Russian solo-artist, Denis Tverdokhleb, last year released his second full length album “Kelevra”. The work has been released by Aliens Production, which remains a home for intelligent electronics. Stairway Maze mixes IDM, ambient, EBM and cinematic music. Bombast and refinement have been merged together resulting in multiple great songs. I hope this interview will incite you to discover a hidden talent from Russia.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Can you first of all introduce yourself and briefly tell us the way you got in touch with electronic music to finally set up Stairway Maze?
Denis: My name is Denis. I am from Petrozavodsk, a small nice town in Karelia, a region in Russia that is famous for its fantastic Northern nature and landscapes. The surroundings are very inspiring here and I want to believe that the music of Stairway Maze somehow reflects the atmosphere of the North, the place where it was born. And I think it won’t be an exaggeration to say that my music is mainly influenced by the place I grew up and live in, than by other music, bands and projects. But at the same time I can’t deny the fact that many musical genres and styles are also a source of inspiration to me.
Q: Stairway Maze in an interesting and somewhat enigmatic name for a project so what inspired you and is there any further link between the name of the project and the music you compose?
Denis: I think the name of the project came from our contemporary way of living itself. I mean, just look around! When I look out the window I can see nothing, but tower blocks! And what is a tower block if not a stairway maze? So I guess on the one hand Stairway Maze is about city life rhythm, but on the other it’s about serenity, beauty and the opportunity to take a breath.
Q: You last year released your second full length album “Kelevra”. What kind of album is it and how did the writing and production process happened?
Denis: The process turned out to be quite complicated actually. First of all it took me much time to pull wits together and to understand which direction I want to choose in writing the album. I had a few ideas at the moment which I tried to implement, but all of them didn’t work. But then life itself gave me a clue. In September 2018 my father died from cancer, so it obviously made an impact on the mood of the album and the way it sounds. And this album is a dedication to him. But at the same time I didn’t want “Kelevra” to be completely dark. If you listen to the album you can hear that there is also a light within some tracks. It was important for me. I wanted the album to be diverse.
Q: That’s maybe why your album sounds eclectic and I should even say it’s a real maze… a kind of sonic labyrinth filled with different influences and music styles; IDM, EBM, ambient and cinematic.. What do all these music genres mean- and evoke to you and what explains your eclecticism?
Denis: Thank you. I do really love cinematic electronics. And if I’ve managed to make it noticeable, that’s the greatest praise for me. As a listener I’ve always loved the music that make your imagination draw some pictures in your mind, that mesmerizes you and puts you into a trance, music that helps you escape from reality. Yet I love grooves, beats and music that pumps ears as well. So all of this of course affects my own music. At the end of the day, as I’ve said already, I prefer diversity.
Q: How do you look back at your debut album “Hollow Spaces” and what have been the main changes compared with “Kelevra”?
Denis: I truly love “Hollow Spaces” although it seems quite raw to me technically (now I see that clearly) and there are things I would like to change if I’d a chance to. Anyway there definitely are some good tracks on it, which I really like. And I don’t think that there’re fundamental differences between the first album and “Kelevra”. I suppose that the main and the only aim of the latter is just to reveal the nature of Stairway Maze a bit further. And that’s it. No undertones.
Q: What are the pros and cons living in Russia and dealing with this kind of music, which is often liked by a restricted number of listeners? How do you see Stairway Maze evolving towards further releases?
Denis: Honestly I don’t want to expatiate much upon that. I would just say that the situation leaves much to be desired, at least concerning small towns like the one I live in.
And as for Stairway Maze future releases… I don’t know. There is no point of thinking far too ahead. Time will tell, what it would be like. But what really matters for me is that I’m totally sure that there WILL DEFINITELY BE future releases) But no hurry!