Inspiring Stories

A fun Q&A with Kaktus

A fun Q&A with Kaktus - an indie music band from Russia.

June 1, 2016 / Yana Papaya / 0 comments

Words and story by Yana Papaya

Editing by Rina Patel

Photos by Vladimir Barabanov

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change ” ― Heraclitus

As seasons change, nothing stays the same in life. Both beauty and sadness occupy our souls when we think and reflect on the moments that are forever in the past. Join us as we bring to you a story with minimum words and maximum visuals.

Recently Lera Russo, a creative gem from Russia, poet and songwriter, young mum and super-wife shared her life views including snapshot moments of her past experiences on a roadie tour when she was a part of an indie-band called Kaktus.  Three funky boys’ souls – Artyom, leader of the group, guitar player, Andrew, bass guitar player, Ivan (Vano), drums player + Lera, a beautiful muse, blended together to create a musical summer cocktail, beloved by many people all around the country and overseas. During these 9 years of music adventures they travelled around many cities across Russia,  took part in international festivals,  they recorded 3 albums and made 2 music videos thanks to the crowd-funding support.

Time has passed and a lot of things have changed. It’s still uncertain at this stage what is going to happen with Kaktus music and its band, whether the guys decide to grow apart or grow strongly together composing new creations, who knows? What is certain, is that their already existing music, songs and lyrics will stay in our hearts forever and nothing will take that away from us. Today’s story has a taste of nostalgia, it’s like drinking your favourite summer cocktail with your best friends while watching the stars falling. Good times, good vibes.

Papaya Stories with Kaktus band
Here comes a photographic story of one summer’s night spent in the company of music band; Kaktus – Lera (lead singer), Artyom (guitar), Andrew (bass guitar) and Ivan (drums) gathered in a public park in Ryazan City, Russia. Our time was spiced up with open rock’n’roll chats, loud laughs, the taste of rum and creative vibes that now feel like a flash in the night.

No matter what is going to happen with these guys in the future, their stories serve as that perfect after-taste of a musical summer cocktail journey. We asked each of Kaktus member about what trait, quality they cherish and appreciate in each other and in themselves. And here’s what they told us…


Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Artyom

There are two things that I love about myself the most and they are – an ability to judge objectively and change myself. I really believe that I can stay objective towards myself, this is what helps me to define the quality of life and change it for the better. I will never say that I am better than I am.

The best thing that I like about Andrew is his idea of himself that he is a king of jungle. But in general, he is my best friend and I just appreciate his whole being!

Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Artyom

The best thing I like about Ivan is his sense of humour. As I am fond of jokes myself, I can hardly stand being around people who don’t understand my sense of humour. It’s different with Ivan. Even now as I tell this to you he is smiling, there is a connection between us and it’s a nice feeling.

Does Lera posess good qualities? (laughs). I love her boundless creativity.


The best thing that I like about myself is my ability to stay calm and patient with reality and what’s around me. It’s very helpful when i am going through hard times in life or when I just struggle with myself. Hard to explain this trait, but when I was at school a psychologist diagnosed me with extremely low levels of anxiety. So in other words, I don’t care too much.

Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Andrew
Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Andrew and Ivan

The things that I like about Artyom are his crazy, brave and creative ideas and his natural love for adventure.

The thing that I like best about Ivan is his self-critical, hard-working and super determined attitude towards everything in relation to his drums. It doesn’t matter whether he needs to play drums for another 10 hours or whether we are already playing at the gig, Ivan always tries his best, gives the maximum he has and finds new ways to improve his musical skills and grow his talent. It’s super-cool.

The best thing that I like about Lera is her feminine side which can sometimes mean  being uncertain, changeable and fickle. Sometimes it drives you nuts, but at other times you are ready to just cuddle up to death with this girl.

Artyom adds: There are days when Lera is telling us off for being rude and swearing a lot. She stands tall, independent and beautiful, wearing heels and a dress. There are also days when Lera walks to rehearsal in her torn jeans and says something, like: “Gosh boys, let’s get drunk and rock’n’roll.” That situation kind of sums up Lera’s state of mind.

Ivan / Vano 

The best thing I like about myself is how my dreamyness can push me to new limits and achievements.

Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Ivan
Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Ivan

The best thing I like about Artyom is his sense of recklessness and how this co-exists and counters his seriousness and practicality, which is very rare. When I initially met Artyom  we talked about Kaktus as a band, how we’d group together, how we’d work and rehearse, what challenges we might face, then I thought that Artyom was a typical nerdy geek and super-picky and complicated. But then at one jam session there was this turning point  when I realised that Artyom could jam like no one else can, that he was present and ready for new sounds and experiments. Music is his kingdom. It set me free. That was a moment when I could clearly see the real Artyom with his ability to be objective and be crazy, all at the same time. Thanks to music I was able to discover it in him.

The best thing I like about Andrew is his loyalty towards everything. He even listens to the same music bands that he listened to years back, and we all laugh about it. At the same time it’s cool that he knows what he likes and he stays true and loyal to his taste. He is also very easy-going and it’s cool.

The best thing I like about Lera is her spirituality. From the first time we met I felt that we were already connected on a spiritual level as well as feeling that our thoughts were vibrating on the same wavelength.

Lera / Valery

Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Lera
Papaya Stories with Kaktus, Lera

The best thing I like about myself is my ability towards sensitivity. Sometimes I can be super sensitive and emotional towards someone’s opinions or energy which shouldn’t even bother me. While at other times this feeling can assist me in being able to connected on an intuitive level to the situation and realise what’s the better way to navigate through new relations or any other encounters and life events.

The things I like about Artyom the most are his clarity and ability to see things as they are. He is the one who can always deliver the message by providing the right arguments, pros and cons that will help you to make a better decision.

The things I like about Andrew the most are his sense of simplicity, calmness his peaceful mind and masculinity which comes from his natural desire to help, fix things, be with you and make things happen.

The best thing I like about Ivan is our spiritual bond. I know and feel that Ivan is very genuine and honest.

Papaya Stories with Kaktus, thoughtful faces

Yana Papaya with Kaktus music band
Papaya Stories with Kaktus music band

To check out more photos from the interview session, click here.

To read more stories about ordinary people with extraordinary lives, please click here.

To share your story, please get in touch with us: papayastories@gmail.com

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