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Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmayluk: “We don’t have any guarantees about our future”

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

Between riding the success of third album Macro and landing some of their biggest festival spots to date, including a set on Download’s main stage, life was pretty hectic for Jinjer pre-pandemic. Now they’ve got your attention (and with no tours to jump on this year), we got vocalist Tatiana Shmaylyuk to face all of your devilish questions.  

Metal Hammer line break

What was the metal scene like in Ukraine growing up, and now? Becca England (email)

“I’m not sure… The metal scene is ‘eh’ in Ukraine. There’s a couple of bands that are actually working and that’s it, that’s everything I can tell you.”

Your vocal performances seem to be used a lot for reaction videos. Are these something you watch back and, if so, what do you take from them? Adam Beard (Facebook)

“No, I never watch them. I just don’t see it being genuine because I think every reaction filmed on camera is not the first reaction, it’s a second reaction to our music video or something because they’ve seen it before and then they decided, ‘Oh OK, let me just film how I react again but on camera’, and I just don’t believe it. People do it just for views, as always.”

Hammer: Do the criticisms from these videos bother you or is it something that doesn’t faze you?

“I don’t even know what they talk about! I don’t care if they admire our music or they hate it. I just don’t care. That’s it.”

Who are your musical inspirations? And who are your non-musical inspirations? @ZainaArekat (via Twitter)

“Ah shit, my inspirations… There are many of them, there as many as there are genres that I listen to. Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley… It will take so much time to enumerate all of them.”

What is the biggest challenge of recording a Jinjer album? @ejirorudomakugi (Twitter)

“The biggest challenge is lack of time, schedule, less time when we recorded our Macro album. I wrote a song the day before I had to record it. So yeah, my brain was [blows raspberries] liquid after that, it was horrible and very stressful. Sometimes I come to the studio and I have only half a song ready. That’s the biggest challenge for me, not being prepared and still doing my shit.”

Jinjer

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

How can young metal bands break through and begin playing bigger slots on festival bills? Hayley Lee Smith (email)

“How to do it? I don’t know! If you know, just let me know. Come on, guys, we still sometimes play at fucking, I don’t know, 3pm? Which is like the earliest that you can play main stage. We are not there yet. We’ve never been in that type of position where we played before headliner or something, or at least I don’t remember that, maybe we did but I don’t remember. At Hell In Heaven Festival in Mexico it happened; a lot of big bands refused to travel to Mexico because of COVID, so that’s why we played as a headliner. I think that’s the greatest thing – when you are 50 years old, you’re gonna occupy all those main slots at festivals.”

Hammer: Speaking of festivals, you’ve just been announced for Hellfest! Even though 2021 is very unpredictable, how are your feelings around that? Are you excited for it?

“I have no idea! Ha ha ha! I really hope so, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and everything. But lately I saw a meme on Instagram that said like, ‘I asked my doctor when this pandemic is over and he said, “How do I know? I’m a doctor, not a politician.”’ So, pfft, who knows?! This year proves to me that we just don’t have any guarantees about our future. You don’t know about tomorrow, so don’t plan anything. That’s basically how I live. I don’t like to plan, but everything that is planned for the band and for every band in this world… I hope it will come true.”

With Europe holding the biggest metal festivals in world, are there any places you would like to see such festivals happen and flourish? @johnapomfret (Twitter)

“I mean, we haven’t yet visited all the festivals in the world, you know? It’s just only in Europe, and one in Mexico, right? I really don’t know what to answer!”

Do you have any favourite venues?  @Sonszn05 (Twitter)

“I remember there are a lot of great, high-end venues in Germany. If it has a huge backstage, a shower maybe, good catering and good equipment.”

You sport a lot of great ink. What was your most recent tattoo? Also, is there a favourite or one of special significance that you can speak to? Vivek Pawar (via Facebook)

“My recent one is my throat tattoo. There are no special meanings to my tattoos at all. Maybe my Amy Winehouse and Frida Kahlo ones…”

Hammer: Which ones hurt the most?

“I think [one of the] most painful was on my feet, a koi fish. That was painful. Also, my belly tattoo; I think that was the most painful tattoo ever. On my stomach, the tattoo artist who worked with me applied so much painkiller cream but it didn’t work. It just didn’t. It was like working for 30 minutes and then it was gone. I was sweating out, making faces, it was horrible and it still needs some touch-ups but I will never go back to that tattoo again. I’m gonna leave it as it is.”

The wife is asking how long it took to master gutturals, she loves how powerful you sound. @Nnefariousjack (Twitter)

“Persistent work, practising, just like in every other sphere of our life. If you want to master something like that then there’s no secret to it. The key is just the part of working, training and practising. That’s it. It’s not a secret!”

Hammer: Was any particular part of learning gutturals that was hard? 

“My technique changes from time to time, unfortunately. Like 10 years ago, it was really good. But then some days I forget how to do it and some days I kind of remember how to do it but then it comes out like absolutely different. Everything is fucking hard! I think the hardest thing is screaming.”

What’s your dream collaboration? Aimee Perowne (email)

“Unfortunately, some of the musicians that I want to sing with are dead, but… I would love to sing with Chino Moreno from Deftones or Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God, Joe Duplantier from Gojira. And, oh, Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth. He should be in first place.”

Hammer: Are there any non-metal collaborations you would consider? 

“Oh, yeah! I think P!nk, and I always wanted to sing with Gwen Stefani, but back when she was in No Doubt. It’s kind of rock and… everything… so I don’t consider it to be metal.”

Hammer: Do you think the metal scene as it is would allow for non-metal collaborations?

“I’m not a big fan of collaborations. You cannot be ‘free’ when you do one, it’s either you invite someone to sing your song, or you are invited to sing their songs. In that song it’s your voice, but it’s your voice being controlled by them, [so] it’s gonna be hard. I don’t like the idea of collaborations unless it’s really, really good and both people are giving their best and own visions to the song. Oh, another singer I would love to collaborate with is Maynard James Keenan from Tool. Passenger with Deftones, with the duet of Chino and Maynard, is perfect. You can recognise every one of them and they sing in their own way. But I don’t like the idea of collaborations in general…”