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Years of Denial - Reverie, Interview with Murder Tbilisi

Years of Denial breaks down their musical career and idea behind “Reverie”

Years of Denial is the alter-face of French musician/DJ/producer Jerome Tcherneyan and Czech performance artist/DJ Barkosina Hanusova. Barkosina and Jerome, are consistently developing, recording new tracks, their talent and work dynamically pushes their career forward. They recently released a great “Suicide Disco” LP on Veyl and before that an EP on Marsman’s Pinkman records called “Body Map”.

Just before the release of upcoming Various Artists compilation on Murder, we talk to Years of Denial about their beginnings, working on creating unique sounds, performing and behind the scenes of the track “Rèverie”.

Hello Barkosina and Jerome, before getting to the heart of the matter and talking about your current affairs, could you tell us a little about yourself, and more particularly about what brought you to music?

Barkosina  I grew up in a very artistic environment, where I witnessed the Czech Underground Scene during the late 90s and where I was surrounded by this subculture, with literature, painting, performances, and music. This period of my life had an impact on my own personal and artistic growth, which never left my mind and my heart. I am in love with Arts, and with performance in particular, because this specific art form offers so many possibilities without any borders and boundaries. One can perform sound, text, body, image and so on. And that is what really speaks to me.

I have embraced this vast creative journey along the way, including Theatre, Puppetry, Poetry, Performance/Live Art, and Music. All of those art forms have been interconnected, and having a lot of energy, I can hardly stand by one and one thing only. However, music decided to stay close by me somehow until the present day. She was always there in many forms and experiences, from MC at raves to hosting radio shows, from Djing and Jamming with fellow artists to writing and producing. And so to speak, music became the true romance. 

Jerome I guess hearing my dad singing Oriental songs at home from a young age was the starting point. I started drumming in 89, that summer I saw The Cure live and convinced mates we should get together and start a band. We were jamming for hours and sharing our latest discoveries, tapes were swapping fast and most of the time didn’t know what we were listening to but it was a really exciting time. It took me a while to put a name on Virgin Prunes or Public Enemy 🙂

Skip few years and I was studying Jazz and Brazilian percussions, during this time Occult69 introduced me to labels like Mille Plateaux and Basic Channel. I started to develop an ear for those sounds and around 95 bought my first sampler followed by a pair of MK2 which I still abuse nowadays. Since then I have collaborated with Piano Magic on various albums and tours but it all came to an end in 2016. It was the time to start a new project, this is when I met Barkosina at Kaos London where we were both supporting Orphx. Within a month we were offered our first gig and here we are. I’m not the most talkative person so getting lost in sounds suits me, I’m a bit of a dreamer apparently.

“Our composition usually begins with sounds, searching, exploring, and jamming. Once we find sounds we like, we create a structure. While doing so, we think of narrative, a story to tell which is expressed by the vocal. And sometimes it’s the opposite; we begin with vocal/story, write a bass line for it, and then work around it. “

Where many artists limit themselves to the exercise of a single talent, you benefit from several strings to your bow. As a duo with talents of producing music and an euphonious voice, how does the birth of a new composition or a new project happen for you? What is the approach of making music together? Do you have any disagreements?

Years of Denial We are fortunate to share our diverse backgrounds and create a space where we can exchange and educate each other about our individual artistic and living experiences. This connection, this space allows us to make and develop something new, to give birth to our creative endeavour. 

Our composition usually begins with sounds, searching, exploring, and jamming. Once we find sounds we like, we create a structure. While doing so, we think of narrative, a story to tell which is expressed by the vocal. And sometimes it’s the opposite; we begin with vocal/story, write a bass line for it, and then work around it. 

From time to time, there is, of course, a point of conflict between us, yet that is what the track would usually be missing, a little piece of uncontrollable emotion, some sexy clash, silent scream, and wild eyes. It’s healthy to disagree, and we did learn how to listen to each other after so many sleepless nights and furious days. 

While today’s technological developments are pushing home studios more and more towards the virtual world, despite this your love for analog machines is apparent, what are the tools of your choice to make music?

Years of Denial  We have a broad palette of sounds and gear available in our studio, so the tools of choice vary. For instance – on ‘Suicide Disco’, the main synths were a Sequential Circuits Pro-One and a Moog Minitaur, and for beats, we used a Roland TR707 and a Vermona DRM1, also we work with a modular synth to process and shape external sources. The way we work is very Dub, and so an analog mixer and Fxs are playing a big part in the search for sounds and the creative process. Live Ableton is still our first choice when it comes to sequence/edit/finalize tracks.

What about this name, Years of Denial? what is the meaning behind it and what does it mean to you?

Years of Denial  The name Years of Denial was initially inspired by the Armenian Genocide, which is quite personal to Jerome because of his ancestors. The sorrowful history of this nation had to go through and still is going through a constant battle… Nevertheless, ‘denial’ is also something we can all relate to from a psychological perspective, and with our defence mechanism, we often end up lying to ourselves. And this sometimes can go for years before one can wake up…

Can you tell us more about the track “Réverie”? The idea that created it, the technical background of the track, and what did you want to relay with it?

Years of Denial: Reverie is a state of mind in which one no longer feels pain, from inside and outside. It is a daydream that persists with serenity and an impenetrable emotional state. One watches the world crumble, but nothing passes through, no response, nothing hurts, not even being alive…  

From the technical background of ‘Réverie’ – we used a TR707 and a Moog Minitaur to create the backbone of the track, then recorded the vocal, which helped us to find a structure, and used the Arturia Microfreak for the strings. We doubled the bass line with Warps from Mutable instruments, which adds some noise, and applied more filtering and LFOs. The final touch came from OTO Boom compressor/distortion/filter, Erica Synths ZEN DELAY, Strymon Big Sky, and a spring reverb.

In the midst of a pandemic, that is affecting us all, do you have any memorable events you wish you could go back to?

Years of Denial  Oh yes, definitely Joy in Moscow and Gegen in Berlin. 

With your experience, what advice would you give to young artists who aspire to make music their profession?

Years of Denial  We would advise young artists not to jump on the train too fast, take the time to play by themselves and enjoy an intimate moment with sounds without thinking much, get lost in the process of making and creating music. Try to find a gear/set up that will fit your workflow best. There is so much technology available, and it can be pretty overwhelming, but you don’t need much to create. A good idea is worth hundreds of plugins. Try to be innovative and find your language within music, and, of course, don’t quit your day job!