NOVO, the latest release, from the Brooklyn-based solo project, The Venus De Melos, encompasses experimental, prog rock, and post rock genres, transcending each with a strong math rock sensibility. Mikhail Kokirtsev records, programs, mixes, and masters everything by himself, crafting unique and sincere soundscapes for listeners. The opening track ‘Distant Tides’ bears an eerie resemblance to The Mars Volta’s haunting, cosmic vibe which lingers throughout the entirety of NOVO via TVDM’s vocal tendencies and dissonant textures. ‘Meliorism’ and ‘Id Prime’ allow Kokirtsev to display his apparent appreciation for The Fall of Troy, while ‘White Raven’ is reminiscent of something more The Speed of Sound in Seawater-esque. Deriving aspects of many other genres, TVDM, never ceases to exceed the expectations of any music lover. NOVO delivers a vast array of soundscapes that many math rockers will enjoy traversing through.
We sat down with Mikhail to talk about NOVO and the big picture behind The Venus De Melos.
So you “play, program, mix, and master” everything on your albums. Can you tell me a little bit about your equipment and recording techniques?
Gladly, I run everything guitar related (6 and 8 string/ 5string bass) through my Fractal Audio Axe Fx 2. I use Superior Drummer 2 Metal Foundry as the sound pack for the drums. I record everything through logic pro 9 on my Macbook Pro(it’s still somehow hanging in there). I don’t use anything too special in regards to plug-ins besides the uber necessary EQ and Compressor and Reverb. I record vocals at my home boy Maxx’ basement. I don’t do anything particularly special. I learned everything I know from watching Youtube tutorials and trying to hash out the theory behind it all. From there on in it was just practice till I finally made a product like NOVO. I record 2 guitars, 1 for each side to have a nice palette of tones. Harmonies are your friends when it comes to doing vocals.
Are you classically trained in singing or any instruments?
I mean I’ve been playing guitar I think for like 10 years. Everything came along as an add-on for my love of music. You know when you just love something so much you just want to know everything about it? also I remember it being really hard to find people to play music like math-rock so I had to become self -sufficient (sorta). not technically,
I’m self taught in that aspect as well . the only formal training i had was like 4 years in my high school orchestra, 2 years playing violin (which happened to be my first instrument ) and then the bass but i only knew how to read music not so much how to compose it. and being able to read in the bass clef as a guitar player isn’t all too beneficial. I just sat there with those ultimate guitar tabs of the fall of troy and the mars volta songs and practiced.
With so many things happening at once in your songs, do you ever play any live shows? If not, would you ever consider gigging with a band or pre-recorded tracks?
I have before done it with pre-recorded tracks. I also enjoy doing stripped down acoustic sets so its like a completely different experience. I sometimes grab a loop pedal and beat box for the drums I dunno I try to keep it fun for myself but definitely the plan is to get a full band and start touring ideally a 3 piece.
How do you feel you have developed as both a musician and a “D.I.Y.” audio engineer with this new release, NOVO?
I think I purposely tried to push my self when it came to writing this record. I tried to implement new guitar techniques into my playing. New time signatures I’ve never played with before. The vocals in some songs are more smooth and legato as opposed to the usual punky high belts. I tried to really convey a picture of the story of NOVO behind all the takes. I just felt after In Vivo, I finally had the skills necessary to pull of NOVO which seems to be received really well by a lot communities even ones outside the math-rock realm. Also I think its a firm stance on yes its feasible to be a DIY musician. Anything is possible (within reason). You are the only thing holding yourself back.
In your opinion, what is the Brooklyn area like regarding the math-rock scene?
Truth be told, I think it’s actually on the rise again. I remember a time where I could barely name 5 from the state of NY but now we have bands in the double digits in the surrounding areas. They are all immensely talented. Word! They never cease to amaze at their lives shows. Don’t forget Father Figure and Noxious Foxes and Brightest Color. Also huge shout out to my homies from Hello Jupiter from Long Island. Forgot to mention them earlier in the inspirations part of the interview. Its starting to turn into a cool little community.
NOVO is now downloable for zero feckin’ dollars on The Venus De Melos’ Bandcamp page.