Project Vesssna was started in 2016 by Marianna Lukianova (guitars, vocals) and Marina Scherba (keyboards). Before that, both girls participated in Fright Night and Mea Vita bands. The music of Vesssna may be characterized as dark rock / gothic metal although they do not associate themselves with any particular style. The emotional female voice is complemented by thick guitar sound and intricate keyboard arrangements which make for powerful and vivid music. The main subject of their art is the world of human emotion, dreams, and aspirations. Irony and realism combine with subtle romantic and sometimes fairytale visions.

What is your upbringing?

My mother is quite a tough person, despite all her boundless love for me. Father, on the contrary, is very calm and withdrawn. I think they both influenced me, but thanks to my mother, I also became very «correct» and demanding both to myself and others. It was impossible to evade something, not to play sports, not to finish the job you started, to skip classes. You can’t be late, you can’t cheat, you need to do everything as best as possible — study too. This gave me a lot in terms of self-discipline and further musical education. I must say that my parents have always supported all my creative endeavors, and they have quite a lot of talents themselves. I can also say that both of them always had an extremely narrow social circle, so I was not allowed to make friends with just anyone. And I didn’t want to. I was raised at home until I was 6, communicating with a couple of other children only in the summer. So school became a huge stress for me, and there I also interacted with few people. But I always liked being alone, and it was considered normal in my family. And I still think so, only in this way the child listens to himself and begins to create his own inner world.

How did you discover music?

As a child, I was interested in almost all the music that I heard anywhere — pop, rap, etc. Parents loved rock music, but they did not impose their tastes on me. From the age of 12, I started to watch a lot of MTV and discover new artists in different genres. And so I came to alternative rock, which was then at the peak of popularity, and later — to heavier styles.

How did you start to write music?

I’ve been writing some songs for as long as I can remember, from very early childhood, when I didn’t know the notes yet. Then I consciously began to compose something when I played in my first bands at the age of 16–17, where some interludes and solos were needed. I just found fragments of songs that were stylistically appropriate and tried to make it similar, but in a different way. Later, in another band, where I played doom metal, I began to come up with some compositions almost entirely myself, including vocals and keys. But, of course, I was inspired by the work of my favorite bands.

How did you get your first guitar, and do you still have it?

When I decided that in the future I would definitely put together a band and sing there, I thought that it would be nice to play an instrument as well… I was 12 years old at the time. But I considered for a long time between guitar, bass, and piano. Can’t say that I dreamed of a guitar, but it just seemed to me that I would look the best with it :-). And at that time my friend got a guitar for her birthday, so my mother and I decided to buy the same one for my 13 years. It was an inexpensive Russian-made classical guitar. I still keep it, but I can’t play anything properly on it. Since it is terribly uncomfortable :-).

What is your guitar of choice?

Perhaps most often, I play my Jackson LE 88. I use it at all rehearsals and concerts — it has a very comfortable neck, and it is very light, so it is comfortable to sing with it. Of course, I also use other instruments when recording in the studio.

Can you get the US-made instruments in Russia?

Of course, now you can buy any instruments you want, both new and used ones.

What was your first performance at like?

My very first performance in a club with a band was at the age of 18. We played doom metal. There were quite a lot of people, but I didn’t seem to worry much. I was just calmly aware of the fact that there is a «before» and «after.» And once on stage, I will become a slightly different person — both for myself and for my friends. I will be perceived differently. And so it turned out.

How did you and Marina get Vesssna together?

Marina and I played together in two bands before, and this is perhaps the only person with whom I have never had any creative disagreements. So when I decided to put my own project together with my lead vocals and completely new material, I knew that she would support me. Marina helps me with keyboard parts and arrangements, although she doesn’t perform live with us yet.

What is the meaning of your band’s name?

The word «Vesna» (Весна) means «Spring» in Russian. I just visually like the way this word looks like with three S’s. This is my nickname, although, in Russia, it is not so rare among gothic girls. This is mainly my solo project, and I wanted its name to be associated with me. And, even though we sometimes play not very joyful music, its energy is still bright. And this name also has a lot of light and sun.

What makes a good songwriter?

Imagination and self-discipline. The ability to give the thought a finished form. And, of course, knowledge of music theory and composition.

How is Moscow for live music?

There are a lot of concert venues for every taste, from the largest to small bars in old buildings downtown. The listener will be able to find anything he wants here — both jazz clubs and big rock concerts. Another thing is that if you play non-commercial music, then you will mainly organize your gigs yourself.

What was the title of your first original song? Did you record it?

I think I will recall a song with a dark title «Unholy Eucharist» — there are a lot of parts that were made by me, as well as Russian-language text and vocal lines. This was during my attempts to form a doom metal band. The recording can still be found somewhere, but we recorded some of the instruments in a semi-professional studio, some at home, so the quality is matching :-).

Tell me about your new album?

Our latest album, «Almost Saint,» was released in 2018 and consists of 9 tracks. Although we mainly consider ourselves to be gothic metal — due to the academic manner of singing and the general murky-suicidal mood of the songs — in terms of music, the compositions are very different. There are songs with elements of folk, progressive metal, and much more. All texts are in Russian. The album was released independently and is now available on all digital platforms. We also made a limited edition in the form of USB flash drives, there are just a couple of them left :-). I hope that the album will soon be available on CD, although we did not plan to release it in this format. But then we decided that we still need it.

Tell me about the making of your latest video?

We started shooting the video «Almost Saint» in the summer of 2019, and there were only a few shooting days, separated by long intervals. It was hard to organize the shooting since a large number of people were engaged in them. It also had to be arranged according to the weather, well, and to look for the necessary scenery. The main idea came from me, but all the details of the script were thought out by our director Anastasia Krutova — the author of all our previous videos. She also writes music in the style of dark ambient. In the end, I’m happy with the result, it’s the best we’ve done so far. This clip reminds me of videos from the late 90s, in the style of, for example, Garbage and Smashing Pumpkins, which always had a lot of surrealism and different storylines, which cannot be unambiguously interpreted.

How do you stay healthy while performing?

I just need to drink plenty of water on stage and tea before the show. And it’s better not to perform in artificial leather — it looks pretty, but it feels very unpleasant! 🙂

What are you’re feeling about streaming music?

It’s part of the modern world, like using mobile phones.

Digital vs. vinyl?

I’ve never considered myself a collector and do not understand the vinyl fetish. So I’m for digital publications. They do not take up space in the apartment.

Do you think kids should go back to school?

We now have Junior classes going to school; the rest were put on distance learning. Of course, this is terribly time-consuming for both students and teachers, but it is still right since schools and unis obviously are the places where the risk of infection is highest.

What was it like during the high of the virus?

It still seemed that this was somewhere far away and would not affect us since there were no sick people among our acquaintances. Now, unfortunately, there are, and their number is growing.

Russia has come up with a covid-19 vaccine. Have you taken it yet?

I have never been vaccinated even against the common flu, and I will not do it for covid until a large number of people try this vaccine. So far, all this is an experiment.

On Oct. 11, Russia confirmed a record of 13,634 new Covid-19 cases brings its official number of cases to 1,298,718. Has the second wave of the virus started yet?

Yes, now it looks like the second wave has begun, as we were warned. Although there is no strict quarantine yet, and it’s unlikely to be, I think. The authorities have already realized, apparently, that it is useless here — people still violate all requirements and precautions. Although I talk to musicians from other countries, and they say that they have the same thing.
Your last live performance was in February. Did you think the virus would take over the world the way it did?

Of course not. Some people still think that everything is exaggerated.
In March you did an online concert. How was it different than a normal live show?

Since there are basically no viewers there — that is, people are looking at you through the screen, but you do not see who they are and how many there are — there are only hosts whom you personally know for a long time, somehow you focus more on the performance, on the notes, on the technical side, not on emotions. On the other hand, you realize that all the flaws in this setup are much more noticeable, and the recording is in progress, and this, again, does not allow you to relax but forces you to concentrate.

Studies are showing that because of COVID-19 many students, who were ready for college have decided to hold off because many schools are doing virtual school and charging the same amount for school as they would for on-campus classes. Do you think colleges should give some type of discount for these students?

Of course, there should be some easing in the conditions for students.

What song from the past is in your mind right now? Moreover, what is the meaning that song means to you?

Yesterday I once again listened to the Madder Mortem «Rust Cleansing,» and it does not go out of my head. I don’t really listen to the lyrics and don’t know English very well to translate it on the fly, but like most of their songs, it sounds like a sad anthem calling to go further and overcome something… Their vocalist has very positive energy.

How do you feel the Covid-19 virus going to affect the music business in the future?

I think that musicians will do paid online concerts. And also, create all sorts of crowdfunding campaigns more often because otherwise, they will simply not be able to find funds for music and recordings. Of course, many clubs, especially small ones, will be closed, and this is very sad.

What have you been doing with your self-quarantine?

I did a lot of housework, and most importantly, I finished all the material for the next album – all the remaining parts of the instruments and a few lyrics. Also, with the help of my friend, I recorded rough demos for all the songs. It took quite a long time, and it’s good that we had it.

Have you discovered or rediscovered any new hobbies?

I probably read more than usual, and I also watched YouTube videos about makeup more than usual :-). Of course, I practiced vocals and guitar more. And just did all the things that needed to be done a long time ago, but there was no time.

95% of people said that they have changed the way they watch television. This includes people who don’t have television and using their computers to do streaming of programs and movies. Which is your favorite streaming channel?

I watch only individual videos not so often: some guitar stuff, makeup tips, and music videos. I can’t select a specific channel. And I haven’t watched television in years, and neither has movies.

Many artists are doing nightly concerts over either YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In October that is going to change at least on Facebook. Facebook is cracking down on live-streamed shows that include recorded music with new terms of service, preventing artists from using the platform for «commercial or non-personal» purposes, unless they have obtained the relevant licenses.
The updated music guidelines state that users «may not use videos on our products [which include Instagram] to create a music listening experience […] This will include [Facebook] Live,» and stipulates that such content should be posted for the enjoyment of friends and family only.
How do you think this will change the landscape of Facebook?

I think there are now enough other platforms besides Facebook and Instagram where you can arrange streams — for example, the Russian site VKontakte. Another question is that, of course, almost the entire English-speaking audience is on Facebook. But, I think, because of the interest in the artist, people will watch the broadcast on other sites, if everything is organized correctly.

How can bands keep their fans if they can not play live in front of the fans and sell merch to them at the show?

In my opinion, streaming is a viable option. Obviously, it’s not the same, but that’s just the part of modern life.

What about Holographic concerts in our living room?

It would be an interesting experience, but, of course, it will be difficult to organize it :-).

If you can’t do music, what would you like to be doing?

Would Become a makeup artist or a designer of clothing or jewelry.

Anything you would like to say in closing?

Thank you for your interest! Take care of yourself. And greetings from Russia!

By Dan Locke
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