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A Dirty Dozen with ANATOLII ZHALNIN of MOTANKA – May 2019


According to a recent press release: “Ukrainian Wacken Metal Battle 2018 winners MOTANKA have released a stunning and dramatic seven minute official video for their first single “Verba” (Ukrainian for “willow tree”) from their upcoming self-titled debut album. The video underlines the strong connection of the Mystic Metal four-piece to mystical nature and ancient traditions. MOTANKA will release their self-titled debut album Motanka on June 7th via Napalm Records. Influenced by traditional Ukrainian folk music, metal tunes and modernelectronica, the band creates a very unique mix that the band refers to as Mystic Metal. MOTANKA managed to capture the trance-like magic of their live shows on their debut, which leaves each and every stereotype behind and hypnotizes with heavy ethno soundscapes.” We get guitarist Anatolii to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The freshest release is the single ‘Oy ty moya Zemle‘ that came out on 10th of May. The interesting things about it are different unique music instruments and techniques used in it. For example, throat singing, you probably will not hear it at first but after few times it comes to the ear. Our drummer Svarog is the only one who can do this throat singing. Back-vocals are recorded by all four musicians, and this is the only song from the album with big dulcimer solo that Victor is playing. I feel thing song as a special one, it has a powerful energy and reminds all of us of what we are and where we were born. It it a song about nature, everyone‘s motherland not depending on where are you from. This song is fast, dynamic and powerful and I hope that listeners will feel it the way we do, because its vibrations come deep into the heart. The interesting fact is that Napalm Records also noticed this song as a future hit, so let‘s see!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

When I was 12, my brother Victor (vocalist of MOTANKA) and I found an acoustic guitar of our mother, and we tried to play it. We were inspired by Metallica and after I tried to play ‘Nothing Else Matters‘ I became a guitar fan and started to learn all songs of Metallica and of others bands. Since that I spent most of my time playing and writing music and now it is the affair of all my life.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Sure, it was the live show of Metallica in San Diego 1992, to my opinion, it was their best career period. I really like the energy they gave there, their professionalism and I also learned some guitar solo of Kirk Hammett from that live. Besides, the bands that also formed my musical taste are Korn, Limp Bizkit, Death, Tool, Rammstein, Deftones, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse. They all are formers of new styles of metal, they inspired me and are inspiring now by the way they play, develop and growing in playing techniques and music itself.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

  • Rammstein – they show quality of music itself, music videos, live performances. Every song or video is a masterpiece, they inspire us to do unique shows and to keep the high level of content. Very important is that they sing in German and this way they showed to the world the language and culture of Germany, we do the same but in Ukrainian, it is really cool that we can sing in our language, bring our native culture and traditions and so become popular abroad. Our culture is very rich, interesting and unique and we are glad to share it with other people around the world. You can hear ukrainian motives in our music – we are playing traditional instruments like dulcimer, ocarinas, other winds, ancient percussion and throat singing, you can also see it on our performances where we show ancient rituals and traditions of the peoples that lived on the territory of Ukraine many thousands years ago.
  • While being in Berlin I attended many live concerts of world famous bands, especially I would like to mention Wardruna and Coldplay – they showed me how to deliver emotions to people on performance. Our music refers to people‘s emotions that is why it is important to show them fully on concerts and to make people feel them as well.
  • Guitarists like Zakk Wylde, John 5, Slash, Kirk Hammett, Andy James – they inspire me to develop my skills in playing guitar solos. By watching Andy McKee‘s play I learned fingerstyle and I like to used it on acoustic guitar.
  • Ukrainian music motives – there are a lot of unique traditional music instruments, a lot of them we are using in our records as well – they have special sound, magical energy and every of those instruments simulates natural sounds of animals, rain, waterfall etc. – that makes our music close to the mother Nature and brings feeling of being in space or in some uninhabited place. Nature is that this what we all are the most inspired of. The main idea of our music is to show how close and familiar people are with nature and how much power the nature can give people independing on their place of birth.
  • Carbon Based Lifeforms – the electronic band – brings me into meditation where I can clean my thoughts and get inspiration for new songs. Their music makes me relaxed, calm and more concentrated.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Among Ukrainian ones I would name ONUKA – it is an electronic band with modern women vocals and stylish ukrainian motives – they also use traditional instruments like trembita, sopilka and others. I guess we would sound good together – modern view of Ukrainian music. Chino Moreno (Deftones) – after I saw him singing live I was surprised by how sincere and emotional he was, I think his vocal would perfect match Victor‘s vocal. I am excited how it would sound. Maynard James Keenan (Tool) – it is a wonderful unique band, it would be an interesting collaboration of mystical band MOTANKA and a weird (in good meaning) band Tool. I also see their visual symbolism combined with ours in a video. That would be a real blast for metal fans!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

It is metal music combined with national Ukrainian motives and modern electronic. As for style I would call it world music or mystic metal. It is a new heavy vision of ethno music. People sometimes compare our music energetically with SoaD or Tool. Someone commented once that we are similar to Korpiklaani, but I think they are more typical folk band, they are good but radically different from what we do. MOTANKA is mystical, deeper than classic metal, it is about meditation, flying in space and kind of trance. 90% of people who listened to us for first time could not compare our music with any of the existing bands, so such comments where people write some other bands are really rare.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The music we do is already changing people‘s minds, their views and behavior for good, I am proud that the thing I do is influencing someone‘s lives and awakes interest to people‘s roots and cultures. For me it is like a time capsule, where you can put all your work, energy, emotions and creativity and the product of it will remain through ages long after me and my children.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Our bass-guitarist Hodik is an excellent cook and barkeeper, he does amazing cocktails every time we hang out. We have a New Year tradition – to gather all together and eat sushi made by Hodik – he is professional in it! I usually buy the drinks and food and bring it to the place. An acoustic guitar is always by us, sometimes even not one:) the one who takes it first is playing then, usually it is Victor or Svarog.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

On Wacken Open Air 2018 on the backstage I met Gaahl from Gaahls Wyrd, that was a real honour to meet such musician in real life. He has a very powerful energy, and he is much different person from that what he shows on the stage. I have also had a possibility to speak with guys from the band Non Point, I am a fan of them. It is always interesting for me to meet musicians and to see how they are in real life, and they are often not the same as on the stage.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I guess I would be a booker or festival organizer, I am quite good in it and I have been always interested in doing cool musical events, concerts. I also like to communicate with people especially with creative ones. But I am a musician and I hope that will be my occupation for the whole my life.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I always spend a lot of time working for band and playing music, that sometimes I devoted myself not enough to my family. I was long time abroad and there were periods when I did not see my girlfriend and family for months. But now I am trying to change this situation. In general music is the thing that I always adored and was happy to bind my life with it, so I do not have anything to regret about so far.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

The records I really wanted to see are Linkin Park Meteora (the album that made the band successful and the one I have listened through many many times, the album became diamond), Tool 10000 Days (they did interesting experiments while recording it and used unordinary sounds), Metallica Black Album (and actually ALL their albums!) – it is my favourite album of the band, I have played a lot of guitar solos from it and it would be nice to see how they were created.



Category: Interviews

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ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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