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Alisa Tsybina: “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively”

This is something I have to work on a lot myself. I think it’s important not to take your work too seriously and always remember what your needs are. I just want to be satisfied and to work with pleasure, without being plagued by thoughts of doubt and uncertainty. I believe that the more you […]

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This is something I have to work on a lot myself. I think it’s important not to take your work too seriously and always remember what your needs are. I just want to be satisfied and to work with pleasure, without being plagued by thoughts of doubt and uncertainty. I believe that the more you cling to the idea of success, the further you move away from the things you once loved and the faster you are in danger of burnout.


As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alisa Tsybina from the band ‘shi offline’.

shi offline’s debut single is ‘God Is A Witch’, out now via German Independent label Audiolith distributed by Shellshock. The track is taken from the bands latest album ‘Golaya’.The playfulness of their debut not only runs through the songs, but through every corner of their artistic being. The Hamburg based artcore duo consist of Russian born Alisa Tsybina on vocals and German writer Gordian Gleiss. She brings the rawness, he brings the beat-driven machinery, the result is a jungle of witchcraft, dark blue and hubba bubba! Alisa has a very interesting backstory and experiences in life, which she is happy to share.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

For sure. I moved as a young child from Russia to Germany with my parents in the 90s, so I spent some time in asylum seeker houses until we had the possibility to move into a rented apartment in a little village surrounded by wheat fields and forests. It took a while to reach a standard of living that promised us some security and there were also many setbacks. Not only the financial uncertainty shaped my childhood, also the feeling of not belonging anywhere and indispositions due to role models. 
Even though I got some opportunities in my youth, thanks to my parents and some loving people, to express myself artistically. I always had the freedom to do what I love.. even if it took me a while to recognize this privilege.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have tried out many things in life, which is why it has become more and more clear which things I would like to be surrounded by, how I would like to work and what I would like to deal with. From one point in my life it was clear that I feel most comfortable in creative areas and I want to spend my life with music, visual arts and writing. I was very lucky that I happened to run into Gordian and we got along so well that we wanted to create music together that would serve as an outlet for our thoughts and feelings without straining ourselves too much.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think that would definitely be the invitation to a festival in Vietnam. Performing on this huge stage in Hanoi and getting to know the country, its culture and its excellent food was very exciting and enriching. 
Not to exclude all the people I got to know through music and art. It is such a magical moment when a song has touched someone and you feel connected to them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t have any experience at all in the beginning. I often couldn’t hear myself on stage, didn’t know any singing techniques and was so excited that my heart and my solar plexus simply knocked my voice around and it staggered out of my mouth. The worst thing was at a radio show where we played live. Afterwards I just wanted to sink into the ground and played with the thought to finish with the music for a short time. But somehow I still believed that I could do it and that I just lacked the practice. So I took singing lessons, we bought a great Inear system and we exchanged ideas with other musicians. I’m still learning, but I feel a lot safer on stage now, especially when I’m not so worried about it and let myself go.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am currently doing my master’s degree at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. 
I will show an installation I worked on for a few months. I’m not allowed to reveal too much yet, but it has something to do with spinning laundry spiders. Even more exciting, however, is the fact that my long era as a student will come to an end when I graduate. To work artistically without having the university as a protection will be a new challenge for me and I am very curious how my life will develop.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Everyone has their own history, their own way of thinking through experiences, through traumas, their own image of beauty and a different way of looking at the world. To share this with each other, to find points where one feels common connections, at best empowered, is the truest thing one can imagine. 
Diversity in the entertainment industry, in my opinion, allows people to have a wider range of offers with which they can better identify, instead of constantly feeling out of place. Another important point would be that it allows you to educate yourself better, because you have a more complex picture in front of you, which would be more representative of real life. Diversity would create awareness and empathy towards all living beings. We would understand each other better and thus show solidarity more quickly, to support each other instead of working against each other. Diversity would be beneficial for humanity. Which is why I believe that cultures will feel enriched by it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I wish someone told me how to breathe properly when I first started to sing in front of an audience. My voice was so sore and insecure. I’m happy that I’ve found some nice people that showed me some tricks and shared some tips with me. They also shared their moments of failure and self-doubts with me, so I started to think: “ It’s totally ok to miss a tone and it’s ok to be afraid of the stage and the performance. Just be there, do your thing and love what you’re doing!”
  2. I wish someone told me how to prepare Tofu properly when I first started being a vegetarian/vegan 15 years ago. My Tofu was so grey, dry and tasteless at this time, haha.
  3. I wish someone told me how important it is to create conditions in which you feel comfortable and have the confidence to express yourself as authentically as possible when I first started to paint. I always compared myself with other artists and emulated them instead of figuring out what my actual style might look like. It takes a lot of courage and time to find out who you are and what skills you have, and I mean it not only in terms of painting. It’s a long, long way but at least an interesting one.
  4. I wish someone told me how to pluck my eyebrows when I was a teenager. A huge gap in-between two skinny lines. I guess some of you still remember this trend from the 2000s. Well my mom was very scared I would rip them all out, so I’m pretty sure she actually told me to stop but I didn’t want to hear that. 🙂
  5. I wish someone told me how social media would eat up a lot of time when I first started to use all the common platforms. Maybe I would have learned to use it more sparingly, to be less stressed and restless.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
This is something I have to work on a lot myself. I think it’s important not to take your work too seriously and always remember what your needs are. I just want to be satisfied and to work with pleasure, without being plagued by thoughts of doubt and uncertainty. I believe that the more you cling to the idea of success, the further you move away from the things you once loved and the faster you are in danger of burnout.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I don’t think I have that much influence haha, but I think it would be nice if we could create a network where we could exchange creatively, where we could support and affirm each other. A space where ALL people are allowed to feel comfortable, because they know that they will not be condemned for their origin, their appearance, their feelings and also their ideas, as long as they do not harm others. To make global friendships in which we restructure the language we have learned and rethink our socialisation in order to create a foundation on which we are no longer excluded.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have countless stories about that, because I have a lot of people in my life who helped me. It starts with a lovely lady I met in the small village where I grew up, who partly financed my first studies. Friends who support us with no budget music videos, from concept to editing to makeup, because they just wanted to create something together and create something exciting. And of course I could never live without my best friend Lis, who not only encourages me emotionally and always supports me, but also very often works in projects, helping to realize ideas. Recently, for example, she developed the motors for the spinning rotary clothes dryers from my art installation. Gordian is one of those people to whom I am so grateful, because through him I can do what touches me the most. At the beginning of our band history I was so insecure and so inexperienced that probably many professional musicians would have turned away. But he was always convinced of us and never stopped believing in what we had. No matter how many rainfalls there were, we both straightened up, sometimes he helped me up, sometimes I helped him up, and then we just went on. I was very lucky that some people believed in me and stood by me in their own way and I am very grateful for that.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” 
― The Dalai Lama
This Quote helped me a lot in my artistic work. 
When drawing a body for example, an abstraction is particularly successful if I have studied the actual proportions before. The result is a more conscious handling of the line and a precise decision in finding an interesting, strong form. But sometimes I also wish I could erase all those rules out of my head and that I would be able, just for one day, to draw like a child again, unselfconsciously.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a breakfast with Grimes. I think she is a very smart and interesting Woman. She created such a strong, complex and beautiful world with her music and her videos. Maybe we would drink a cup of Pu-Erh tea, staring into our eyes, trying to find out, whether we have telepathic powers and that all without sharing a word with each other… like a silent retreat. 🙂

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on Instagram. I have three accounts. shioffline is a mix of a private account and our music, ada_romanova_tat for my drawings/ tattoos. Then I also have an account for my fine arts: ali.satsybina. You’re free to choose.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you a lot for having me! I also wish you the best.


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