Sergey Mazaev: "The Country Is Going Backwards"

Sergey Mazaev: "The Country Is Going Backwards"
Sergey Mazaev: "The Country Is Going Backwards"

Video: Sergey Mazaev: "The Country Is Going Backwards"

Video: Sergey Mazaev: "The Country Is Going Backwards"

In December, the Moralny Kodeks group, which cannot be imagined without its charismatic frontman, celebrated its 30th anniversary, and Sergei Mazaev himself celebrated its 60th anniversary. He could have become an economist, but he became a musician to whom the concept of age does not seem to apply at all. The "Moral Code" and its soloist do not have energy, just as they did at the end of the 1980s, when everything was just beginning. We met with Sergei Mazaev to find out if there is a place for nostalgia in his life, and to find out why his group does not need a set list.

- In December, the "Moral Code" group celebrated its 30th anniversary. The phrase that everyone knows today was suggested by you, before that the team was called differently. How did you come to him?

- I did not suggest changing the name - we just reinvented it. At first the group was called "The Diamond Hand", the first broadcast we went on under this name. And then the "Moral Code" appeared, and we decided to leave it - after all, there was more speculation on the image of the film "The Diamond Arm". "The moral code of the builders of capitalism" - in general, we wanted it like this.

- At the start, did you assume that this project would be so long and so tenacious?

- We didn't think about it at all. We wanted to make a world-class project - no matter where. Naturally, the Russian-speaking space is mainly located here, which is why we work here. But we have things in English too. We went on tour only once to Switzerland, worked for a couple of years and that's it. The rest of the trips were mostly either to festivals or to Russian-speaking listeners.

- But initially there was a plan to take over the world?

- Like all of you, like all people. Of course. Become successful. Well, I was already successful in the Autograph group, and with the Hello, song group we had success, always sold out. So we understood how this was done, what was needed for this, and decided to assemble an extraordinary group that would differ in sound and musical material from what they were doing at that time in Moscow.

Photo: Georgy Kardava
Photo: Georgy Kardava

© Georgy Kardava

- At what point did you feel that the "Moral Code" would be more successful than your previous projects, what exactly should you stake on it?

- We did not think, did not understand this. We just wanted to achieve this. Naturally. And they tried in every possible way. And it turned out what happened.

- Did you have any development strategy?

- No, of course, there was nothing of the kind. The strategy is simple: you have to make hits. Rehearsals six times a week from 12 noon to 6 pm. And that's all.

- Except Sunday?

- In fact, we got together on Sunday. There is no place more pleasant than a studio in Moscow. It's like a second home.

- Still?

- Well, of course.

- For 30 years have you learned to understand which song will become a hit?

- In general, yes, you can already quickly understand. Now, however, in new genres, new sounds there are surprises. And everything about traditional rock and roll is understandable. I just hear if the song is hit or not. Is it well composed. But in general, this, of course, is not one hundred percent business.

- Can you set yourself up - I want to compose a hit?

- Every time a person approaches an instrument with the idea of composing something, he hopes that he will write a hit. Why write bad songs? Everyone writes good songs, but the audience decides whether they will remain good or not. I never really listened to the Kino group - it seemed to me that it was all too simple, like Joy Division, all these Manchester stories. But the outstanding poems, the sex symbol of Choi, the girls loved him very much. But have you heard how Polina Gagarina sang "Blood Type" in China? The song sounded incredible. Polina amazed me with this performance. Therefore, you see, there are songs, they all live, and then bam - someone will perform it differently and the song takes on a new life.

- For 30 years you have accumulated a huge number of songs. How do you maintain the repertoire?

- We play concerts without a set list and take out songs from memory on the fly. Depending on what kind of audience is in the hall. We look at the circumstances. The main thing is not to spoil people's mood.

- Without a set list - is it completely without a set list?

- Absolutely. We have a standard code, you can't live without it, they won't let you in without it: "First Snow", "Goodbye, Mom", of course, are always heard at concerts. And we change the rest.

- That is, you went out, felt and …?

- Yes, and it is lucky that there are such songs, such music that we have been playing for 30 years, but it has not set the teeth on edge. But, for example, "I love you to tears" is impossible to sing for a long time. We sang this song as a friendly cartoon in the film (we are talking about the film "Kopeyka" by Ivan Dykhovichny - "RBC Style"). But the people took it at face value, and had to sing "I love you to tears" at concerts.

- The group then and the group now - who is this for you? A team of like-minded people, a group of friends, a family?

- Then it was a group of like-minded people - very good musicians, some of them I knew before we met in the "Moral Code". And today this is my job, this is a successful business. We can say that the "Moral Code" is what has fed us all these years and continues to feed us now.

- When did you realize that a group is a business, and not just pure creativity?

- And I initially knew that this was a business. Before we started doing all this. It's just that copyright doesn't work in our country. And any phonogram that sounds does not belong to anyone. More precisely, it belongs to those who broadcast. And the money for this, of course, has always been appropriated by the owners of the broadcasting companies. Moreover, everything happened within the legal framework, they did not steal anything. There are simply no musicians in the legal space of the country. I talked a lot about it, just nobody cares about it. There are some movements to collect mechanical means, but there is no standard, how this should happen, there is no count. And therefore all this, in general, is corruption. I don’t participate in it.

- Then what did you make money on?

- Concerts, of course. Concerts, records. We started in 1989, in 1991 air appeared, we thought - freedom. It seemed that now human rights will be the main, basic concept in our country. But, unfortunately, we are only moving towards this. Slowly, but moving.

- But you could have done business in a different sense of the word?

- This is the wrong formulation of the question. You can do business in parallel with music, sell some things, for example. Business requires a lot of organization and will. You need to get the product to the point where it costs more, that's all. But I am a musician, I am an artist, and I am free. Everything is business to me. Business is translated from English as "business". I didn't want to do any business other than music. I knew that he was quite financially-intensive - I saw rich people prospering in this area. And I thought I'd try too. Basically, I live like an average small entrepreneur. I'm not a rich man. All I have is my instruments, the rights to my music, the works that we have created, videos, films, records. I have nothing else. There is no capital, everything is constantly spent on living, on recordings.

I just hear if the song is hit or not.

- If you introduce yourself, what do you call yourself? You say - I'm a singer, I'm a musician?

- There is a general concept of "musician".

- You have called yourself an artist yet.

- I said that in the sense of a creative approach to life. I have never been involved in painting.

- I, rather, ask about self-awareness as an artist.

- Do you know how an artist differs from a non-artist? He lives outside the crowd, he lives contrary. Protests against the existing foundations in society are precisely the lot of artists. If you are inside a society, then from the outside you cannot assess what this society is. And artists are outside of society, they live a completely separate life - I know many of these guys. Not those who run after clients and try to get them their paintings, sculptures, architectural projects, and so on. And artists who are in breakthrough are in art. They are sometimes very poor people, but nevertheless, the spirit that they exude is incredibly strong. An artist is freedom.

- Do you feel like a free person?

- Relatively, of course. In society, to be free from society, as Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov said, is difficult. Therefore, of course, I am free, but as much as the law, the Constitution and the conditions in which I live allow.

- In one of your interviews, you told how you fought to put things in order on Malaya Bronnaya, where you live.

- Well, it happens regularly. You go to the store, change the light bulbs at home - so this is the same thing. And from time to time I ask that they fix something, do it.

- So your efforts bring results?

- Of course. Everything works.

- You say, for example, that you were Sobyanin's confidant?

- No, you don't need to say anything about it. Everyone already understands that I am a popular person, the country knows me, and I can express some opinion about someone. People want this opinion to be good, so they try to do it the right way. Well, I'm not demanding anything supernatural - I just demand what should be by agreement with those people who serve us.

- And on what occasion did you last write or call them?

- The last time it was about the fact that our yard was not swept with brooms or a hose was not washed, as before. And in summer you walk in boots, and sand creaks under your feet. Now everything has been fixed, everything was fine last summer.

- You are probably often asked this question, but still: what were you guided by when you became Sobyanin's confidant, before that - twice - Putin's confidant?

- I believe that there should simply be at least one person with my view of things. I am not a hurray-patriot, for me patriotism is the achievement of the highest results. It's a joy for me when my friends, my people achieve success. I believe that this is real patriotism - to strive for my compatriots, my state to prosper, so that my friends do business and have success. But these posters, posters are advertising. We cannot live without her. When concerts appear, of course, we also put up a poster.

- So you had a hope to transmit some ideas upward?

- Of course. I have been streaming, streaming and continue streaming. Some things help, people appreciate it. Because I always try to be constructive. I do not say: "Why are you doing so badly, but this is …", I do not discuss at all what was done badly. I start talking about what to do. So as not to break off a person. Yes, well, we did it this way, but now let's do it like this, it will be better. And the person replies: "Oh, exactly!" Persuasion is the most important thing. When there is common sense, when people understand each other, then everything is fine.

- Then I can't help but ask about the autumn protests in Moscow.

- I, of course, sympathize with all people who fall under excessive cruelty. In general, I am totally against any kind of violence. And, of course, for me human life, human rights, his personal world are the most important value on earth. And, in theory, everything should be built around these values. Well, this is what we declare - read the program of "United Russia", by the way. It follows from it that this is a wonderful democratic party, which was supposed to lead our country to mega-prosperity. But you see that the document and the attitudes themselves live separately from the people who discredit them by their actions. This is the same betrayal, in fact, of this idea. And people do not understand this - unfortunately, many did not need to go to this area. But it so happened when everything fell apart, that a lot of empty seats opened up and people took them,who were not experts in this field. People with a little rudiments.

- With rudiments of the Soviet past?

- Everything in the world. With rudiments of cruelty, barracks. Some people know better what others need to do, you know?

- There is a point of view that journalists defended Golunov, actors defended Ustinov, and so on.

- I saw that many people voted for the release of Ustinov and Golunov, let's say, with their speeches. All together played a role. Nevzorov correctly said that the authorities themselves arranged these disorders.

- And how consolidated the music community, in your opinion? Would it be able to support its colleague in the same way?

- I doubt that this is generally possible in the music community. I don't remember any particular consolidation among the musicians. We, on the contrary, do not sing each other's songs, but forbid each other to sing their own songs. Such an antiworld in this sense. Although from the point of view of profit, it would be beneficial for everyone to sing each other's songs. So we composed "Goodbye, Mom", and if the acting serious artists began to sing it, the song would only become cooler. Status Quo, for example, managed to sing the song "In The Army Now" better than previous artists, and the authors of this song earned 400 times more money from their ten percent copyright than the 100% they received when they themselves performed. We have an economically underdeveloped society. There are good people, but they are not enough, few. That is why everything is advancing so slowly and with atavisms.

If you are inside a society, then from the outside you cannot assess what this society is like.

- How did you end up at the Economics Department of Moscow State University?

- I just entered after the army. I passed the exams and I was accepted.

- Why is it unexpectedly there after the music school?

- My first wife studied at Moscow State University. I graduated from the physics and mathematics school, after which I entered the music school. I got into the army, into the orchestra. And there I met many guys who graduated from Gnesinka, the Conservatory … They dissuaded me from going further into music. I learned English as much as it was necessary to pass the exams, and entered the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University. Plus, I had a privilege as a demobilized soldier. That was how it was, of course, not to get there without some kind of connections.

- At what point did you get bored there?

- I didn't get bored there. I was simply carried away by the rock group that we made with Igor Matvienko, and I dropped everything and went to the Krasnodar Philharmonic to work as a musician.

- If not for a rock group, would you finish your studies?

- I think yes.

- Do you remember something from what you studied?

- This education develops horizons and understanding of some things. Two years is still decent, Marx's Capital [read]. (Laughs) Vaguely, but I just know general concepts, they live with me. In particular, I don't remember the details, linear algebra, for example.

- How did the knowledge from Moscow State University come in handy for the producer?

- I'm not a producer. Why do you think so?

- Then where did the definition of producer next to your name come from?

- I produce myself and everything that happens around me. I find money to shoot videos, I am looking for premises - our studio was in the "Nightingale" cinema, which was broken, unfortunately.

- And you did not try to take part in somehow defending the "Nightingale"?

- This is private property. And as a sane person, I understand that it was a squalid, wretched building of Soviet times. Yes, it was a socially significant story, here it was possible in the morning for 100 rubles. watch a movie, there were 24 halls. But from the point of view of the location itself and the building itself, of course, this story was unprofitable. In this place, there should be a building that brings more income. So the owners can be understood.

- But what about nostalgia? For many, this was a place of prayer.

- What do you mean, we must go forward. In general, we have some kind of tendency - the country goes backwards. Really. Everyone has some kind of braces. All these myths that are trying to dazzle on the go - as with the monument to Vladimir, this should not be. But it is happening, we cannot share anything with you. This is all the great power of cutting budgets. When there is money for some things, it cannot be spent next time. They won't give it next time. In general, this is an absolutely wrong approach to mastering the budget. The main event is creation. Bridge construction. Creation of a sports complex. Construction of buildings, factories, factories. Not mastering money. Generally speaking, one cannot talk about mastering money. We have to talk about how new houses, cities, roads are being built. And not “6 billion rubles were spent”. Well, what did that tell us? Giant, incredible moneybut they were enough - not enough? Most likely not enough …

- Have you ever wanted to get involved in politics?

- Music doesn't let go. But if not for music, of course, I would be involved in politics. I have a management skill. Small, but there.

- Because you manage the group?

- No, I just always held leadership positions in many issues - in the yard, in the classroom. My initiatives have often been very good and led to good results.

- That's why you became the frontman of the group.

- No, our Canadian singer just stopped coming, and I said: "Dude, let's try to sing in Russian while he is gone, so as not to wait four months when he arrives." And we started making a Russian program, and so the group was born. And initially we wanted, of course, to get out of here.

- With a Canadian soloist?

- Yes, somewhere in America, in Europe.

- Do you sometimes think about it in the context of "what would happen if …" or never turn around?

- No, I'm already here. It is good, of course, to be rich and healthy. Who has succeeded in life. Who coped with their tasks how.

- If we talk about it - what did you succeed in the first place?

- I managed to remain myself. It is important. And I was very lucky in life with teachers at the stage of my formation. Lucky with friends. And in general with the people with whom I communicated, I communicate and will continue to communicate. I really love people. This is how one should live, it seems to me.

- What about a separate album, singling out a song?

- No, we love all our brainchildren equally, equally. It's just that at different times we had different moods, different events took place around us.

- Have you starred in every video of the "Moral Code"?

- Not really. We have one clip where there is no one at all who plays and sings. This is New Year's Moscow. Very good video turned out. I was lucky to gather my friends, we sang in all possible ways: Vova Presnyakov, Kolya Rastorguev, Valera Syutkin, Garik Sukachev, Artur Berkut, Batyrkhan Shukenov (this last recording was his lifetime), and I, respectively. We sent it out to everyone, but no radio stations picked it up. You have to pay money.

- Then what allowed you to work successfully for 30 years?

- We make money. We are a successful band, we play concerts, we cost a lot of money. I have a chamber quintet, which also generates income. There is an orchestra. The orchestra is less in demand now, because it is very large, it is an expensive pleasure. But not more expensive than yachts.

- Do you have a list of places where you can afford to perform, and where you would never become?

- We can perform wherever technical conditions allow.

- That is, if you are invited to a corporate party to some tycoons, will you speak?

“We don’t know if they are tycoons or not. They call themselves tycoons, they pay us our royalties, we play. They can pretend that they are tycoons, or maybe they were given the business to drive. Maybe they are not owners at all. Where there is a lot of money, everything is complicated. In big business, everything is very complicated.

- So you just don't dive into it? The main thing is that you are provided with technical conditions?

- What for? If you are an investigative journalist, yes, I see. Why should I? I have not dedicated my life to this. I have music. The habit of constantly suspecting that everything around is somehow unclean is bad. You need to think about yourself and how you can become better, and so that everything around you is also good, so that people are drawn to you.

- Would you like to emigrate - apart from the plan to take over the world at the dawn of the Code of Ethics?

- When I was a senior schoolboy, in my youth, yes, I really wanted to leave the Soviet Union for the free world. And now I see that we have a free world too. Well, there is simply, of course, all these rudiments of war communism, when people made their positions their private property. Okay, then let's move on to a new type of monarchy, to new nobles.

- Do you look at this philosophically?

- It's fine, as it is, and I look, of course. I really like Russian people, I like to speak Russian. I know a couple more languages, but I like it here. In order to speak a foreign language, you have to strain. And to speak your own, you don't have to strain. You have to strain about the thought, about what to say.>

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