In case you missed out, the masterminds behind the band Walking Across Jupiter recently launched their sophomore full-length album with a few twists to boot! Namely among them is the inclusion of vocals but, in reality, that’s just scratching the surface of what the band has to offer here. Feel free to listen through the experience through one one the streams provided below! It’s highly recommended.
We recently had a chance to catch up with the brains behind the band – Alexander Valitov and Nikita Valamin. They gave a wealth of information surrounding the band, their moves, and the creation of the music itself. Feel free to jump in through the exchange found below!
If you’d like to following along with the band more closely, you may do so by heading over to their Facebook and Instagram pages. Also be sure to stop by the Walking Across Jupiter Bandcamp page. There’s a wealth of quality music to be discovered there!
Rumor has it there’s a new music video coming soon as well….
First off, congratulations on the release of your massive, new album “Oneiroid”! It makes for a truly great and detailed listening experience.
Nickita: Thanks! We’re glad to hear that.
Traditionally, you’ve always been an instrumental act until now. What was the decision process behind bringing vocals into your music?
Nickita: It’s important to mention that for us vocals is just another instrument, at least in this album.
Alexander: For me the idea about vocals came when I saw Nickita’s cover of Perfection by Tesseract in the internet. I really liked his singing, the quality of recording, the backing vocals. I realized that with his sound the project would receive new quality and get to the new level of expression.
Beyond the voice, you work with a wide instrumental palette. Which instrument was the most fun or challenging to bring into your sound on the latest album?
Nickita: Oh, there was a lot of those. I think, the most fun is that little musical joke we made in the beginning of When the Day Breaks, we’ve recorded accordion and balalaika there, you know, cause we’re Russian, haha! When I was working on the arrangement for this track, its beginning was always giving me the idea of some Russian song played on the bank of, like, Volga or something like that… It’s hard to explain to someone who’s not Russian, but the point is – this aesthetics actually has absolutely nothing to do with real Slavic ethnic music, it’s more of a modern popular idea of Russian folk music, and we have it everywhere here – on TV, on street festivals… Anyway, once I’ve put these thoughts into a joke, I said – we should totally record an accordion here. And Alexander was actually studying exactly the accordion in music school, so he was like “Let’s do it”. Thus this joke went too far, and when Alexander actually recorded the accordion, and I added balalaika, we thought it was crazy, but we decided to leave it that way.
For only having two official members, you guys produce a massive sound! What instruments do you play respectively? Furthermore, how do you usually go about bringing it all together?
Nickita: As long as there’s only two of us, each one kinda does whatever he can. But if we have to decide on some sort of specialty for each one of us, on this particular album that would be guitars for Alexander, and I was in charge of the vocals and all that orchestral and electronic stuff. Bringing it all together – well, that was pretty tricky sometimes, especially when I was mixing the album, it was sometimes not easy to find space in the mix for all the instruments. We decided that we want the orchestra to occupy significant place in the mix, sometimes even dominate, and not just be somewhere in the background, so it was a bit challenging, but hey – the more challenging, the more interesting.
What was the process behind choosing “Oneiroid” as the album title?
Alexander: Interaction with Nikita strongly transformed the overall approach of the project, and actually we are very different in character as people. Thus the tracks turned out to be very different from each other, very contrasting. We tried to make each track different from the previous one, so that the album would be more interesting to listen to. Hence the name of the album, it’s about co-existence of things that seem to not belong together, it compliments the complexity and multilayered structure of the songs.
Furthermore, how did you end up with the physically impossible name of Walking Across Jupiter?
Alexander: It’s nice to know that our listeners are educated in natural science. This name was suggested by my brother back in 2009, and I still like it. The name suggests that listening to our music should be mentally torn off from the framework of everyday life and enter the world of creativity, where there are no laws of interaction with the environment, there’s only your desire and purpose. In my opinion, true creativity is often about breaking the rules. The creator dictates his rules of conduct in his creative universe and encourages to think more broadly and more colorfully. I hope you feel this point through our music.
Nickita: We get this in different comments sometimes. Some people think we just don’t know about Jupiter being a gas giant and all that, they think we’ve just picked a random planet name or something like that. We know, guys, we know =)
Do either of you have musical endeavors beyond Walking Across Jupiter?
Nickita: Both of us do. Alexander has a cool self-titled electronic/atmospheric project. I have a solo project called Nettle Carrier, which is something in between prog rock, post metal and I don’t know what else, and also I compose orchestral soundtrack-ish music under the name Tjalvi.
Are there any plans to expand your official line-up in the future? Other collaborators can be seen in your music videos and live shows.
Nickita: Yes, we’ve been a full band for a while. And we are surely planning to get back to being a full band, at least for the sake of live performances. We are more of a studio project, but we surely want to get back to performing, it’s the whole different type of joy, and joy it is even for such introverted geeks like ourselves.
Speaking of music videos, you made an awesome but very wet clip for “Phantom Pain”. What drove the decision to waterlog those instruments?
Nickita: When we decided to make a video, we had no idea what it should be. We thought that we would just give a video guy a track to listen to, and he would come up with his own idea. But all the video makers we tried.. well… there were only two of them… so, all two video makers we tried told us that for a music video we must decide what we want ourselves. So we got together for a brain storm. I don’t remember exactly who suggested water… I remember I had the idea of us being halfway in the water in darkness and some powerful spotlights beaming from under water. Eventually we gave up the idea of spotlights. Not everyone liked the whole water thing as long as we were looking at shooting in September, and in St. Petersburg September is not precisely the perfect time for outdoor swimming activities, but in the end everyone agreed. By the way, pretty soon we will release one more video, that was shot in much milder weather conditions.
You have a David Bowie cover on the album for the classic “Space Oddity” which you took in an entirely different direction. Obviously, we lost the legend back in 2016 and you did a good job of respecting his legacy. What made you choose that particular song and how do you go about approaching it?
Nickita: I had the idea of making a Space Oddity cover in such a manner quite a while ago. Funny thing is – I heard the name of the song earlier than the song itself, and this name made me think of something vast, hollow and cold like the open space, and the lyrics being obviously tragic added up to this feeling. Not to say the song disappointed me, I mean, who am I to be disappointed by David Bowie? But I wanted to try and make this song sound like that. Then, I remember, when I visited Steven Wilson’s gig in St. Petersburg, he played a cover of this song, and, standing in the middle of this mass of people clapping those handclaps, I instantly imagined some huge cinematic orchestral percussion instead of the handclaps, and it all came together in my head.
On that note, if you could collaborate with any artists, dead or alive, who would you choose?
Nickita: Oh man, really? I’m never able to answer such questions. It’s like “What are your 5 favorite books?” – I think, only the people who hardly ever read will be able to give an answer. Even among the living there are so many musicians who I look up to so much I would be beyond happy even just to talk to, and you throw in the deceased ones!
The new album plays a lot with dynamics, bringing about beautifully complex music at the level of a whisper and loud moments that are every bit as intricate. In a world, genre, and time where the volume always seems to be exclusively loud, what made you approach “Oneiroid” this way?
Nickita: I think I’ll allow myself to disagree about time, first of all. I noticed with great pleasure that in the last couple of years the loudness wars seem to be abating a bit. More and more releases, including the heavy ones, are being mastered more dynamically. I may be mistaking, but it seems to be more trendy nowadays to sound less squeezed. I often hear latest releases that sound not as loud as the releases from around 2014. About the genre – well, we don’t play generic djent anymore, we don’t play deathcore, we don’t play brutal slamming death metal or pornogrind, and for progressive metal in its original sense – and we hope that we’re going that way – the wide dynamic range in arrangements was always the thing, just recall Opeth, Leprous, Pain of Salvation – each song an emotional and dynamic rollercoaster the steepness of which we can yet only dream of. But answering your question about what made us approach our album this way – well, we just wanted it this way. I mean, to some extent the music writes itself. By this I don’t mean that you do nothing, I mean that the music goes the way it wants to go. You just feel that here you want to calm down, and there you want a climax. It’s like music leads you, not vice versa.
How do you feel about the modern metal landscape in Russia? Are there any bands you’d like to recommend?
Alexander: If we talk about modern Russian metal bands, there aren’t so many bands that I really like, but they do exist. I can recommend Shokran. Not just because they are our friends but because it is really a unique case when a collective consists of excellent musicians who know their business and faithfully serve the art. The guys totally deserve their success.
Nickita: The landscape doesn’t look very flourishing. Hip-hop and different indie-ish acts are much more popular in Russia nowadays. I can’t say I care about this fact very much, because I don’t really care about the genre tags, there’s just good music and bad music, metal or not isn’t a question of such great significance for me personally. But as long as you asked specifically about metal… Well, I don’t follow Russian metal scene a lot, but I know there are certain bands which are more or less successful and popular. Shokran was already mentioned, also there are guys like Slaughter to Prevail and Siberian Meat Grinder. I don’t follow them much, I just know that they are considerably well-known. From what I like and can recommend – I’m not sure if it perfectly fits the ‘metal’ tag. There’s an awesome post metal band Vy Pole. There’s a heavy sounding stoner/sludge band Spaceking. There used to be a lot of cool mathcore-ish bands, like Follow the White Rabbit, Bird Eater, Come to My Rise, but as far as I know, they all are no more. There’s a whole lot of other awesome bands and projects, but they’re definitely not metal.
If you had to step into a time machine with the destination of your choice, where and when would you go?
Nickita: To the future, when the new Tool album will be released! Hahaha! Well, it kinda depends on how long the stay at the destination will be. If the stay is short, I would go to, like, Viking age Scandinavia. But staying there for long will not be a good idea, because you know… hygiene issues, haha. If we’re talking about a longer stay, I would gladly visit the UK or USA in the 70s. Or USA in the 90s.
Those are all the questions we have. Do you have any final words for the listeners out there?
Alexander: We wish the readers to listen to good music, read good books, develop in what they are doing and successfully achieve their goals.
Nickita: Never stop educating yourselves, get better at what you do, and never stop using your brains, think big ideas, think frightening ideas, think unfathomable ideas, don’t go down to thinking in tweet format.