenient in this day and age, so I guess a Skype or Zoom session can never hurt.

Pix666: You are from Russia – what is the general mood in the country?

Valentine: It is a stressful situation, but we are gradually returning to our usual life.

Dmitry: I guess, people just want to get back to their normal lives, as the rest of the world. This situation is nothing like anything we all faced before, so I believe we all have been a bit confused lately. Hopefully, this whole thing will come to an end sooner or later.

Pix666: Do you believe that the corona-crisis will change the behaviour of humanity in the future?

Valentine: I want to believe that people will become responsive and kind 🙂

Dmitry: I’m not sure about the future. As always, I hope for the best. After all, human life is what matters the most!

Pix666: What things, apart from being live on stage, do you miss the most at the moment?

Valentine: I’m lucky to be able to get out to the contryside. Perfect self-isolation here!I hope that in the summer I can get out to the mountains or to the sea.

Dmitry: I miss travelling and driving 🙂 I was planning a short vacation this year, and I’ll guess I’ll have to wait just like everyone else.

Pix 666: Do you have any other news about Narwhal Tusk that you would like to share with the fans?

Dmitry: Now that you mention that, we had a lineup change recently, and we’ll be announcing the new member really soon, so stay tuned! He’s great, I’m sure you’ll love him 🙂 Thank you! Stay metal and first of all – stay safe!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting insights into your present life – Stay healthy!


photos © by Narwhal Tusk