Music is meant to unite us.
That concept feels especially relevant today, but for the brothers of Saint Nomad, it’s become one of the driving principles behind their lives as individuals, and a band. Nikita, Ruslan, and Yan Odnoralov were just small children when their parents moved their family from a small Russian city called Pyatigorsk between the Black and Caspian seas to Denver, Colorado, USA. Being halted into a foreign culture at a young age left them in a cultural purgatory of sorts – not completely Russian, but not completely American either. With supportive parents, the siblings forged forward as American kids, but with an edge; allowing them to see themselves not necessarily as “outsiders” but unique in their own right. It was music that helped them connect to their peers and the world around them. With a full length album and over 1,000 live shows under their belt, the indie pop trio is in the midsts of rolling out their second album. From the shimmering dance pop grooves of “Better Off” to the arena rock readiness of their newest, “How Much Longer” there’s a bit of something for everyone, no matter where you come from.
About how old were you all when your family moved to the United States?
We were from 4-8 years old.
Where in Russia did you come from, and where in the USA did you settle?
We came from a town called Pyatigorsk and moved to Denver, CO because we had some relatives living there. It was a huge culture shock, even for us kids. I remember disliking pizza because I’ve never had it before and my parents making me eat it.
Were you guys old enough to have been influenced by any Russian music/culture?
We certainly were. Even as we were growing up in the states, our parents would really keep the Russian culture alive in our home. From Russian books, movies to music. My dad would play a lot of 80s and 90s artists like Talkov which influenced our darker and more serious moods.
How difficult was it growing up in a culture that your parents didn’t grow up in here in America?
As kids, I think the most difficult part of growing up the way we did was wanting to be “normal” but living within a Russian subculture in America. We just felt like we didn’t belong. One thing our parents did really well was to make us believe we were unique, different, and outliers, which may or may not be true, but it certainly helped us feel like we could accomplish anything we set our minds to.
You started playing music together in your teens, would you say that helped you connect to American society?
I think it certainly helped us connect and make new American friends and understand the culture more. When we did go to school, we could say we were in a rock band and all of a sudden, kids would be interested in hanging out with you so it certainly helped to make friends. But even so, we felt very much like nomads and didn’t feel quite comfortable in terms of fitting in.
“One thing our parents did really well was to make us believe we were unique, different, and outliers, which may or may not be true, but it certainly helped us feel like we could accomplish anything we set our minds to.”
You’re currently unveiling a new collection of singles, on “Better Off” and “Nothing To Lose” you worked with Jacquire King who has produced legendary albums for artists like Kings of Leon, Switchfoot, and Modest Mouse. What was it like working with him?
It was awesome! Jacquire certainly is focused and knows how to take a song from a demo, which has a bunch of cool tracks/sounds, to a completed master. I think we never struggled or had a shortage of ideas so Jacquire really took the roll of muting a bunch of stuff that was weighing the tracks down. He’s also an incredible mixing engineer.
You guys also self-produce a lot of your music though too. What’s the process like between the three of you?
We spent 3-4 years making our debut album, Memento Mori. That process was vastly different than the second record we are working on now. The first record we created probably had about 100 full production demos and many of the songs had from 5 to 15 variations. All that to say is we experimented a ton as we were fleshing out our identity and sound. Ultimately things started to click when Nikita started experimenting with his vocals and singing much softer than he used to, layering many vocal tracks. Nowadays, we typically get a lot of the bones and the base of the songs done when we write the topline or Nikita will send us an idea and Ruslan and I will build the track around it.
Your newest single, “How Much Longer”, it’s an emotional song about reunion. What do you hope it means to people who hear it?
I hope that the song resonates with anyone who is in a stage of anticipation or longing. I remember much of my experiences when I listen back to certain songs that resonated with me. I hope our music can connect with people on an emotional level to give them hope, or just to put to words what they are feeling. Somehow just knowing that someone else relates to your feelings often makes you feel better.
You’re working on your second full-length album. What overarching concept has been influencing that and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
We’ve experienced so much change and growth since writing our debut album. From some of us getting married, to others having kids so the record really covers a lot of themes. I can say that one of the common themes in the record is promoting unity. One of the tracks is called “Stay” which we will be dropping soon and the main premise is summed up with the chorus lyric, “I promise that you can be honest ’cause I’m gonna stay”. With everything that’s going in the world, there is much disagreement though I think the majority of us in the world don’t agree with the thought of cancel culture. Ultimately we hope this record connects with as many people as possible and fosters a sense of community.