In this - the 7th and penultimate episode of Season 1, we connect with an alumnus of our very first OneBeat Program, Moscow-based Anton Maskeliade, who is a pioneer in many ways: as an experimental electronic artist, and as the founder of a music school that guides people -- with any level of musical training -- through the process of composing and producing their own original music.
In the seventh episode of the OneBeat Podcast, meet Anton Maskeliade, an adventurous Moscow-based electronic musician who has been a pioneer in many ways: in addition to being one of the first artists in the world to feature leap motion gesture control technology in his music, he is the founder of a Maskeliade Music School, which he believes is doing its part in challenging and changing the strict and hierarchical methods of music education common in Russia and other parts of the world.
As an alumnus of the 2012 OneBeat Program, Anton’s conversation with OneBeat co-founder Jeremy Thal gives us a warming glimpse into moments from the first ever OneBeat Program from nearly a decade ago, and Anton reflects on how that experience reframed the way he thinks about designing musical environments that allow for musicians — regardless of experience — to bloom into the their full artistic potential. In his recently published book, “Your First Track”, Anton expresses, “today, anyone can create their own music using only a computer and headphones. If you have something to say to the world, you can also become a musician.”
Produced and Edited by Jeremy Thal
Production Assistant: Nyokabi Kariũki
Mixed by Jeremy Thal
Executive Producers: Jeremy Thal, Elena Moon Park, and Kyla-Rose Smith
Featuring Anton Sergeev
A full playlist of music featured on this episode can be found here.
OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, & produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation.
Anton Maskeliade: I think we live not only to enjoy our lives, but to help other people that are around you to struggle with their pain or fears. And we're here to help each other. That’s why.
Intro Music: “Yeah Yeah”
Elena Moon Park: Welcome to Episode 7 of the OneBeat Podcast. I’m your host, Elena Moon Park.
Kyla-Rose Smith: And I’m Kyla-Rose Smith. And wait, who’s this?
Anton: Hi everybody. My name is Anton Maskeliade. I'm from Moscow, Russia, right now I'm sitting in my apartment and talking with a great guy, Jeremy. Hi Jeremy!
Jeremy: Hello Anton!
Music: “Come On" by Anton Maskeliade ft. Chance McCoy & Domenica Fossati
Kyla-Rose Smith: Alright, so you might be asking, Who is Anton Maskeliade? And what makes him special? For one, he has a wonderful laugh.
[sound of Anton’s laugh]
Elena Moon Park: Two, he’s redefining the way music creativity is taught in Russia, and perhaps soon, around the world.
Kyla-Rose Smith: Three, he’s an alumni of the OneBeat program. And in case you haven’t heard our intro episode, which you should listen to, you might be wondering: what is OneBeat?
Elena Moon Park: Imagine 25 musicians in their 20s and 30s, from across the globe, getting together to make music. It might sound kind of like this:
[MusicI Interlude: Montage of OneBeat recordings]
Music: “Iba” by Biodun Kuti ft. Kato Change and Parfum Zola
Elena Moon Park: This episode features a conversation between OneBeat co-founder Jeremy Thal and Anton Maskeliade, an alumnus of our first-ever OneBeat program in 2012. Anton is a producer, composer, singer-songwriter, and he also runs the Maskeliade Music School, which teaches adults to produce their own original music, regardless of their level of musical or technical skill.
Kyla-Rose Smith: What particularly struck us about this interview is the way that Anton’s experience at the OneBeat program in 2012 really impacted him, and reframed the way he thinks about the importance of a supportive environment in allowing each musician to bloom into the full expression of their potential.
Elena Moon Park: He recently also published his first book, called "Your First Track", which describes how absolutely anyone can access their musical creativity and express themselves, with just a little help from music technology and a supportive community.
So let’s pass this off to Jeremy and Anton...
Jeremy: It was 2012 but I remember it like it was yesterday. When we put out our first OneBeat application call, we were inundated with more than 2000 applications. And yet Anton, I remember yours to this day because I was like, Who is this guy?
Music: Зотовы Братья |||| Bob Dylan (Live 2011)
Jeremy: … and what is this music? Because it was electronic but it was very organic [music from Anton’s OneBeat application]. I don't even think there was like a metronomic beat [right], it was just often freestyle circuit bending [music continues]. Were you singing too?
Anton: Yeah, I was singing. [Music from Anton’s OneBeat application]
Jeremy: All I could remember as I heard it, and I was like, wherever this show is at four in the morning in the Forbidden Forest on a rocket launch pad outside of Moscow. That's the show I want to go to.
Jeremy: So let’s start from the beginning. Anton Maskeliade is both your artist name and the name of your music school. Where did the name Maskeliade come from?
Music: “Anton Maskeliade — Я Не Боюсь Тебя”
Anton: So there is a story because my grandad had the surname Muskileson, this a Jewish surname Muskileson. He told me many funny stories about people misspelling his surname in different kind of styles and Maskeliade was one of this wrong pronunciation of this surname. And I thought, ‘oh, that’s a great surname, I'd like to pick it up.’ And when my granddad died in 2007, I started writing poems. And then I decided to be a musician like Muskiliade. And I just feel it's the thing that in my blood is just something really family, family thing.
Jeremy: Because your official name is Sergeev right?
Anton: Yeah right, when my father, uh, was married on my mother. They were scared to use the Jewish surname because during the Soviet era there were a lot of people who hated Jews and, uh, you know, some problems with the, um...
Anton: Mmm. Yeah. Right, right, right. That's why.
Jeremy: Anton, what your life was like in Moscow before we met in Florida for OneBeat in 2012?
Anton: So I was living in like, a one-room apartment. I was working as a manager and selling wood grinding machines. It's full time job, and I spent time on music only in the evening, in the nights.
Jeremy: At that time you were playing with an electronic duo called the Zotovr brothers -- which in fact was the music I had heard in your application -- what kind of shows would you play back then?
Anton: We played some eclectic electronic music with noisy sounds and like strange beats IDM.
Music: Зотовы Братья |||| Yesb
Anton: We played in really strange places like outside Moscow in Forbidden Forest on a rocket station. And invitations to this festivals were sent a few hours before it starts, for some special people. And we play like, in four o'clock in the morning, and like maybe two or three guys, drunk, listened to us. (laughs) It was the best, just best.
[Music fades out]
Anton: I was finishing my higher education, as a sound engineer and was planning to went outside Russia to Europe to continue my sound engineering education. Education there is very expensive for Russians because we are not a part of the Europe Union. And there were a grant; I prepared all the documents, I had excellent marks and recommendations. But that year, the grant was terminated. I was really unhappy. And it was devastating time.
And I'm just searching the web. And on some music forum, I found strange link about the new program in United States that gathers people around the world. It called OneBeat. And I just click the link. And maybe three months after, I received the invitation, and it was like a miracle.
Jeremy: So once you got information about OneBeat, and who the other Fellows were, what was your initial reaction?
Anton: It shocked me because I thought, oh my god, I’m going to the really scary place because I will be there so stupid, so unprofessional, so ugly, and it flew away when I just met you in the gates there. And I see there, these people, I can talk with them, I can feel myself great, and, in this great atmosphere, I could create, actually, I could create something new.
Jeremy: Just to give some context here: the 2012 OneBeat program began with a 2-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. It was a hot, humid, swampy September, and we had incredible musicians from all over the world packed into this incredible art center, which is a complex of open studios that the artists were free to use at any time; day or night.
Anton, does any particular moment stick out to you from these first days at the residency?
Anton: I think it's night time, when everybody went to their places. And I went to the studio, and there were a huge grand piano, and nobody there. I start playing.
[sound of piano]
I played a lot. It's because it was a jetlag. I didn't want to sleep and in some time, Kyungso came to the studio and start playing on the gayageum.
[sound of gayageum]
And then I saw it was four o'clock in the morning and the sun is beginning to rise. This memory is so bright, sweet, cozy. Like I think it's forever be in my memory.
Jeremy: I remember in the early part of the residency how you really started to open up and explore new music directions. And part of that exploration resulted in a song called “Come On”, which was very stylistically different from the music you’d been making with the Zotovr Brothers before OneBeat. On this tune you collaborated with your fellow Fellow, Chance McCoy from West Virginia. How did meeting Chance inspire the creation of this song?
Anton: Because he gave me his acoustic guitar from 1932. It was like magic and this guitar was on open C tuning.
Anton: And I had one song in the open C tuning and I suddenly remembered it … and then “Come On” was my first single as Anton Maskeliade when I came back to Moscow…And helped rise my career really really good.
Music: “Come On" by Anton Maskeliade ft. Chance McCoy & Domenica Fossati
Jeremy: So after the 2-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, we traveled up the East Coast towards New York. And one of the stops along the way was in Roanoke, Virginia. This was the place that you said you saw your first ever street studio. The Street Studio, for those who don’t know, is a concept we at Found Sound Nation had developed the year before -- it’s essentially a mobile recording rig with some speakers and simple instruments, and we invite anyone and everyone to play, to sing, to rap, to talk about their dreams - whatever they want to do.
Later you went on to lead your own street studios, develop the technique in new directions, and, I believe, become one of the masters of the street studio form. What was it like seeing the street studio for the first time in Roanoke and what did you take away from that experience?
Anton: I dunno, I think I didn’t do anything.
Audio (Underscore): OneBeat 2012 - Roanoke Street Studio
Anton: I was sitting and just looking what's happening around me. I didn’t even play. But I was so engaged in it. So... how to say.. I was involved emotionally. I was so surprised that every random person can come up, took the mic and start do something and it becomes music just suddenly. And it’s so fun because you can hear yourself in the big speakers, and you can hear yourself like a professional musician, like in one second. It’s like a miracle.
Jeremy: We actually made a track from that day called Gumbri, which features the guembri playing of Tunisian fellow Wael Jegham and rapping by Senegalese fellow PPS.
Music: “Gumbri” by Alesh, PPS, Wael Jegham & Johnbern Thomas
Jeremy: So after Roanoke we traveled up to New York City, and did some performances and workshops there. What did you think of New York?
Anton: New York, it’s a town game changer. For me it’s still the most favorite city in my life. And we played in the Brooklyn in a huge bricks building, and the projection were flew around us, and the people sitting around us.
Jeremy: They called that place the Autumn Bowl but it was really a construction site. These developers had bought it -- im sure now it’s fancy condos or offices. But for a year or so they turned it into this massive performance space. In fact, you’re hearing some audio from this exact performance now. Anton and a Fellow from Pakistan, Usman Riaz, were performing on a circular stage in the middle of the room, with projections on a 3-sided screen floating above them.
Audio: OneBeat 2012 - Autumn Bowl (Part 9)
Anton: And I also brought there the Nintendo system - NES. And it was broken, and during our live performance, around us there was just glitched Mario, glitched some heroes from the games. It was manually controlled by someone, I don’t remember who.
But, actually, just this evening, when it’s finished -- because that was our last gig -- I came back to my room, and I just realized I'm a different person right now. And I heard this applause after my show, and when I came back to Moscow, I just realized, I wanted to be a musician, just seriously, I wanted to be a musician, not like a hobby. And I started writing more songs, I started -- very important -- I started showing my songs to everybody, I became more self confident. And I think this is like, how to say, a turning point, in my life.
Music Interlude: Я не боюсь тебя (Dmitry Evgrafov Remix)
Jeremy: So earlier you mentioned that it was the supportive environment of OneBeat that allowed you to feel more free in your creativity. How was that different from the environment that you were used to?
Anton: Here in Russia is just opposite...There is a theory, it called a bucket with crabs. Do you know it?
Jeremy: Bucket with crabs? Yeah, I don't know it, I like it already.
Anton: Okay. So there is a bucket, and the bucket is full of crabs. And when the the crab on the very top, he has a possibility to escape the bucket. And he cannot do it because other crabs grabs him and holds him to escape. It's really good metaphor for everything that's happening around me here. Because if you want to start some new career or some new hobby and thinking about it seriously, your environment can just block it and said, oh, you want to be different? No, we're not allow you to be different. You should be like us.
If you have a profession, you should be master. And a lot of people just use this power and shows in a bad way that they are better than you and they expect you to respect them for that. I think it begins from the school and from the parents. And now it's changing because of the internet and because of the open world but my generation it's full of the people that say on you, “what level are you?”
Anton: During OneBeat, I've never, I've never felt — any minute, I never felt something like you know, different with the ages with the... how to say…
Jeremy: status, or hierarchy...
Anton: Yeah, I think this is a key thing in OneBeat that changed my mind. And when I came back to Moscow, it impact on me really, really strong.
Jeremy: So after you got back from OneBeat, you started the Maskeliade Music School. People often come to your school with no experience, and just to clarify these are adults, not kids, and they end up writing, recording, producing, and mixing their own music as part of a month-long intensive. What’s the social environment you’re creating in these programs?
Anton: So during the one month we just became as a one family. We listened to every tracks we support each other. We jamming, we can go to the bar after school or we can meet in the jams in a few months after because we understood that music is not something like high level education for snobs or elite people. It’s for fun, first. You can use this fun in different directions. You can sound the movies. You can start a musical career. You can play with the band and make an arrangement for them. So it's a different ways.
Jeremy: So what's the core philosophy of the Maskeliade Music School?
Anton: I believe that every person that came to my school, he has something to say to the world, because the person is in the class, he want to learn how to transform emotions into music. So he wants to say something, he has an idea, message, or emotion.
And I believe that music for everybody. I think all over the world, all musicians, when they creating something, this is the moment of the process, it's the same, despite your social level, money or status, it doesn't matter. Like the enjoying of the process of creation is the same. And this is the most important thing. And I explained that creating music, it's not something really hard or, you know...
Jeremy: you need a degree to do or...
Anton: Yeah. I think the common education should explain everybody, not only about the music or cinema or anything, that everything has a really low threshold.
Anton: Because it makes us human.
Jeremy: What would you say to a student who feels that they don't have enough talent or training to write their own music? What do you need to get started?
Anton: The only thing you need is just a wish. And I think, your environment, what people are around you.
Jeremy: So let’s take a listen to a song that one of Anton's students made. The name of this song is “so deep so blue” and it’s by the artist BEPA. Before this workshop, BEPA had performed as a singer, but she had never produced her own music. And after 3 weeks in the Maskeliade Music School, she made this track from start to finish.
Music: “"so deep so blue” by BEPA
Jeremy: Anton recently published his first book, entitled “Your First Track”. Here’s Anton reading a line from the book:
Audio: Anton reading (in Russian) from “Your First Track”
Jeremy: This translates to: Creativity is free, so you don't owe anything to anyone. Your music cannot be bad or of low quality. This is just a matter of subjective judgment: someone likes it and someone else doesn’t, with a huge scale in-between. You will find your listener, the main thing is to start making music and spread the word about it.
Jeremy: So Anton, one last question. What are your dreams for the future?
Anton: Actually it's easy question, because I didn't see, exactly picture what I'm doing in the future, or who am I? But I want to feel something that I feel right now. Like the enjoyment of the process, what I'm doing, because a few years ago, I didn't expect that I would have my own In school, and I could teach people and enjoy this. A few years ago, I couldn't even imagine that I could write a book. And it would be popular.
A few years ago, I didn't expect that I would have a child. You know, everything, everything changes. And I think it's the most important thing just to keep the feeling. Keep the feeling that what you do right now, it's important, and you enjoyed it. Because when you enjoy it, or something you do right now, it inspire you to do more and inspire your environment, and you become a person who helps other people. And it's also important. I think we live just not only to enjoy our lives, but to help other people that are around you to struggle with their pain or fears. And we're here to help each other. That's why.
Jeremy: Well Anton, it’s been a real pleasure to talk to you. And I hope that pretty soon on planet earth we can hang out again in person.
I hope so, Jeremy, thank you very much. I just, it's really lovely to see you and you haven't changed and it's really good.
Jeremy: Before we go let’s listen to a song from Anton’s third album “Контра”, which he released last year. This song is called “Научусь Слезам”, meaning “I will learn to cry”.
Music: “Научусь Слезам” by Anton Maskeliade
Kyla-Rose Smith: Thanks for tuning in to The OneBeat Podcast! This episode was produced by Jeremy Thal and Nyokabi Kariũki, with essential help from Elena Moon Park and Kyla-Rose Smith. It was mixed by Jeremy Thal. If you want to hear more of Anton’s music, attend his classes, or read his book, please visit the links in the show notes, or go to www.1beat.org
Listen to us anywhere you get your podcasts - and please rate, review, subscribe and share us with your friends. Follow us at 1Beatmusic. That’s the number 1….beatmusic, 1beatmusic.org.
In our next episode, the eighth and final episode of season one, we’ll focus on the music and history of Kosovo. This episode features 2015 alum Bajram a.k.a “Kafu” Kinoli, who will share the role that music has played in his life, from singing Sufi religious music as a child, to coming of age during the Kosovo War. We’ll also discuss the role music plays in his life now, as he and his wife Milica organize programs and festivals that bring together musicians from across the Balkans.
The views + opinions expressed by our guests are their own and do not reflect the views of the ECA, Bang On A Can, Found Sound Nation, or any of its employees.
OneBeat is an initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with Bang On A Can’s Found Sound Nation.