I'm inviting everybody to check out pretty much the most significant thing I have done so far: Stas & Alex's Magic Night Live - our humble acoustic show. It is divided into three videos for ease of perception and copyright reasons (if someday YouTube changes its policy concerning cover-versions, my songs won't get taken down too): "Here we go: My songs", "Queen Songs", "Grand finale: all the rest we got". All three are in the playlist below.
A little story behind the show and its full tracklist are below the video.
1. My Dear Friends (S. Sagdeyev)
2. Last Roller Coaster Ride (S. Sagdeyev)
3. Closer (S. Sagdeyev)
4. I Was Born to Love You (F. Mercury)
5. Love of my Life (F. Mercury)
6. Is This the World We Created...? (F. Mercury/B. May)
7. When You're Gone (A. Lavigne/B. Walker)
8. Endless Summer Nights (R. Marx)
9. So I Begin (S. Sagdeyev)
10. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You (M. Masser/G. Goffin)
[11. End Credits/Sunk In a Desert (A. Vitkovskiy/S. Sagdeyev)]
The last couple of months were really busy for me. Apart from the problems which I had been dealing with and which I am not willing to share I had been working on the live recording we did with Alex Vitkovskiy during our small house party concert in July. The reason why we even decided to do it (let alone recording) goes back to the times (late 2014) when me and Alex slowly started making acoustic cover versions of some of my favourite songs and my own "So I Begin" in order to play them live for my back-then-girlfriend-now-wife Sachiko for her birthday as a surprise gift. Things were mildly complicated because she was in Winterthur (Switzerland) and I was in Odessa (Ukraine). Back then Skype did not support (and I guess, neither does it now) transmitting stereo signal, so Google's Hangouts On Air was the only easily accessible option left. So, the rough acoustic versions (except for the well-polished Love of My Life we used during "Freddie for a Day" event) of four songs set we prepared (Endless Summer Nights, I Was Born to Love You, Love of My Life, So I Begin) were mixed live in Pro Tools and routed back for the broadcast along with the video feed over Google Hangouts, so that we had a two-way communication with Sachi. Eventually, Hangouts provided way more than fair broadcast without a single serious interruption.
Next winter (around December 2014) I came up with an idea of recording two live acoustic covers: Richard Marx's "Endless Summer Nights" and Freddie's/Queen's "Love of My Life" at home with Alex. I always considered "Endless Summer Nights" to be one of the saddest songs ever written and I could feel that I could contribute a part of my soul into producing this cover version. "Love of My Life" we knew very well by then because it was kind of a traditional song for our Freddie For A Day event in Odessa and my impressions from Alex's brilliant understanding of Brian May's concept of the acoustic version of the song were pushing me into producing our own cover version.
Without budget and access to the recording studio a could not record anything that I had had the ideas for, so in early 2016 I reworked some of my sketches into purely acoustic songs and started trying them out with Alex. By the middle of May 2016 I finished the song I had started writing in Switzerland "Last Roller Coaster Ride" and we recorded and released it on YouTube as the first one in the Home Live Sessions series. My friend, an acknowledged violinist Aleksey Semenenko reacted to our live videos: "You are actually singing in tune. How?". I didn't know and thought: "It actually does sound not so bad. People watching this probably think that there was a slight touch of Auto-tune..." I felt a strong desire to sing live so that people could actually see how it could be done. We had been also planning to record "When You're Gone" (Avril Lavigne) and my "So I Begin" this way but something else came up...
Around the same time I had a crazy idea. So I tell Alex: "You know Sachi's coming this summer... I know she'd like to hear some songs. It didn't go so well in the past. We cannot play anything after not having rehearsed for half a year. So, let's plan a little live concert! And I mean, take it seriously this time. We're gonna rehearse whatever it is we've been working on, I'll invite some friends, we'll have a party, sushi and stuff! And... And we're going to broadcast the whole thing on Periscope!! It's really trending right now."
On the 16 of July 2016 was the party. We played a total of 10 songs including "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" that Sachiko likes so much as an encore. That was the only song we couldn't rehearse in order not to ruin the surprise, so, eventually I wasn't even forgetting the lyrics. I just didn't know them (just a little bit of inside information in case you're wondering why it was so bad, haha). The whole Periscope broadcast idea failed beyond reason. Only the first 30 minutes were broadcasted. Without sound. I only realized what happened after we were finished (singing, playing and mixing at the same time isn't as easy as it may seem, so there was really no time to be checking the broadcast). It was really embarrassing. Some people actually did come to see the performance broadcasted online but couldn’t hear a thing.
However, I was more than happy that, just in case, apart from recording the sound (used Pro Tools session for both, live sound and recording) we had a few different video sources, so, after some time passed, I looked through the stuff we had and thought that maybe it was worth publishing on YouTube. The picture quality varied from very bad (only the cheapest cameras, you know) to almost fair but the sound was recorded in the best quality our conditions allowed, so I decided to mix it. I never mixed so much material before, so I have to say, when I suddenly was working on the set of 10 songs, it was kind of a challenge to mix it all at home. My friend Alexander Nezvinskiy, a renowned live FOH sound engineer, however, with his extensive experience and independent ears helped a lot.
Being famous and popular is not necessarily an obligatory factor for being happy. Sometimes satisfaction comes from the quality of accomplishments you have managed to achieve. I remember when in Zurich in ZHdK, in order to complete my Master's diploma requirements I had to pass a nearly impossible for me exam called Aufführungspraxis. There was a point during my preparation when I was seriously thinking I couldn’t make it, and eventually, after not sleeping for almost two weeks, I did. Afterwards, even though I knew that this knowledge, those things I had to force myself to memorize, were useless, at the end of the day I had felt proud, like it was my biggest accomplishment ever, and that was such a rewarding feeling. When I wrote, recorded, produced and released my first single "So I Begin" and its music video two years before, it was a serious accomplishment too. It certainly didn't become a hit but I did something I hadn't done before and it felt good. The later realeased song "Dreambird", by the way, was born out of the harmony sequence accidentally played by Alex while we were recording "So I Begin".
Magic Night Live is my biggest accomplishment so far, and I appreciate every single person who could spend some time listening to it.
I am thankful to all the people who made this production possible (as stated in the end credits):
My friend Alex Vitkovskiy for putting up with me.
My friend Yevgeniy Volkov for giving it all this night.
Alyona, Ira and Olya for setting the right mood.
My friend Alexander Nezvinskiy for doing stuff he doesn't normally do.
My everything Sachiko Uchida for love and inspiration. This show would've never happened without you.