Ekaterina Shilonosova, also known as Kate NV, is a musician, performer and producer from Moscow., whose third LP Room For The Moon came out this year to critical acclaim. Here, she tells Hook about a past job, and how it influenced the music video for Lu Na—along with the sketches that inspired it.
This is a story about my first and the only office job I had in my whole entire life.
It was 2011, I had just moved to Moscow, it was terribly dark and dull October (Moscow standard, but I did not know about it then). I really needed money to pay rent, and I was desperately trying to find a job. I just graduated from the Architecture University, but I had no experience so it was pretty hard to find anything where they pay you at least something. Out of despair (and after 1.5 months of searching), I decided to get a job at some weird architectural bureau, which had a mall and a garage as recent projects. I had a trial period of 2 weeks, and I had to work on the drawings of the garage. This was the time when I started drinking energy drinks instead of tea just to cheer myself up (until my teeth began to grind) and I also started crying at home in the evenings because I felt like I was doing some kind of garbage.
One day I got out of the subway after a very long day at work, and just burst into tears, standing right in the mud. I was crying and thinking that I just want a simple job but with a good salary. I could not even imagine what kind of work it would be, since the desire was too fantastically impudent so I decided to leave the specifics to the discretion of the universe. A couple of days later I met up with friends and one of them told me that he got an easy job as a cameraman where he was paid a lot, in fact, for setting up a camera on a tripod to record other people's meetings.
I certainly got a hint of fate and I asked if they needed an extra camera man. My friend said that they needed editors and asked me if I could do that. i said “of cooouuurse!" I want to note that I have never ever lied so brazenly in my life before. and at the same time you can assess the level of my despair and unwillingness to return to designing a garage being in a dark office.
Short story behind this job: Moscow developer decided to run a blog about his business on YouTube. Sounds pretty normal now, but 10 years ago it was crazy, especially if you are one of the richest people in the country. So he hired a video team to film all the videos of the meetings related to his business and construction of the skyscraper (that’s where the office was). All I knew was that they had iMacs there so my friend and I thought they were using Final Cut. So I spent the whole weekend on YouTube, watching tutorials and it seemed to me that I had prepared quite well.
It was pretty funny to come to the office the next day and hear from the chief editor "The latest version of Final Cut is awful and we're working in Adobe premiere." I didn’t even know how it looked like. I was horrified so I immediately began to sweat. The situation was aggravated by the fact that there was a second person applying for my place, who was clearly more qualified and he was not upset by this news. Those days I did not have a smartphone plus the office was an open space and everyone saw what you had on your huge screen, so there was absolutely no opportunity to open Google and start searching. They gave me some footage, and in a few hours I somehow edited it. It seems to me that I have never sweated so much in my life.
The whole experience was insanely embarrassing and I thought they would never call me back, but miraculously they chose me! Although of course I made a horrible video. As my boss admitted later, they liked me, though they figured out that I couldn't do much but they decided to give it a try anyway.
So I started editing videos of very boring (and long) business meetings about concrete. A real meeting of 20 people where everyone discussed drying concrete. In general, it's also quite an architectural topic. We were literally building a skyscraper and filming everything related to that. I assume that there were some crazy enough people who actually watched those vids so indeed I've been doing a fairly simple job with good money for it.
Over the course of several months of work, I learned how to edit more or less and I improved my skills in quick editing videos of the meetings. I liked it and I loved our editors team. We were separated from the evil core of business, but we were still in a context. It's like I was invited to witness people fighting for power, but I wasn’t really involved in anything and that was awesome. The top managers didn't like us, but they couldn't help it and it was terribly funny. My eyes saw lot’s of crazy and ridiculous things that we couldn’t post on YouTube and I found parallels with so many great russian literature pieces describing the lifestyle of 19th century authorities.
From the very beginning my plan was to buy myself all the important things: a laptop, synth and a camera, and then immediately quit, but it turned out to be very difficult!
I had no idea that it's hard to give up easy money, even if you bought everything you needed. The surprising thing is that at some point I began to get sad and really tired just like when I worked in an architectural bureau. I had everything but energy and time for my own creative life.
That’s how I came up with a conclusion that this scheme isn’t working for me and I’d better be starving but doing something I truly love than working a well paid job that doesn’t make me happy. As soon as this revelation came to me, our film crew was disbanded, because the developer sold his shares and went out of business. I, like everyone else, was fired. Since then I have just fully concentrated on music.
This story sounds like a fairytale with a great moral. And it is. I’m super grateful for this experience, and some basic editing skills still save me. I edited my latest video Lu Na and co-edited the rest of the videos that came out as singles for my recent album. It’s not like I’m a video pro, but it definitely helps me to articulate and explain my ideas to other people clearly cause I know how this works and how it’s done on some basic level. And of course I never thought that editing videos of business meetings would help me edit my own music videos later but I’m glad it turned out that way : )