Russia to the right. Poland to the left. Ukraine sits right in the middle with the Black Sea lining its coast. Within the confines though sits synth-pop artist Ivan Dorn. Immersed in Western culture growing up, he found himself moving to Los Angeles for his music as soon as he could. Now he’s got a new album on the way in November. We talked about all of the above, Grammy dreams and more.
Kendra: You have an ’90s inspired sound to your music. Back in those days, were there a lot of western culture influences going around Ukraine?
Ivan Dorn: At the fall of the iron curtain, we instantly started to fill up the gap of western culture; I remember new music genres, hip-hop, house, techno, break dancing. Graffiti, we discovered Pepsi, McDonald’s, jeans, new slang came into the vocabulary. It was a total seizure of the vacuum in eastern Europe by the western mainstream culture.
Kendra: Today you call LA home. What is a not so obvious difference between LA and Ukraine?
Ivan: LA has more possibilities, the music market is much more advanced. The dostupnost, availability, of everything, is more in abundance because of the massive retail culture. LA don’t give a fuck about what they look like, what your neighbors think about your appearance, what you drive, or where you live. It is all about your mentality. Your main value is your mentality, versus in Ukraine where your appearance is your appearance. This is how you are judged and you can’t get around it. Also, in the US money means more than anything, but in Ukraine, your soul is more valued; personality goes a long way in Ukraine.
Kendra: You’ve got some big goals, winning a Grammy is one of them. At least that’s what I got from skimming through your Instagram. With synth and electronic getting more love from the Academy in recent years, are you more hopeful than ever that your dream could become a reality?
Ivan: To win a Grammy is the name of a huge path that I am going after; the path of my foreign career. It is not the main goal. the main goal is how I am scoring this goal, the method is more important to me, versus following certain rules and trends that would lead me to a grammy. THe main thing is to develop a following in many countries around the world. Winning a Grammy is less important to me than spreading my music in other countries, but if I will a Grammy it would happen instantly.
Kendra: Speaking of the Grammys, you appreciate a few winners but if you could only sit down and talk music with one of the following who would it be and what would be the first question you’d ask them; Pharrell, Kanye West, and Erykah Badu?
Ivan: Pharrell. First I would ask him what he thinks about my music. Then I would ask him about other Ukrainian artists to learn what he thinks about Ukrainian music culture. Then I would ask if it is possible to be produced by him and to see if I could produce for him. and then I would ask him to shake his hand.
Kendra: Okay so the beard, the build. You kind of give off an MMA fighter vibe. With that, which of your songs would you walk out to the cage to if you were a fighter?
Ivan: “Sportivnaya,” it’s about reaching your goals and life purposes. It’s an appealing song with a great harmony and a nice video. my own first video production. But I am not a fighter, I am lover.
Kendra: Now, what’s going on with you the rest of the year?
Ivan: Touring Eastern Europe with OTD, coming up with new tracks, shooting for more videos, ceasing the world with our Ukrainian culture.