Natasha A Twentyone (voice, electronics) and Alexey Protasov (voice, electronics) from Ambassador21
They are uncompromising, talented and very active in expressing their own voice regarding social and political matters. Music is a way of expression but also a tool that serves a better purpose in their case. About music, but above all human rights and the situation in Belarus - with AMBASSADOR21.
Reflections of Darkness RoD: You have always been active in expressing your opinion in regards to social and political matters. How do you employ your art and music to serve the purpose?
Natasha: We never did any artificial steps for that. We came from Rock music and from the country, where you could go to jail just for being rock musician. For us Rock music, Alternative music was always a part of anti-system movement. It’s never been just an entertainment. We never did music for party. The artists has followers, people who trust them and also learn something from them. It’s responsibility. Everything reflects everything. We are not interested in art with no purposes and ideas. Art must do people better, but not just please the eye.
RoD: You keep on informing about the events in Belarus - you are personally involved in the matter. How do the events impact you and what are the protests for you?
Alexey: Yes, of course. As you said, it’s personal for us, but we take such events in USA or France or Middle East personally, as well. But well, Belarus is our country and we decided to move from there long time ago, because we were completely not agree with politics and also with people behaviour. It didn’t start last August, it started 26 years ago. It’s pretty naive to expect it will be completely changed in short time. Majority never really liked government, but they also didn’t protest. People who did, they were urged to move out, sooner or later. We didn’t support the system there, never. We protested, we didn’t work, we didn’t pay taxes, we spent a minimum in Belarus. It was our decision. And finally we moved out. What we see now is really unique situation, we are proud of people in Belarus. Honestly, we didn’t even expect we finally will witness that. We do all we can to spread the word, to speak out for Belarus, to show our support. But it will be long way. Peaceful manifestations are wonderful, but the other side armed - no laws, guns, pepper spray, prisons and tortures. But we stay with Belarus and our people in this fight. It’s tears, happiness and pride. No justice no peace. Long live Belarus!
RoD: Why do you think such protests are happening now, and not, say, four, five years ago?
Natasha: Probably, majority of people who live in Belarus now were need exactly this amount of time to rise. Everyone has a different tolerance threshold. Ours is not that high. It’s also a choice between modern human values - mutual aid, human rights, care not about only your own goodness, but also about goodness and future of the planet - and so called “traditional values” - stability, calmness, home-job-family etc. Jump from middle age to progressive values done by Belarus. And maybe it’s already doesn’t matter why it’s done only now. It’s done. We salute it and we are proud of it!
RoD: How do you think the events in Belarus are linked to everything that is happening globally?
Alexey: Of course. The protests are global. All events are linked. All acts has consequences. Did Extinction Rebellion’s events took such public attention, before Greta Thunberg grabbed attention of literally everyone with her last year’s speech in UNO?
RoD: You are active supporters of LGBT rights, you are most probably aware of the situation in Poland in this respect. What are your feelings on this?
Alexey: We think it’s such a huge shame. As we see these steps of polish government doesn’t make majority angry - well, what could we say? Before moving to Prague, we lived five years in Warsaw, we felt and knew the real situation from inside. Shame on you Poland. But you can’t sit on two chairs by your ass. Or you prefer to live in dark middle age and enjoy your fuckin “traditional values”, or you wanna stay for any fucking reasons with European and World society in 21st Century. Like, choose one option and go fuck yourself. You can enjoy any your “traditional values”, until it’s not oppress and ruin the life of the others. Then fuck you and fuck your god.
RoD: I have a feeling that current times are on the one hand about increasing restrictions from the governments and on the other about stronger social protests against those restrictions. What do you think the outcome will be?
Natasha: We already see it, it’s here. Black Lives Matter, ecologists, feminists, LGBTQ+ rights activists, Belarus, France, Kyrgyzstan… We have a huge outcome finally. Also the entire Covid-19 situation. The art is not dying, but art industry does. If last spring we thought “oh, shit, well, let’s wait till it all get back to normal”, then now we already know it will never be normal again - as we knew it. Not anymore. It’s a new normal. We have to accept it and live with it, continue to act in totally new conditions. The sad thing is: if big events organizers and big bands may be could survive it, the independent small artists and venues definitely couldn’t. But that’s what already happened.
RoD: Having this all said I want to know how do you find yourselves in this situation as musicians, performers?
Alexey: As I said, the time just to be angry or depressed passed. The thing is: or you can accept the situation which you can’t change (you can’t change Covid-19 spreading, correct?) and find your own way. We accepted the situation and decided to continue - or is it a new start? We are musicians. We do it, even when there are no shows, tours and merch tables. We don’t have an expectations. We are working on our new album now, which gonna be our best and most deep and complicated work ever. It’s not “Covid” project. We are working on new material more than two years now. Covid-19 and quarantine didn’t impact this work. We just use this time to go deeper.
Natasha: As any other live acts, we changed our life style a lot, of course. But we don’t want to look like a selfish fuckers and tell you how we suffer, because of “OUR” shows, “OUR” life etc. Everyone is suffering right now, it’s impacted everyone, as simple as that.
RoD: ‘Heroin III Heresy’ - your newest single that is also accompanied with live video is filled with aggression. AMBASSADOR21, be in terms of music or live shows, have always be extremely intense - in this respect you follow your path. What is it about and how does it represent what the album will be about? Is it your comment on the current political situation?
Alexey: Well, ‘We Are The Seeds’ actually a newest single, also coming alone with official video. Yes, our forthcoming album ‘Art Off. Destroy’ will be extremely political and social and musically it will be most complex work we ever did, with much more analogue sounds and live instruments, such like guitars, bass, piano and so on. I don’t really like the term “experimental music”, because it means nothing, but for myself, there are a lot of sound experiments in this work. ‘Art Off. Destroy’ is a big work. Musically, there are few very different parts. What we can say right now, there will be more than one CD.
Natasha: We spoke a lot about political situations in all World already. Just wanna say it’s all involved in ‘Art Off. Destroy’. It’s not about just one country, it’s about all World, global situation and human rights
RoD: What about censorship? I noticed one of your FB pages was deleted?
Alexey: Yes. I was blocked by Facebook - first time for sharing picture of Portland’s Naked Athena. And right after - for express our support to Belarusian protests. Our Instagram page was completely removed for Belarus-connected posts. But let’s do not forget - main part of censorship is not just mythical government or Zuckerberg. Actually, in most of cases some of your “friends” report you, correct?
RoD: What do you think will happen in the future - for you as people, artists? Are you involved in anything music-wise or is your main focus on Belarus events?
Natasha: We are musicians. That’s what we do - making music and talking to people. AMBASSADOR21 will celebrate 20th anniversary next year. Definitely with our best album. Would love to say - in better world, but we all still working on that.
RoD: Thank you very much Alexey and Natasha. Wish you all the best!
Natasha & Alexey: Thank you guys, stay safe.
‘We Are The Seeds’ on BandCamp: https://ambassador21.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-the-seeds
Promo picture by Pavel Oskin