'America is bright colors': Ukrainian violinist Assia Akhat - about her success in the USA, beauty secrets and future plans
This winter, the American audience is waiting bright music show from Ukrainian violinist and singer Assia Ahhatt. The actress achieved a lot in the USA by capturing PBS viewers, establishing cooperation with studios, producers and best agents, and her All-In album was submitted to 8 Grammy nominations, making Assiya the only Ukrainian artist whose album received such recognition in the American and world markets .
In anticipation of her USA tour ForumDaily asked the performer about her impressions of America, plans for the future and the secrets of success.
Soon you will begin a nationwide tour of the United States. American viewers know and love you. How will you surprise them this time in order to preserve and increase this love?
There are literally only a few days left before the start of my American tour, and it's so interesting. I achieved that my Ukrainian musicians and the Freedom ballet were given work visas, the guys come with me to conquer the American audience. I am sure that the American audience who comes to our concerts will receive an incredible emotional charge, because love reigns in our collective. And on stage, this flow of love simply covers any auditorium - be it 500 or 2000 seats. The people who will be in the hall will feel all the joy of this music, because the musical material is simply incredible, and it is impossible not to feel our mood when we work on stage. The amazing and unsurpassed ballet Freedom, the aesthetics that people from the audience will see, is something that will never be forgotten. Well what can I say, here you have to hear and see, come!
Assiya Ahat will perform in the following US cities:
- 26 January - Sacramento (CA);
- 28 January - San Francisco (California);
- 31 January - San Diego, California.
You performed in Ukraine, different countries of Europe, in the USA. Is the audience different and the audience’s favorite compositions in different countries? Where are you most pleased to perform?
Of course, in different countries my repertoire is different, first of all, in the fact that in Russian-speaking countries this repertoire can be a song. It is a blessing that I have been playing the violin since childhood, and instrumental music has no boundaries, so I can play it in any country. I have a large repertoire of instrumental music, which over the past few years has been created by American producers. This is a repertoire that can be performed in any part of the world, and will always be understood and accessible to any viewer or listener in the hall.
The advantage of instrumental music is that a person sitting in the hall can, under the influence of its sound, come up with any pictures, he can have any emotions and feelings. When you sing a song, there is a semantic load in it, and then the listener is forced to think about one thing. There is more freedom in instrumental music. The advantage of instrumental music is that when meeting guests with whom you want to really emotionally relax, you always turn on music without words, which will create an individual mood - to each his own.
Instrumental music has only one drawback: all over the world it is less commercial music than the song genre.
As for where it is more pleasant for me to speak, it is certainly invaluable when you are known in your own country, you are on the same level as your audience, who already knows you and has been following your work for more than 20 years.
On the other hand, I felt love and absolutely genuine emotions from the American audience. For example, when during his speech Chris Botti first announced me ... He said that he travels a lot around the world, collects souvenirs, gifts and emotions, and this time he was in Ukraine, and now, welcome - Assia Akhat ... And at these words, the audience applauded and shouted so much, many stood up during my appearance on the stage. These are people who have never seen or heard me, but in this way showed their positive, mood - emotional, cool - the mood of joy and perception of the artist, for whose performance they bought tickets, spent money. That is, they knowingly program themselves for a good mood, and this is how they meet me in America. And this is definitely very nice.
But we - artists who have already worked on stage for a long time - understand that you shouldn't worry, even if you are greeted somehow sadly, with weak-sounding applause. In response, you have to show everything that you can, so that the viewer believes, so that he sees who you are, your professionalism and love sounding in music.
This summer on american public television PBS music show came out A music extravaganzaresulting from your popularity and relevance with PBS viewers. How was it prepared, what experience did this project give you?
A Music Extravaganza is a music show that we have prepared together with PBS and producer Gene Bortnick. The show was filmed at the National Opera of Kiev. And this was very important for me, because usually for American television, artists shoot in America with an American audience. It was important for me to show the beauty of our Opera House. I also wanted the Ukrainian musicians, singers, choral chapel, orchestra to play and take part in my show, the Freedom ballet that I have been working with since the day they were founded in 2002 is unique. These are the best artists of Ukraine, so the show turned out to be very bright, colorful and very modern, despite the fact that we play music of different generations. A lot of songs of those times that sound in our processing look unusual and relevant, and young people really like it, like the older generation. Our achievement is that people of all ages come to concerts - from the elderly, our grandparents, to our children.
All this winter, spring and summer we went on tour with our show, performed it in opera houses in different countries, and watched the same picture - people in seemingly most pretentious places, get up from their seats, and begin to sing and dance.
You have long and successfully collaborated with producers and artists in the United States, but at the same time live in Ukraine. Have you ever considered immigration? What should happen in the life of Assiya Akhat so that she will finally move to the USA, and not just come here to work? If you decide on what kind of city it would be and why?
I have been working for many years with the best American music producers. These are the Grammy nominees, the winners of this award, and the songs the Grammy owners wrote to me. I studied with Satt Ricks, one of the best vocal teachers who studied with such mega stars as Michael Jackson, Madonna and many others.
This is the teacher who taught me to “sing, how to speak”. The coolest rule that I took from him for myself: you don't need to open your mouth too much, squeeze something out of yourself. It is enough to sing the way you want to speak, not to shout about love in a song, but to speak as if you are saying it to your loved one. Both in the song and when playing the instrument, you need to convey emotion as in life - without strain, without any pathos and theatricality. That is, to be natural on stage.
I found a lot of necessary, interesting people who played an important role in my life in America. A lot of wonderful work was done and lived together with one of the top professionals of our time - music producer Umberto Gatica, 18-time winner of the Grammy. This is the person who writes albums to such famous artists as, for example, Celine Dion or Andrea Bocelli. Our joint album with him was submitted to the 8 Grammy nominations.
I feel very comfortable in any of the countries. I can fly to America even every month - I have a corresponding visa. I also fly frequently to other countries. But my home is in Kiev. Therefore, the question of emigration has never been raised. I feel comfortable where there are people with whom it is pleasant to work, make friends, communicate.
I live in Kiev, in the center of the city, in a private house, and I would never agree to live outside the city, because the very idea that I am outside the city leads me into gloom. I have been to many places in America and I like huge cities. I love living in a big metropolis, where there is a big movement of people, cars. In the States, this is, of course, New York, Manhattan, with its huge skyscrapers that scare some people, but for me they are like some giants protecting me small in a beautiful city with beautiful people.
I was in Chicago, Washington, I really like all these cities. I also traveled to many states and small cities during a tour with the world famous American pianist, composer and singer Ethan Bortnick. In these cities, it is also very interesting, and the audience there has always been sincerely pleased, accepting, positive and loving.
Of course, I like Florida for its climate, I really love Miami and I love Boca Raton - my project director Oksana lives and works there.
What are your impressions of life in the USA? What is definitely better here than in Ukraine? What are you missing here?
In general, America, of course, is an amazing country. I only now understand why there are many Americans who do not leave their country and travel a lot around the country. The climate is completely different in different parts of America. Even New Jersey, it would seem, is not far from New York, and what a beautiful nature there is. Once in New Jersey, from the window of the hotel where I lived, I saw deer grazing on a hillock. It's great - being close to nature in a big enough city.
In America, any Russian-speaking person feels at ease and free, because America is a country of immigrants, and here it is not shameful, for example, to turn to a seller or to any person on the street in bad English to ask him about something. Of course, this makes life easier, and is very different from the situation in which a person who does not speak the local language finds himself in Europe.
America is interesting for its colors and for me, as a creative person, it is very interesting to watch people, watch how they dress, how they look, because, probably, only in America you can see so many people who came from different parts of the world with their culture and images. I really like to walk in Manhattan, when I have time - to watch people - how different they are, and this is also America that attracts people of art.
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Now we can safely say that your international star status and recognition in the United States is higher than the level of recognition in Ukraine. Why do you think Ukrainian artists abroad achieve greater success and recognition than at home? Is it possible to say that in Ukraine (and in many countries of the former USSR) the remnants of the Soviet culture, which is not inclined to accept everything new and unusual, the results of experiments in music that deviate from their usual forms, are still making themselves felt?
It is difficult to speculate about where a musician, performer or singer achieves the best recognition - in his own country or abroad. Everyone has their own destiny, and I believe that there is something that is foreordained from above. Sometimes some song, insignificant from the point of view of professionalism, reaches incredible heights. Apparently, my study of classical music from the age of 5 and a higher musical education make it difficult for me to understand why people like this or that completely simple song.
I can only guess that they want a holiday they are attracted to the simplicity and accessibility, including both the artist himself and the music that he performs.
In general, the laws of the hit practically does not exist. There are, of course, certain laws of hit songs, but they do not always work, here is something completely different.
How hard is it for an artist to work in a foreign country? Is it easier for you to build a career here or in Ukraine?
Of course, building a career is easier in Ukraine, because in your native country it’s all the more clear. But when you come to America, nobody asks you who your parents are, who your spouse is, what your family does, how many children you have, how old you are. In America they look at you, get acquainted with your work, see that you look good, that you are a stage character, that you have something to show the audience, and this is enough for you to make a career and attract attention to yourself.
Once in the United States, I wrote letters to eight top music producers in the world - just a short resume and attached two videos of my work. And each of them responded to these letters.
As you watch your career, you seem to be a fearless experimenter in creativity. Having conquered the world by playing the violin, which was far enough from the classical understanding, you decided not to rest on your laurels, but to take up singing. Now that you are already known as a singer, what other surprises await your fans? What new roles are you ready to take on? Are you scared of starting something new?
I am an experimenter in my work, because I have never had a producer before. The producer appeared just a few years ago. He explained to me that he wanted to see and hear an American viewer who would watch the show on television. Therefore, our costumes, for example, are different from the costumes that we use on tours in the CIS countries. For the American PBS viewer, we wear more restrained suits.
When I came to show business, Ukrainian producers and songwriters were interested in working with me, but no one knew where to start, so we started with the simplest processing of classical compositions. Help in this difficult matter was provided to me by my teacher from the conservatory, and this is also very valuable to me. To this day, he is very interested in what I do, he empathizes, listens to each new composition, and we constantly call up and see each other. And when my teacher listened to my album All in, which I created with Humberto Gatica, he cried with pride for me.
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When I came to show business, I started by processing classical hits in violin performance, playing not only violin music, but, for example, organ music, which I processed for violin. I have the treatment of Schubert, Schumann, Strauss. In my program, I always add the real sound of classical music, and sometimes people don’t even understand what they hear classics without processing and they have goosebumps. And I think that this is just my mission - to accustom the audience in the hall to violin playing under the influence of modern treatments, I sometimes make people hear pure classics. And in the future, a person may have a desire to go to the big hall of the National Philharmonic and hear some more complex classical works performed by a violin or other instruments.
Since I did not have a producer, I began to write instrumental music myself. For an instrumentalist of classical music, this is unusual, because if you study at a serious music school, conservatory or musical academy, you are forced to play Mozart in Mozart's style, Bach in Bach's style, here I played Bach in my own way.
In the future, composers told me all the time: “Let's start singing. This will attract more audiences. ” I said at first: “No, I will never sing. Why do I need it? I am not a vocalist. I am an instrumentalist. ” But the time has come, and I decided. I was encouraged by the famous composer and producer Ruslan Quinta, who wrote many hits to our megastars. He started writing my first albums with songs, and I started experimenting with voice. I wanted to sing in a subtona, because I wanted to be different from other artists, and I thought up melodies with high jumps, remembered that as a child I sang in the choir in the first soprano. Later I had a period in my life when I started to sing in a dense voice, closer to all our singers, already at that moment I was thinking about making it possible for anyone to repeat these songs.
That is, I thought of any problems for myself, but at the same time I was always faithful to my violin. In almost every song I have a violin, and I literally tortured all the arrangers and authors who wrote songs for me - I always asked that they leave me a piece for the violin solo, which I invented myself.
From what I would like to do, for many years I have dreamed of making a project that will be closer to lounge music, with some fashionable electronic sounds and my voice, full of subtone, small phrases that will catch and give such a very beautiful emotion associated with love, peace, space, the universe, nature and the beauty that surrounds us. But having lived most of my life in show business, I understand that I still want everything you do to be in demand. And when I ask myself the question: “Who will listen or see this? And will people want to hear it somewhere, on some concert venue, or is it just music for home use? " This is a question that I have been thinking about for about 10 years, and I understand that, probably, I still have to fulfill it.
The female part of our audience will never forgive unless we ask you about ways to care for ourselves. You perfectly manage to keep youth and a beautiful figure. Is there any secret: what to eat, what not to eat? what kind of sport do you do? What beauty treatments do you prefer?
I will not deceive anyone, I want to say right away: we must, first of all, say thanks to our genetics, our parents, grandparents for the way we look. Of course, it is difficult for a person who was born into a family in which there are certain genetic tendencies to early aging, excessive obesity, or to some kind of defects in the structure of the figure - all this certainly affects.
I was lucky - my mother still looks very good, she has beautiful skin, good teeth, hair, and all this passed on to me. Of course, all this needs to be supported. I hate diets, but I understand that without proper nutrition we cannot look good, so I try my best. In my life, there are no prohibitions on any products, I allow myself sweets, I really love carbohydrate foods such as potatoes and pastries. But in time I remember that I need to have a conscience, I get on the scales, I know my weight literally up to 100 grams. Even without weights, I know myself and feel my weight, so I can control myself without weights and restrain myself a little in nutrition if necessary. This is the first thing.
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Second, I adhere to the 8 / 16 nutrition method, when you can eat 8 hours, 16 you cannot. This food suits me, I can start eating at 12 hours of the day and then finish at 8 hours of the evening. Of course, in America it is easy to eat the right food, as my American friends do, chia, flaxseed, raisins or dried apricots. There are also pastas and rice we all love, but they are made from plant products, for example, zucchini pasta, cauliflower rice. I found out about this in America, and now I am looking for such products in our Ukraine.
You can experiment to find something of your own. If you have good body proportions and a good character (I emphasize that this is very important), then there will be success and recognition, believe me.
If you are not evil, do not wish harm to anyone, do not envy, if you are light and benevolent, these are qualities that will help, even if you are overweight. Therefore, a smile, good mood and goodwill will not hurt anyone. Live without envy and anger - and there will be happiness.
And also in my life it helped me a lot that I can endure. Patience is a very cool quality, especially for women. And health depends on kindness. Therefore, our beauty lies in important qualities of character, and then everyone polishes his body and weight as needed. Those who have willpower are engaged in this; those who do not have them can improve themselves in their other virtues. You all have them!
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