Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Sleepwoka

Photo courtesy of LPR Agency.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Where’s the beat?

With a sleek, unique take on modern electro-pop, London-based Ukrainian producer/songwriter Sleepwoka regularly invokes feelings of 80’s nostalgia with his synth-happy, thought-provoking numbers, the most recent being the Linkin Park-esque ballad “Nothing Left To Say.”

Since his sudden emergence upon the industry in 2019 with introspective past bangers like “How I Was Wrong,” “All I Hoped For” and “Together We Are,” Sleepwoka has garnered praise from the likes of BBC Music Introducing London, Earmilk, PopWrapped, Variance and Atwood Magazine, to name a few.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Sleepwoka – who has an upcoming pandemic-related EP ‘The Lockdown Ghosts’ in the works – about his latest music and more.

Music Bugle – We know “Nothing Left To Say” covers your struggle with mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re curious about your previous single “All I Hoped For.” What was the particular inspiration behind that?

Sleepwoka – “All I Hoped For” was inspired by one of my favorite Russian bands called Splean. The song leans into the common notion of not fitting in to an already overcrowded and loud world. We look up to the sky and hope that in this massive universe, there is some place where we can be at peace with ourselves.

Music Bugle – How did you decide the name “Sleepwoka”?

Sleepwoka – The name “Sleepwoka” came to my mind after I experienced yet another episode of sleepwalking when we were on a trip to the Arctic Circle with my friends, but “Sleepwoka” is more than that. We are so busy with our everyday life that we forget how absurd our life actually is. “Sleepwoka” is someone who is neither asleep nor awake, which I feel is what we, the children of megalopolises, are.

Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?

Sleepwoka – The city I am from, Kharkiv, is a big industrial city in Ukraine, but not big enough to be well-known for anyone outside of Ukraine. As with other industrial cities – I had the same feeling when I used to live Rotterdam in the Netherlands – people there tend to be really down-to-earth and really friendly, so I am really proud of the amazing people that were part of my life.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Sleepwoka – I think it’s both. It is an incredible tool that can help stay very close to your fanbase, which is amazing. It also opened doors for independent artists as myself, but just like with any other new technology or tool, it’s all about the balance. When social media becomes an obsession, it distorts what the music is all about – actual music. I don’t think we should just suddenly give up and go back to pre-internet days, but we still need to figure out how to use it in a healthy way.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Sleepwoka – I really like how musicians throw a lot of interesting instruments and mix the genres together. I feel like there are limitless tools at your disposal to find the exact sound you are looking for. I love different synth sounds and effects that people use to achieve certain atmospheres.

Music Bugle – In what ways would you say you were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Sleepwoka – Apart from tearing apart all the plans we had so far – live gigs that were scheduled, no way to produce content in studios, etc., I feel like COVID opened a can of worms in our heads. It feels like being stuck in four walls for months uncovered our deepest and darkest fears. That is why I decided to dedicate the upcoming EP to COVID and it will be titled ‘Lockdown Ghosts.’

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Sleepwoka – The best way for me to switch off is to go rock climbing. I like to leave my phone back home and just focus on solving bouldering problems. It’s a great sport, even with the awkwardness of wearing a mask all the time.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Sleepwoka – I personally tend to switch from genre to another and I have been listening to Metronomy nonstop. I love their more experimental instrumental pieces like “Lying Low.” In general, my current playlists are a weird combination of indie rock and electronic/techno music like Mall Grab and George Fitzgerald.

Music Bugle – What does today’s music industry need more of?

Sleepwoka – I personally think that the music industry praises too much the “I became super famous overnight” success stories. It creates a wrong impression that some people just get very lucky and become successful very fast. I believe, however, that behind each of those stories are thousands of hours of hard work. We need to celebrate people who built their music one step at a time. There is nothing inspiring in being lucky, so I think we should focus on the stories that will motivate us to keep pushing, no matter what.

Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?

Sleepwoka – Honestly, it was quite hard to keep it all together on lockdown. It’s very hard to find motivation and internal strength when you sleep, work, train and relax in the same room for months. I think I somewhat managed to stay productive with the “All I Hoped For” release, music video and new EP on the way, but it was definitely much harder with all the lockdown fatigue.

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