Q+A: 5 Minutes with NFNR
Image credit: Natalka Diachenko
Join us as we visit Ukraine and meet NFNR, the experimental artist who’s championing a new way. Neither Famous Nor Rich, commonly known as NFNR has recently released her latest album, Dog Rose’ via Corridor Audio in which she explores her own transformations and states that have taken place over the last few years as the world turned in turmoil. The sound designer, birth name Olesia Onykiienko, earned her formal training at the Lviv Music College before going on to start her residency at the Battersea Arts Centre in London. The experience was interrupted by lockdown hitting in 2020 after which she returned to her home country but the artist has continued to seek new ways to learn at each turn.
Independently, NFNR created the experimental platform, Women’s Sound for women and non-binary people in Ukraine. The artist has worked hard to create a safe space for other people to express themselves as well as a platform for her own music to grow. Naturally, we were curious about the mind behind the experimental sound. Catch it all in the exclusive interview below.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
For me, art is a constant practice of self-development – cognition, perception, reflection and communication. I practice this through sound. In addition, art gives me huge joy
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It is a synchronous process. The sound that is born – reflects the idea or feelings I try to grope for and express. Then, in the process, both are crystallized
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Not this one, but I have done many collaborations before – with other Ukrainian musicians and from abroad, vocalists, plastic performers, dancers, visual artists, even Japanese drummers
What’s on your current playlist?
I really enjoyed Burial`s new EP Antidawn, the new album ‘Tysha’ by Ukrainian artist Katarina Gryvul, STACY.O from Berlin, and Christian Löffler is always on my playlist
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I feel like we dissolve and coexist all together, united with the sound and space. I feel as if I fully dissolve myself and sometimes I`m just my ears. But I also like to tease the audience by maximizing the tension, teasing frequencies with rising sound, and leading through culminations to the fade. By observing their body movements, I can feel they may want to stay more in the moment and I need to prolong it, they can even influence the improvisational part that I add
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
Synthesis, modular virtual synthesizers & field recordings are my main source. It gives me a unique sound. I never use sound libraries, somebody’s patches or factory presets. As well I equalize a lot to reveal the found sound. Sometimes I can add some DIY synths or even program a little bit, for example in Pure Data
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
My recording studio is actually my home studio, so different work is permanently happening there. For example: creating music for my own performances, for collaborative projects and theatrical pieces, doing some commercial orders, improvising, doing some sketches, practising the piano and synthesising sound
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
This feeling appeared at school in the 6th grade when I got into the school choir and actually, it never left me. It was as if a magical door to a new wonderful world had opened for me. Then when I bought myself a piano, the first thing that I did with it was compose some music and record it on a cassette. I had no idea how to play the piano or how to compose, but I managed to express what I wanted with several strange chords I made, rhythm and melody. It was then that I felt I really could communicate with the sound.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
My mixing Board. I`m happy when it`s near me, then I can play with it and be safe in case the sound engineer is not fully involved in the show
Any emerging artists on your radar?
I would love to name local Ukrainian artists there is now a powerful burst of electronic music here. Check out Diser Tape, Super Inter, Troxellemott, Noisynth, Ostudinov, ϙue, Burning Woman and others
What gets your creative juices flowing?
The concerts themselves are the most inspiring. And when the flow of life evokes strong feelings. Some changes do this, certain events, travel, adventures, sufferings, love, pain, despair, struggle, happiness
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
My favourite synthesizer on which mainly all new album `Dog Rose` was built is virtual synth Strobe 2 by FXpansion – this is it who gives rich saturated palette and unique modulation bursts. Another my top 1 I love – Analog Four by Elektron. It is a perfect instrument to synthesize – to create from `zero` from a sine wave. For some fairy dreamy textures and harmonies, I add with Op1 Teenage engineering as well. It’s very good when you need to work fast or improvise. In parallel with the professional Roland keys, Arturia drumbrute, controllers Ableton Push and Native Instruments, I have some bizarre DIY noise synthesizers and many piezo sensors I use sometimes
Any side projects you’re working on?
I have many one-time and small projects I permanently working on, but solo electronic performance is always my priority
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
I have self-studied a lot – watched and practised many online courses, workshops, tried many types of virtual gear and compositional techniques. I still continue to do this
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I hope to release at least several singles or even EP, as I already have material and continue to compose new work
Famous last words?
“Sing as if it’s the last time in your life” – My choir`s teacher
By Sarah Britton