Men Seni Suyemin’s (aka Minona Volandova) love for music has taken her all over the world. With an ear honed for the finest alternative pop and wild synth experiments, the Kazakhstan-born Volandova decided to form her Men Seni Suyemin project (whose name stems from the Kazakh phrase “I love you”) after moving to St. Petersburg, Russia.
Even in a giant city where no one knows her name, Men Seni Suyemin found stability and even a small label to help put out her early EPs and singles. Very much homespun affairs, her earlier efforts saw her experiment with mics, drum machines, and production filters to find a sound that’s pitched somewhere between ambient rock and electropop propulsion. Making it as an instrumental artist is sometimes a dicey prospect in these playlist-heavy times, especially if they aren’t lo-fi chillhop beats with which to study, but Volandova’s output garnered enough interest to land her some small festival slots.
Soon thereafter, a residency sponsored by Spotify’s female-focused EQUAL initiative gave Volandova access to high-end studio gear she had only previously had dreamed of, leading to her brand new HOPE EP. The upgrade in production quality is notable right out the gate, and Men Seni Suyemin navigates a deft, confident set of bedroom bangers over the record’s 25 minutes. Songs may touch on chillwave tropes one minute before pivoting to beautiful alt-rock power chords the next, her love of experimentation evident throughout.
Volandova is a bright new voice that we’ll be hearing big things from soon. To help mark the occasion, she put together a list of her “Fave Five” albums of all time. What’s striking about her picks is not only how recent many of them are but also how unexpected they end up being. While Foals’ Holy Fire is largely regarded as one of their finer efforts, her love of the critically-divisive late-era Gorillaz album The Now Now is a genuine surprise. Volandova may very well help shape the future of post-rock electronic music. Thus, it’s fascinating to see the albums that influenced Men Seni Suyemin.
1. Mujuice – Melancholium (2021)
I’ll start by saying that Mujuice is one of the two most important musical heroes of my life. His music greatly influenced the formation of my electronic project and gave a huge first impetus: I thought how great it would be to compose and perform everything by myself, to become the sole author of my whole musical world. This album was a particularly happy event for his listeners because it was his first song album in the last five years. For me, his unique style of writing music is like the smell of something very dear, recognizable, and personal. I even wanted to make a rare exception and write a song with words myself.
2. Moa Pillar and Ушко – Volvo (2020)
This record by young Moscow musicians was a wonderful bright flash of inspiration at the time of writing my album. The wonderful vocals of the girl performed under the epic trance of the mid-’90s sounded to me like an action-packed novel, and I listened to it on repeat all last summer.
3. Foals – Holy Fire (2013)
I’m totally mad about these guys and every single one of their albums, but I decided to highlight this one. They are so amazing that they often gave me moments of real great happiness. Their guitar is, for me, the standard of style and elegance. The final solo in the song “The Hammer” is perhaps the most favorite solo, and every time it pierces me to the core. If the devil tried to steal my soul, he would find it in the song “Late Night”.
4. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography (2019)
These guys are geniuses, and the album fully reveals the skill and talent of the musicians: I listened to every sound and fantasy in their arrangements with delight… such incredible coolness in their songs. I love how Aurora breathes at the end of “The Universe Sent Me”. “Free Yourself” is a masterpiece, and the same can be said about “MAH”. Thanks to them for this album and for the bright musical path that illuminated the lives of many.
5. Gorillaz – The Now Now (2018)
I’m afraid to write something about Damon because every time it risks turning into fan-made incoherent hysterical babble and delight. But the request was about what inspired me to write my music, in particular. Damon has always been a bright guiding light for me, giving me insight into my life, and all I do is a great dedication to him. I want to be a ray of his sun, or rather he is the sun, and I am one of his rays. I will interrupt my fan babble and add a little constructive story: “Humility” in this album is a miracle, my favorite guitarist George Benson plays the guitar, and the warmth of summer is felt in the song itself.
[Some responses have been edited for clarity.]