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STASIK: "I'M AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE, THAT I AM NOT A SINGER ANYMORE"

, 20:49, 31.01.2023
Estimated reading time: 19 minutes 564

In a big interview with DTF Magazine, Anastasia Shevchenko tells why she returned to the front, shares her fears and admits that she doesnt know...

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE
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One could say that STASYK stands aside on the music scene of Ukraine, but she denies: “I am not part of the music scene, I am part of Ukrainian art in general. For me, vocals are a tool to express myself." Such self-identification explains detachment and why Anastasia Shevchenko is not interested in the basic things for many artists - popularity, performances, new releases and albums. On the STASIK YouTube channel, six videos, the same number of tracks on streams are all she has published in four years, and her live program lasts no more than 20 minutes.

The last track - "Battle" - was released on the fourth day of the great war. At that time, she confidently and categorically said that she would no longer go to the front, from which she returned in 2016. Due to her participation in hostilities, Shevchenko's physical and mental health suffered, which she restored all these years. Actually, the pain after the war — physical pain and clinical depression — is one of the things that shaped STASIC and its characteristic presentation. However, in April she found herself at the front again - as a military medic in the southern direction.

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE

In a big interview with DTF Magazine, Anastasia Shevchenko tells why she returned to the front, shares her fears and admits that she doesn't know if she will have any more songs.

This is not a return to the front, this is the first time again.

— I listened to one of your interviews after February 24. And you said that the second time you went to the front...

— Yes, yes, "I will never, never return to fight"... Two months before the start of the war, I said that I was fed up, I would not go, because I no longer have the health for it. After returning from the front in 2016, I am still recovering: my physical and mental health suffered a lot.

A month before the war, I said the same thing: I will not go. The war came, I said the same. And the first month I said that I have poor health, so I will train and teach people. And I taught for the first month, but as soon as the troops left Kyiv, a situation like from the series "a few minutes later" - "Good day" happened. I decided to go to the front.

— What has changed?

I understood that I can. And I know that it is necessary.

— Do you need it in person or…?

— My friend was in a unit that worked near Kyiv, and when everything ended near Kyiv, they went in another direction. The unit had its own ambulance, and the ambulance needed a second medic. I'm like: "Okay, let's go!".

— Was it a spontaneous decision or did you hesitate?

— I decided that I underestimated my health. In addition, I was lucky: I got into a unit that is not part of the Armed Forces, therefore, I am not mobilized and specifically my work has more gentle conditions. As you can see, I can come to Kyiv for a week.

— How do you spend your time and relax in Kyiv when you come? What gives you pleasure?

 First of all, my apartment. That is, I don't need to go anywhere on vacation, because I'm going to vacation in Skyrim. I have a gaming computer and a bubble bath at home. There are many people I want to meet in person.

In the war, I miss female company very much, and I am a person who has many girlfriends. Communication with women is a big part of my life, and there I am completely deprived of it. The only woman with whom I communicated regularly was an employee of the 10th branch of Nova Poshta. And this is not a joke. That's why I came to meet my girls.

— How do you feel when you come to Kyiv? We published the diary of electronic musician John Object, who joined the. However, the music industry loves hits. Have you had tracks that you bet on, but they didn't get the audience?

 No, there was no such thing. My debut track is "Knife". I understood, I felt that it is cool, it is my most favorite track. I entered with him [as a singer], and at that moment "Koliskova" already existed... It was my second song, but I could not estimate the scale and that it would be so well received by the audience: I am not very confident in my vocals, I am not very love the way i sing the vocal part. At the same time, I was convinced that these words would be understood: every word was in its place, I knew that it would work. The third song is "Shadow Fight". I didn't think she was the best, but I was surprised that she resonated less than I did inside.

 The track "Fight" is about the fact that our main enemy is fear. What are you personally afraid of?

  But I am afraid of many things. I am sophisticated in myself, an open nerve, as a result, I have high empathy and sensitivity. High sensitivity to the world and everything. I have many fears, many phobias, which I work with and which are not very easy to control.

I have groundless fears, and I am afraid of war. They periodically write to me: "We are proud of you, you are our fearless person." But no, I am very timid and afraid of everything, I just go ahead and take this fear with me. I'm afraid, but I do it.

— But your songs, presentation, performance — for me, there is a certain aggression in all this. You don't look like a defenseless person, you don't look like a person who is afraid. On the contrary, you are strong, aggressive in a good way. This side of you, even if it is stage, could it exist in this form if it were not for your first military experience?

  I was a different person before the war. Firstly, we will never know about it, and secondly, every event in life affects a person, and such a big event, even more so. It is clear that the experience of the war, to some extent, shaped me... Only it is not aggression, it is rage!

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE
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— And what else influenced you and how and what you say in your music?

— The war, the freedom I had. My mother never pressured me in any fundamental matters, I was always free to choose whom to be friends with, where to go to study. I have never experienced any oppression and therefore I am used to freedom as something natural. And this is the freedom that gave me the opportunity to learn about life. In addition, the war and the experience I had there — I had to grow up quite quickly, study externally and pass some life exams... I became smarter, faster, more disciplined.

But another thing that further shaped STASIC is pain, post-war pain, physical pain and clinical depression. And depression does not mean sadness and depressed mood, it is about constant pain. When something hurts for a long time, and it doesn't matter whether it's your kidneys, head, or just pain from depression, you learn to coexist with your pain.

"I didn't promise anyone to exist on the stage for a long time, I didn't promise to create"

— Your "Lullaby for the enemy" got a second life with the beginning of the great war. It became a certain anthem and iconic composition that resonated with people. But you are not afraid that you will become a hostage of this situation? That is, that STASIK will become a singer from whom the audience will expect reflections on the war and songs about the war? Considering you don't do it like most other musicians.

  Why did you decide to ask me about it now, and not three years ago, when this song came out?! That would have been more appropriate, because it was then that I began to fear that I would become a hostage. I was afraid to release something after "Koliskova".

There was a moment of fear that I really became a hostage, that I became a singer and owed something to the public.

And this fear bit me when my third song - "Fight with the Shadow" - did not go as well as I had hoped. But it didn't last long, because I remembered: I started speaking as STASIK because I had a need to express myself about certain things, I needed to be heard and, relatively speaking, to be discussed with me. If people don't want to discuss any topics with me other than the war, the topic of which I raise in "Koliskova", then that is their right.

— By the way, about the format of the conversation with the listener. I just realized that STASIK still doesn't have an album, although the album format allows an artist to tell a complete story. Why haven't you released an album yet?

  Because I don't have enough songs. I don't know if there will ever be songs again, I can never guarantee that. I have a few blanks, but I don't feel anything that would prompt me to new songs: no strength, no inspiration, nothing...

There are artists who were inspired by the war to be creative, and they write a lot, but I don't have a single drop of poetry in me now. I don't have anything to talk about with people, I don't need to express myself about anything...

 What are your blanks about?

 Shortly before the war, I wrote a chorus and a piece of a verse - for the first time I wanted to write a song on a specific topic. In general, artists have songs dedicated to certain historical events. And there was a period in the history of Ukraine that was rarely discussed out loud, and it struck me with its unprecedented cruelty. I mean runners - gangs of teenagers from 12 to 17 years old, who ran through the streets of Kryvyi Rih (between 1985 and 1995. - DTF Magazine) and simply killed people with hammers and homemade grenades. Why? Because they can. It was an unprecedented act of violence. For the first time, I wanted to capture some core of this event in a song.

And will I ever want to publicly tell people about it? I do not know. If I had the strength and inspiration now, maybe I would have made this song - we don't have to talk only about the war. But when they ask me about new songs, I say: since the beginning of the war, I haven't written a single line.

Although there is another blank, and it's a song about war, about the part of war that people don't want to hear about. This is not my text, it was written and published on Facebook by a poet I know, about a year ago. I immediately told her that I wanted to sing it. She seemed to take out all my thoughts and simply put them into words. I realized that this is exactly what I should say out loud. Therefore, I immediately asked for this song and, by the way, I was going to release it before the start of the war on February 24. And now I understand that if I release it, I will get a rather unpleasant and harsh reaction, mostly from people who really love "Lullaby". But this song is true. And if I have any strength and any inspiration to make one song, then it will be 100% her.

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE
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— You say that this is a song about the war, but about the side that no one wants to talk about...

— Which they don't want to think about. But I'll just say the song is called Heroes Die.

— You also said that the song will cause negative feedback. And isn't this the essence of real artists who make music and not please the public, who speak frankly and are not afraid of a reaction?

 That's what I'm saying frankly. I just know that I will feel bad, I will feel stressed when they hate me.

 But at the same time you won't regret it?

— I did not regret the fact that as a child, at the age of 21, I went to war. I don't regret anything I do. I do not regret any of my choices.

— Does it scare you that you still have no desire or even thoughts about writing songs?

 Yes, it scares me a lot, I am afraid that I will never write or record anything again and that I am no longer a singer.

— But do you want to be a singer?

 Well, this is already an indicator of the fact that I have nothing more to say, nothing to talk about. I'm afraid of this, I'm afraid that I ended everything so suddenly. But at the same time, I don't push myself. I didn't promise anyone anything, I didn't promise to exist on the stage for a long time, I didn't promise to create. If I have something to say, I will say it.

— I didn't promise anyone, but did you have any plans, a goal? Before the war - how did you see the path of STASIK? Did you want to release an album, new tracks?

— But I didn't want to release an album, I just continued to express myself, and that's all. If there's something in me that I can't help but say out loud, then I say it. Since I don't feel like a singer, rather an artist in the broadest sense, I didn't have any plans. I never considered the format of the album, because sometimes I don't have enough words to make the song look like a song in terms of timing. I wrote the chorus and said everything in it, so what else do you want from me?!

— Then release tracks of 30-40 seconds. Why not?

— I think that it will be so, I am close to it.

— I listen to you and understand that you are not at all interested in questions from the category "How to declare yourself?", "What should I make the next album?", "How to increase the audience?". And this distinguishes you from others. And do you yourself feel that you stand apart on the Ukrainian stage?

— I simply do not stand on the Ukrainian music scene. I am not part of the music scene, I am part of Ukrainian art in general. And it is so. For me, vocals are a tool to express myself. I will easily change this tool if I find a more suitable one.

I once said that I probably started singing because I don't have the talent to write long texts, otherwise I would have been a journalist, a writer, but here I can't communicate in many words without visual contact. It's just that music is a better, more appropriate tool for me. So identifying myself as part of the art scene and not part of the music scene, I have a very different approach to everything you're talking about.

The other side is that I will never be able to earn money because of my position. Other artists live by their creativity, this is their main income, and therefore they have to plan, look for tools and ways to promote themselves. I don't make money from it and I don't have much time for creativity.

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE
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— Accordingly, you don't want a producer, a team, and you don't need all that?

- You say words from a past life. Look, I have people with whom I perform on stage - these are two female backing vocalists. They are my team. I also have a person who helps process incoming requests for collaborations, festival performances, and helps with the track launch process. Sometimes I get invited to festivals, interviews, etc. This kind of communication is quite difficult for me, so there is a person who helps me from the very beginning. This is such a manager, for sure. I am looking for people to help me with a specific request. There is a need to shoot a clip — I am looking for a team for the clip, etc.

— But if you had a permanent team, it would be a certain impetus...

— This is already about the stable development of the singer.

— Yes, maybe this would motivate you to write music?

  Nothing will make me talk! So I felt that I had to express myself, and I did. The only time I got into a project where I had to write a song on a given topic, within a time frame - about Chernobyl - and it was extremely difficult. I never managed this task. I understood what I wanted to say, I picked up the meanings, key words that should sound, but I came to the poet Sasha Kladbishche, and she helped me rhyme all these words and compose a song from them. It was the song "Chernobyl. Don't take your eyes off."

"The European public is not mine, I communicate with Ukrainians"

— You said that you do not consider yourself a part of the Ukrainian music scene. Do you listen to Ukrainian music?

 So.

— Is there something that resonates with you, that you like?

— I have quite specific tastes. I love the dark folk band "Cemetery", I love the rapper Brat.

— How do you like this whole hurrah-patriotic epic in music? Bayraktars, brothers, Cossacks. Don't you think that we should have outgrown all this and that it harms Ukrainian music?

— What is happening in Ukrainian music is a natural process. I cannot judge the correctness or incorrectness of natural processes. This could not happen.

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE

— In one of the interviews, you said that you overcame a certain fear of public speaking. Do you like to perform?

— Of course, I want to communicate with people live, and not in audio messages.

During the war, I performed only once, when I went to Slovakia for the Pohoda festival. I agreed, because I understood that this is a big European festival, and not a chamber concert for the diaspora with the aim of raising funds. It was my opportunity to talk live with Europeans. It was hard for me, but I don't think people noticed. My friends came to the festival, they looked at it from the side and said that everything went well, I looked cool.

However, I performed without inspiration, I felt neither drive nor euphoria - just nothing. However, I know that it was beneficial. The most important thing that I did on this trip, or rather after the trip, was to make sure of some of my conclusions.

I knew even before that the European public is not mine, that I communicate with Ukrainians and all that I say, I mostly want to say to Ukrainians. The text in my songs is the most important thing, and people who do not understand the Ukrainian language are no longer my listeners.

They simply do not understand and can catch about 20% of the entire message purely because of my vibe, facial expressions, and movements.

That's why I never rushed to Europe, but this performance was very important, because between songs I talked and did it for quite a long time. In general, I announced the program for 20 minutes, and spoke for 50. In a free form, I was able to explain in English everything that the audience did not understand in the texts, broadcast rather unusual messages to them, and I know that I found the right words. So the trip was useful, but I have a lot of hope that after the war the inspiration will return to me, especially for performances.

STASIK: IM AFRAID THAT I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING MORE

— Would you like to perform live now?

 Only after the war! Now I don't have the energy to talk to people. Now it's time for me to act, and when I'm done acting, we can discuss the performances.

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