SADO OPERA are famous for their live shows, makeup masks and songs like ‘Russian Anal Game’. We got naked with the mysterious front person Katya of the queer rock band that was born in Russia and bloomed in Berlin.
Text: Filip Sandström Beijer
Photos: Oona Oikkonen
You said in an interview in 2018 that you always do rehearsals naked.
We love the idea, but we have to ask: Why?
“You’ll be surprised to know, but we also always give interviews naked and invite
journalists to get naked with us too. It is not a secret. We also said this in some
interviews earlier. Of course, we never insist but we did it many times and mostly all
journalists joined the game. So now, it’s up to you...”
“Why? It’s as simple as that: being naked is like a symbol of being sincere. When you
talk, you want to trust the one you talk to. The same is with rehearsals. First, we have
to make sure to get rid of all the artificial and unnecessary layers, to be honest and true.
When you’re ready with that, you can dress and apply make-up to highlight your
message. But not to hide something behind your mask.”
How was it being a queer rock band in St Petersburg when it all started?
“The good thing was that we got a lot of attention. The bad thing was that attention
was not always positive. Sometimes it was even dangerous. There were always some people whose homophobic and conservative feelings were triggered and they wanted to explain to us that what we were doing was wrong and ‘against the rules’. On the other hand, we were never bored having those discussions with our opponents. Sometimes we succeeded and were happy to see the transformation at least
from the pure aggression to a possibility of a respectful conversation."
“The queer community around us was giving us energy and inspiration to keep going.
The feeling of unity was our fuel: in our songs and shows we were and still are telling
stories of many other likeminded people.
How come you decided to move to Berlin?
”Our main base is Wilde Renate - the club that became our second home. We
started performing there in 2011 and we play there almost twice a month during all
these years. This is definitely a special place. Besides the club, there are music
studios where we were working many times on our music with talented artists from
Wilde Renate family. We also do our monthly parties at a sex club Ficken3000. As
we usually say it is a unique combination of an arts salon and a sex labyrinth in one.
We already dedicated two of our songs to this amazing temple of love.”
“Indeed, there are more clubs in Berlin than anywhere else. You can play here every
weekend and still always have new audiences. Unlike the place where we come from,
in Berlin there are no laws that censor the artists. The city can be also tough in many
ways. But we can say that we feel home here. Another thing that is important for us is
that here we can meet and collaborate with people from very different places and
backgrounds. This communication is crucial for us. We evolve by talking, dancing,
making music and making love with very different and yet likeminded people.
“We know that, unfortunately, there are cases of transphobic, homophobic and sexist behavior happening to people in Berlin too.”
Would you say that Berlin is a great city for the LGBTQ-community or is that to
”We truly believe that the whole world is a great place for the LGBTQ-community.
We know plenty of people who do a lot for it in many different cities all over the
world. But if you mean safety, then Berlin is relatively safer. At least much
safer than Moscow or smaller Russian cities.”
“We know that, unfortunately, there are cases of transphobic, homophobic and sexist
behavior happening to people in Berlin too. It’s not a 100 percent safe utopian paradise. And
only proves for us that our struggle for and in the name of love is relevant
everywhere. But definitely in our experience Berlin is the place which is way more
open to diversity of the world and people. And thus there are way more resources and
possibilities for queer people here to. Even in terms of the relationship with police,
there is a healthier and safer situation and more chances for protection and legal
“We keep in touch with our Russian fans on social media quite a lot.”
What is your relationship with your hometown today?
“It is in our hearts and in our blood. We were born and grew up in St Petersburg
that is at the Baltic Sea and so we feel home in Finland, Estonia, Poland, Germany
and other countries at the Baltic coast.”
“We keep in touch with our Russian fans on social media quite a lot. And we come to
play sometimes as well. Not too often, maybe once or twice a year. It’s way more
often that our Russian friends and fans come to Berlin or other cities where we would
be touring. We also believe that it’s an important mission to build bridges between
our Russian community and our international Berlin community, and so we are also
hosting events and are inviting queer Russian acts to play at our Berlin parties.
2019 has been a year on tour. How would you summarize it?
”In Russian we say ‘просто супер’, which means ‘really great’.
We have visited many new places and also got an opportunity to come back to some
places where we play every year. We also played at Budapest Pride and celebrated 50
years of Stonewall with a concert in Cardiff, Wales.
We had also lot of positive memories of the gig at Tallinn Music Week – fantastic showcase festival indeed. We had also our debut at Londons legendary The Glory
and played in Paris for the very first time just recently. So, it was indeed a kaleidoscope of places and emotions that we probably have yet to digest.
”You know, people may think that when we go on tour, we only drink champagne, discuss politics and have sex all the time with our friends and lovers.”
What is the best to be with being on tour with SADO OPERA?
”You know, people may think that when we go on tour, we only drink champagne, discuss politics and have sex all the time with our friends and lovers. But that is not
true. We also play music and perform live in the meantime.
In general we really consider that touring and backstage life is a big part of our show.
So everyone who travels with us are definitely members of the band in one way or the
other. Sometimes they’d join us spontaneously on stage. Anything can happen.
But ‘stage’ is not ‘the top of the hill’, there is no hierarchy on tour and every
person and every role and every input is important.”
If you only can choose one, or maybe two memories that you bring with you
from your last tour. What would that be?
“Well, first one was in London. We were stuck at the airport hotel after a show at
Standon Calling Festival for two days waiting for a canceled flight last summer. We
unfortunately missed our Amsterdam show at the queer festival Milkshake because