Zero Cult interview for Mystic Sound Records

Zero Cult is a legendary project from Israel, one of the masters of the international PsyChill scene. The project was founded in 2003 by Emil Ilyayev. The project became famous very fast – his debut album – Art Of Harmony, was regarded as the best album of year in PsyChill genre. Emil’s music has unique sound that combines mysterious melodies and vibes with downtempo beats. On February 6th 2016 Zero Cult will perform in Moscow for the first time by invitation of Mystic Sound Records. We talked with Emil in waiting of this long-awaited event about his project and musical vision.

MSR: Why Zero Cult?


The project name came out spontaneously: I had to compose it just right now and it was the first thing to appear in my mind. Later they told me there is a Japanese horror movie filmed in the 60’s with the same name.


MSR: How are you inspired?

ZC: Inspiration usually comes when you sit at the PC and play something. At this moment there is nothing certain that inspires me. You should not just wait for it because it will sooner or later appear, especially when you are occupied with things you fancy/care for.



Do you consider chillout as music which boundaries are blurred much more than in other electronic styles of music?

ZC: I do not like any frames or boundaries and I find myself as a musician who composes intellectual electronic music. It can be both Chill and Breaks and IDM. The only thing is that I do not write dance music in its classic sense like House or Trance.


MSR: What media formats do you prefer for your music releasing? What is your opinion on CD tendency?

ZC: Of course every artist dreams of his or her music being released not in digital format only, but in CDs as well and ideally with an attractive artwork design. Unfortunately, as we all know, CD time is passing away and there is nothing we can do about it. Vinyl seems coming back slowly; therefore I hope to hear my music to pleasant vinyl crackles some day.

MSR: Do you think if a musician should experiment with styles while writing new albums?

ZC: I guess one definitely should. There is surely a chance to be misunderstood or unheard, but I’ve always been interested in ‘mountains I have not climbed before’.


What kind of music do you listen to?

ZC: My music taste is diverse: from hard rock to jazz. As for electronic music my current favorites are Apparat and Jon Hopkins.


What exactly from hard rock?

ZC: It’s mostly the beginning of the 90’s when British and Swedish death/doom metal was very trendy. I like that this style is reviving now.

MSR: Which instruments do you use when composing music: analogue synths or virtual ones? Do you use live instruments records or maybe play some instrument yourself?

ZC: I’ve given up analogue synths since the sound of VST is mostly the same and you can hardly distinguish on a record which one is which. This is just my personal opinion though. I use live instruments via samples libraries only. I do not professionally play any instrument but I attended classic guitar lessons in the musical school for one year.


MSR: For which movie would you like to compose a soundtrack?

ZC: I guess it would be Stalker by Tarkovsky, but I doubt that someone can make better music for it than Artemiev did.


MSR: What would you wish to your Russian listeners?

ZC: I hope everybody who will come over to the party will enjoy my set and get much positive energy!

  • Special thanks to Tanya Z and Vera U for help with this article)