He started to chart his path by studying violin at a music school and, against all odds, his true passion for music emerged as a rebellion against these lessons. Since he realised he wanted to become a songwriter and artist, London-based, Moscow-born Savva Rozanov, better known as Synecdoche Montauk, has not stopped working on his musical project in which classical music blends with pop music ideas. Today he’s releasing his new album, Acume, which begins a new stage in his life saying goodbye to his inner self, becoming his mirror, sharing important reflections on ephemeral beauty and experimenting with new structures in the songs.
“The album was completed and sent for mixing to sound engineer Roman Urazov 2 days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” Rozanov comments about an eerie coincidence that confirmed his hypothesis that the world seems to be caught in a never-ending cycle. His new project, in which most of the songs were written amid the pandemic with a full sense of leaving his safe zone and a desire to open up, is made up of seven tracks in which his vision of the world, his internal debates and many observations about the past that help to understand the current world meet.
Hello Savva, how are you and where do you answer us from?
Hi David, I am writing to you from London, where I moved last year. I am very excited about this new chapter in both my personal and professional life, despite the horrifying circumstances that the world is currently facing.
Now we welcome spring, warm weather says goodbye to the extreme cold and 2023 is allowing us to resume many projects and plans that had to be cancelled or postponed as a result of the global pandemic. What conclusions do you draw from these last three weird years that humanity has gone through?
The sense of impending doom has always lingered with me. Over the past 3 years, my life has been turned upside down more than once, but music has been a constant presence through it all. It's humbling to realise that the world has always been terrifying, and now it feels like we all live in a history book. I reckon that the happenings of the past three years will stick with us for generations to come and manifest in various ways, so we all require some time to digest and comprehend them.
You've been pushing music forward for ten years since the release of your debut album Внеклассное чтение (Extracurricular Reading). What has changed since then and what remains intact?
During this time, I have gained a very devoted audience. Considering that my music, since its very first release, has an emotional barrier to entry and explores themes that modern pop music and western culture push into the background, my listeners stay with me until this very moment. I am very grateful to them for their attention. During this time, I aimed to develop my author's language in a single direction, without making any sudden turns towards simplification or conforming to industry standards. I've remained true to my own path throughout, and it has remained unchanged. I like to believe that with each release, I delve deeper into my subconscious and refine my writing style, imagining myself in Proust's shoes as he wrote In Search of Lost Time. It's gratifying to know that there are people who are accompanying me on this journey.
Another crucial moment in my career and my sense of belonging in the industry over these years was when my manager and life partner Alina Golubeva founded the community and label Random Drama. We've been working together for over 10 years now, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this community of exceptional artists who each bring their own perspective to the real world through their music and lyrics, capturing its wonders and absurdities in their own unique ways.
Let's go back to when you were a child or a teenager. Have you always been interested in music, were you clear that you would dedicate yourself to it?
I studied the violin at a music school, and as a teenager, it was hard to stay focused when all I wanted to do was hang out and have fun. My interest in writing music emerged as a rebellion against my music lessons, as odd as it may sound. While playing Massenet on the violin, I longed to play silly punk songs on the guitar. It's amusing how this spirit of rebellion led me to realise I wanted to become a songwriter and artist. This spirit is evident in my music, which blends classical music with pop music ideas.
You are now releasing your new album, Acume, whose name comes from combining the Italian ‘acumen’ (discernment) and Romanian ‘acum’ (now). When did you start working on this project?
Most of the songs were written during the pandemic. I’ve never thought that when the world would close and set boundaries I would want to return to the real world even more strongly. I started writing these songs with a full sense of leaving my safe zone and a desire to open up.
I recorded these songs in the studio of Monoleak, my co-owned audio production company where I also work as a composer. I always recorded myself at night between working on other projects. The Monoleak team has also moved to London, and I'm looking forward to eventually setting up a studio here so that I can spend my recording nights there.
What feelings have surfaced as you progressed in the creative process of your new work? Would you say that this is the project in which you have opened up the most emotionally to date?
Acume is not only an album title, but also my second name today, my desire to be insightful here and now, not to dissolve in the past and not to dream of a future that is not destined to come true, but to accept reality and be here and now, even if it requires transformation. At the moment, this work is my mirror.
I’ve read that you sent the album to the mastering engineer at the end of February 2022, just two days before the Russian invasion developed into a full-scale war. Tell me more about this.
Yes, this is a very eerie coincidence. The album was completed and sent for mixing to sound engineer Roman Urazov 2 days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It was mixed in an entirely different reality. At that moment, it felt like the music had stopped and everything became meaningless. The horror of the catastrophe will always remain with me. In hindsight, this music came out today because I could reinterpret it and see it as something akin to a prayer. The thing is, on that day, the old ‘me’ died and Acume was born.
However, Acume is full of observations about the past that help to understand the current world, as we read in your manifesto. What would you say is the most relevant observation of the entire project?
Everything beautiful is short-lived.
And if you had to define your vision of the current world in one sentence, what would it be?
The world seems to be caught in a never-ending cycle: just when it appears that humanity is poised to embrace the path of love, compassion, and acceptance, we instead opt for war, destruction, and inequality.
From the melancholy observations to the hopeful note, the memories of the past with today's events or the lyrical hero. Your musical vision, your way of understanding the world and capturing it through sound, seems to be loaded with profound reflections and metaphors. How would you define your sound and what do you think makes you different as an artist?
I aimed to create a meta-modernist album. I believe I created a unique, multi-layered expression in each song and worked on each composition as if it were an entire album. I put all my time and patience. While listening to Acume, you'll notice that each track doesn't follow a typical song structure and instead develops like a winding road. R&B blends with industrial, acapella experiments with Disney-style hero songs. In the sound, I aimed to create a strong contrast between the quiet and insinuating vocal performance and the loud, flamboyant production. For me, album’s production is just as essential as any other artistic element.
Are you very methodical and rigid with your work schedules or do you let yourself flow by moments of inspiration and your intuition?
I am very meticulous in production, but not so much in writing. Songs tend to come to me in fragments, rather than as a complete piece, often at night when it's socially frowned upon to sing and play. On this album, there's one particular trick in the song Brawl where the arrangement drops out entirely during the second verse for a full minute, leaving just a solitary voice. From the standpoint of the conventions of songwriting, it's a pretty rough decision, but it conveys a sense of presence and the feeling of making music right here and right now.
And what do you do when you're not working, what are your main hobbies?
I'm always in composing mode, which can be very exhausting. The best way to unwind is to walk by the water with my partner and enjoy a glass of wine.
If this album was a colour, what would it be?
Pale pink.
And if it was a smell?
The winter wind in the underground.
Last question, what other plans do you have for 2023, any dreams to fulfil in the short term?
I'm preparing the album's second part, an instrumental release, and several performances in London. All while I wish for nothing but peace!