Ambassador 21 has been a really pleasant surprise. Their highly energetic mix of punk, electronics and rage called digital hardcore convinced me in no time and, ever since I listened to the first song, I decided they were worth an interview. The music wasn’t the only thing that made me think of an interview. Also the fact that they’re coming from Belarus and that their target is to light the fire of a personal riot into common people’s hearts, made me want to know more.
Chain D.L.K.: In your bio it says that some years ago you were djing at a local FM radio but you were forced to leave after your declarations about thefact that FM radio deserve to die. Why did you do such a thing? What broughtyou to those conclusions?
Ambassador 21: Yes, we worked at some of the biggest Belorussian FM stations as Djs for several years. This doesn’t interest us that much nowadays as we are more interested into the future than the the past, but I’ll try to answer anyway. You know, we’re the kind of people that can’t do something we don’t believe in anymore. When FM radio started in Belarus, it was something new. It was in the early ‘90s and before we had the USSR situation you already know about. Radio was something new and cool and we thought we could give people good music and good ideas. Unfortunately FM stations started to act as little empires as the main and most important thing was business! The only good music to broadcast is the one that sells. We thought we could influence people by letting them listen to good music, but this wasn’t true. The following years proved we were right. It seems that people are missing the old URRS and that way of life, but that wasn’t true for us! I don’t need all these symbols of the global totalitarian machine, I hate them. I hate to go to work when someone tells you: “Hey DJ, you’ve got to do what I say! It’s my money and my radio! ” Ok then! You can put your money up your ass, then! All this is really stupid and I think that building all these little empires is like the beginning of the end.
Chain D.L.K.: Soon after you formed the project Ambassador 21. What were your intentions in the beginning and, now that three years have passed, hassomething changed?
Ambassador 21: I don’t think our main ideas have changed. The working process has changed and this is normal as we want to evolve our sound and we want to have new musical ideas, but the main ideals didn’t change. Our creativity is very existential. The lyrics talk mainly about personal freedom and about your own riot. When we talk about riot we are interested in the personal side of the thing. If your target is anarchy, this isn’t a problem. You don’t have to care about people that tell you that it’s an utopia and that it’s impossible to be free in this society. You’ve got to think that they built a system that doesn’t work and that is based on your fear to work. If you stop being afraid about these things you’ll make them weak. With our music we want to talk to free people. It makes no sense to talk to slaves as they’ll never listen to you. They have got more important things to do than go to an A21 gig or to buy our records, and they would think: ”Strange people, they could get a real job and make money instead…”. We don’t support revolution, we’re for riot. Revolution has concrete targets but riot, which hasn’t any, happens inside you, and that’s what’s great about it. We don’t have any political aims. We want to irritate by telling what we really want. We started this as a blietzkrieg and we’ll be going on with it.
Chain D.L.K.: Did the social situation of your country made you decide it was time totake some action? What kind of action?
Ambassador 21: Yes, unfortunately, you’re right. I’d like to answer: “Hey, my friend, our country is the best example of an ideal world (ideal for us) “, but I can’t. Most of the people like silence and non-action. It’s like being back to the USSR. Fuck them! I can’t understand, but I’m aware that people like this lifestyle. The only terrible thing is that youth seems to get along with it! With this kind of background, where people are only able to talk, you can understand why we are most followed into Western Europe. Last year we did a full month tour in Western Europe playing gigs at cool venues such as the Arena in Vienna and others, but we did only two gigs in Belarus. It was cool, but only two times! ? ! We also do actions. For example, in October 2003 we did 11 actions, but we’re musicians, we play shows and we release albums, write new songs. We never promised to revolution the business. We never said: “OK, guys. Please, wait a little more and we’ll make a happy future for you”. We do our part. Can you do yours?
Chain D.L.K.: Is it for that reason that your new CD is titled “Akcija”?
Ambassador 21: Writing words is not the same thing than acting. It’s different. We’d need less talking and more rocks. This is what the guys from cool punk bands called Propagandhi and D. O. A. meant with their slogan “Talk – Action = 0″. You could act like you are a big resister and you are a musical genius and you could record great records that will be appreciated by a lot of people, but as time goes by you realize that no record label is interested in your stuff because you’re too radical. At this point you can think: “Oh, well. Maybe next time…”. Fuck that! We never say “next time” or “maybe”. For this reason we only care about Ambassador 21 and for this reason we created our own record label Invasion Wreck Chords. We have all the time for our deals. We recorded and we are about to release “Akcija” without thinking about the other things. I think all this could be seen as a sort of action and even if this is shocking for normal people this is normal for us as we’ve got different life values and priorities.
Chain D.L.K.: Can music be a vehicle for riot and positive thinking?
Ambassador 21: It can. Riot and positive thinking are the same thing to us. I can’t say how these things work. A lot of things play a great role in this process: society, your own choices, etc. When you meet someone that thinks just like you, it makes you feel more confident. A lot of times people think that no one could be able to understand them but, when they meet someone that shouts out loud the same things they are thinking, then they join the dance! Music can gather a lot of people into the same place and if I think that music does influence me (and it does! ), I think that it can also influence our audience.
Chain D.L.K.: How do people react to your music / shows?
Ambassador 21: We’ve got different reactions from people but generally they react in a good way. Our lyrics are written in Russian and this is kinda strange and unusual, but as a matter of fact we have got a lot of fans in the West. More than in Belarus or in Russia. Hahahaha! In Europe, after each gig many people come to us to chat, but no one ever asked: “What about your lyrics? “. Fans understand our emotions and spirit of riot really well and this is nice! It’s fuckin’ cool when you get positive feedback, it’s very important. We don’t play gigs only for ourselves, for our own fun. We play for people who come in. I don’t know…Someone who thinks of himself as a genius might not care about audiences, but I think they are only snob. I’m not Mozart and any feedback is very important to me: positive or negative. Some people here in Belarus hate A21. We often hear that we are sell-outs or something like that. I think this occurs because we don’t have many relations with the local scene. Electro scene as punk scene, as well. Sorry but talking is a little boring to us. Musicians talk aboutsoftware then they don’t really play anything. It could be pleasant but it’s not good to us. We have a lot of friends within artists and labels in the Western and Eastern Europe, Canada, USA, South Asia and this is fuckin’ important for our own progress! We need it, we need to know new music, we need contacts! But when somebody tells us: “You play for fuckin’ capitalists, so you’re sell-outs”. Who is the capitalist? Hey, Maurizio, are you a capitalist-imperialist because you live in Italy? I don’t know. Hmmm…OK, let’s say: you’re right, I’m a sell-out. You go to the factory everyday and hate your entire fuckin’ life and you’re waiting for your death. I’m a sell-out and a fake: I play digital hardcore, I don’t work in any corporation. I have dinner once a day, because I think about other things. Music is everything I do. I can influence a lot of people EVERYWHERE, and they listen to my words and they feel our energy and spread it. You, as a real true anarchist, make 100 stickers after your working day with slogans like “We’re against the president” on them and you call this way of doing an “action”. Ok, that’s cool, but a lot of people really understand us and they’ll never listen to your “kampf”.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think your message is getting received by people? Have you got positive feedback?
Ambassador 21: I think, I already answered this.
Chain D.L.K.: On many of your releases you had different people collaborating with you. How do you decide about who you want to collaborate with? Do they have toshare a vision that is similar to yours?
Ambassador 21: Wow, yeah! We do really like to collaborate with creative people. Remixes and collaborations are interesting to us and I hope that for our friends it goes the same way. When we recorded our first A21 collaboration track with our british friend and nice breackore-artist HYPERDRIVER, it was fun, unusual because of the sound and the structure. It has been the same for him and for us as well. The thing that surprised us most is that a track called “Teper’ Revolucija! ” (Revolution now! ) climbed to third and fourth position in the ELECTRONICSCENE. COM Chart in 4 weeks! If you want to know how we decide about the people to collaborate with, well, we’ve got a lot of friends and we just ask them: “Hey, maybe we could do something together. It could be interesting”. Just that. In our new album “Akcija” we have four tracks with guests. We recorded “Satisfaction” with Fanny (he is the best into the breakcore scene of today! We were honoured! ). Also Joey Shithead, from Canadian punk-legend D. O. A. sung with us! Can you imagine what we felt like? We listened to this band for so many years: it’s a real punk-legend! Then we have the French PUNISH YOURSELF. They are really great and they’ll have a bright future, I bet! Last but not least, we have SCHIZOID, which is just one of the best digital hardcore artists in the world. Do they share a vision similar to ours? I think, they do. Hahaha! I’d rather prefer to avoid to collaborate with people that don’t share the same vision. We’d never ask DEATH IN JUNE to collaborate with us, hahaha! Ok, let him live as he wants to but it would be better for him to avoid to cross our path as Natasha would beat him so hard! Anyway. Different artists mean different sounds and new ideas. We really like how our new album sounds and we’re planning a new A21 remix album which will sound really different from our usual stuff. We offered remixes to artists who aren’t like A21. Bands such as Converter, P. A. L. , End, Axiome, Proyecto Mirage, C-Drik, Ctrler, Synapscape, Fragment King, Hansel, Cdatakill, Noize Creator, Aphasic, Schizoid and many others. I think it will be a cool project. Maybe you don’t already know that our studio guitar player is from Spain. He’s name is J. aka CTRLer and he was in PLACID (Hands) and many other spanish bands! He did work with us on “Akcija” and it was great!
Chain D.L.K.: One of your tracks is titled “Revolution is a business (for youngpeople) “. Is it linked to something you lived?
Ambassador 21: Yeah. As I said, some people are playing a game called “revolution”. I think thatyou will agree if I say that “business” doesn’t just have a negative meaning, right? It also means: “deal”. Well, for some people it’s a “deal” and for some others it’s a “business”. I already said that we’re not for revolution. We’re for permanent riot. As Camus said: “revolution is not a romantic shit”. There’s no revolution when you’ve got artists in scarfs that go down the streets and read poems. Revolution is when drunk soldiers kill people on the streets. I think that our country will go through some real revolution, not soon, but not much later either, and it will be terrible.
Chain D.L.K.: In your opinion, what is the right way to involve young people by givingthem something different from the MTV culture?
Ambassador 21: I never forced young people to listen to me. If they want to watch MTV and listen to Britney Spears, let them do it. I think that normal guys should already have their ideas when they are sixteen and if they want get alternative music they could get it and that’s all. What’s the problem? Atari Teenage Riot broke up some years ago, but in Belarus some young guys think that digital hardcore was born in 2002 thanks to Ambassador 21 and it’s cool fashion music, good for party! It’s cool to hear that we invented digital hardcore, hahaha!!!Anyway… I don’t understand how this could be possible. Ok, USSR had the “iron curtain” but now we’ve got the web, news, information, etc. We have more than 1500 CDs in our homes. That’s also a form of information and we are in 2004. It seems that some people just don’t need any kind of information, any knowledge, any contact. Internet is good only to chat in chat rooms. We reached a situation where the “iron curtain” is a good and profitable justification for people’s in-action. I think that this isn’t our business and that we don’t have restrictions inside us and we could play for people that really want to listen to us.
Visit Ambassador 21 on the web at:
www.ambassador21.com and at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]