Shortparis should be your new favourite Siberian art-punk provocateurs. Formed in 2012 in Saint Petersburg after frontman Nikolay Komiagin and guitarist/synth player Aleksandr Galianov left their hometown of Novokuznetsk, a city some 4000km further East, they have made two albums of beguiling, iconoclastic, post-punk death disco music whilst remaining hidden behind a shroud of mystery.

Typically, they enjoy playing with the idea of their un-know-ability, so taking on an interview with Shortparis was always going to be an interesting dance. Below, they talk to us about the differences between Western and Eastern audiences, the impact of the geographical changes on their lives, and really whatever they themselves wanted to talk about.

You have set the parameters of interviews with the press in the past by stating that the information you are willing to share is only the first in three layers of truth. Is that accurate, and if so, why do you hold back the other two layers?

Because this is how all art works, and this is how it differs from scientific clarity. All this irrationality and semantic game benefits the artistic image. Our goal is to make an interview a part of a creative statement, not a political manifestation.

As a band, you seem to enjoy blurring the lines. Between genres, but also between reality and artifice. Would you agree, and if so why? Does this mean that everything you say here is definitely reliable, or is this also part of the game?

Of course, what we do and say is mostly an element of the game. But this fact only confirms our desire to explore the boundary between art and reality, because the game is inseparable from reality. For now Shortparis is not really interested in elite art. Creating quite complex and bizarre musical and poetic content, we, nevertheless, strive to try it on to the surrounding reality, to check their compatibility with each other. Real music has always played as a soundtrack to the life of its time, generation, etc.

Nikolay and Aleksandr, your hometown of Novokuznetsk is some 4000km away from your current base in St. Petersburg. Talk to us about the music of Novokuznetsk, how would you describe the scene there? Is this music integral to Shortparis?

True, the distance between St. Petersburg and Novokuznetsk is almost two times larger than the distance between St. Petersburg and London. And this colossal distance, this titanic geographical gap influenced us much more than the musical scene of Novokuznetsk. We think we developed rather in denial of what local groups played. Everything we heard seemed terribly provincial and secondary. The musical community of Novokuznetsk responded to us with similar misunderstanding and contempt. We were criticized for not complying with the canon. As teenagers, playing in our first collectives, we allowed ourselves to use in our music unexpected jazz, ethnic or academic elements which caused mostly confusion and aggression from our colleagues.

Was the intention always to leave Novokuznetsk and to form a band in St. Petersburg? Why that city?

The intention to leave Novokuznetsk was the fundamental basis of everything. In a sense, it acted as a “password” to bring some groups of young people closer to each other. The paranoid desire to escape, to be free was much stronger than the desire to live in any particular city.

You have made music in multiple languages. How many can you speak between you and how do you know which one to use for any given song? Are there advantages to having so many languages at your disposal? Are there any drawbacks?

The usage of different languages reflected a certain stage in the formation of the group. We enjoyed playing with phonetics. The sound of English and French speech made our possibilities more flexible. We could explore the phonetic, focusing primarily on sound. Now it is much more interesting for us to work with the Russian language, sometimes deconstructing and re-consuming it. This type of work with the language "in depth" and not "in breadth" seems to us more convincing. Anyway, we have a dream to finally create a Russian-language musical project significant for the context of modern world music.

Do you see Shortparis as the continuation of any particular musical tradition? Is there a style that you would be happy to see yourselves described as?

Young ambitious groups have a charming tradition of refusing to identify themselves with any style or genre. We probably belong to this particular musical tradition.

What does the name Shortparis mean?

In essence, it reflects our painful provincialism, which we’ve been trying to escape and overcome unsuccessfully during all our lives. In a sense, this internal struggle with it is the ontological basis of all Russian culture. That does not prevent her from being great.

How do crowds tend to react to your live shows? Does it vary from culture to culture?

There are differences. The European stage, creating a powerful music industry, turned any performance of artists into shows and entertainment. It’s more difficult to break through this barrier among European audiences. Its audience takes everything happening passively and more superficially. Often all our attempts to create an atmosphere of ancient mystery or shaman ritual are met with benevolent applause and other public approval. But during the ritual no one claps. The border between the participant and the artist must be destroyed. The viewer should forget all the words and drop to the pre-reflective level, growling in response to the attacks of the musician. Achieving an honest, direct reaction from an Eastern European audience, more serious and naive about the presentation, is much easier.

Are you concerned by the political limitations that exist for dissident artists in Russia? Sado Opera, for example, decided to leave St. Petersburg for Berlin, Would you ever feel the need to do a similar thing?

At this moment “political restrictions” have no effect on our activities. It is extremely important for us – continue to live and to work in Russia.

Your cover of ‘All the Young Dudes’ appears in the film ‘Leto’. How did that come about? Are you David Bowie fans?

The attitudes towards Bowie of different members of Shortparis is really different: from great love to complete indifference and even antipathy. Moreover, the track suggested by the film director “Leto” (Kirill Serebryannikov) we didn’t like at all. We agreed to take part in the project only after we received a complete blank of the work on the track and the right to “disfigure” it in any way.

Following on from your 2017 album ‘Easter’, is there a new album in the works? Have you written/recorded it, and when might we expect to hear it?

Now the team is working hard with the third album. No further information is known by your gods or ours.