From Russia with love

By Jordyn Marcellus

There’s an increasing complexity and dynamism in our modern life and it’s never been so reflected as in music. At one point, music was created on tape, which was then replaced with digital recording methods and soon after that, personal computers could be used to make music.

The Russian futurists, a group of artists and poets in Russia before the Soviet Revolution, would have been amazed and excited by the opportunity that technologies like the computer would have brought them–and now Matt Hart has helped bring their memories alive with his own band, the Russian Futurists. After three releases on Upper Class Records, Matt Hart is now finishing up his untitled fourth album–but not before teasing people a bit with his latest jaunt throughout Canada.

“It’s still me writing and recording everything,” explains Hart. “I have a few people coming in from time to time. I have a few guest vocalists on [the new album]. I can’t play guitar, so I’ll have someone come over and do that.”

The Russian Futurists are known for their catchy, lo-fi, unapologetic pop. What’s so surprising then is the fact that Matthew Hart often is the only person recording a song. Hart is known for recording his music at home and, before adopting the computer, using an analog tape machine to record his music.

“I found the studio to be really cold and weird,” says Hart. “I found it really odd and foreign to have six hours to be creative–that doesn’t seem to work out that well for me. After that experience, I bought a bunch of analog gear and started recording myself. Computers are still relatively new for me [to be recording on].”

Not even the incestuous nature of Canadian music can escape the Russian Futurists. The Russian Futurists are known for touring with bands like the Junior Boys and Caribou–not surprising considering the connection with Dan Snaith, the mad genius behind Caribou’s music.

“[Dan Snaith and I] used to live together here in Toronto,” says Hart. “He was my roommate, so we both recorded in the same house. We’ve been pretty incestuous for years. I’ve known him for a good long time. It’s amazing to see what he’s doing, and I’m a huge fan. I think he’s nothing short of genius.”

Despite the insular nature of the recording process, the Russian Futurist live shows include a full band. Once Matt Hart hits the road, he’s joined by a small group of musicians– with one important addition.

“We’ve added a drummer now who uses electronic drums and we can mess with the songs a bit more, play them a bit faster or different sounding versions of the song,” explains Hart. “It’s given us a bit more freedom, instead of just going up there and trying to exactly duplicate the record.”

After years of purposefully deciding not to include a drummer in the live show, Hart finally relented and has started including a percussionist. There are no regrets.

“I’m really glad I did,” laughs Hart. “For years I was kicking and screaming about including a drummer, because I thought we couldn’t match up the drum sounds on the record and keep that same sound. We found the right guy and the right gear at the right time and it just fell into place. He’s been nothing but amazing so far, so he’s an awesome addition.”

The Russian Futurists are looking forward now. With a new record on the horizon and the tour soon to commence, they’re going to be busy in the coming months. But right now, they’re planning on teasing the hipsters with new material and making sure that everyone who listens to them dance all night long. Their namesakes would be so proud.

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