Think of that sound that carries you away, that can make a connection with feelings that you did not experience for a long time; or that song that you think is familiar, even without ever listening to it! These are some of the sensations that the listener may experience when listening to the first EP (“All The Songs For You”) by Pavel Iakovlev, or Pasha, as it is usually shortened. Born in Saint Petersburg and living for a few years in Asia, the musician decided to get to know Latin America and ended up finding new home in São Paulo.
Still unfamiliar with the local language, Pasha gradually becomes accustomed to Portuguese, which in no way makes it difficult to stay in Brazil, since he became friends with several people who speak fluent English. English, by the way, is the language with which the he chooses to shows his work. Soft melodies shaped by delicate melancholy, the songs become warm and vibrant through the acoustic atmosphere impregnated in the compositions.
Universal music, made to internalize. In this pleasant conversation we had with the artist he gave us some of his impressions as a musician, of his trajectory and his choice for Brazil, at least for the time being. Since the dynamics of life is movement, it is not by chance that his favorite quote is “The journey of a thousand thousand begins with a single step”.
MMM – You are a native of St Petersburg – Russia, where you had your initial musical training; then traveled to Southeast Asia and later to South America, eventually being based in São Paulo. How was your journey to here and what was the reason for your choice for the city of São Paulo?
Pasha – I love traveling and always dream of living abroad. When opportunity came, I moved from Saint Petersburg to Singapore and lived there for 4 years. It was very difficult in the beginning, living in a foreign country. But at the same time it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Being out of my comfort zone, absorbing new cultures and traveling around Asia inspired me a lot. That’s when I decided to go to music school to continue developing my playing skills and take it a bit more seriously. Soon after I started taking vocal classes too. I’ve never sang before. Well I did but it was horrible. I struggled to find bands to play with in Singapore, and that’s how the whole idea of being a solo artist was born. I was just tired of waiting.
Than I thought “where else would be interesting to live if not Asia”, and Brazil came to mind. I was always intrigued by Latin America. I was getting a bit anxious and needed a change of scenery. So I moved again. Brazil overcame all of my expectations, and Sao Paulo especially. It’s such an incredible city, with so much going on: artistic and creative people, live music, concerts. I got so inspired when I came here.
MMM – How is it for you, who speaks little Portuguese, working with music and singing in English here in Brazil?
Pasha – Everyone told me that without Portuguese I will not survive. And of course, speaking Portuguese would make my life here much easier. In the beginning going grocery shopping would be an adventure on its own. But a lot of people here speak English, you’d be surprised actually. I have been meeting a lot of people from different background and different age that speak English fluently. All of my friends do as well. That’s why I am still not good in Portuguese, but I am working on it.
However, I don’t know how the audience will react on my English songs, which are centered around lyrics as much as around the vibe of the guitar. I did not have a chance to perform here yet, as i was busy producing and releasing. But I really hope people will like it and will be able to connect with my songs.
MMM – In St. Petersburg you started with music as a guitarist in indie-rock bands, right? How much of that experience influenced the work you do today?
Pasha – My friends and me started a band back in University. We were playing alternative rock and indie garage rock at some point. But I think I only started finding my sound and musical taste recently. In the beginning, I was just playing what was cool to play. And when alone at home, was always driven towards melodic lines and open shaped chords, a bit experimental and melancholic. It took some time for me to come to the sound I have now, but there is still a lot to experiment with. And it is always valuable to try yourself in different genres. As, for sure, various styles affect your playing one way or another. My song have an acoustic feel in general, but the heavier guitar parts and solos are present too. I guess its something that comes from times of playing in a band.
MMM – We know you are influenced by artists such as Damien Rice, Jeff Buckley and John Frusciante, for example. What characteristic of these musicians do you consider fundamental for your cultural background?
Pasha – Honesty, complexity bordering with simplicity and uniqueness – that unites all three of these artists. Damien Rice with his beautiful lyrics has the ability of not just singing, but telling you a story that you connect with so easily. John Frusciante has been a big influence on me for many years. His story inspires me a lot, one of the greatest guitarists of all times. When I heard his solo works i was carried away with his approach to guitar playing. It was simple to the ear but yet impossible to reproduce. Very experimental and ambient. His guitar playing and song composing will be always an example for me, something to seek for. And Jeff Buckley I rediscovered when i started attending vocal classes. My teacher suggested to learn Hallelujah (Buckley’s version), and i just fell in love with his music. His songwriting and vocal melodies, his guitar playing. I am learning a lot from his singing, that I hope to reflect in my future releases. I guess, these three artists inspired and keep inspiring me a lot, and played the biggest part in my musical self-discovery.
MMM – Now, speaking of the release of your first EP: “All The Songs For You” with five songs! Tell us how the songs were designed? Do they reflect your personal moments or are a vision of external feelings captured by your perception during your journeys?
Pasha – There was so much going on in my head and my heart, but it could not find a way out. I had a creative block, so to say. When I arrived to São Paulo and moved to my new apartment, I was so inspired and excited about the new place, but at the same time i was feeling lonely and lost. So i took my guitar and a pen and started writing. Each song started with a single phrase or a word that came to my mind when i was playing guitar. Some of it was written in 15 minutes, some took weeks: writing a verse one day and chorus few weeks after. Each song of the EP is a reflection of my personal feelings and moments that I had experienced over last year (2017), but reflects the experiences or memories that go all the way to my past travels as well. Each one of them is a chapter of a small story: the search of that feeling of belonging, being in love but yet heartbroken. “All the Songs for You” is the title, the main song and the intro into this small “journey”.
MMM – Your lyrics are sometimes melancholic, sometimes romantic and dreamy, shaped on the acoustic harmony of music, which convey the attentive listener to a bucolic and serene, engaging setting. How have the public received your songs? Do you have this feedback? And do you think they (the audience) can get that perception about them?
Pasha – I was very worried about how people will take my music, as it might strike you as a very depressing sound. But I am getting very good feedback so far, and i am really happy. It seems like a lot of listeners connected with it on very deep personal level. As if they know exactly what I was writing about. Its’ every musicians dream. I wanted to make the record emotional and sincere and intimate. But recording your first EP and hoping it to end up as you planned – like shooting for the stars. So i am very happy that I created the vibe that I wanted, and i am very grateful for all the feedback I received since the release. Hope that more people will connect with my songs!
MMM – After this debut EP you are already working on other songs, maybe thinking about recording an entire album?
Pasha – I am working on some videos for the songs from the EP, that will be also DIY style, to maintain the same vibe of simplicity. You will be able to check them out soon on my YouTube channel. And I can’t wait to start working on the next release. I’ve been experimenting a lot with my vocals in a past year and can’t wait to incorporate it in my new songs. Guitar is evolving too. I really want to make something new and different, push myself to explore something that I didnt on the first release. I already have some material lying around, hopefully, with all the support of my listeners, next time I will put together a full album.
MMM – To finish, we want to know where the audience can watch your live performances, where have you presented yourself? Tell us also on which digital platforms “All The Songs For You” is available to people who might be interested and want to listen.
Pasha – I haven’t had a presentation of my EP in São Paulo yet. It was taking so much time to record and release it. But i am currently looking into places to perform live. By the time this interview is published on your blog I hope I will have a gig. For any upcoming gigs I will be informing on my instagram or email list (subscribe on my website paveliakovlev.com). And you can stream my music almost everywhere! From indie guys like Bandcamp, where you can also purchase the digital CD, and, of course, on all the popular streaming services: Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Google Play. YouTube has the full EP there too. So basically you just need to copy my name from here and paste it into your favorite platform, and I am 99% sure I will be there. Please give my songs a listen and i hope you will enjoy it!
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