New East Digital Archive

Maria Teriaeva — New East 100

27 September 2017

While many electronic musicians claim to do it all, in reality they often rely on a pick’n’mix of found and pre-recorded sounds. Moscow-based musician Maria Teriaeva, on the other hand, wanted to learn how to make music independently and from scratch. As a guitarist in several indie bands in Russia, including InWhite and Naadia, she’d performed her whole career as part of a group. In between a busy schedule of touring, the Krasnoyarsk-born guitarist found time to record her several instumental EPs under the alias Dub i prosto derevo. “At one point I made the decision to focus on making my own music, start to finish,” the musician describes of what was a momentous decision in her career. She found the answer in a hefty 1960s instrument called the Buchla Easel — a synthesizer (though its eponymous inventor Don Buchla wouldn’t stand to use the term) designed to function as a portable music studio.

“It was just over a year ago that I bought the Buchla. It’s a relatively rare instrument, you can’t just go and buy it in a store. The following day I started to record my album,” Terieva explains, despite the fact that the machine came with no instructions and was therefore not easy to pick up.

“Still, I wanted to play the Buchla more than anything. When you’ve been playing music as part of a band for 10-15 years it becomes a habit to think in terms of who does what. This instrument was made for avant-garde musicians who are looking to make music their own way. It’s very freeing.”

Her debut album Focus, released earlier this month, shows the spectrum of sound and feeling that can achieved with this machine. While the first single from the album Merinos, made in collaboration with Vadik Korolev, was a combination of electronic sounds and short, looped phrases, the latest single reconstructs the natural world. The Calvert Journal presents an exclusive premiere of the new video for Borneo, named after the Southeast Asian island that’s home to the oldest living ecosystem, estimated to be 140-million-years-old.

“My friends who had visited Borneo told me they could hear the Buchla in the wilderness. Though the Buchla is an electronic instrument it can mimic the sounds of nature — of crickets and the rustling of leaves,” the musician explains the name for the track. One day, while reading about Don Buchla, who passed away only last year, Teriaeva discovered that the eccentric inventor loved to go off to Borneo for adventures. “It suddenly made sense.”

The animated video for the track was made by Moscow street artist and filmmaker Stas Dobry. “Maria had entrusted me with visuals. Since her music is experimental, I decided to take an experimental approach with the narrative,” Dobry told The Calvert Journal. The narrative is split between the modern world, where we meet a character in her first moments of sleep, and her dreams, which transport us back to what seems like the beginning of time. As with the Buchla’s alien yet natural sound, the video carries you into a world that is distant yet somewhat familiar.

Text: Liza Premiyak
Video: Stas Dobry

Focus is out now.

See Maria Teriaeva present her debut album live on 29 September at the Museum of AN Scriabin in Moscow.

You can find more information here and purchase tickets here (in Russian).