Interview: Toronto’s Moscow Noir talks new music and unique sounds

It’s not often you find music that allows you to sit back, close your eyes, and listen as you take a journey through the sounds, letting your imagination take hold. Moscow Noir makes that kind of music – a true gift for the ears, body, and mind.

Based in Toronto, Moscow Noir is an alter ego of musician/singer/producer Lesther Gutierrez. After releasing their self-titled EP in July of last year, the Canadian electronica-rock band blew listeners away. At release, the EP quickly took the #1 Electronic Album spot on iTunes in both Canada and the United States. It also took the #2 Billboard Electronic Album, #24 iTunes Overall Album and #68 Billboard Top 200 Current Album in Canada.

Now, they’ve released a stunning video for their track “Odisea” which has left us absolutely hypnotized with its beauty. The video is directed and animated by Moscow Noir’s frontman and and producer, Lesther Gutierrez who created the video as a passion project the help of an ex-colleague. It took them six months to make and finally, they’ve shared it with the world.

We were lucky enough to chat with Lesther himself and pick his brain about the Odisea video, his passions, and learn a bit more about the band.

Q&A with Moscow Noir’s Lesther Gutierrez

You just released your new video for Odisea and it’s incredibly unique and artistic, what’s the story behind it?

Thank you for that, really appreciate it. Being the first track on the EP, I wanted it to be this sort of quiet explosion where it starts off atmospheric and evolves into these powerful euphoric synths. Odisea meaning ‘The Odyssey’ in Spanish, is to me, one’s own personal odyssey. The exploration of the inner-self and its relationship with the world around us. I wanted the viewer to embark on a surreal, almost dreamlike visual journey, that mirrored the composition and sounds of the track itself. As the only instrumental track on the EP, I had more freedom to be creative with the abstract representations and so I just let my imagination run wild.

Lesther, I read that you directed and animated the video yourself, which is amazing. And, it took six months to make. What was the process like making the video? How did you know when it was ready to be complete?

It’s funny because, it was originally the opening visuals to our live show. We would open with Odisea and that’s how the idea came to life. It wasn’t a drawn out music video in the beginning, it was less conceptual and more abstract. After working on it, I really liked where it was going and I just wanted to see more. I wanted it to become something that was meaningful, something that drove the philosophy behind it.

Over the course of 6 months, I worked on it on and off, while working on new material for the upcoming album. I’d come back and refine the visuals or completely take out a scene or add a new one. I’d re-watch it and if it felt barren or too much time on one particular scene, I would shorten the scene and start building a whole new one that could fit. Coming back to it gave me the opportunity to see things with fresh eyes and not get stuck with tunnel vision. Throughout the process, I had my ex- colleague Filip Radu from my working days at CTV help out. He’d build effects and add ideas to certain scenes and even build out a few that worked really well in the narrative.

The funny thing is you never feel like it’s complete. I think it’s when you can finally look at it and not have too many complaints that you’re at peace with it.

Will we be seeing more of your work for the rest of the album’s videos?

That is the plan. The next music video I will be directing as well, not animation this time, something less labour intensive but always something that will speak true to what Moscow Noir is about.

Much like the video, your sound is also very complex and unique – what brought you all together and what’s your collaborative process like?

The band came together over the last few years. My younger brother played bass and I had known Steve for almost 10 years. He had always played drums in different bands and could play many styles easily. I presented them both with the ideas I was developing and they were on board right from the beginning. We’re pretty much the core.  Mike our lead guitarist came aboard later on through Steve, who were friends and played together in different bands.  And rounding it out is Rob who plays for Young Empires. He jumps on keys and electronics for us every now and then.

For the current EP, I would produce the whole track in my studio and have them come in and refine, the bass or beat pattern. So it was this sort of dynamic, I just kind of knew exactly where I wanted us to go. Over time, as we’ve played and gotten closer as a band, we all sort of know now what we want. Currently they are bringing more input and ideas that are helping shape the new tracks, and from there I just develop them in the studio.

How do you know when a sample or sound appeals to you all enough to use in a track?

Music is always about emotion. It all depends on what the vibe is of the track is that you’re working on. It has to feel right. Once that new sound or sample comes in, then it’s the reaction you get out of it. It reinforces that vibe. And when you come back to it days later and hear it again and it causes the same reaction, then you know it’s a keeper.

I heard that there is a remix album in the works – can you tell me who some of the collaborators will be? What drove you guys to want to create a remix album?

Yes we’re very excited about it. We have some of Toronto’s finest producers in the underground deep house scene. Talal and Zoi, Night Vision, Dustin Nantais, Alberto Jossue, Strange City, and from Milan, Aki Bergen and Richter, to name a few. Electronic music is a big passion of mine, and to hear another artist’s interpretation is something special.

Lastly, if you were to recommend a setting for someone to sit down and listen to your whole album from start to finish, what would you recommend?

I would say a night drive for sure. A road trip where you can just submerge and let the night scenery soak in the music. Or any setting where you’re at your most comfortable.

Moscow Noir will be performing at Revival on June 23, 2017 and will be playing new material from their upcoming album. You can get tickets here.

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Samie Durnford

Samie Durnford

Contributor at Addicted
Samie Durnford is a Toronto based writer with a heart that beats at 138BPM. An electronic music lover, you can find her listening to anything from trance to techno. Samie has been a reality TV columnist for the Toronto Sun and has interviewed DJs for THUMP Canada. She's taken electronic music on as a lifestyle, travelling to EDM festivals across North America whenever she can.
Samie Durnford