Interview From.Uz

“We write our own compositions trying to be as creative as possible”

(March 2011, text by Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen, picture taken from From.Uz website)

I have listened to From.Uz since the first album they recorded and since then I wondered how they create this dynamic music. Now I finally get the chance to ask some questions to From.Uz, a band from Uzbekistan that really deserves your attention. My partner in conversation is the band's content manager Alex, who went through the questions with the band and answered me in their name.

I think it would be interesting to give our readers some information about the band members of From.Uz. Would you please tell me a bit about the band's history?

Alex: “Of course, I would like to do that. From.Uz, formerly written as Fromuz, was founded in 2004 in Tashkent in Uzbekistan by guitarist Vitaly Popeloff, bass player Andrew Mara-Novik, keyboard player Albert Khalmurzaev and drummer Vladimir Badirov. They adopted the name from one of our first songs and off course it means 'from Uzbekistan'. We gave our first concert in April, 2005 in the hall of the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan. The band's debut album Audio Diplomacy was released in 2007.
Left to right: Albert, Ali, Igor & Vitaly
In 2010 From.Uz participated in the Baja Prog festival in Mexico, where the band performed together with a number of progressive rock monsters like Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater),  Universe Zero and  Focus. In 2008 From.Uz recorded their second album Overlook. After it had been released Andrew Mara-Novik and Vladimir Badirov quit, so we had to look for replacements. Soon drummer Ali Izmailov and bass player Surat Kasimov joined the band and Igor Elizov was hired as a second keyboard player. The third album Seventh Story (see review) was released in early 2010. To support this album, From.Uz released the DVD Inside Seventh Story in October 2010 (see review). Now From.Uz are Vitaly Popeloff (guitar, vocal), Albert Khalmurzaev (bass, backing vocals) and Igor Elizov (piano, samples, backing vocals). With this formation the band are working on their forthcoming album.”

What is the band's main inspiration and what are the personal musical preferences?

Alex: “It's rather difficult to describe the music we play. There are several artists like King Crimson, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa that inspired us to create the band we are now. We have even recorded a cover of Starless And Bible Black by King Crimson for a 10T Undercover compilation. However, most of the time we write our own compositions trying to be as creative as possible. All band members have a large range of musical preferences. For example, Igor Elizov's favourite bands are Queen, The Beatles and Metallica. Vitaly Popellof prefers fusion music like Miles Davis and classic seventies art rock as Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes. Albert Khalmurzaev usually listens to prog and classical music.”

What does Vitaly Popellof do to create his specific guitar sound that is the vibrato that gives him the recognizable sound?

Vitaly Popeloff: “For the music of From.Uz I use some specific equipment for example a Roland guitar synthesizer, but in general it's my way of playing guitar to create my own sound.  As far as the vibrato is concerned: it doesn't sound that way thanks to a special tool or something, but it's due to my own style of playing.”
Album Art 'Seventh Story'

The music of From.Uz is getting more progressive on every album. What can we expect on the new album?

Alex: “The music of From.Uz has always been in progression. That's why we have always experimented with our sound. The next album Quartus Artifactus will be an acoustic anthology of the band's music. The idea of recording an acoustic album appeared in summer 2009, when we gave an acoustic concert named Acoulogy. That became the basis of the forthcoming album. The music on Quartus Artifactus has now been finished and it will be released in February-March 2011. You can listen to samples of several tracks on our official website.”

Most of our readers aren't familiar with your home country. So how is the musical scene in Uzbekistan?

Alex: “The rock culture in our country is in progress now. From.Uz is one of the few bands that professionally play progressive rock music. It's a big honour for us to represent Uzbekistan in the world's progressive rock community.”

Are there any plans or chances to take the new album on the road outside of Uzbekistan?

Alex: “Unfortunately, in a geographical sense we are quite far away from the world's progressive rock stage, but we are doing our best to keep in touch with the interests of progressive music listeners. We keep an open mind to cooperate and looking for interesting offers of concert tours in America or Europe.”

On the DVD Playing The Imitation, the first part was played behind a curtain. The DVD Inside Seventh Story had some special appearances. What was the intention of the curtain and why did you have these two guest musicians on stage?

Alex: “The curtain appeared to be a part of a theatrical effect as the first concert took place in a theatre. The curtain was also the concept of the first album. Inside Seventh Story also took place in a theatre; this time the Ilkhom-theatre. W e had decorations designed for the Seventh Story-album and therefore we invited two professional actors. Furthermore, in all our concerts we used theatrical elements.”

Being impressed by Vitaly Popeloff's solo album Pure Fiction, I'm still hoping for the next one. Are there any plans?

Alex: “Yes, there are. Vitaly is now working on his second solo album. I don't know exactly when it will be released since the band is the first priority now.”

From.Uz has worked with two great drummers: Vladimir Badirov and Ali Izmailov. I found both drummers impressive. What happened to them?

Alex: “In 2008 Vladimir Badirov and Andrew Mara-Novik left Uzbekistan and so it became impossible to play together. Ali Izmailov left From.Uz for personal reasons. For the time being we're playing on live concerts with a session drummer, but at the moment we don't intend to add another drummer to the line-up.”

Thank you for answering my questions on behalf of the band. We all hope that From.Uz get a chance to play for a wider audience, but until then we're looking forward to the acoustic anthology of this interesting and progressive band.

Alex: “It's my pleasure. We want to thank all our listeners and a special thank to our producer Igor Iosis for his professionalism and support.”

More info about From.Uz on the Internet:
       From.Uz Website
       review CD 'Seventh Story'
       review DVD 'Inside Seventh Story'

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