Tjuktji, (pronounced as ‘Chukchi’ IPA: /ˈt͡ʃukt͡ʃiː/) was founded as a solo project by Dylan Larsson. Growing up in a remote village, surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of rural Sweden, Larsson became captivated by the region’s natural beauty and his own indigenous Siberian heritage. These formative experiences continue to shape his artistic work, creating a musical tapestry reflecting his homeland’s essence.
In a recent conversation discussing his music, Larsson delved into the symbolism behind the forest scene featured in his latest single, “Судьба,” describing it as a haven providing solace and shelter from the harsh realities of the world beyond. The clouds and artillery smoke referenced in the song’s lyrics further emphasize the themes of struggle and hardship, particularly during times of war and conflict, and serve to underscore the notion of the elusiveness of love and life.
The events that unfolded between 2022 and 2023 played a significant role in shaping the themes and lyrics of “Судьба,” amplifying the sense of nostalgia and grief that Larsson sought to express. His music’s inherent darkness and sombre undertones mirror the realities of life, especially in the northern hemisphere, where severe winters and challenging living conditions perpetuate a constant struggle. As Larsson followed the news and witnessed recent escalating tensions, he experienced a profound sadness for those affected, which became entwined with his own recollections of the Soviet era.
The catalyst for “Судьба” was the sound of raindrops striking the roof of Larsson’s house, which evoked the sound of gunfire in his mind. This led him to think about the sound-evoked memories and emotions, and the song gradually took shape.
“Судьба” is open for interpretation by the listener, but to Larsson, it is an anti-war song. With this piece of music, Larsson hoped that listeners would experience a sense of melancholy and introspection mixed with a defiant will to love and live. He wrote it in Russian to honor his roots, believing that the language has a certain quality that enhances the song’s emotional themes, allowing him to convey a sense of depth that may not have been possible in English.
Dylan Larsson’s childhood was spent far from the bustling cities, where entertainment options were limited. This isolation prompted a creative spark, leading to a passion for music as a means of connection and entertainment. Fondly he recalls picking up a guitar and playing for friends, transforming long hours into moments of joy and camaraderie. One of his key inspirations is taken from traditional Siberian folk music’s unique instrumentation and vocal styles: “They usually sound a bit sad, have somewhat monotone singing styles, etc.,” he explains. “Additionally, the natural beauty of Siberia’s landscapes often find their way into my lyrics and themes, such as birch forests and Arctic oceans.”
Larsson also reminisces about childhood car trips with his mother, who would play cassette tapes featuring bands from the 80s and 90s: “My favorites were “Kukushka” by Viktor Tsoi and “Israel” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.” Although those songs informed his musical aesthetic, he asserts he doesn’t fit the goth category.
Viktor Tsoi, in particular, highlights how Larsson draws inspiration from Soviet-era post-punk: “I was specifically inspired by the group КИНО (KINO), whose music embodies many of the same themes and emotions that I wanted to capture in my own work,” he says. “By drawing on this tradition, I was able to create a sound that was both nostalgic and fresh, and that spoke to a wide range of listeners.”
Larsson’s distinctive sound is also shaped by an eclectic mix of influences, including the likes of Nick Cave, The Gun Club, Bauhaus, Viktor Tsoi, Boris Grebenshikov, and Molchat Doma. By fusing these diverse musical inspirations, Larsson crafts a singular sonic identity that seamlessly melds traditional Siberian elements with post-Soviet rock and New Wave. This remarkable amalgamation pays special homage to the contemporary post-punk scene thriving in Eastern Europe today.