American musician with a Russian soul: cellist Ian Maksin – emigration, art and idols

American singer and musician of Russian origin, cellist Ian Maksin left Russia at the age of 17, in the early 90’s, just graduating from high school, he built his life and creative career in the United States. He plays classical, jazz, Blues, ethnic music, singing in many languages, writing music and songs. In short, one man band. And yet, when he picks up the bow slip on the strings, you know, that is his main strength. January 5, 2020 at the legendary new York club Le Poisson Rouge will take place the concert of this unique cellist and composer. The other day Ian Maksin gave an interview to Leonid Velihova, the presenter of the program “Cult of personality” by “Radio Liberty”.

Американский музыкант с русской душой: виолончелист Ян Максин - об эмиграции, искусстве и кумирах

Photo courtesy of the press service of the artist

Leonid Velekhov: I understand that music has no boundaries, in contrast to the literature, especially for a person who sings, if I am not mistaken, in 15 languages…

Ian Maksin: 22.

Leonid Velekhov: Wow! That is, I have outdated information. (Laughter in Studio)

Ian Maksin: It is I myself constantly becoming obsolete too.

Leonid Velekhov: In 22 languages and for cello, of course, and no translation is not necessary. Nevertheless, it is still possible to determine where your main audience is in America or in Russia?

Maxine Yang: I don’t like the word “home”. Listeners are all similar, actually: the people who come to my concerts, people who listen to my music in the networks, the people who write to me on Facebook, Vkontakte. They all write about the same thing, and I do not get tired to read it ever. On the contrary, it energizes me, allows me to realize that what I do is not in vain.

Leonid Velekhov: And of these 22 languages, there are still some favorite, which do you most like to sing?

Ian Maksin: Russian. (Laughter in Studio)

Leonid Velekhov: after All, Russian. Wonderful! And how many are you talking about?

Ian Maksin: Speak four as we speak – Russian, French, English and Spanish.

Leonid Velekhov: And how came this idea that you can sing and accompany themselves on cello? Because I personally do not know of precedents. Of course the guitar, but I haven’t seen singers who accompany themselves on the violin or cello…

Ian Maksin: I’ll be honest, I myself as a singer was not taken seriously. I’m still a musician first and foremost, cellist, composer, singing, say, a singing cellist.

Leonid Velekhov: There’s more singing cellists in the world?

Ian Maksin: I have seen many people say, is not on the big stage, but they are. I don’t know whether I was first or not, but this is not so important.

Leonid Velikhov: Yes, it doesn’t matter, but I have a feeling that your know-how. And how it was born?

Maxine Yang: I grew up in a very musical family. Both my parents, despite the fact that they had other professions, music has always been the center of all our family, so she sounded on the radio and on records, and on a reel tape recorder and, of course, live. My father and my mother played the piano. Father played the guitar, sang (and still sings) in different languages, despite the fact that he doesn’t speak any other than Russian. He had such a special notebook, where he handwritten, transliteration, copied all these songs…

Leonid Velikhov: Russian letters.

Ian Maksin: Yes, Russian letters, and the Beatles, and French, Italian… All of these songs were. And that’s it it went from the topic here. I was into Italian pop music festival in San Remo, I have all these songs were sung. I had a dictionary… could Not find at the time of the Italo-Russian dictionary, I was the Italo-German dictionary and I translated first from Italian to German and then from German to Russian, (laughter in the Studio) to understand what they were singing. Hearing these songs I learned in Italian. In parallel, I worked on the cello, I played the guitar, the cello, I played the classics…

Leonid Velekhov: One clarification: this happened in our…

Ian Maksin: In Leningrad it was.

Leonid Velekhov: …spiritually rich, materially poor Leningrad in the Soviet years.

Ian Maksin: Yes, Yes, Yes, that’s right – it was the beginning of the 80s. I went to music ten-year school, you had to go on two buses took an hour to get there. I did on the cello, but as soon as I got home, I took up the guitar, played rock-n-rol…

Leonid Velekhov: I was in music school Prodigy, a child of fortune, the darling?

Ian Maksin: No! Not at all! I was on the verge of incompetent.

Leonid Velekhov: Seriously?!

Ian Maksin: Yes. (Laughter in the Studio). But it all comes down to psychosomatics. I was talented, but my childhood was such panic fear of these teachers in school that every time I went on stage learning of the concert and the woman saw that eagle eyes was glaring at me from the other end of the small hall of the ten-year school at the Conservatory, I was clamped so that to physical ailments reached. I have 15 years already had a spinal hernia.

Leonid Velekhov: wow! Nevertheless, do not quit.

Ian Maksin: nevertheless, not challenged. All that can happen to me… all the laws of nature, I had to quit for a very long time cello, but every time I thought I was about to throw, that’s the projected feeling of emptiness in my head occurred when I thought about how my life would be without music to go, without a cello, scared me more than the prospect of existence with the cello, with physical pain, emotional pain and everything else. (Laughter in the Studio).

Leonid Velekhov: A cello – it’s your choice or, as happens in music school, her school?

Maxine Yang: I don’t remember what I was offered by the parents, but I heard a cello on the record… It was the album Sviatoslav Knushevitsky, the great Russian cellist, unfortunately, not so well known as, say, Rostropovich, but I think the sound of it, indeed, absolutely unique. It came from the depths of the soul. I just the fate of the universe at that moment gave the opportunity to hear the sound of the cello performed by Knushevitsky. And I have, as they say, blown away. I plunged into a different world and I wanted to play the cello. No one objected, the parents didn’t mind, bought me a cello, took me to music school… But I have not merged with the first teacher.

Leonid Velekhov: what you first started to do – to sing or play an instrument?

Ian Maksin: Sing. I came to this school-school song Vakhtang Kikabidze “On the airfield, on the airfield, the aircraft ran off as by fate.”

Leonid Velekhov: Oh! (Laughter in the Studio).

Ian Maksin: my parents were prepared with some other song, I can’t remember what, but when I came to the exam, I was asked to sing something and I sang what I wanted to sing. Sang, and I got it.

Leonid Velekhov: Actually, why and how you left? Because I see it falls on a difficult period in the life of the country.

Ian Maksin: It’s 1992. It was a confluence of a whole series of circumstances. I can’t even tell which one was the deciding factor. First, it was a very difficult situation in the country. The second factor I have not fused with this school at the Conservatory. I have not even very strong chances were that I’d entered the Conservatory. In some other institution to act after a ten-year school when the Conservatory was virtually impossible, because we have physics and chemistry was already with 8-go a class. Then I had such a romantic relationship with America: I listened to Western music, watched American movies. I just wanted to see how people live like this music… Bob Dylan, all this intellectual American rock I wanted to see how it all looked from the other side. And then suddenly the opportunity came to go to America as an exchange student. This was the first year after the end of the Union, there were different programs, and was a program of Rotary International. Her much no one knew, in my opinion, competition was not special. I came in for an interview, they took me in, and I went on a year – for people to look, itself to show. I didn’t have any plans to stay there for a long time. In America, I spent a year. I was already invited to the Conservatory to remain still for four years. I thought – and why not?! He was, just a possibility. But I’m still thinking about what I’m going to fly! There I earned that night play some schlock, saving money for flight school, then trained as a pilot. There had to relativate watch, I opened the campaign type “blah-blah car.” It was the early time of the Internet, and could simply post an announcement: “I will take you within a radius of 500 nautical miles, wherever you want.” And here I was gaining two or three people and flew. I received, but the earnings covered I rental of an aircraft, and I was naletal watch.

Leonid Velekhov: That’s really, really, do not tell, who will then argue that America is the land of opportunity.

Ian Maksin: That’s for sure! And that for me was the most important experience in America. Subconsciously I felt that America can give it to me – the ability to positive thinking, which I missed in Russia at the time, very much not enough. I started flying back in Russia at the flying club. I think, like people are doing the same aircraft, same flying, same principles. But in Russia there were so many rules, there are constantly some constraints, wrong, wrong, wrong… And in America, suddenly everything is possible! Rules ten times less, but security is higher. I think – well, why not?!

Leonid Velekhov: that and the Russian flight school is very good.

Ian Maksin: Yes, good!

Leonid Velihov: the Pilots are remarkable.

Ian Maksin: Yes, and the musicians are remarkable.

Leonid Velekhov: Yes.

Ian Maksin: But that reach America in a completely different way. Not the way where you have a maximum number of obstacles to pass. Then you set a goal and think about the purpose first. And those obstacles that fall your way, they’re irrelevant. You as their income has to decide how to be with them. And somehow everything is solved in the end. This for me was the biggest contrast when I came to America.

Leonid Velekhov: Well, again, the pilot-cellist – is, I think, is not the most common combination. But at some point there was a choice – either to fly or to play?

Ian Maksin: Yes, even there was no choice: it was done on the move actually. I was 24 years old. And I in parallel and flew and continued to play the cello. And so it turned out that I had to pass a couple of years on a student visa in America, and I needed to go further to learn. And I went to graduate school, where he finally met his teacher. The name of this man, may God grant him health, and Suren Bagratuni. An incredibly talented musician, cellist.

Leonid Velekhov: Also, as Vysotsky goes, “we’re one of the Slavs”.

Ian Maksin: Yes, our Russian cellist of Armenian origin, winner of the Tchaikovsky competition, gorgeous teacher. I was his assistant, taught his students, too. And I felt his colleague that I, too, turns out to be a musician.

Leonid Velekhov: Finally, you’ve sent a good teacher.

Ian Maksin: Yes! Indeed, what emanates from my cello is worth something, the first time I felt it. And here I had some new hope, new purpose, new all, as adults. And after graduate school suddenly had such an opportunity – I played a contest in the youth orchestra New World Symphony under Michael Tilson got this band. It was in Miami.

Leonid Velekhov: Times Miami, you play Cuban music?

Ian Maksin: Play, sing.

Leonid Velekhov: Yes?! Wonderful! The more that you have performed with Gloria Estefan, I read.

Ian Maksin: Yes, and not just her. I played and played with Cuban musicians on the street, where not only had. It became part of my culture.

Leonid Velekhov: And Miami is part of Cuba.

Ian Maksin: Yes, actually. I now tell everybody that Miami is Cuba.

Leonid Velekhov: you Started in the orchestra, the cello most often, and most of all play in orchestras. And when and how came up with the idea, and so turned the fate that you were the soloist?

Ian Maksin: That’s when I began to play the cello himself, not in the band, just someone asked to play something, people began to approach to me and say that, well, it’s your cello playing to touch on our some emotional strings, then the first time I realized that the cello is not just for me, for me to get some fun, earn money to live, but it is something brings people. Now in adulthood for the first time come to this realization. And this was the starting point for me, my musical path – that I am doing this not only for yourself, but for people who listen to this music that is my responsibility. If my music to the right people, then the Universe is somehow fated that I have to give them a way to cultivate already. How to continue to cultivate – this was the issue. What I can give them as a musician? This is some other audience, not the audience, not the audience, which is not so comes to the Philharmonic concerts. I suddenly at some point realized that this music is not only interesting to the people who come to concerts, but those people who have never heard the cello. 98 percent of people who don’t go to the Philharmonic might also like cello any other way. I finished the job in a youth orchestra and then we had to decide what to do further – or to try to seek work in some other Symphony, or to do something else. And I clearly for themselves already knew I should do something else, and virtually from scratch, with some home concerts and concerts in small clubs, I began to do what I’m doing now. It was an experiment, that is, I played everything I could do. I played Bach’s suites, played and Grebenshchikov, all the music I knew I played…

Leonid Velekhov: And started to sing, right?

Ian Maksin: Yes, played and sang.

Американский музыкант с русской душой: виолончелист Ян Максин - об эмиграции, искусстве и кумирах

Photo courtesy of the press service of the artist

Leonid Velekhov: And under what circumstances you performed with sting and Andrea Bocelli?

Ian Maksin: When I lived in Miami, there was a concentration of these celebrities, there lived Gloria Estefan and Barry Gibb. All these things spun through their producer groups. And somehow it so happened that I was first invited Gloria Estefan, then through it my phone went somewhere else, then I was invited when Andrea Bocelli on tour in the US came …

Leonid Velekhov: so Gloria Estefan – your partly godmother.

Ian Maksin: You could say that.

Leonid Velekhov: But the cello is, like all strings, is still a tool about sadness? Or it is wrong to limit?

Maxine Yang: I say, “You play music, it is so sad. You must be the melancholy in life?” No, I’m not melancholic. I am extremely positive person to the core, and the music I love sad, writing sad music. Why? It seems to me that it is through sadness and melancholy, we can achieve the so-called catharsis or some kind of inner purification through art in any form – through movies, literature, music. One of the works on my new album called “lacrime Nuove”(“New tears”). This paraphrase of the title of the cycle of dowland, English composer of the XVII century. His series was called “Senex lacrimis, novum lacrimis”, which translated from Latin means “old Tears, new tears”, with the subtitle “Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of purification.” And that’s exactly as it sums up the notion that it is through this sadness, a sadness we find cleansing, which in turn helps us to find something new in yourself. Here we exit the cinema, a concert hall and feel that we become better, we become kinder. Some kind of hope inside of us that we become new, that our lives can start over, what all that was, all of our the sins, all that we were unhappy-including ourselves – all can start over.

Leonid Velekhov: Outside of Russia for you as a musician twenty years, because you’ve got to come on tour only for two or three years ago in Russia. Then there was all the youth, already passed the beginning of the Mature period.

Ian Maksin: the children have Grown.

Leonid Velihov: The more…

Ian Maksin: Is the key.

Leonid Velekhov: why are you so late with arrival to Russia already as a musician? And did you do?

Ian Maksin: Come, of course. My parents live in St. Petersburg. I came, visited them regularly, then came with his son. But since I left, and as if I didn’t have any musical ties since then, I have nothing here musically is not happening. And I somehow did not crossed. I always believe that everything has its time. And when the stars lined up a certain way, it turns out. So, really, it happened: suddenly I got the invitation from David S. Goloshchekin.

Leonid Velekhov: our Famous jazzman.

Ian Maksin: the Great Russian musician, to concerts I went in childhood with his father. And now I get invited to speak at international festival “white nights ‘Swing”. So it all began. And now, I’ve played concerts from Vladivostok and Yakutsk to Moscow and St. Petersburg, 27 or 28 concerts actually through all the time zones, and there has already been the site for thousands of people.

Leonid Velekhov: Gorodeckogo of multiinstrumentalist you made, no? He plays some crazy amount of tools.

Ian Maksin: No, I never tried, I had no such ambitions – to become a multi-instrumentalist. I go purely utilitarian: is the guitar I play is the cello I play the cello and I play better than the guitar. I can sound latest more extract. But if there is no cello, I play the guitar, if not guitar, I play piano.

Leonid Velekhov: But so if I put the question. You is an American musician of Russian origin or a Russian musician living in America?

Ian Maksin: I had an interview with his father Alexei on the channel “the Union” just yesterday in St. Petersburg. And he said such a thing in the end, I also asked this question: “I believe you American musician with a Russian soul”. He gave this statement.

Leonid Velekhov: Well said. (Laughter in the Studio).

Maxine Yang: I’ll say maybe at this point – it is.

Leonid Velekhov: where do you live in America?

Ian Maksin: At the moment I live in the city of Chicago. This city and inspires me at the same time, and grounds – an interesting combination. If I lived in Paris, it would be completely different. If I lived in new York, it would also be different. At a certain stage of my life it was useful for me to live in this city. How things will develop in the near future, I do not know. In some the next couple of years will be some changes – I don’t know which continent I will be based, how it will happen. But Chicago’s an interesting vibe.

Leonid Velikhov: Energy crazy!

Ian Maksin: Strong energy, and a feeling of inspiration, and allows after some touring, intense trips just to go back and reload.

Leonid Velekhov: what do you most love America, and that it in you is rejection, rejection, irritation?

Ian Maksin: I nothing never annoying. That’s the feeling I stopped bothering, probably the last two or three years.

Leonid Velekhov: You are so positive in everything?

Ian Maksin: somehow I got a little, not to say – the drum, but some of the negative things that happen, have ceased to provide me a devastating effect, so to speak.

Leonid Velekhov that because you live in the world of music?

Ian Maksin: Probably. I got into some… Me a very interesting man said that “at some point you begin to live in the flow!” And I realized that I, at least partially, the flood came. And when you fall, then, indeed, is everything that happens outside of this thread becomes somewhat secondary. If you go on some rails that pushes you in different directions, but not knock you out of balance. That is, I am in a state of positive stability constant.

Leonid Velekhov: And for Russia, I’ll pay. Still you look at her with this look, more detached…

Ian Maksin: the same! I only come across good people everywhere I went.

Leonid Velekhov: Where these people were great all on your experience?

Ian Maksin: (Laughter in the Studio). It’s hard to say. Wherever I came, the city became my favorite. Here I first time visited the city of Kuibyshev.

Leonid Velekhov: Samara current.

Ian Maksin: no, No! So I’m not so ashamed that I didn’t even know about the existence of this city. This town is located exactly between Omsk and Novosibirsk, exactly four hours there and four hours there. Formerly Kainsk. Before the revolution it was quite a symbolic city. At that time another and did not exist, but was Kainsk, Kainskaya County.

Leonid Velekhov: In my opinion, the Kuibyshev from there. So this name.

Ian Maksin: Kuibyshev was in exile in this city. But it was really a center and a shopping center, and cultural center. And here I was in this city. I wrote woman, a music teacher. I had two days off. I had seven concerts in Siberia – Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo. And to Omsk, I had two of the day – moving day and a day to catch my breath. I wrote to the woman: “could you come to Kuibyshev, and we will do the concert.” I couldn’t refuse, I said, “Yeah, okay, coming.” And it so happened that at first they collected a small room, and the mayor responded and said, “we Have a DK, I’ll give it to you for free. Use for this concert.” And in the city news portals he gave advertisements on all channels. And took me with bread and salt. In this city I realized that it’s not so bad for us is culture.

Leonid Velekhov: Interesting. The name is biblical and Kainsk.

Ian Maksin: Yes, Kainsk. (Laughter in the Studio). This is the newest city on my tour map, and from there I have the fondest memories. And the most interesting, I lived in a hotel, in my opinion, it is the only hotel in town, so I Wake up, open the window, I have a plane right outside my window, the IL-14.

Leonid Velekhov: Oh, my God! Everything came together like a dream.

Ian Maksin: Yes.

Leonid Velekhov: You and your son arrived? I know you have a son, which often for you to join.

Ian Maksin: Yes. But this time – no. It’s the middle of the school year, and his high school.

Leonid Velekhov: What does he do? Going where the skis sit up and take notice?

Ian Maksin: the last time he woke up the Russian identity, despite the fact that he was born in America, his mother American. For a long time he experienced little interest in everything Russian, including the Russian language, despite the fact that in my childhood I sang for him, read all of it. But then I went into the garden and completely lost interest in anything Russian. And I caught myself on the fact that I was even with him it is easier to speak and understand the English language. And we few years, spoke English, and then suddenly it woke up such a cultural identity. It began to spread he’s got stronger and stronger. At the moment, he has thoughts to go to study in Moscow, at the Shchukin school.

Leonid Velekhov: That is, he wants to become an actor?

Ian Maksin: Actor or Director, he wants to make a movie about the war and himself to do it. He is now in the USA historical reconstruction of the events of the Second world war. And with Russia, they are also associated with this community of reenactors. And he was there almost any post is, despite the fact that he is the youngest of all these re-enactors. He goes to the gatherings. They have regular forums some happen.

Leonid Velekhov: after All, it confirms that Russia is some kind of magnetic anomaly persists.

Ian Maksin: Yes, of Course! It’s a phenomenon. I for myself are trying to solve – what is the phenomenon of this culture? For me this is a very interesting topic that I discovered a couple of years ago. Just as the culture determines the language we speak? How this language defines us? Where is the chicken and where is the egg? Developed the language based on the culture or develop a culture based on the language historically? How this language defines us today as the carriers of this culture?

Leonid Velekhov: Einstein believed that we think in language. Not that language expresses and articulates our thoughts, and that thinking itself occurs in the form language.

Ian Maksin: Of Course!

Leonid Velikhov: Russian, I know that you love and sing Grebenshchikov and Vertinsky.

Maxine Yang: Love It! Grebenshchikov is my musical hero, idol, whatever you want, call it. This is the person who has most affected my life in all its aspects. Since then, as I was ten years old and I heard it for the first time, my life became different.

Leonid Velekhov: And Vertinsky?

Ian Maksin: Vertinsky – through Grebenshchikov. I first heard Vertinsky from Grebenshchikov.

Американский музыкант с русской душой: виолончелист Ян Максин - об эмиграции, искусстве и кумирах

Photo courtesy of the press service of the artist

Leonid Velekhov: Well, of course, that’s what he sings. Vertinsky – an emigrant who returned to Russia, yearned for Russia. You do not consider myself an immigrant?

Ian Maksin: not for one second I do not consider myself as such.

Leonid Velekhov: Never?

Ian Maksin: not for one second, ever!

Leonid Velekhov: Interesting!

Ian Maksin: despite the fact that, she left for America, I have never had any Russian-speaking environment in which I would rotate. When I came to America, the first years I had a very international company: there were people from Turkey, from South America, from Africa… This was an interesting company, I was blissed out. Indeed, it was a boiler, where was it. For me it was the knowledge of a new culture through music. We met, everyone who knew what the game was playing. We had nights where they trained, who they could out of their country. For me it was probably the most defining factor of my new beginning in America more than life itself in America, but it is the international I was very much affected. But life in America is also greatly had an imprint on the mentality, on some development. Again, France for me was also very powerful cultural magnet always. Despite the fact that I’ve never lived in France, some for long periods of time, but the time that I spent in France, it is very hard on me the influence. And even the time when I lived and how I absorbed French culture through music, literature and everything else, it’s me, maybe have had just as much impact as the American culture in which I lived more than a quarter century. Therefore, all my soul, like a patchwork quilt, probably.

Leonid Velekhov: Great! The more that America is a country that allows this soul is like a patchwork quilt to keep.

Ian Maksin: Here! Yes!

Leonid Velekhov: Of Course. We mentioned Vertinsky, you can still remember one of my favorite, Pyotr Leshchenko. They are great musicians, playing in restaurants, sang in restaurants. For the modern musician is somehow shameful? Left this culture?

Ian Maksin: Why? I am speaking, for example, on some sites of the same type of club Makarevich, jazz club “stray dog” in Novosibirsk, where the tables, people drink.

Leonid Velekhov: Well, it’s still an artistic café.

Ian Maksin: But still. I often write: “Oh, you are in “Stray dog”! As you, the musician, can sing under the sound of plates, knives and forks!” It seems to me that there are people who are comfortable coming to such places…

Leonid Velekhov: Of Course.

Jan Maxine: But how can I deprive my music, if they don’t come for some other reasons, to the Philharmonic? My goal is to bring music to the largest possible number of people. If I need to play metro, I play in the subway. If I need to go to Africa and play anywhere I’ll do it. In the place where people otherwise would not get to my concert, only there – at the nursing Home, orphanage, anywhere!

Leonid Velekhov: Great!

Ian Maksin: This is my mission like that. That’s what makes me happy.

Leonid Velekhov: Great! We finished our conversation in the World.

Ian Maksin: Alexander Vertinsky “Douglas The Dog”.