In this interview, yellowHEAD’s Marina Sapunova speaks with Olga Khomenko about her life as a drummer in an indie band, what exotic places she wants to visit and why she loves playing board games.
Marina: Hi Olga! So we are at Casual Connect Kyiv. Could you please share with us what you do?
Olga: First of all, I want to say that I’m so excited that Casual Connect is back at Kyiv because it’s my native city and I adore it. A lot of new people come to your city and see how cool and beautiful it is. I work at PlayToMax and we create HMTL 5 games. We develop our own games, as well as provide outsourcing services. And I’m also here at the conference together with my friend – he’s an indie developer who’s working on his own game and I’m helping him, so please vote for him.
Marina: Sure! I still haven’t voted so I will do it. Are you a gamer?
Olga: Yes, I am.
Marina: What kind of games do you play?
Olga: Well, as a girl, I do play casual games. I play Match-3 games as everyone does. But I also do like playing board games. In the office, we have a huge collection of different types of board games and they are mostly strategy games like Civilization, Eclipse, and so on. And the boys in our team are huge fans of board games, so I became a fan as well. What we do often is we play those games during lunch time. We can play one round for one week, but it’s still fun as it fosters communication in your team and you have an hour not to think about the work and just relax.
Marina: It’s a great distraction. And can also serve as a source for inspirations that help at work.
Olga: Yes, it’s cool for game developers as new ideas can pop up.
Marina: That’s a very creative process. Would you call yourself a creative person?
Olga: I wish. Since childhood, I was always participating in some kind of artistic activity. I danced for 9 or 10 years in a folk group. I also adore theater. And my biggest passion after games is music. I have a band; I play drums.
Marina: I saw one of your posts on Facebook. I’ve got to come and see one of your performances!
Olga: I hope we will have a concert coming up in Kyiv soon.
Marina: So, what kind of music do you play?
Olga: It’s a combination of pop, rock, fusion, even jazz. We have some elements from jazz. We try to bring to our music what we like from other styles. I’ve been playing in this band for 4 or 5 years now.
Marina: When did you learn drums?
Olga: When I was at school, I always wanted to go to a guitar class. I was asking my mom to take me to those lessons. But I had dance, English courses and so on. Once I finished high school, I understood that I still want to play music and I found myself interested in learning how to play drums. I cannot say that I am a professional drummer, but that is what brings me joy. When you have a concert or even a rehearsal, you completely change as a person. You do not think about all the KPIs, the budgeting. You just listen to the music and try to give everything you can to this moment and it’s a great feeling. You’re completely somewhere out there.
Marina: Interesting. Where do you get your inspiration from? What bands and what kinds of music do you listen to?
Olga: I listen to lots of different kinds of music. I love jazz. I love jazz drumming. I’m not that good yet but I’m working on it. I also like lots of indie groups. Lots of cool music has appeared lately in Ukraine. And lots of those guys are actually also in the gaming industry. And it’s so cool when you meet these people in two completely different worlds. We have a lot of creative and talented people in our industry – it’s amazing.
I also like listening to popular music, like Arctic Monkeys, and love going to different festivals.
Marina: You travel a lot for work. But what are the places you typically go for vacation? And what are some exotic destinations that you dream about visiting one day?
Olga: It happens lately that each time I have 2-3 free days, I go to Berlin. After Kyiv, it’s my second favorite city. I also speak a little bit of German, so it’s cool when you can understand what people are talking about. As for exotic places, I really want to go to South Africa. Vietnam and Peru are also on my list.
Marina: Thank you very much for the interview. I’m very happy that we have people like you in our industry who do not only create games but also play music and become an inspiration to others!
For the full interview, see this video: