Boston-based alternative group Major Moment have released a new single “May Leave Scars”. Andrey Borzykin and Sasha Razumova had a little Zoom meeting with me to discuss world events, music, influences and the legacy of Chester Bennington.
Amy: So first off, thank you. I appreciate you guys meeting with me, I really do. You know, I guess the most obvious question right now is, how are you guys holding up with all that’s going on?
Andrey Borzykin: Haha, we’re holding up...
Sasha Razumova : We are! Well, a lot of the work we do for Major Moment can still be done from home. Regardless of the situation, there are a ton of things that we can do, whether it’s promoting our existing material or writing new songs. But yeah, this whole situation with the pandemic is horrible. We've got a couple of shows canceled or postponed, and still have some scheduled for later this year, so hopefully they can still happen.
Amy: You totally have to come down to Florida.
Andrey Borzykin: Oh yeah, we really want to come to Florida! We have a couple of our die hard fans out there, and they've been asking us to come play a show there for quite some time. Florida is definitely one of the top destinations for us to play in the near future… whenever that’s going to be possible again.
Amy: Listening to everything that you have, which I've been doing a lot, you are actually in a really heavy rotation in my house right now, and I noticed that you seem to draw a lot of inspiration from your environment and what's going on around you. And with everything that's going on right now, you know, the pandemic and the election year, how do you think that's going to affect you?
Andrey Borzykin: It's a great question! We actually just finished recording four new songs that we started writing a year ago, literally days before the pandemic unfolded. And while you could predict some events like, you know, an election that's coming up, nobody saw this pandemic coming, right? It has never happened before in history, at least not at this scale. And, funny enough, one of the songs that we wrote was legit about the world needing to take a break. So we kinda jinxed that one.
Amy: You were prophets, not a jinx.
Andrey Borzykin: And now we're like, ok, people are gonna obviously think that this song was inspired by the pandemic. But the reality is, it just matched like that. It's one of our favorite songs to date and we're really excited to release it into the world later this year. So although this craziness affected us, we are trying our best to stay within the schedule for the release that has already been planned for months and months in advance. The only thing is, you know, the current situation is kind of preventing us from being able to play gigs, tour and rehearse together because some of our guys are currently in other states. So Eddie, our guitar player, is in Georgia right now with his family. He studies in Berklee, but all students had to leave the campus, and studies are now only conducted online. We miss our crew and miss rehearsing and playing together! But hopefully if things work out in the best way, we'll be able to play a couple real nice, really big gigs later this year. We're hoping for that. If not, I guess we'll have to, you know, stay home and do the online presence thing. Release songs, release music videos, release lyric videos, and whatever else is in the works. We already planned at least a couple of music videos for the songs we just finished recording, and then there are new songs to be written too. We haven't had a lot of time to write new songs lately, regardless of the current situation in the world, we still need to pay our bills. Both, myself and Sasha have been working, doing food deliveries. So we're kind of considered essential, you know, haha, trying to keep the food on the table for everybody and for ourselves as well.
Sasha Razumova: And regarding the songs that were already released. You mentioned that we draw a lot of inspiration from current events, but even some of the songs we’ve released in the past, they stay relevant today, maybe more so than ever. One of the songs that still makes a lot of buzz is “Living Your Life Like This”, which just passed a 200K streams mark on Spotify.
Sasha Razumova: People all around the world are texting us that it resonates with them a lot. So that's cool.
Amy: I know you guys were really heavily influenced by Linkin Park. Your guys did a cover of “Leave Out All the Rest”, in which when that break comes in, it gets chilly. I mean it just does. You get the frezons (chills) as we call them in Cajun country.
Andrey Borzykin: That's the goosebumps moment for us as well. Oh, yeah.
Amy: But I'm just kind of wondering, his passing, how did that affect you guys, not just musically, but personally?
Sasha Razumova: Yeah, well, that's how it all started - from the personal trauma. The pain was unbelievable. We couldn't do pretty much anything either musically or like, any work, it was affecting everything. It was impossible to even think straight, and we've never had anything like that affect us before, even though we personally didn't know Chester that much. We've met him a couple of times at the shows and during meet and greets, but that's about it. It's like he was such a strong character and through his music he spoke to so many people and helped so many people, you’d feel he knew you. He connected us both together. It's been tough. And this cover, I think, helped us grieve, too. It kind of transformed that energy into something positive.
Andrey Borzykin: We definitely needed an outlet. After this tragedy happened, I remember I was just sitting at work, crying my eyes out, and I couldn't do anything for several days. One wave after another was hitting me and, you know, even though Linkin Park’s lyrics aren’t the most cheerful and positive ones sometimes, they're full of, you know, mixed feelings and depression and heartbreaks and all of that. And still, there are people who were his close friends and family, and they too say that nobody saw it coming. So it was very tough for us. We already had kind of a personal connection with Chester because me and Sasha are together because of his music. A mutual friend of ours who runs a Linkin Park fan club in Russia introduced us to each other. And, you know, our personal relationship started from that. So we kind of owe that to Chester's music. Now we're married and make music together. So it's obvious you’d feel the connection to that person. We both felt like we knew him, and we both felt like he was our friend. So besides the fact we felt doing the cover was kind of a necessity for us to honor his memory, I guess another way in the bigger scheme of things was to keep doing what he loved doing, what he was doing his whole life. Making music that has a positive impact on people. You know? That helps people go through dark times, good times, whatever times. And that's what we do now. And I think we keep his legacy alive by doing this.
Amy: Most definitely. Yeah, I remember seeing them years ago. I have to say, I've seen a lot of bands and he was genuine, like when he’d say “it was a good night”, he really meant that. Not like, “Ok, thanks everybody for coming”. Genuine “Thank you”. Like he was surprised that he filled up a stadium, you know. He was a very down to earth person for sure.
Andrey Borzykin: Yeah, we met him a couple times, super humble, super down to the ground guy. And it was such a pleasure meeting him even for a few moments. Yeah. He always took his time to shake hands with everybody, hug them, talk for a couple minutes, sign whatever. Treated every fan like family…
Amy: Are you doing that too? Being kind to continue that legacy? How do you want to add to that specialness that he could put out there, and you felt like you were just in that little warm embrace he offered to everybody?
Andrey Borzykin: Yeah, I think that it’s definitely something that we see ourselves doing as well, staying close with our fans. We're always chatting with them. Obviously, the majority of that is happening online right now through our Instagram and Facebook. We get messages daily. We thank new followers for joining us. We make sure to greet everybody and say, welcome to the family, you guys. Thank you for supporting us. And if they respond back, we have a conversation going on and on. You know, we don't just say thank you, we also try to see who is our fan base, you know, who is our audience? Like, what kind of people are they? What do they like, how they react to events in the world, what songs resonate with them, are they troubled by something? Maybe we can help them out. I always try to listen to their stories or take a look at their art and music. It helps us to keep engaged and connected with each other, you know?
Amy: Yeah. And then you were both born in Russia, right? When did you come to America?
Andrey Borzykin: I think it’s been about 14 years for me and 6 years for Sasha.
Amy: Do you think your heritage influences your style and if so, in which way? Songwriting? Music?
Sasha Razumova: It definitely is, it affects our music and our songwriting. We like meaningful lyrics. I feel like Russians are very thoughtful people and..
Andrey Borzykin: dark, moody people.
Sasha Razumova: Haha, yeah, if you want to say it that way, all right. But we also have other band members from different parts of the world. So that's a very interesting combination. Very nice mix.
Andrey Borzykin: A bit of a melting pot here. That's what America is about after all, right? Combining different cultures and trying to make it our own. And that's what we do as well. I feel like you could definitely hear some influences from Eastern cultures. And also from the Western culture as well, because even though we grew up in Russia, and people would probably assume we grew up listening to Russian music mainly, I switched to listening to mostly Western music right around 2000s when I was about 14-16 years old. I started listening to bands like Metallica, Avril Lavigne, Linkin Park, Rammstein. Before that I think I was listening to some Russian music, but right now, if you ask me, I'm probably listening to maybe one Russian artist, two at most...
Sasha Razumova: ...and not very often. All these aspects are very important here because, yeah, Russian language is very full. You can describe things in so many different ways, dozens, sometimes hundreds variations, you can also place words in different spots in a sentence and not only it will make sense, it might change the meaning, the mood because of it. I think this creative thinking helps us to write better lyrics.
Andrey Borzykin: I think we have definitely tried some unorthodox approaches to writing lyrics and writing songs. And, you know, we sometimes come up with something that surprises our bandmates and our producer, Kevin. They'd be like, okay, that's interesting, I would have never thought of that, and vice versa. I guess we’re half-Americans and we still have some Russians left in us for sure. And, you know, it's interesting. We definitely approach writing lyrics slightly differently than we would have if we were born here and we were fully enclosed in this environment, because of what impact cultural differences make: history, literature, music, art, movies. That definitely helps to add some dimension, and a different perspective. You know, it might be hard to point the finger to it sometimes, but one good example is our upcoming single, which is called “The Flood”. And when we were writing the chorus to it, we were looking for a powerful phrase, a statement to put in the last line. Something to the extent of “we just don’t care”, but not as cheesy and overplayed. We were sitting on it for like an hour or something, tried different things, but nothing clicked. And then I remembered the phrase that I knew from Russian. Actually, the origin of the phrase is French. But we had a translation of it in Russian, and that's how I knew of it. And I started Googling to see if there's an analog for this phrase in English. Apparently there is, but it's not as well known. So the phrase is “After us, the flood”. For us, it was this a-ha moment. Kevin was like “Yeah, that's the thing! I don't know how you got it, but you got it!” And I'm like, does it even make sense? He's like “Yeah, it totally makes sense, it's amazing! You guys nailed it!”. We were thrilled he loved this line, this song means a lot.
Sasha Razumova: It's the first song the two of us started writing lyrics together for. And that's what we came up with. So there's a piece of Russia in that song, for sure.
Amy: As it should be. I mean you could always go full Rammstein and just sing entirely in Russian. I mean they are doing it and they've done quite well.
Andrey Borzykin: It's such an interesting band. I totally agree. And I think they're a great band, great music. The fact that they can pull off such a level of success singing in their native language, it's amazing. You know, I was always a fan of English. So for me, I would not want to sing in Russian, or in German, for that matter.
Amy: I hear all that industrial. For me growing up, it was always a lot of Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. Even now. And I also hear a bit of Depeche Mode, that melodic sound that they were so good at making, and I hear that in you guys and I'm kind of curious too, just reading what I have about you guys and knowing your influences. Is there anybody that's influenced you that maybe people would be kind of surprised by?
Andrey Borzykin: You know, many names come to mind as far as myself personally, I don't know, Sasha? Do you have anybody you can name?
Sasha Razumova: My influences?
Amy: Yeah, of one that maybe people wouldn't have thought.
Sasha Razumova: Sure! I would say Backstreet Boys would definitely be a surprise for many, but that's where my love of harmonies come from.
Andrey Borzykin: I mean, for me you just nailed it. You named Nine Inch Nails, you named Depeche Mode, I would definitely throw in Duran Duran out there as well, The Prodigy. Even though they were all of slightly different genres, I think listening to them over and over on repeat, it certainly planted the seeds, and you know, something grew out of that, haha.
Amy: That's how I learned German. I lived in Germany for two years and I would watch Saved by the Bell in German because I knew the words.
Sasha Razumova: Cool, I also lived in Germany for a year and a half, on and off. But I couldn't imagine myself speaking German because it's quite harsh, haha… Even though Russian probably sounds similar to it, for the ones who don’t understand it, haha.
Amy: What is the main thing that you would really like for people to take away from your music?
Sasha Razumova: I want people to get motivated by our music to accomplish something in their lives. And finally, take this step towards pursuing their dreams. I think that would be great.
Andrey Borzykin: Well, I have a different answer, to be honest with you. I think I'm in a slightly darker mood today, haha. I would say that I would like personally for people to be more humane and be nicer to each other, be nicer to themselves, be nicer to the planet, be nicer to animals, be nicer in general, you know? Be the best person that you can be today, and tomorrow be the best version that you can be tomorrow. And so on. That would be the number one thing. A lot of things that are happening in the world can get me very upset really quickly, and my mood goes down the drain very fast, like from reading the news or from just observing people, how they behave sometimes and what they do. You know, like hoarding toilet paper and groceries off the shelves is definitely not the way to go, people. You know, just don't do that. Be nice. Be respectful. Be thoughtful of other people that they might need something as well. You know, like people with disabilities, people that are more unfortunate than you are, homeless people… So I guess my message would be “just be nice”...