Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Ukrainian Illustrator Daria Hlazatova

Daria Hlazatova - Oceania
Daria Hlazatova – Oceania.

Ukrainian illustrator Daria Hlazatova has been creating stunning illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine for several years now. I caught up with her to find out about her latest projects and how important social media has been to building her career. She’s an inspiration!

Daria Hlazatova - tom riddle
Tom Riddle.

Tell us about your home town near the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine. Where would you take a visitor from the UK?
I’d give them a tour of our town, Chernivtsi, which is, in fact quite nice and boasts a mix of European architectural styles, historically having been under the rule of different countries. A trip to the restaurant serving our national cuisine will be a good idea, too, as it is a somewhat unusual experience for tourists, but nevertheless delicious: everyone enjoys our pancakes with red caviar! We’d also take a trip to the mountains to pick up some berries and enjoy the views.

Canterville ghost
Canterville ghost.

What kind of art do your relatives make and how has it inspired your own creations?
There are artists both on my mother’s and my father’s side, so I think it was natural for me to become interested in drawing in my early years. My mother’s uncle Volodya used to be a rather well-known book illustrator in St Petersburg and I still have some of his signed books, one of which is called Dashenka, which is a diminutive of my name. And although the story wasn’t about me, I took it as a sign that I, too, must try myself at illustrating books. My father’s relatives are mostly landscape artists, living and working in Russia.

Daria Hlazatova - Dog Days are Over
Dog Days are Over.

You are an active part of the creative social media community – when did you discover the online world and how has it affected your art making over the years?
I think the same time as I was lucky enough to have discovered Amelia’s Magazine which was in the autumn of 2010. Being based so far away from all the exciting  art events and virtually having no connection with other creatives, I decided to use the Internet resources to mend this injustice. Since then I have found it extremely helpful, with online blogs and networks serving me as a magic portal into the art world.

Daria Hlazatova -Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter.

Why is your blog titled All Pencils of Mine are Sugarplums?
It has to do with my love for Lewis Carroll. The title is based on one of his syllogisms (which are logic arguments). I will say no more, because whenever I start talking about Carroll or syllogisms, I confuse everyone… rather like I do with the title of my blog!

Daria Hlazatova Ravel

What can people find on your blog?
Lots of drawings, random thoughts, news about shows and interesting projects. I sometimes share art and music that inspire me. I sincerely hope that upon visiting my blog, readers have a sudden urge to create something, read  a fairy-tale, dream,  bake cakes, or just dance,  in short do something fun and artistic.

Daria Hlazatova robert smith by daria h
Robert Smith.

You are a self taught artist – where have you picked up your style and techniques from?
I don’t know. I think my style has been developing of its own accord and I only mildly control it. I do have an obsession with some elements, like eyes, stars and moons that I include in almost every work of mine, but then again, I do that subconsciously most of the time. I can only guess why I intertwine eyes into the patterns and use them as central objects and it’s perhaps because the Russian word “eye” is the root of my surname.

What inspired you to create a zine and who do you hope will read it?
A long-awaited holiday! I have 2 part-time jobs (one of them is no longer part-time) besides being a full-time illustrator. I’ve been looking for this winter break since my last holiday in summer and wanted to make something special. Besides, I’ve often heard from people they’d like me to make a zine or a little book, so I thought I’d give it a try. It all happened unexpectedly quickly and in a blink the zine was ready. I had to look through the notebooks back from my university days, where I scribbled some nonsense poems and stories to pass the time during dull lectures and also had crazy ideas contributed by some lovely enthusiasts. I hope everybody who appreciates a little nonsense  now and then will enjoy Nosorog.

Pati Yang by Daria Hlazatova.
Pati Yang for Amelia’s Magazine.

What does Nosorog mean and what does the zine contain?
Nosorog from Russian means “rhinoceros”. There’s no point denying it: I chose the name for no reason at all. This was the first word that came to me. The zine contains several short-stories, some quotes, a horoscope, mock advertisements and an interview, accompanied by my old and new illustrations. The content has been inspired by the works of Mervyn Peake and Edward Gorey and by fairy-tales in general. I was very surprised but also happy to see that the first issues sold so quickly. I’m printing more and already working on the second one, which will have more stories, exclusively-created illustrations and will hopefully make you smile!

Where can people get hold of a copy?
I don’t have a proper shop elsewhere except for the one on my blog. And if anyone wants a freshly-printed Nosorog, the best thing to do is to email me.
Moth rah girl phoenix EP group Daria h
Daria Hlazatova -girl phoenix EP cover for Moth Rah
Girl phoenix EP cover for Moth Rah.

Can you tell us about your upcoming show in Kiev?
It will take place in a mysteriously beautiful place, which is the building of an old opera house. From the outside it looks like a gingerbread house, on the inside it’s a perfect setting for a Georges Melies film. I fell in love with this place at once. The space itself, called Kiev Loft,  is used for concerts, performances, and art events and run by a rather enthusiastic and professional young team who as far as I can see are eager to help the art life in our capital thrive and prosper, which is great. My drawings will be exhibited there along with the beautiful and very curious works by the Lithography studio “30” based in Kiev. It will be my first show in Ukraine, so wish me luck!  

Frankie Rose for Amelia’s Magazine.

You’ve been doing some personal work inspired by Johnny Flynn, how did you discover his music and what touches you about it?
I first heard of Johnny after seeing the play Jerusalem. I didn’t know he was also a songwriter and after hearing his music, something clicked. You know, there are some periods in life when a certain melody is needed to help you carry on and Johnny Flynn’s songs turned out exactly that thing. I felt the connection because his music is very poetic and not simply folk, it’s more than that. I can see the influence of theatre, nature, even Shakespeare, and all things I like in his songs and that’s why I thought I should explore a bit more both in the music and in myself by creating some illustrations to accompany his songs.

Daria Hlazatova tonight

Have you got anything else in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Lots! Mostly the plan is just to draw. And if that doesn’t work, plan B is to draw some more again.

What do you hope for your art in the coming years?
I’d love to have a show in Italy and before that I hope to work on larger scale drawings and do some music-related artwork. If you ask me, an art studio (preferably with a fitted kitchen, a helpful assistant and a husky dog)  is my pipe-dream.  Shall I use a quotation to appear exceptionally well-read? Shakespeare said and I completely agree with him, that expectation is the root of all heartache, that’s why I never expect,  but I’m ready for surprises. I’m very happy doing what I do at this very moment.

Find Daria Hlazatova online: read her blog, friend her on facebook and follow her on twitter.

Categories ,30, ,All Pencils of Mine are Sugarplums, ,Canterville ghost, ,Carpathian, ,Chernivtsi, ,Daria H, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Dashenka, ,Dog Days are Over, ,Edward Gorey, ,Frankie Rose, ,Georges Melies, ,Harold Pinter, ,illustrator, ,interview, ,Jerusalem, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Kiev, ,Kiev Loft, ,Lewis Carroll, ,Mervyn Peake, ,Moth Rah, ,Nosorog, ,Oceania, ,Pati Yang, ,Ravel, ,Rhinoceros, ,Robert Smith, ,Shakespeare, ,St Petersburg, ,Syllogisms, ,Tom Riddle, ,Tonight, ,Ukraine, ,Ukrainian, ,Volodya

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Amelia’s Magazine | Johanna Glaza: Letter to New York – Review and Interview

Johanna Glaza by Daisy Steele
Johanna Glaza by Daisy Steele.

Letter to New York is a stunning showcase for multi-instrumentalist Johanna Glaza, channeling the vocal gymnastics of Kate Bush and the idiosyncratic song structures of Philip Glass. Here she tells us more about her songwriting influences and process.

Johanna Glaza portrait
Which musicians have inspired you most, and why?
My bible is Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony N3. I heard it for the first time a few years ago and it had such a profound influence on me,as if it cut me into tiniest bits and pieces in order to make something completely new. At the time of recording my first EP I was listening to Philip Glass. When I heard him I thought- oh my god, this guy ripped off my future ideas I would have had by the age of 60 or so ;). Letter to New York came from endless plays of Ravel’s Sheherazade. Listening to it, I imagined not a boring opera diva but some mysterious creature living in a completely unreal world, singing with such unhuman longing. It sounded so unfamiliar I wanted to take this vibe to the contemporary scene. Recently I have discovered Arvo Part, so I guess the next record will have his imprint.

Johanna Glaza by AmeliaGrace
Johanna Glaza by Amelia Grace.

How many instruments do you play and what is your current favourite?
I taught myself to play piano, keys and ukulele. I even attempted a bit of glockenspiel on my recent record. Each time I try out a new instrument I feel like a kid, it gives me freedom of being not perfect. Different songs inspire different instruments. Piano for me is a very independent instrument with a very strong voice of its own, sometimes it feels like a battle of egos when I try to sing to it. So I choose ukulele for more intimate songs. I love how it sounds like a little harp at times. But my top favourite instrument will always be my voice. There’s just so much you can do with your voice. On one of my tracks I used it as a percussive instrument. On others it served me as a ghostly choir. There’s no distance between you and the instrument, you are the instrument yourself when you sing.

Johanna Glaza the tree
What prompted your intriguing song structures, and how are they created?
Well, I sort of always struggled with writing songs of conventional structures. The ironic thing is the harder I tried to make them conventional, the more I’ve been scolded by my first listeners for their complicity. So one day I gave up and decided to try whatever comes instinctively to me, even if I can’t understand it myself. When I wrote Letter to New York I wanted to stay faithful to the linear structure of the letter, because the letter itself can’t be repetitive. So I wrote the words first, and then sat down and sang them to a simple piano riff, and kept all the bits and pieces that came then. I was so surprised when my brother, who is my harshest critic, rejoiced that finally this song’s structure has made sense to him. I was like, you kidding me, it makes hardly any sense to me now!

JohannaGlaza_LetterToNewYork cover
Why did you want to write a Letter to New York?
To be honest I can’t remember how it came to be. I guess just like with all messages or letters sometimes we have this urge to speak to the person, we grab a phone or a pen so spontaneously. Only in my case it was the place itself I wanted to connect with. I missed New York. My first solo shows took place in that City, it gave me courage to do what I do now. Sometimes I felt so isolated in the basement studio when working on the record, I had to remind myself about the place that inspired me the most, my glass kingdom.

What is your favourite bit of the big Apple?
L trains on the subway. My friend called it the beautiful people line. So true! I met so many beautiful people on L trains and heard some of the most unusual music from busking musicians. Forget about the old tired covers you hear in London. People play mainly their own tunes there, and with an open layout of two way platforms it’s a perfect spot to gather a crowd. I can’t tell you how many times I missed my train to be able hear one more song. And I was never the only one do so.

How did you make the video for Letter to New York? any challenges or best bits?
I’ve chosen to shoot the video in a very wild, uninhibited place in Lithuania called The Dead Dunes. It is a very special place on the coast. No one is allowed to walk there, but a few years ago a local woman showed me the secret path to the dunes. Anyone could be transfixed by the complete solitude there. I imagined this is a place where the main 3 characters of the song – Black Crow, Koyote and the mysterious Wind – could meet. But a week before the filming there was a huge fire in the nearby forest. It’s a miracle we managed to get there at all, and when we did it was an alien world, all black dust. We felt there had to be another scene of the rebirth in the sea. I was with a dream team of crazy inspired people, you see. It was +2C outside, everyone was wearing winter jackets and I went into the sea to be reborn. I would do it again if you ask.

Letter to New York by Johanna Glaza is out now and can be bought here. Catch Johanna Glaza play live in London for free on 11th September at The Finsbury.

Categories ,Amelia Grace, ,Arvo Part, ,Black Crow, ,Daisy Steele, ,ep, ,Henryk Gorecki, ,Johanna Glaza, ,Kate Bush, ,Koyote, ,L trains, ,Letter to New York, ,new york, ,Philip Glass, ,Ravel, ,review, ,Sheherazade, ,Symphony N3, ,The Dead Dunes, ,The Finsbury, ,wind

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Alberto Arcangeli: the musical maestro behind Pop Down The Rabbit Hole

Alberto Arcangeli by Gigi Gray
Alberto Arcangeli by Gigi Gray.

He’s gained plaudits as far away as China. He blends genres and styles in a totally inimitable way, look all by himself. From the dreamy pop of Wheels and Love to the psychedelic title track Pop Down The Rabbit Hole, find this album is a real gem. Meet Alberto Arcangeli.

Your debut album Pop Down the Rabbit Hole is completely composed, played and produced by you – how did you set about making this happen? And why on earth did you chose this surely most difficult method?
I began writing and recording songs by myself as soon as I started playing as it came naturally to me. I had a 4 track recorder and I just thought that it would have been simpler and faster to learn how to play all the instruments, rather than explaining to someone else how I wanted them to be played. In addition, I like working with other musicians, and I often ask for their suggestions, but I also want to have the last word on my music. Music is my passion, so I didn’t want to have to make any compromises.

Alberto Arcangeli Pop Down the Rabbit Hole cover art
You decided to start singing in English just two years ago… what prompted that decision and do you think it was a good one?
I’ve been listening to English music all my life, I wonder instead why I’ve been singing in Italian for 20 years! The thing is, I used to think that Italians should sing in Italian, but I was wrong. Each kind of music has its ‘preferred’ language: rock music needs a lot of words that end with consonants, whereas Italian words always end with a nice ’round’ vowel. The same melody sounds completely different when it is sung in two different languages, that’s why in the past I used to discard most of the songs I wrote: the words didn’t sound right to me. Now everything sounds fine so, yes, it was a really good decision.
Alberto Arcangeli by Lucy Wills
Alberto Arcangeli by Lucy Wills.

The Chinese have been particularly receptive to the album – how on earth did they discover it? And why do you think it appeals to them?
How did they discover it? I self promote my music and I won’t give out any secret tips about that! (Amelia, can you make a note that I’m laughing, here?) Seriously, I was pretty sure that I could find someone who would like my music in China. I looked on the internet (though it’s hard to surf the Chinese websites), and when I found the right site (or what I thought could be the right one), I got in touch with them. What surprised me was the reception I got. Over 40,000 contacts and 5,000 downloads in one month are not small numbers. I think that this has something to do with a thing we all know: the Chinese are a lot! But I also noticed a funny thing: my first album in Italian got nearly 1,000 downloads.

Alberto Arcangeli Pop Down the Rabbit Hole rabbit
This album was a family affair, in that the cover drawings are by your father and the design is by your sister – has a creative background been integral to your life? Can you tell us a bit more about growing up an Arcangeli?
What a nice question. Actually, I grew up both in a creative town (Urbino is a beautiful renaissance place, full of art and music) and in a creative family: my father was a part-time painter and engraver (something we have in common), my sister is an illustrator and my grandfather was a cabinet-maker who used to craft some beautiful furniture. But nobody ever forced me or even encouraged me to be an artist. My father used subliminal methods instead, like the following: when I was 8 or 9 I asked him to record on tape my vinyl of The BeatlesRubber Soul, and he gave me this cassette with a piece of Ravel between side A and side B, and Camille Saint-Saëns at the end of the record! He did the same with Revolver. I must say that I never skipped the classical music inserts.
Alberto Arcangeli Pop Down the Rabbit Hole alberto
By day you are a finance manager! How do you manage the to make time to play music and what do your colleagues think of your music?
I’m a finance manager by day and a musician by night, so I don’t talk a lot about being a musician at work. Most of my colleagues found out about my music when it was used in a Continental Tyre advert and that was broadcast on TV. Some local magazines reported the story of an ‘unknown songwriter who signed with a multinational company‘. A colleague of mine who is also a friend helped me write the lyrics of two songs for my first EP Dreamsongs. Anyway, technology is of great help in saving time and conciliating my job and my music interests. I can record a music idea singing on my mobile phone (sometimes I even end up using my mobile phone recordings, like the first half of Wheels and Love, or the Paris metro samples), listen to the music in the car, write down a lyric in a email, and so on. And, to refer back to your first question, I can decide to record a song at any moment, without asking anyone: I just go down in my garage (where my studio is) and start playing.
Alberto Arcangeli Pop Down the Rabbit Hole painting
Glass painting by Massimo Ottoni.

I hear that you are thinking of putting together a full band to tour next year – what prompted this decision and what will happen to the world of finance?
It would be nice to put together a new band to play my songs – I had one, but we disbanded two years ago. I’m not thinking of touring, just having a band to play 6-8 shows a year so I can say ‘Okay, I am real, and I’m not just a website!‘. So I don’t think this would interfere with my job.
Wheels and Love

What inspired the making of the video for Wheels and Love? Can you tell us a bit about the story and the accolades you have received for it?
I wrote Wheels and Love in my garden on a sunny September morning while the birds were singing in the trees. Kind of a dreamy picture. I liked it a lot and was looking for someone to do the video of this song, but I didn’t want a standard pop video, I wanted it to be a piece of art – something that could have a life of its own. I knew Massimo Ottoni because he studied art in Urbino. I loved what he did but hadn’t seen him for 15 years, so I looked him on the internet and I realised that he was still doing beautiful things. I sent him an email with the song and a few words about the project, and he liked it. Then he came out with the idea of a paint-on glass animated video. That was just what the song needed. Eventually the video won the Professional Prize Award at the prestigious Anima Mundi Web & Cell animation festival of Brazil, and was chosen as an Official Selection of the 2011 Independents’ Film Festival (IFF) in Tampa Bay.

Alberto Arcangeli Pop Down the Rabbit Hole girl falling
Glass painting by Massimo Ottoni.

How long did it take to put the video together and what did the process of working with illustrator Massimo Ottoni involve?
The working process was pretty straightforward, we just met a couple of times and then he started working on the animation. He decided to split the animation in two parts: the first part of the song, more static, with minimal movements, dominated by whites, blues and greys (with a rendition of The Guitarist by Picasso), and the instrumental part, where the music ‘melts’ in a fluid flow, with heavy warm colours, like reds and yellows. A couple of months later the video was completed.

You have spoken about doing a short movie with Massimo Ottoni, can you let us know anything about potential ideas yet? Any secret tip offs?
The secret is: I haven’t spoken of this thing with him yet, so I still have to convince him! By and large, the idea is to find a theme to work on, and then start working on it separately. We can then meet every now and then, organise what we’ve done, and decide the next direction. Massimo can work in a lot of different ways: sand art, illustration, paint-on-glass, photography, so the movie could be very variegated. I have an idea for a subject, but I prefer to discuss it with Massimo first.
Where can people get hold of the whole album? I hear it’s a bargain…
You’re right, Amelia! People can buy my new album, Pop Down The Rabbit Hole, for only 2$. In fact, you only pay for the shipping costs and get the CD with a brand new beautiful sleeve. You can buy Pop Down The Rabbit Hole here with a Credit Card or here with Paypal.

Categories ,Alberto Arcangeli, ,album, ,Anima Mundi Web & Cell, ,animation, ,brazil, ,Camille Saint-Saëns, ,Chinese, ,Continental Tyres, ,Dreamsongs, ,Finance Manager, ,Gigi Gray, ,Independents’ Film Festival, ,interview, ,Italian, ,Lucy Wills, ,Massimo Ottoni, ,Pop Down the Rabbit Hole, ,Professional Prize Award, ,Ravel, ,Re-Present, ,review, ,Revolver, ,Rubber Soul, ,Sand Art, ,Tampa Bay, ,the beatles, ,Urbino, ,Wheels and Love, ,Winner

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