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Interview | Questions & Answers With Zaritza

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Zaritza
With innate talent and good training, Zaritza is an artist to watch out for. Influenced by classical Russian composers and contemporary European electronic producers, her pop music links the new with the old. Scroll down to discover much more about her latest single “Slot Machine”.

1 — First of all, why did you decide to make music in America and not in Russia?

Despite growing up in a very isolated village geographically, I was lucky to be exposed to a variety of music that enriched my life and influenced my own creativity. Much of the music was, of course, Russian, including traditional folk music and the great Russian classical composers — Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Glinka and, by far my favorite of all classical composers, Rachmaninoff. In addition, my father introduced me to American/British pop, rock n’ roll music, ranging from the Beatles to Motown to my all-time favorite rock band, Queen. This music from “the West” was so magnetic; it opened up an entirely different world of musical possibilities for me and led me to focus on pop/rock and later electronic music as an artist in my own right. So when I first came to America as a teenager, I immediately felt energized and inspired to explore the music scene here without compromising my values and my authenticity! I first arrived in America from Russia many years ago, I was extremely fortunate to be introduced to and spend a little time with one of my musical heroes, the legendary songwriter, performer and producer Nile Rodgers, who generously gave me musical and career advice that continues to help me to this day.

2 — What’s something you miss about your homeland?

Aside from my family who is now spending more time with me here in the US, I miss Russian nature – seeing miles of beautiful fields, birch trees, getting lost while mushroom picking, all the simple but often magical things and surroundings of suburban Russia.

3 — Are you musically trained or self-taught?

My arts education, on scholarships, included nine years of both dance school and music school, where I trained in my greatest passion, classical piano. Every year I competed in regional dance and piano competitions, frequently placing first. At age 15, I started composing my own music, combining Russian classical with modern forms popular with my generation. After immigrating to the US, I took piano, music theory and musical theater courses at Rhode Island College, and later studied voice with Kathryn LaBouff, chairperson of the voice department at the Juilliard School.

zaritza interview
4 — What kind of emotions do your tunes give to listeners?

I would hope that my audience connects to my music in their own individual way, finding some reflection of their feelings, desires, experiences or struggles in my lyrics or at least in the tapestry of sounds each tune shows. I love hearing when people find their own meaning to my lyrics and interpret them through their prism of emotions.

5 — What was the creative process behind your new song “Slot Machine”?

I wrote the initial idea on piano (my most common way of writing demo ideas) and then I took it to my friend Chris – collaborator of my new music, a guitar player in all of my live performances in last two years and just an incredible musician overall – and we’ve worked on producing the song together and experimenting with different sounds for a few months. Then, I finished remaining lyrics with my other collaborator/producer and long-term friend Steve who has helped me bring more wild and daring ideas out of me and put the last touches to the song.

6 — What is the deep meaning of a “Slot Machine”?

The title is obviously a play of words, referring to gambling, feeling lucky and free to experience pleasures and deepest desires, even in one night. The concept of the song was originally about exploring sexual fantasies but then it formed into a stronger statement of female sexual confidence, desires, and expression.

7 — Is there any funny anecdote while you were filming the video?

The video shoot was quite ambitious with different scenes involved that all had be done in one night, almost 14 hours of non-stop setting and shooting, so it was very intense and dramatic at times. But the most challenging and funny experience of all was a club dance scene where I had to wear a very heavy costume with chains and belts attached to it, plus the boots! Through sweat and struggle, I was dancing for hours and cursing at myself for creating such crazy wardrobe ideas 🙂

zaritza slot machine
8 — Do you consider yourself a feminist singer?

I do support feminism in many ways that are essential for women to function freely without any constrains and additional challenges that men don’t often face. With “Slot Machine”, I express my desire for women to be less oppressed with regard to their sexuality, to always have a choice and power. I’ve always believed that feminism is about embracing female sexuality and celebrating it, as opposed to denigrating sexually aware and empowered women.

9 — What can we expect from Zarita in the next months?

I am currently in the production of my next EP, which has even more focus on my electro-pop influences and a strong emphasis on the visual aspect for my live performance – including choreography, dancers and video elements. I also am planning on a small UK/European tour this coming Spring which might even take me to my native country, Russia!

10 — Finally, how much have you grown up as an artist through the years?

As you always wish to evolve as a human, I certainly hope to grow as an artist as well! Through pain and happiness, disappointments and inspirations, loss and gain, self-criticism and self-praise, you learn more and more about yourself which is essential to artistic growth!


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Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.

Interviews

Full Interview Out Now, Munatix Will Release “You Just Keep Hanging On”

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Full Interview Out Now, Munatix Release "You Just Keep Hanging On"
“You Just Keep Hanging On”
by Munatix is a classic SynthPop song for the 21st-century generation to be released on July 31st. Music acts like Erasure, Giorgio Moroder, and Chromeo were the source of inspiration behind this great tune. Obviously, it was produced in a contemporary way to make it sound fresh. Learn more about this Belgian duo and their new single in this exclusive interview with one of its members, Josh Sleurs.

1 — I’m loving your new single, “You Just Keep Hanging On”, how many synths did you use for this tune?

The song started out as a bunch of chords that evolved towards a song by adding a piano melody. Then I started stacking the synth sounds and left out the piano in the end. The lyrics followed later.

The first synth line added was the MiniMoog bass. To make it exciting, we added a phaser and an evolving digital delay. Giorgio Moroder used this type of delay a lot on his Disco records. So, how many… including the drum computer, about 6 instruments.

2 — Personally, I think it’s a highly singable song. Are you planning to drop a lyric video?

The song has a melody and lyrics with meaning. These days it is popular to make lyric videos. So, it would be a logical thing to do. However, every single release is an opportunity for us to show ourselves. We want people to know who we are, what we look like, and what we stand for. Doing a video shoot for a new single is a great opportunity to do that. Currently, we are editing the video. The video will be released onto YouTube, a week after the single release.

3 — What message are you trying to send to your fans about relationships?

Well, the song is about long-distance relationships. Through social media, we are always connected every minute of the day. We just have to push a button on our smartphone and we are there. We don’t even have to dial a number.

Do you want to share an impression of the location you are at? Just make a picture and send it, instantly. This can make you feel close to a person, even if there is a physical distance. The song describes what that feels like. Being always connected but missing the physical contact.


4 — How did you learn to produce vintage-like music?

I started music when I was seven, I play synths since I was 9. That was the mid-eighties when bands using synths were revolutionary. My musical taste was formed in that era.

The synths from that era sound warm, phat, organic, lush, name it…, they just sound great. I lived through the digitization of electronic music instruments by the end of the ’80s and the ’90s. During the last 20 years, synth companies went through a lot of effort virtualizing the vintage analog sound in a digital way. In the last 10 years, there even is an enormous revival in analog electronic instruments.

Vintage analog synths are reissued, cloned in different ways. That means there is a lot of demand for that vintage sound. So the love for that sound, by musicians in general, never went away.

I remember playing a virtual software version of the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer in a music store 20 years ago. I fell in love immediately. I never had the opportunity to play that beloved and expensive original instrument. The software version got me acquainted with it. But I wanted the real thing. I wanted to be able to really play that instrument, touch it with my fingers, experience the presence, and see how it reacts to me when I turn the knobs.

Munatix interview
My love for these vintage synths combined with my love for melody, harmonies, and classic song structures make our retro sound. Still the producing part is not retro. We use a modern computer with the latest software for recording with a bunch of virtual plug-ins for processing. We try to make it sound also contemporary in a way.

On our first single, “The Rhythm Sets My Heart On Fire” most of the sounds were coming from software synths. To come back to your question. Today everything is on YouTube. Martin Garrix showed us behind his desk how he made his groundbreaking track ‘Animals’. Avicii modestly shared some of his secrets in a YouTube video. You just have to take the time to watch it. We can just learn from the masters themselves online. We don’t have to go to school anymore. We just look online for what we need and take it in.

5 — Synthpop is a culture, not music. Do you agree or disagree?

I am convinced people do not only listen to music because of the music itself, but also the aura surrounding it. When you look at Synthwave, that has become a culture. It comes along with art, fashion, lifestyle. So I think you can call Synthwave a culture.

I think for Synthpop maybe this is less prominent. In history, there were a lot of branches from Synthpop where it was more prominent if you talk about New Wave for instance. But it is not always easy to box music into a category. We think we make ‘Synthpop’ because we use ‘synths’ and want to make ‘Pop’ music. So that is a logic contraction. However “Groovin’ Is My Hobby” appeared in a lot of Synthwave playlists on Spotify. Some people like to call our music ‘Electro-Pop’. I do not always know what the exact outlines are for those categories.

6 — A lot of fans have a nostalgic connection with your music. Are you afraid of taking a new sonic direction?

We want to make music that feels good to us, set out our own path, and follow that. Of course, we hope to find our audience that likes our music. Trying something new can be a risk. But if you do what you are passionate about, I think we will radiate that passion towards our listeners.

Ricky and I have a guitar Rock song in the store that we want to release in the future that reminds of the style of AC/DC. We still want to mix in some synths, but it will remain a Rock song. So we might have surprises up our sleeves.

7 — Besides composing your own tracks, what kind of services do you offer to the public as a production duo?, Are you open to collaborations?

In order to realize the goals we really need to focus on priorities. Since we are indie musicians and do the whole process of writing and releasing ourselves, there is not much time left. The past months, 4 remixes of Munatix songs, made by fellow musicians came out, which we think is nice. To do remixes ourselves, or do collaborations, that would be too distracting at this moment. Our first priority is to write an hour of music so we can start gigging. “You Just Keep Hanging On” is our fifth single, so we still have some work to do.

8 — Which artists have you been listening to in Lockdown?

I discover new music via the Spotify Discovery Weekly playlist now. My recent discoveries are DJ Storken, with “Lille Vals” and Rex The Dog, with “Do You Feel What I Feel”. Also, I have been listening a lot to the Pur Zynth’s Synthwave playlists and the ‘Synthpop Your World’ playlist. Other than that, I think the new Erasure album coming out sounds promising.

9 — Can we expect a new Munatix album for 2020? If so, tell us more about it.

At a rate of releasing 3 singles a year, 2020 will be too soon. We aim for 2022. Until now we have done a video for each release. Organizing that and editing the video almost takes as much time as making the music itself. But it is fun to do.

10 — Any words of advice for those newbie talents who want to dive into the world of synths?

Gear has become relatively cheap and choices are plenty. Good sound has been democratized and is now available to almost everybody. That means everybody can take their shot at making music. If you like vintage synth sounds and tweaking hardware you can start out with some Behringer vintage synth clones. A 400$ analog hardware MiniMoog clone was unimaginable 10 years ago. We live in exciting times.


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Interviews

Quickfire Interview With: Mike1/2Nelson

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Mike1/2Nelson

Meet charismatic Indie-Pop singer, songwriter, and actor Mike1/2Nelson. His latest single, “Strongheart,” is for everyone out there fighting for what’s good and right. It’s about meeting challenges with bravery and courage. This tune is part of his recent EP, ‘All Are Welcome’, available to stream via Spotify. Check out the short and concise interview I had with the Brooklyn-based artist below.

1 – You’ve been composing songs since…

Since I was 6.

2 – You got involved in the music realm because…

All the other realms were taken.

3 – Your sound is…

Retrograde and futuristic.

4 – Your biggest inspiration is…

Manic episodes.

5 – People should listen to your new EP ‘All Are Welcome’ because…

It slaps.

6 – If you want to know who Mike1/2Nelson is, listen to the track…

“Strong Heart.”

7 –Your most memorable career moment so far has been…

Releasing my debut project during a pandemic.

8 – Your dream is…

Hosting SNL.

Mike12Nelson Interview
9 – Your next release is called…

“Should’ve Known”.

10 – Your all-time favourite track is…

“All Through the Night” by Cyndi Lauper.

11 – Your favourite place to write songs is…

My studio.

12 – If you weren’t an artist, you’d probably be…

A mime or a cowboy.

13 – You’ll only stop making music if…

I get drafted to the NFL.

14 – In a few years, you want to be…

Recording with Rick Rubin in Malibu.

15 – What are you doing for the rest of the day?

Auditioning for the NFL. My tap number needs work.


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Exclusive Interview: Steven Jones On Lockdown & Writing “Shedding My Skin”

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Interview Steven Jones
Steven Jones
‘ recent release “Shedding My Skin” is heavily influenced by swirling synths and drum machines. The outcome of cutting-edge Synthpop with the vintage-esque aesthetic is what makes his music so special. What’s more, the spread of COVID-19 accompanied by large lockdown periods become the inspiration for his latest lyrics. Scroll down and learn more about this interesting song.

1 –  When it comes to your music, what three words best describe it?

Dystopian Analog Beauty.

2 – How have you been keeping yourself entertained this lockdown?

I’ve continued to practice yoga on a daily basis. I’ve done more walking in the park than ever before. I’ve made a special project of carefully listening to the back catalogues of my favourite artists. I’ve watched lots of movies and read a pile of books. Lockdown has given me a time to experiment with video, take moody photos, and pen obscure apocalyptic lyrics.

3 – I’m loving the vibes of your new EP, “Shedding My Skin”, what’s the inspiration behind this material?

“Shedding My Skin” is a lockdown anthem. I suspect a lot of artists will have been inspired by the deep strangeness of the world’s response to COVID-19. This EP is our response. The starting point was Kevin O’Dowd’s claustrophobic lyrics. Using these as a foundation, I created a basic demo I tended to reflect the dislocation and fear of the quarantined mind. I envisaged a skeletal soundscape out of which a voice intones images of despair and hope. Once this was achieved, Logan added his cinematic electronics and sleek production. The dub mix, “New Skin” purifies the emotion of the isolated spirit of lockdown into sheer atmospherics. A wordless cry from behind a closed door.

4 – How much time did you work for this EP?

One of the most interesting aspects of lockdown was a sense of timelessness. It’s easy to spend hours recording and experimenting. I suppose I worked on the demo for a few days before Logan got busy with it at Sky Studios. It was a relatively speedy process.

5 – I’m curious about your creative process, what comes first lyrics or sound?

The songwriting process usually begins with sound. A basic demo provides an atmosphere or emotional cue from which the lyrics arise. I usually start by improvising a vocal on the track, singing whatever comes into my head. So often the lyrics come right out of my subconscious. After several improvised takes I’ll begin to feel a structure appearing. Then I’ll begin to edit the lyrics. When there is something the feels like a song, I’ll send the stems Logan who will make suggestions, play in new melodies and add dynamics. We discuss ways to refine the atmosphere or take it in unexpected directions.

6 – Do you have a specific writing technique for the lyrics?

It starts with improvisation around themes that currently preoccupy me. I take inspiration from novels, films, art, overheard conversations, dreams. Sometimes I’ll draw from my own experience and encode this into the song. Many lyrics arise spontaneously in response to the mood of the track. Sometimes we have a song title which guides the overall content of a lyric. I have a very language-based thought process so I can easily generate imagery and curious sentences.

Logan Sky and Steven Jones
7 – What do you prefer, analog or digital synths? Performing live or working in the studio?

We can appreciate both as warm and icy sounds soundscapes, but I know Logan likes to focus on vintage hardware, that was used to create the synth soundscapes for the final Visage albums recorded before Steve Strange died.

Live performance is exciting and it’s an amazing feeling to sing one’s own songs but I prefer recording. I find it immensity fulfilling to write and record songs and then allow them to live in the world. I feel it’s like capturing time. I think my love of recording has its roots in my life-long passion for records! I’ve always preferred listening to an album than going to a performance. Gigs are cool but nothing beats immersion in the self-contained sonic world of a great album!

8 – Is your music only suitable for nostalgic lovers of the 80s or Synthwave fans?

I suspect that a lot of people view us as a Synthwave duo arising from a scene based in nostalgia. And while it’s true that our musical DNA can be traced back to the electronics of the early 80s, I’m keen that our records are creatively vital and future-thinking. Our music is a direct reaction to modernity and not a flight from it and we actively reject pastiche!

Some of our songs draw upon the world around us. “Corrupt State”, “Deluxe Tourist” and “Supply Chains” look at issues of corruption, “Syria” is an ode to the ongoing war and “For Europe” laments our departure from the EU.

Exclusive Interview: Steven Jones On Lockdown, Creativity & Writing "Shedding My Skin"
9 – Beyond music, are you a big fan of movies and books? Any recommendations?

My current reading list consists of the surreal poetics of William Burroughs. I recommend “Cities Of The Red Night” for a journey into the bizarre. And for light relief, “An Officer And A Spy” by Robert Harris.

“The English Patient” for doomed romance. Polanski’s “Macbeth” for windswept tragedy and “Network” for a cynical take on the media!

10 – Lastly, if you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?

A virtual swim through the cosmos, a shimmering journey from darkness to light…


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Tyler Okun Reveals What His Music Is All About + New EP ‘The City’ In Interview

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Tyler Okun Reveals What His Music Is All About + New EP 'The City' In Interview

Music has been the focal point of Tyler Okun’s entire life. He has the ability to easily convey his feelings through relatable songs that touch your soul. Not for nothing, his debut EP, ‘The City’ is full sincere emotions and contemporary melodies for your pleasure. Tyler wishes to impact the world positively and bring smiles to those who listen. Learn more about his amazing music below.

1 — Who are your musical influences?

Growing up, I was exposed to many artists from the 70s/80s, so I’d consider that my backbone for influences. But since then I’ve grown to really appreciate Pop and Alternative. I’d say my main influences are Green Day, The 1975, Troye Sivan, and Tom Misch.

2 — Why do you have a special interest in guitar-based music?

I was introduced to the guitar when I was five years old when my aunt bought me a beginner acoustic guitar. Naturally, I was drawn to music that I could play along with. Some of my earliest memories include strumming along to concerts playing on my TV.

3 — How would you describe your signature sound?

I play into what people would consider “Pop” sensibilities. However, with each song, I try to find a cool way to integrate other genres into that Pop sound. Take “Basic” for example, I had this really awesome baseline in my head, as well as a really catchy hook, and then I and my producer decided it would be crazy to add giant 80’s style synths and a trap-style drum pattern. And it just worked.


4 — Is it easy to turn your feelings into lyrics?

Absolutely. I find songwriting to be a very cathartic experience because there’s been huge highs and lows in my life. Putting it to lyrics is my way of communicating it to everyone so that I can get the gratification of knowing at least one person who hears this song has gone through the experiences I write about and can relate.

5 — What subjects do you prefer to explore in your songs?

Writing about love was my way of writing songs. The first song I’ve ever written “Serenity” was my way of explaining such a powerful emotion. Since then though, my songs have evolved into territories like empowerment, dancing, heartbreak, and even depression and anxiety.

6 — You just released a new EP, titled ‘The City’. What does this project mean to you?

For the majority of my time actually making music, I was writing acoustic songs and never even considered what I’d do with a larger sound. That all changed when I started working with my producer, Matt “Malto” Loss. We spent so many hours just trying anything possible in the makeshift studio in his basement. This EP is displaying my new sound that I was able to find while recording there. This sound feels more like me, more fun, and just plain awesome.

7 — Which is your favorite song from this material? Why?

I’d have to say the title track “The City”. It’s just so fun, and it just gives me so much energy every time I hear it. I was able to really shred my guitar and pull off some really high notes with my vocals. I think it’s the perfect way to get people ready for what’s to come with the rest of the EP.

8 — Are you open to remixes? If so, what are the requirements?

Definitely! Requirements would be just to have fun with it and present my song in a new, interesting way! Side-note, I really dig electronic remixes so I’d be really curious to see what an electronic specific artist could do with my stuff.


9 — What’s next for you in the next half of 2020?

Playing my music wherever I can, and spreading positivity with it, I think the world really needs that right now. And who knows? I’ve got a lot of plans for more future releases!

10 — Finally, what’s the best career advice you’ve received as an artist?

Honestly, I’d have to go with my Dad’s classic phrase “Knock ‘em dead!”, his way of saying to just give it all I’ve got. He has always believed in me from day one. From the first time I performed anywhere till now, my Dad would always say that phrase to me before I’d start anything. So in everything I do, I go into it hearing him saying that to me, and I know I’ve given it my all.


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Lailien Talks His Gigi D’Agostino Cover + More In Interview

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Lailien Talks His Gigi D’Agostino Cover + More In Interview

Meet the magician of music, Brad Shubat aka Lailen. Carried away by his great creativity and imagination, he gives new life to Gigi D’Agostino’s classic “Fly With You”, which is featured in the crime thriller Uncut Gems. Known for experimenting with electronic music, pop, and rock, you can learn more about how he works and much more in this exclusive interview.

1 – First of all, what made you want to do a cover of one the greatest hits of Gigi D’Agostino?

In the words of my collaborator and co-singer Ruby Perl, the song is divine! We both love the song, including its many other formal iterations of covers and remixes. We had just finished our version when I heard it play at the end of the new Safdie brothers’ film Uncut Gems, soundtracked by Oneohtrix Point Never, so I knew the stars had aligned for sure!

2 – What’s the new perspective you want to bring with this cover?

Every artist brings their own peculiar idiosyncrasies to a cover if they’re doing something interesting and I felt that the generosity of this tune was still far from exhausted in its sonic possibilities. Primarily we wanted to take it into new stratospheres of playfulness and jubilation.

3 – Which is your favorite lyrics’ line on “Fly With You”? Why?

“I still believe in your eyes, I just don’t care what you’ve done in your life”

It’s so powerfully eloquent. A perfect encapsulation of the prospect of innocence at religious depths of profundity expressed through common phenomenological beauty, the eyes being windows into the soul.

4 – What do you use in your studio when producing these types of tunes?

Lots of various equipment and software, including Ableton, Logic Pro, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, UAD plugins, Waves plugin package, a Neumann M147 mic, Gibson Les Paul guitar, Music Man sub-bass and more!

Lailien interview
5 – Do you think that having a luxurious music studio is indispensable for the creative process of any song?

I do think it’s very important. Humans exude technological extensions of our imaginations and studio equipment provides a basis for catalyzing new possibilities. I will say though that one can have all the most expensive equipment in the world and still not make anything interesting if the creative spirit isn’t properly attuned.

6 – Besides producing the catchy beats, did you also record your own vocals for this track?

Yes, and here I have to give a massive shoutout to producer and all-around brilliant musician Mark Zubek who was absolutely crucial and essential on this track. All my songs are recorded with him at his Zedd Records studio in Toronto.

7 – Who is the singer that collaborates with you on this cover?

Ruby Perl. She is such a beautiful soul and was the driving force behind this particular song’s creation. This is actually her first professionally recorded tune so I’m super psyched by her performance and what’s to come next!

8 – Are you planning to release more covers or remixes in the near future? If so, tell us more.

Not currently, but I do have a lot of original material coming out soon, including several videos!

9 – Where do you usually find inspiration?

There’s a poet friend of mine named Michael Boughn who told me he believes in perspiration over inspiration. That always stuck — putting in a consistent work effort regardless of the day to day fluxes of motivation. Thankfully though I do find myself inspired most of the time regardless, especially by what other musicians are making, the poetry I read, and the love of creating in general.

10 – Do you believe the electronic music scene will evolve after the pandemic ends?

The pandemic will definitely have an impact, but not in some homogenized, congealed manner. I expect an ongoing proliferation of diverse and nuanced artistic practices to reverberate and emerge. Life constraints have always informed and propelled creative agency, sometimes in paradoxically nurturing ways, so if anything I hope it brings further compassion, respect, and appreciation to artists in general which in turn blossoms into magnificent new works.


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