Spawned in a dormitory in one of Moscow's universities, the girl group Vosmaya Marta (Eighth of March) is known best for its funky, punk style, fearless attitude and holiday-related name. The group - founded by Galya Kopernik (lead guitar, vocals) and Marina Gogoberidze (bass guitar, vocals) and including Masha Kinder (drums, vocals) - has already recorded one album, 2001's "S prazdnikom!" (Happy Holidays!) and is heading to the studio to record a follow-up. LifeStyle's Natasha Terex caught up with Vosmaya Marta as International Women's Day was approaching.
How was the band born?
The friendship [between Galya and Marina] was the starting point. We were best buddies, hanging out together. We both really wanted to play in a band, but since neither one of us knew how to play, we figured nobody was going to let us play with them. And that's why we decided to create our own band.
And it didn't bother you that you couldn't play instruments or sing?
Well... being a virgin doesn't stop a girl from having sex. She might be afraid, but her desire is stronger than her fear. It was the same with us. Yes, we were afraid, but we did it anyway. It also helped that we discovered two electric guitars that Marina's brother had stolen from the Army. That allowed us to start rehearsing. Slowly, we put together a band, inviting first just one other girl, and then one more to play with us.
And who sang?
We never really fooled ourselves into believing we were great singers, so each one took turns singing in a way that seemed fun for her - we practice democracy here. Sometimes, instead of singing we would just scream uncontrollably. When someone suggested that singing does not mean screaming, we were genuinely surprised. By the way, we started singing in English, but if a native speaker heard these recordings, he or she would be shocked. The reason we picked English was simple: We hated Russian rock, and wanted to differentiate ourselves from Russian musicians. But then we realized we can write our own lyrics in Russian, and they don't have to be like the ones the other Russian musicians write.
If you couldn't play, how did you write the music?
We learned along the way. It took us a while to figure out that a bass and lead guitar should play together. We weren't really paying attention to that.
So you didn't have any mentors to guide you along the way?
At first we didn't. But then this guy who was a really good guitarist joined the band. He taught us a lot. He insisted we actually play by the notes, which was a real discovery for us.
And you didn't mind having a guy in the band? After all, you were a girl band.
Actually, we did mind. But we had no choice because it was really hard to find women who wanted to join the band. At the very beginning, when we played really, really badly, we were approached by a guy who wanted to play with us, but we didn't accept his help because we did not want someone to criticize us, to tell us we suck. We knew that men, especially professional musicians, would tell us women can't play rock - the same way they tell us we can't drive!
So how did you come up with the name Vosmaya Marta?
The band was originally called Am I Sexy? in English. Once we started singing in Russian, we figured it was time for a new beginning. And now when we see March 8 banner ads on the road, we realize they also serve as free advertising for the band. And they are all over Moscow.
You have already released one album. Are you working on another?
Yeah, we have all the material ready for another album, and we plan to have it recorded by the end of spring. However, we will most likely release it in the fall, because summer is not a good time for a new release.
Now the band has a manager, Lyosha Antonov, who is helping with various aspects of production. How did he find you?
A long time ago, Masha [Kinder] contacted Artur Pelyavin from Kvartal [a prominent Russian rock band]. I guess she was secretly hoping she would be invited to join Kvartal [laughing]. She gave Artur a tape with two of our songs, and I guess he liked it. He invited us to his studio and offered to sign a contract. That's where we met Lyosha. Later, we parted ways with Artur, but not with Lyosha.
And what exactly is his role now?
He pays for everything [laughing]. No, seriously... now we have really good, expensive guitars. He pays for our rehearsals, videos, etc.
Do you get paid for your gigs?
We do. Perhaps not as much as we would like, but it's better than nothing.
Do you have any musicians - foreign or Russian - who serve as an inspiration?
Nick Cave will be performing at Bunker soon. I would love to go see him. And Russian... perhaps Boris Grebenshchikov [from Aquarium] and Viktor Tsoi from Kino.
And what about other punk rockers, such as Naive?
No, not really. We used to have some gigs with Naive. But their concept is not something that we could share. For them, punk rock is it - they have found something that they identify with, and they just want to keep playing that for the rest of their lives. We, on the other hand, like all kinds of different music. Now that we have learned how to play, we want to try various musical styles.
Do you think other people - and other musicians - take you seriously, or do they treat you differently because you are women?
Some stupid, closed-minded people are convinced that women playing electric guitars and drums are ridiculous. But, frankly, we don't give a damn about other people's opinions. We know what we are and what we can do. The reason why we created this band in the first place was not to become famous or to make money. It was to express ourselves, to have fun, to hang out together.
(Vosmaya Marta will be playing two concerts on March 8: during the day at Velotrek and at 11 p.m. at Trety Put.)