From Globetrotting to Bein' a Tough Russian, Artist Darko Drops Us a Line

A city-hopping rapper returns to Seattle.

After recent trips to New York, London, and Los Angeles, catching the Superbowl and working on his new album, Soviet Goonion 3, Russian-born rapper Avatar Darko is back in Seattle and met with us for a chat.

You recently tweeted that London inspired you to write three songs. How?
It kind of reminds me of Seattle in a way, like a European Seattle, just because the weather is, like, super-bipolar.

What’s the best thing about Los Angeles?
I like being by the beach, by the water.

New York?
There’s a neighborhood in New York called Brighton Beach, where the majority of people there are Russian, so it feels like I’m back in Russia—a home away from home.

It’s home and there’s nothing like home.

What’s your take on the Russia/Ukraine/Crimea situation?
Funny you ask. While I was in London, I actually wrote a song (“Half Lit World”) about that for the new album, and basically I answer that question real well. I’m conflicted; it’s kind of a sensitive subject, because my family is in eastern Ukraine and they’re dealing with the consequences out there, and it’s hard for them—it hits home.

What’s new about Soviet Goonion 3 ?
The beginning of the album starts off kind of aggressive—like what most people think of when they hear my name—and then it kind of veers off into a more introspective side with songs such as “Half Lit World,” where I’m telling a story about a kid who’s half Russian and half Ukrainian, and I’m actually talking about my cousin that lives there. It’s a pretty special song to me.

Seems like we’ve gone back to having the Russians be the bad guys on TV, in the movies, etc. How do you feel about that?
It’s funny, because America stereotypes us into always being the bad guys—like the M&M peanut commercials. I’m not really mad about it—it’s kinda cool, actually. I like being viewed as that because it gives me this essence, like, “Whoa, I don’t really know about him, he [seems] kinda dangerous. I like [that] though, I’m curious.”

Avatar Darko With Key Nyata, Ugly Frank, Mack Ned. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, $10. 8 p.m. Thurs., July 10.

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