Igor Osypov: a jazz manifest of his motherland

Igor Osypov: a jazz manifest of his motherland
Igor Osypov

How many miles does it take before you start remembering the little details? Those sunbeams above your favorite tree, the characteristic smell of your friend's house, and the radio station your parents always played. Nationality: a bunch of significant experiences that inhabit your mind and soul under a card called a passport.

Motherland​?​2K14 album cover

Citizen of the world is a recurring term for those who have decided to go beyond the borders and also a phrase that serves as consolation when someone asks if you want to return home. 'I would love to, but at this moment, it's just impossible. That's why I titled my album Motherland?2K14—to question what the motherland truly means. Ukraine was stolen by this Russian invasion; my motherland was stolen by the Russians. I'm unable to go there,' emphasizes guitarist Igor Osypov, who has been living in Berlin for several years. From his new home, he asks 'Do I have a motherland at all? That is my question to everyone.'

Motherland?2K14 encapsulates both a question and a statement: What is the motherland? and the year in which Russia's invasion of Ukraine started. 'I was born in the eastern part in 1988. Shortly before the war started, I moved to study music, to build a new life, and to meet new people.' After eleven years of living away from home, it is possible to perceive in his compositions some unique elements that respond to a multicultural city. 'Berlin is a vibrant place. You can hear in my music some dirty, evil things, and then the next part is going to be a romantic, home vibe. It's a nice contrast.'

War and isolation are two elements of this project. 'It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that everything started as electronic sketches. I couldn’t finish in the electronic form, so I thought of bringing those pieces to my friends and seeing what we could do with them. It ended up as an album, which I didn't expect, but now, it’s my favorite because it wasn’t overthought, it was spontaneous.' By the cadence of his words, it's possible to imagine the band working in the best possible rhythms, 'I just brought the ideas, and there was almost no sheet music, just electronic sketches. We discovered with the guys what to do and how to play; I tried to describe what I wanted audibly and what I expected them to do, and it turned out very nicely.'

Perhaps the core of the tracks is that we can inhabit other lives even when the limitation of language is present. Each song brings the testimony of international artists who live in Berlin. 'That’s the vibe. They are talking about their background, where they grew up, and what made everyone move out of their countries or hometowns. Each has different issues with the motherland, and everyone moved away for different reasons.' The depth and richness of the sound come from the interviews that Igor made with the ten artists, asking them to translate their answers into their mother language so they could be more powerful and authentic.

If someone is looking for guitar solos, this is not the place. I’m not trying to write another album for guitar players, for musicians who expect me to play solos in nine out of ten songs for three minutes each. That’s not my goal in music. I respect the whole picture, the image of the sound. I want to give space to other people to create.

Osypov has decided to manifest the exile using a mix of musical genres that return him home: electro, urban, punk, and rock. 'It's the music I have liked my whole life; I cannot hide it, I can’t get out of it. I felt that I shouldn't be afraid of mixing all together.' Since the first track, the listener gets a full palette of colors where jazz is the point of departure. 'What I like about jazz is the free space: a place where I can express whatever I want. There’s always room to say things; it can always be different, and there are a lot of places to explore and create. It’s always nice to say something with your instrument; it can be as honest and genuine as you want. The more important thing is not to hide anything. I think it’s necessary to speak through your instrument and communicate with your band and the audience most genuinely, saying whatever you want to express.'

Through ten songs, it is possible to get closer to Igor's past and present. Motherland?2K14 is the artistic response to an unfair war where no one will win. It also serves as a meeting point for those who are far away from home. The harmonies blend seamlessly with the voices that become familiar with each reproduction, striking a melodic balance. His mastery of interpretation, as well as that of his band, constitutes the perfect pretext to ask ourselves: Why do people choose to live somewhere else? What’s the reason behind leaving the hometown?