TSOY: «Following trends is not my thing»
TSOY — these four letters represent the solo project of the popular artist named Anatoly Tsoy.
He started out this year with the song called «It doesn't hurt», and Anatoly came to Kazakhstan to present it as well. We met with the artist at the Korean House restaurant in MEGA Alma-Ata shopping mall — the conversation was about a new stage of his work, as well as about television, style and prophets in his country.
— You came to Almaty to present your solo song. As far as I understand the structure of show business is that artists who are bound by a contract with the group can not start solo projects. How did you get this, where did you get your blank check?
— If we talk about show business in general, it is really impossible really. But we have a completely unique producer: Konstantin Meladze is a big-hearted person, he is for the real creativity, it is important for him that we develop. I wanted to be a big artist since childhood, but I didn't know I was going to be a member in a band. I don't regret being a part of MBAND, it's a great school, a springboard for me and other guys, and this stage is not over yet — I'm not going to leave the band. But my dream is a personal creativity, a solo project. The TSOY project was created while I was with the band, and its launch quite successful. We received a huge number of good reviews, and the first orders for my solo performances were sent. This made both me and Kostya think that this idea has a potential and we need to keep it up. So it looks like the next year is going to be very successfull for me as a solo artist.
— But, generally speaking, your solo songs are made in the same style, you did not choose another musical genre, did not change the image. What gives you solo creativity, what is this development?
— I wrote my first solo song «It doesn't hurt» in collaboration with the Ukrainian composer Artem Skorokhod. This is my personal creativity, it is a part of me. I think my songs are a little more mature than the band's songs. It's not bad or good, those are my feelings. Perhaps because of my age (and I am, after all, the oldest member of MBAND), my music is a little more serious. What we do in the band, one way or another, falls into the trend, it's trendy music. I don't consider my music to be like that. I have generally never sought to follow fashion trends, either in clothings, music, or behavior. I'm always the last one who learns fashion slang: it appears so quickly and disappears even faster… Like a grandmother, who sits at the door and asks: «What is this new word, HYPE?», I'm like that — It takes me a very long come to learn new things. So I realized that following trends is not my thing.
— Last year, you won the TEFI award for the best entertainment program «Saranhe», began to actively promote your YouTube project «one and a half Koreans». How much are you interested in these areas of creativity now?
— I am a complete perfectionist, and if I feel that there is still potential in the project, I will fight for it till the end. It all started in 2016, when my friend and I launched the TSOY brand clothing line. I approached the producer with this question and said: «Kostya, I want to launch my own clothing line, it's a dream of mine», to which he replied: «Will you make a t-shirt for me?» I made him a couple of cool hoodies, one of them says «Meladze» and it had «Meladze music» icon, and the other one said «Producer». I hope he wears them at home.
Then YouTube channel began, and I received an offer from «STS-media». They were planning to release a new show, and they asked me to host it. The show was made specifically for me: all decorations, name — «Saranhe» is translated from Korean as «I love you». It was a new experience for me, and I loved it. The program was successful, but when we got TEFI, that was shocking. The new program, a young presenter, is nominated for the first time and immediately takes the most prestigious award on Russian television. At the awards ceremony I didn't prepare for the stage at all: I was sitting in the hall, waiting for the winner to be announced, most likely Malakhov or someone else, recorded all that on my phone. I thought they were going to say the name, and I'd turn the camera on myself and say: «Well, first experience, and I'm already nominated and it's not bad.»
— Was there a home-made piece?
— Yes, I have already figured out how to record all this to post on social networks. And then they go: «Saranhe», Anatoly Tsoy! At that moment, I felt euphoric. I go on stage, I have to say something, and I did not prepare. In the end, I said what was on my mind: that I was waiting for another show to be announced, and then we were announced. It was very interesting and pleasant. I was then congratulated for another six months. Nikolai Baskov, Philip Bedrosovich Kirkorov, Lolita Milyavskaya — all famous artists of the senior echelon. I think they understand more than anyone how important this award is, and what an honor it is for me to receive it. I keep this statue, it plays an important role in my life.
— And why did you create the project «one and a half Koreans»? Why would you, a successful popular artist, go to YouTube, post vines on Instagram?
— «One and a half Koreans» is a nickname that my friend Valentin and I got at school. We had one for two of us. Valentine is half Korean, I am pure Korean, so it turned out to be one and a half. We were together all the time and are friends to this day. In 2015, we made our first trial vlog. It had no soul, too pretentious, and did not reflect the real us — we are just guys, from ordinary families, we do not show off. As a result, we decided not to show this video to anyone, burn it and forget about it. A year later, we returned to the idea, but decided to combine vlog with charity. Then we were supported by many, the first heroine we have, for example, was Vera Brezhnev. Then we started to get acquainted with many people from this field, made friends, did collaborations, and, of course, came to Kazakhstan. This is our homeland, we have an active audience here. We found a very good person, Diana Laletina, who is our Director for Kazakhstan, she is also the Director of the @yuframe team and many well-known bloggers in the country. Thanks to her, we became friends with many people from the Kazakh blog-sphere and are still friends. I believe that we are going in the right direction but from a business point of view. Maybe we don't really understand how to make money on YouTube, but we do it for fun, and I'm proud of these projects, too.
— People in our country have such a distinctive feature: we are very much beginning to love our compatriots who have achieved success abroad, almost ascribe to themselves their merits. How do you feel when people talk about you now: «Is that Tolik, our Kazakh boy?»" What's your internal geotag?
— At the time, it was very difficult for me to move from Kazakhstan to Moscow. Initially, I did not plan this, I wanted to live here all my life, this is my home. And in the first years after the move, I had a little resentment. Not so much for myself, but for all the people who could not fulfil themselves in their country, did not receive support here. And then they left, became famous and immediately became needed and dearly loved in their homeland. The first person who told me that this would happen was Batyrkhan Shukenov. This is a man who greatly influenced my move to Moscow. It was hard for me, there were a lot of doubts, from everyone told me: «Who needs you there, there are a million talents like that…» After something this you have doubts whether you like it or not. During this period of my life, we worked with Batyrkhan at some corporate event, and he told me: «Do not worry, fly, get your way, do not forget your homeland. But when you become known there, you will be loved and respected here.» In general, everything turned out that way. I am very grateful to this great man, who with his powerful word helped me to get my stuff together and make this difficult step.
I have already overcome myself now, I am proud when people talk about me: «This is our guy from Kazakhstan!» In the same way, I am proud of the other guys who come to Moscow and achieve their goals. Last year, everyone found out about Nazima. We have known her for more than 10 years, both lived in Almaty, sang here, tried to succeed, but, unfortunately, we did not see any value in it at that time. I'm sorry that the talents are leaving, but I believe that one day this picture will change. Everyone is used to the fact that Kazakhstan's show business is fixated on parties, but gradually it should reach a new level. My dream is to make a cool music festival in Kazakhstan, which will be attended by Kazakh and Russian artists. There are similar festivals in Latvia and Azerbaijan. For example, thanks to the Azerbaijani festival «Zhara» all Russian show business visited Baku, learned and fell in love with this country. We can do that too! With the help of music, we can show our nature, culture, hospitality, introduce people to Kazakhstan and make them fall in love with our country.
— Since we're at the Mall, I can't help but ask about clothes and shopping." You have your own brand, you are regularly recognized as one of the most stylish artists in Russia. Where did the style of Anatoly Tsoy come from? Did it come up intuitively or was it formed under someone's guidance?
— All that started back in high school. When I was in high school, it was still not customary for men to wear something bright, there were no leaky jeans, everyone was dressed in gray, it's reliable and practical. I went against the system and wore pink t-shirts, made holes in my jeans, and went to school like that. At that time, I found myself thinking, why are there no cool or fashionable clothes for men? There is a certain unfairness in all of this. And in 2016, all this has grown into my own clothing brand that is now called TSOY Brand. The start was successful, because we had a large and ready audience that wanted to buy our clothes. Initially, the brand was planned as a men's brand, but the concept changed immediately after the sales launch. We sold about 2,000 t-shirts on the first day, and only one of them was bought by a man, and the other 1,999 — girls, fans. The next day, I told my friend and business partner that we should now make unisex clothes. Now we make different clothes — t-shirts, tracksuits, tights, even made one dress for women, which was sold out very quickly too, but we did not repeat this model. TSOY Brand is now on a new stage — we are changing, getting bigger and planning to open stores all over Russia next year.
— How did your personal style transform? How much have you changed from pink t-shirts to how you look nowadays?
— With age, I strived away from the bright clothing and fell in love with the black color. At some point, my entire wardrobe turned black, very rare white, dark blue and brown colors. I left out some bright ones like my shoes and socks. I went to Korea one day and found a whole department with bright socks for suits in one of the stores. I bought 20 pairs and since then, I always wear bright socks with some patterns some interesting prints with classic suits.
— Where do you buy clothes, are there any brands that you prefer more than the other?
— There was a period when I spent all my earnings on clothes, was an allout shop addict, bought brands — Prada, Gucci… I think everyone should go through this stage. Nowadays I wear what I like, what I'm comfortable in. It can be expensive, and it can be quite cheap. I liked the t-shirt for 1 000 rubles (it's about 6 000 tenge), I buy it and wear it all year round enjoying myself. I have become more practical now, I dan't to spend a lot of money on clothes. But I can spend a serious amount on shoes sneakers in particular. This one comes from childhood: when I was 13, I had my first Nike, we got them in second hand. I wore them till I was 17 — at first they were too big for me and I put something in them. All my friends remember these legendary sneakers. Since then, I have loved this brand and I signed a contract with Nike in Moscow right when I got my chance. I counted recently — I have more than 50 pairs of sneakers at home. And every six months I give 10 pairs to my father, brother, relatives. We have the same foot size, and I physically can't wear that many shoes. But there is one pair of sneakers that are priceless to me: this model was created at the Nike factory according to my design, I even selected the color of the threads. I keep them carefully in a box, maybe when I become as legendary as Michael Jackson, my grandchildren will sell them at some auction.
We thank Korean House House restaurant for their help in conducting the interview