Today we’re having a chat with the multi-instrumentalist Daniel Zubkov who goes under the pseudonym Lucas Bird. Based in Kyiv, his music style can be described as indie pop with a nostalgic vibe. After the raw and stripped down acoustic EP; ‘I’m Seventeen’ released in 2018, he moved towards a different direction with his new LP ‘ Bedroom Dance Club’, a piano driven record with more complex arrangements, featuring upbeat mood and inspirations from the late 70’s city pop.
So getting down to it how long have you been doing music for?
I actually started doing music when I was 6 years old, so it’s like almost 20 years. Then I created my first band when I was 15, tried to release an album and right now with a different band which will be my third project. I also play in two different projects right now. What do you mean by that? Is it like collaborations? There’s one band where we play jazz, electronic and experimental music. And we are working on the records right now. There's another band where I just play the synthesizers which is alternative hip-hop. Oh that’s quite a range you know, a mad range. For real. Where do you get your inspiration from? What was the first record your parents showed you and you thought, yep this is my music. I had a CD when I was a kid and it had all the number one singles by The Beatles. A compilation of all their singles that were number one on the billboard. It was the first thing that inspired me to try making music. Basically invoked the interest in it all. And then I was listening to The Beatles all my childhood and as a teenager all of the released and unreleased records. Is this stuff that you’ve put out before. Like online and things or is just things you were developing? You mean my own music? Yeah yeah the ones before. As a teenager. Is it things that people would be able to listen to. I think one album is available on Soundcloud and another on Google Play. And the remaining stuff is lost.
Has your music always been like the stuff you’ve put out recently? No it was very different. At first I used only acoustic instruments and I overdubbed everything myself. So there was an acoustic guitar, a cello, percussion and vocals. Also a Ukrainian instrument called a domra. A domra ok. Is it strings or like?
Yeah for strings, it’s like a mandolin. But it doesn’t have double strings, so there are only four strings. Then there was like typical indie rock with electric guitars and I was also trying some psychedelic music from the 60’s and create such a sound. It wasn’t very similar.
Nah but even with your music at the moment, your single Art Class has this electric guitar solo in the middle and when I heard it I was like yo, this is crazy. But when did you make the switch. At first did you make music in Ukrainian or English? At first it was in Russian and then everything was made in English Okay cool, what kind of inspired you to do it? I think there was like a tendency here, around this time, around 2012. All the cool bands were singing in English here and I was studying in university at this time, so I was studying English. My best friend is also a bass player in the band and she told me ‘why not try in English,’ so it was her idea. I tried it and I liked it. It was very easy and logical because I was always listening to music in English. Is your best friend a band mate from a while back?
Yeah she’s been in all of them. So Lucas Bird is the name of the band?
Yes, I’m a singer song-writer but I have a band to play all the songs live. Sometimes they record some parts of the record too. So you write all the music yourself then.
Yep I write and arrange all the music myself. Then give all the parts to the band members. Geez, nice nice. So you been performing quite a bit then around Ukraine? Only in Kiev, mostly festivals and, what’s it called when you’re the only band playing? Two solo gigs.
Oh that’s nice. How did the band meet then?
So I’ve played with one of my friends with all my life, the bass player, she was the first one to join the band. Since I’ve been in some bands before, I knew fellow musicians. So I just thought who I could bring onto the band. The guitarist is a sound engineer from the studio I recorded my previous tracks. We’ve been friends with him for a long time. Also there was a drummer from one of the bands who we’re friends with so I invited him and the girl who plays synthesizers is someone I knew from one of my previous jobs. That's really good. So how long have you guys been playing together. Around 2 years. And what projects are you looking to put out in the future? What are they looking out for?
Yeah, you probably heard the version of Art Class which we recorded with another band TBPOFT. This version is not our original one but the original is on the LP. This one was made by my friends in another band. It’s just the vocals that remain from the original and their instruments were recorded. Oh, so they recorded it live then? No, in this one only the bass and the guitar were live instruments, the rest were programmed. Is this like a band that you collaborate with often?
Yes this was a collaboration because before I released the album, I contacted my friend asking him to make a remix. Because he’s also a DJ. And he decided on doing a different version which turned out to be cool. So we have a music video for the original track coming out. That’s sounding amazing. Obviously this is one of my personal favourites, what’s the concept and inspiration behind it? Anime movies. This was something I envisioned when I was writing the lyrics. Also music wise, I was listening to a lot of CD pop and Japanese pop from the 80's and 70's. I was trying to create something on the same vibe, the same mood.
I mean it’s different, it’s different. It’s got that funk kind of thing going on, very interesting. I wanted to talk about that thing that you did with cassettes, you did this drop. Well, I feel like you can explain it better than me. Yeah before I released the records on streaming platforms, we decided to make a little quest with cassettes. We made little boxes, put cassette players like Walkman's in these boxes and put them on a map. So people could check the map and find these cassettes in different places around the city. There was a vinyl store, a restaurant then a music store and the label where we release our music. These were our favourite spots. All in Kyiv.
People that listened to it must’ve thought this was something very different. Kind of old school. Nowadays everything you hear is streamed isn’t it. Everything’s online. You don’t see that at all. It’s great. Yeah that’s right. And in some of the places a lot of people were interested in these cassettes, even the ones that didn’t know anything about us. They came and filmed Instagram stories, shared those. Yeah that was cool. I think there was only one person that went to all the places. So listening to the whole record. Because there were different parts of the record in different places.
That’s actually different. So if you wanted to hear the whole record you had to go to different places. How far were they from each other? Pretty far away.
Ok ok, so if you’re listening to our tracks you’ve got to come on a journey with us. That’s amazing. So how did you come up with this because it’s so out of the box especially from London. I’ve never really seen anyone do something like that. How did it come to you? Well I just found these cassettes in a trash bin next to my place so I decided to take them. Around 5 cassettes and then my thought was I should try recording the album onto these cassettes. So I did and it just came naturally.
I can imagine. And your music sometimes has a very nostalgic kind of feel. I was trying to convey that.
I can see it. Definitely came through. Definitely came through. Do you record at home or studio, or does the band just get together for a jam session. Yeah so far we practised and recorded everything in the studio. But just a few days ago I got a tape recorder.
Ohhhh faaq, that’s old. Does it work? Yeah, so for the last couple days I’ve been recording everything onto the recorder directly. Four tracks. It’s very cool. Very different from the demos I’ve tried to record on my computer.
The workflow is different because you’re limited by four tracks and then you try to figure out all the ways to still keep a large arrangement. And to fit all those tracks into four. And then bounce tracks and decide which parts you keep or get rid of. It sounds very different. Very lo-fi. I like it It must make the process so much more interesting as well. Creatively, how you want to place things. Yeah and it’s very different to work with faders and knobs rather than the mouse to the computer. It adds to the experience. Plus the ideas are very different when you work with such a thing. Are you bringing your music anywhere overseas?
Yeah we were scheduled to do a festival in Amsterdam in May, but now it was postponed because of what’s happening. So we are going in October. The whole festival is dedicated to Ukranian culture, music, cuisine. So we are a part of this. So with the project and the music. What do you want to do with the music. What’s the big dream.The one thing that could be the pinnacle of your career. I would just be happy if I could quit my day job and do as much music as I want because I have very little time to create new music or record something. If I had my whole day to dedicate to music, I would be thrilled.
Be sure to follow him on Instagram for more updates on his journey and the Spotify link to his releases can be found here.