In Convo – Viktoriya Yermolyeva – Best Piano Player on YouTube

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Viktoria Yermolyeva is a Ukranian virtuoso pianist and a translator of musical genres. She takes her love for rock and metal, employees her classical training and the result is not just a performance, but a magic trick. Each video is a prestige of her enigmatical talents. With nearly half a million youtube subscribers, it’s clear I’m not the only one that’s in bewildered awe (as Hugh Grant would say) so thought I’d chase her down for an E-chat. I decided to leave her answers un-edited, a raw insight into her personality.

Slide-Vika-Studio.HomepageHave you ever had any of the original artists compliment you or reach out to you in anyway in regards to covering their songs?

Yes I did, for example – guys from Immolation and Death Angel. Or bass player from the band “The Sound”, to name a few. 

Do you have a routine for playing the piano? I.E a set time of the day to practice, time allocated to learn new songs, time set aside for composing etc. 

Not really, unfortunately. When I was a kid, my mom always made a very specific plan for my practicing but I’ve never learned to be as organized as her. Sometimes I think of asking her again :))  For now I go with a flow (or a deadline).

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When you listen to any song now, do you instantly think of ways to cover it? 

yeah, I guess, in a way. But what I think I can do and what I can actually do is still not the same, my mind often doesn’t know what my hands and “the feeling” can find. Sometimes I think “that’s not gonna work”, but boom – it seems to work, my hands found the way. I guess the arranging is made by a part of my brain that is connected to my will power/ears/heart whatever, but not to my conciseness. 

When can we see you in the UK? Do you have any plans to tour here? 

I would really love to go there soon as I also got many requests from fans to play in the UK, but nothing specific yet 

Could you name 5 famous piano players (past or present) that you’d invite round to yours for a hot tub party?

I would really not invite anyone for a hot tub party, that’s not my kind of party – I prefer keeping my shoes on. And even I can name you 5 players I’d love to meet, I’m really not interested in seeing them in their swimwear. And especially without ))) Also, I have too much respect for them, it would be weird.

But outside the hot tub party idea, I’d love to meet my teachers again, who died already.. They were not only awesome musicians, but cool people. Lazar Berman had thousands of funny stories and anecdotes to share. 

And I’ve heard that Arthur Rubinstein was a very interesting guy with a really cool outlook at the world, so I would have loved to listen to what he had to say. Also Martha Argerich – I love her interpretations,  Heinrich Neuhaus was a very interesting human being and I loved reading his books. I guess that makes 5 already, but of course Rachmaninoff – Chopin – Liszt, and some jazz pianists – would be hard to make a short list of people I’d love to listen to. But not at the hot tub party :))

What are your thoughts on the new Radiohead album? They’ve finally recorded True Love Waits (one of your covers) did you like it? 

omg I still have to listen. 

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What’s your singing skills like? Do you ever play and sing? 

non existing. Although I tried a few times, even on YouTube. I guess I could train them but I was definitely not born to be a singer. I’m also not into expressing myself with words in general. 

Are you often asked to play at parties? I imagine if you’re at a party and there is a piano in the room then you must get hassled to play it all the time. 

There are not that many parties where piano just happened to be there. Or maybe I don’t go to enough fancy parties :))) when I go, I keep anonymous and don’t throw around “i’m a pianist, give me your keyboard!”. But I prefer metal/rock music and when you go to a pub like that, piano just doesn’t usually happen to be there. I don’t think it’s save for it anyway. 

What platform of social media do you like the most, if any? 

lately I started using Instagram, I’m also into Facebook. And I have an online blog for almost 15 years already, but that’s in my native language.  I’m really not into twitter – I  have an account though. But don’t have the need to express myself this way.

  Obviously, YouTube.

What was the hardest cover to record? It looks like you manage to nail all the covers in the first take. 

Of course I wouldn’t upload a video of the cover that I think I totally failed with, but to be honest that doesn’t happen often. I think the longest it took me with some Tool song. It’s also really hard sometimes with soft “seems very easy” kind of songs. On piano it can sound so boring, so I need to invent something happening, some beat etc. But not to break the softness. For example, Unchained Melody is a song like that. Making it move and keeping the soul of it is a difficult goal.

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Now you’ve released your second album via crowd funding, whats next for you?

it’s my first album, I haven’t yet been to studio and recorded an album before. 

There is a home recorded compilation of things that some dude in Canada is selling without paying me anything, I don’t consider it my album. It’s not authorized by me at all and it’s not an album quality recording. 

Whats the strangest request you’ve ever had? 

I had to cover a hard core song, of course I didn’t upload it on YouTube. I had to make that weird beat with the left hand. I’m not sure it made much sense.

What’s your favourite Bond song?

I’m not really into Bond :))  Not enough to favorite any songs specifically. I know that I didn’t care about the last one. Some of the older movies had some cool songs. They all have that specific feel about them, but it’s not “my kind of” music. 

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