Definitely one of the most unique characters on the electronic underground scene today. Yes, you’ve heard this line before and there are so many, a man can get lost. But how many are there that have personality these days? Electronic music has always been a safe haven and we have always been trapped inside its repetitive frame. In that respect, Popsimonova might not be an exception, except she actually is. Her charming, naively dark (often violent) and introspective stop-start lyrics do reflect an era of society forever lost in dreams of escape from reality or shall we say – conformity. Residing in Sisak, along with her boyfrend and electronic partner-in-crime Zarkoff, Popsimonova delivers an honest soundtrack – sensual spoken-word-type vocals in the most adorable “Russian English” accent, complemented by a clinically sharp, mechanical beat that consumes slowly and then bursts out tour-de-force. Listening to pieces like “Ruby”, “No Contact”, “Falling Down Tonight” or “Yellow Lamps”, one cannot escape the impression, this is a lost soundtrack to “Blade Runner”, appearing 30 years too late.
Popsimonova came properly about in 2008, after a brief commotion with Anshie Crie – called Dekolaž. The two were causing quite a stir in the media at the time but sadly, for numerous reasons it couldn’t last longer than it actually did. Dekolaž delivered a number of songs that sadly remain trapped in obscurity ever since. I’ve heard them live on a number of occasions and the girls definitely had their thing going – whatever went wrong or was due creative disagreements – Dekolaž went off to become a tiny, deserved legend.
Choosing a specific electronic pattern, Popsimonova rebels transforming depression into liberation. Electronic music still is a safe haven and we’re still trapped inside its repetitive frame. It is easy to press buttons and pretend – or make believe – we’re all made of stars. According to Popsimonova, we walk on the skyscrapers. She does – and to great effect.
SD: Your name invokes associations between “(electro)pop” and “Yevgeniya Simonova”, the popular Soviet/Russian actress. Where does the name Popsimonova come from? P: It’s my family name, which just happens to sound good.
SD: Along with music, you are also fascinated by fashion. Are you planning to devote yourself to this segment of artistic expression in a more serious manner? P: I’ve always been fascinated by fashion, I’ve always loved to experiment with clothes; I make my own costumes for my shows, however, regarding my devotion to fashion, I think that’s about as far as it gets for me, it’s a question of daily personal expression. I’d also like to mention that during my last visit to Berlin, I started collaborating with Degenerotika, a Slovenian/Berlin avant-garde fashion brand, which I really adore; my long-term friend, a very talented young designer and photographer, Miljenko PerkiÊ aka Majlo Milevskij, as well as a very talented young Slovenian artist, Slavica VaselinoviÊ aka Shavi Lavi, who are both responsible for fantastic photographs. I hope our work together will continue in the future.
SD: Popsimonova has been a part of the scene for six years now – at first as the co-founder of the Dekolaž duo, and then launching a solo career. Your life partner Zarkoff also connects your solo and band endeavours. In your opinion, is there greater freedom in creating solo, or is it necessary to share your ideas with another person? P: Well, I prefer to work solo, but I’ve collaborated with Zarkoff on the “Voluntary Work Camp” release; I liked it a lot, so we continued to work together on the new album as well.
SD: Over here, the public still somehow doesn’t care much about local alternative artists, among which certain individuals, each in their own way, seem to build their reputation abroad quite well. How is your work received by audiences abroad? You often perform in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands… You have also performed in Brazil with Florence Foster Fan Club, and you “wandered” into New York as well… What are your impressions of travelling abroad, both good and bad? P: Yes, I’ve played abroad quite a lot this year, and my impressions were really really good, both of the audience and the critics. It’s a shame our local audiences don’t care enough for local artists. True, the scene is pretty small, however, there are some really talented performers who are under the media radar. They’re really respected across Europe and beyond, like Zarkoff, Umrijeti za strojem, Le Chocolat Noir, FFFC…
SD: During your visit to New York, while walking the city streets, you came across an icon of the underground scene – Genesis Breyer P. Orridge. What were your impressions of each other? Did you stay in touch after your meeting? P: Yes, it’s incredible that I managed to recognize him by the way he walked, and from behind, too; somehow I immediately knew it was Genesis, he was green and bloated like some frog with clammy skin, but incredibly wonderful and easy to approach, and he was really open to conversation, and I was a bit paralyzed, so we didn’t really hang out for long. We exchanged a few words and didn’t stay in touch after this; though I know I have to seek him out next time I’m in New York and simply become his personal nurse.
SD: You recorded a lot of material these past few years – along with the official single releases and appearing on some interesting underground compilations, your first real album is in sight. P: Yes, especially in 2012, I’ve been really active with these releases: an EP (“Yellow Lamps”) for the Belgian label Romance Moderne, then for the digital label from Sarajevo, Adriatiko Recordings (“Hazardous Material”), as well as for the Viennese Dark Disco label’s compilation (“Falling Down”). After a recent release with Zarkoff (“Voluntary Work Camp” EP, mini CD on 0.5), I’ve been preparing new material, so I’m about to have a new EP on Romance Moderne, and I’ve also finished a new album with Zarkoff, which comes out on vinyl soon.
SD: How did Popsimonova grow sound-wise, and what are your expectations regarding this album? P: The work methods were quite different this time, a little less experimenting, a little more putting things on a grid, in a form-frame, like exercises in style. I expect to finally make a solo release on my own, perhaps peek a little to the pop side of the scene.
SD: Are publishers abroad interested in your work? Is there a chance for us to one day hold in our hands a Popsimonova LP? P: They sure are, I have more foreign releases than local.
SD: What subject matter inspires you the most? In her songs, Popsimonova, in a most ingenious way, is more of a narrator, and less of a singer. Are songs such as “Falling Down Tonight”, “Yellow Lamps”, “No Contact” and “Empty Eyes” individual introspections, or are the aforementioned titles examples of social commentary? Or are they just ambiguous wordplays? P: True, I wouldn’t call myself a singer, even though I’ve started working on that a bit more seriously. The songs you’ve mentioned are mostly individual reassessments – I find inspiration in solitude, alienation, relations, cold cities, neon lights…
SD: What (or who) are the rather brutal lyrics to “Ruby” about? P: The Happy Prince, Henry Morgan, mortuary cosmetology and dying of the dinky folk.
SD: Are there any favourite songs in your repertoire you would like to mention? P: “No Contact” and “Falling Down Tonight”.
Interview conducted: 0.5; proofreading/translation: Goran Gregor.
Further info: soundcloud.com/popsimonova or myspace.com/popsimonova
Popsimonova images directed by degenerotika.de