WITH DMITRY EVGRAFOV
During this interview, I change seat, place myself in front of another artist and ask him the questions I wish people asked me. Today, I speak to Russian composer Dmitry Evgrafov; through discussions around his latest release, Surrender, the musician shares some of his views on music and sound design.
Dmitry, tell us a little bit about yourself. What have been the highlights of your career so far?
I am a Moscow based sound designer and composer. I started making music at around fourteen and I am self-taught. I have got a degree in sound design and I have worked on a number of commercial projects for such clients as Amazon, Mercedes-Benz, Airbnb, Dreamworks, Hyundai and Ferrero. I have released more than ten albums in around ten years of musical career; my most important ones are on FatCat Records’ 130701 imprint, including my latest Surrender album, also last year I had a release on Deutsche Grammophon. And I am a co-founder at music technological company called Endel.
Now, what about Surrender? Tell us about your latest project.
I explore new sounds and approaches in it. For example, there are tracks where I have used neural network and generative algorithms in the process of creating compositions. In other tracks, I utilised a strict academic approach while writing a piece for string quartet. One of my personal goals was to invite new people into the process. As a result, I met with beautiful musicians, arrangers, engineers. As a result too, more than twenty people contributed to the final work.
Tell us about how studying sound design has influenced your creativity. What about being self-taught?
I think the main influence is the realisation that music is just organised noise, however cliché it might be. But it is a liberating thing: when you blur the lines between the realms of music and noise you start to see the underlying emotional forces of music.
How do you think your cultural background influences you as an artist?
I try not to identify with just one cultural background. Broadly speaking, it is quite the opposite: the fact that I try to grasp different cultures is exactly the reason why my music sounds the way it sounds.
Can you tell us more about Endel?
Endel is a company in which we work on a technology that create personalised sound environments to help you focus, relax, and sleep. We have a same-named app that creates endless generative functional soundscapes that constantly adapt to different inputs like time of day, weather, the listener’s heart rate and circadian rhythms. We use all this information and with the help of AI and generative musical techniques to constantly create a personal soundtrack.
So, after Surrender, what’s next?
That is the question that terrifies me. The main project I am involved in now is with Endel, and I am writing music for a new Russian film. But the only thing I can say is that psychologically and conceptually Surrender is the ending of a long chapter; a full stop mark.
Thanks very much Dmitry. Last one for the road — one book, one album, one film — tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
Oh, that is a tough one! The latest book I read was Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the XXI Century. I liked it a lot actually.
Bouncing on Dmitry’s words; Varèse is known as being the first composer that came up with the concept of music as “organised sound or noise” and I strongly recommended to dig in his work to understand how most how most of modern music has been perceived and conceived. Read my review of Surrender.