Today we’d like to introduce you to Chase the Comet, Russia-originated but LA-based alternative-rock band consisting of Nika Comet (frontwoman/songwriter) and Alex Mishustov (guitarist/sound-producer).
Thanks for sharing your story with us Nika and Alexander. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Nika: I feel like our American dream started for me when I was around 7, looking through cheap yellow pages magazines at my grandparents’ country house back in Russia. There were pictures of luxurious houses with pools and stories of people who came to Los Angeles from some God-forsaken village in Iowa, worked as a waitress for a few years and then got noticed and became a first-class world-renown actress. I thought: Well… Maybe in another life, I’ll be lucky too… Lucky to be at least born in the right place… It all seems like a sheer luck at that time – and of course, yellow pages will easily cross out all the hard work put into achievements like this.
I started singing early after falling in love with the Russian cartoon ‘The Musicians of Bremen’ so my parents (actors) took me to the musical school and the choir at the age of six. In the next few years, I got really good and my mom started performing with me at festivals and actors contests all over the country.
Later, as a teenager as all my friends, I fell in love with Californian pop-punk, we all watched ‘The American Pie’ and just could not believe how amazing it is to live, hang out and chill in California! See, in Russia, we had to hide at back stairs of apartment buildings in winter (cause it was too cold to hang out outside) and in parks in summer and almost none of our favorite bands came to play a show in Russia. By that time Alex and I had already been playing in our own band called The Sun.
Alex: Unlike Nika, I come from a totally unartistic family so when at the age of 12 I told my parents I needed to go to the musical school they were really surprised. I was listening to a lot of ska-punk, pop-punk and Russian rock but it was the Russian horror-punk band ‘Korol I Shut’ that inspired me to start my own band. So in 2005, while still in high-school I gathered some friends and we started learning to play. As in all well-respected ska-punk bands I wanted to have female vocals so our then drummer brought in this new girl Nika who had moved to Moscow not long before that.
Long story short, we started playing shows in Moscow clubs and in 2008 we auditioned for a TV-show ‘CTC lightens a superstar’ and after two months of being in the project, we went to the finals! We thought it would be the start of our rise but… it didn’t happen… We returned to where we were. It was not easy and years later, we would still think we missed our chance and failed. But fortunately, life always gives us more chances if we are ready for the challenge. We kept making music and performing and did not even think about giving up. We got into the studio to record a new album and when we finished it was already a band with a different name – MyRockBand.
We were regularly performing at different festivals and at private parties and both Nika and I were teaching music (I was teaching guitar, she was teaching vocals) and we were also freelancing as recording artists and writing songs. But it was never enough. In 2013, we decided to go to the States with our whole band! We spent months on preparations playing shows and collecting money for visas, Nika was teaching English to our bandmates but when we applied, only Nika and I, married that same year, got them. So, just two of us, with no bassist or drummer, we went on a 4-month trip to the US. It was ‘a whole new world’!
Nika: I first went to the USA in 2010. I was on my 3rd year in the university (I have a BA in linguistics and two interpreters diplomas – Russian/English/French) and I was getting ready to have the time of my life. Imagine my shock when I couldn’t even understand what people were saying! The thing was – my first place to visit was Atlanta, Georgia. To heal my stress, I’d sit at home watching ‘Friends’ where I could understand each and every word and where people talked slowly. Then… New York-New-York… Which was iconic but… reminded me Moscow a lot. And at the end, California, SF and Monterey Bay!!! During my first trip, I didn’t get a chance to see Los Angeles but three years afterwards we came here together with Alex and I… freaked out at first honestly. We rented a room in a cheap motel in Lynwood (when we told about it to a friend he freaked out – “It’s almost, like, in Compton!!!”) and freaky people in the street were asking for change… But, now we know, that’s good ol’ LA lol 🙂 Now we have nothing to fear – first, we are Russians, second, the City of Angels checked us and knows we’re tough cookies 🙂
After our first trip to the States, we couldn’t throw the thought out of our heads. So after a very hard period in our lives, in summer of 2015, I got us a one-way ticket from Moscow to Los Angeles. We left the Motherland on January 18, 2016 and this was the last time we hugged our families and friends.
Alex: In 2015 both Nika and I reached a very high level of musicianship, we practiced a lot, we taught a lot and at some point, I got invited to play in a band that opened up for Metallica, Linkin Park at stadiums, that was a tour support for Hollywood Undead, Three Days Grace, Seether, played at festivals with Papa Roach and Muse in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and… well… that got into my head a bit. We both were living our best rock’n’roll life and it didn’t really improve our relationships with Nika.
Nika: At that same time I got invited to perform with one of the most renowned Russian punk-rock bands ‘TARAKANY!’ as a lead-singer and a back-vocalist so Alex and I started hanging out less with each other but spending more time on tour with the projects where we would work as hired-guns. In the end, we got to a point where we both were emotionally exhausted and almost broke up. However, we took a decision to repair what’d been broken and escaped bringing all our addictions and insecurities with us. The amount of stress one perceives during immigration is immense. And we were not just changing the city – we came to a whole different world, with the other language and culture and rules.
In the very first week, we figured it was almost impossible to rent an apartment with no credit or rental history and without $6000 cash to pay double deposit. So… we felt more and more desperate until we found something very attractive on CL! $950 in Marina Del Rey? Oh yes, baby! We met the hosts, gave them cash and moved in! It felt like a dream come true! A dream that was meant to be a nightmare. The next morning a room maid lady knocked in asking when we were going to move out? ‘But we just moved in’ I said! It turned out frauders had rented out an apt for three days, then found fools to re-rent it and disappeared with all our money. I called the police but it was all in vein. I couldn’t even breathe. We were devastated and Alex said we should go back home. The worst was that we didn’t own that money – we borrowed it from my parents!!! But I said we’d never give up.
Alex: We never felt worse but… looking back we can say it was all for the best. First, after such a screw-up we had nothing more to fear. Second, because of this screw-up we connected with people who we might not have connected with otherwise – and we moved from one person’s place to another (thanx to good people who helped us!) for the next six months eventually spending less money on living that we could have had we rented that apt! So, in any ‘bad’ situation there may be consequences one just doesn’t see at the moment! There were more ‘learn-the-hard-way’ things about LA like parking tickets when we didn’t even have money at all cause we came here with no permission to work. And a lawyer screwed us up and we could not leave the country waiting for our documents forever but, in the end, it all doesn’t matter if you keep convincing yourself that the Universe is taking care of you.
Nika: The best thing about our adventure is that we are actually making it though sometimes it is hard to assess one’s achievements adequately. At some point, we figured we have to stop pitying ourselves and waiting ‘for a miracle to happen’ but to MAKE it happen ourselves. And this is what we are doing. We may not have millions of views on YouTube or millions of streams on Spotify but we are finally making our dream come true without any distractions (we’ve been vegan and sober for already three years) with people from all over the world listening to our music, tuning into our streams and ordering our merch. Alex creates all our music himself at our home-studio and I manage all aspects of our project and book tours myself not expecting someone else to do it for me. And we do not depend on other musicians anymore – yes, there’s 2 of us in the band. Period. Right now, we are working with Rick Barker (who launched Taylor Swift’s career) as our consultant and we are constantly putting in effort in releasing new content and interacting with our fans, Comet Chasers, who we love with all our heart.
And you know, hard work pays off. A few days ago we got a notice that my artist visa petition was approved – it means now we will finally have an opportunity to go out of the country, visit our families and come back with a legal permission to tour and perform here in the US! We are now waiting for Alex’s visa and for things to get back to normal to live the dream we’ve worked SOOO hard to make real!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nika: Hm… I guess I kinda put it all in the previous question lol. I’m sorry guys if I made it inconvenient for you but it just poured out. I guess one of the hardest things to learn was to adapt a positive ‘in-the-moment’ attitude but it also pays off the most. Especially in these hard times. The other thins was finally taking ALL the responsibility for what’s going on and what has happened. It feels so much more pleasant if you do that – without feeling guilty. I finally enjoy ‘making the miracle happen’ myself.
Alex: I’d like to add it was really hard for me to feel at ease with native speakers. My English was fine to get to the store or tell what I needed but I felt like I couldn’t express myself, my full personality and that people were bored when I was talking… I felt unconfident and couldn’t find friends so I started closing in. But the need to overcome myself arose and I started learning English. I was learning expressions, words, I was watching tons of videos, took online courses and a few years later, finally I’ve noticed I got better. And other people started noticing it. I still feel I’m losing it a bit when I have no English practice for days (since Nika and I speak Russian at home), like now during the quarantine but I feel more confident about it anyway, especially with our fans’ support.
Chase the Comet – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
With our band Chase the Comet we create moods. Some may say we play alternative or alternative rock or pop-rock or pop-metal or indie-rock or… We don’t really know cause every song of ours is different and that makes us unique as our fans themselves say. Our main message is positivity, freedom, love and kindness. Lately, we’ve been very concerned with environmental issues and we started expressing it in our lyrics too. Our latest album is called ‘Out of the Matrix’. Our fans also say that we interact with our fans like no other artist and that’s because we are very grateful for all the support we’re getting from them. For us, fans are FANmily.
WE are also very proud of our live performances cause while we have only two people on stage we throw the hell of a show that most five pieces band would never even be able to do. This is because we think music is not about the artist anymore – it is about the audience and the show is about the energy they can get as a reward for getting to the venue rather than staying home to ‘Netflix and chill’ or scroll their feed until red eyes. We also believe that in the world of social media, people should still be able to find something to remind them they are awesome and can make a change starting with themselves.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Nika: I believe it’s very relative. I used to think success is when everybody in the world knows you but in modern world audiences are so segregated and everybody has their own things that it’s not even possible anymore. There’ll always be people wealthier and more famous than you are. I’m not chasing success anymore cause I’m happy were in the process of developing and getting better and this is key.
Alex: Success is a balance between what you do and how other people perceive it. I think a marker of success is when people are excited to see what you have in stock for them and they trust and appreciate what you do.
- SPECIAL OFFER FOR VOYAGE LA READERS – 2 personally signed Chase the Comet CDs ‘Rush’N’Rule’ (2018)+ ‘Out of the Matrix’ (2019) – ONLY $20 + free shipping! (instead of $30). Use coupon VOYAGELA at checkout in our webstore http://chasethecomet.com/shop
- Chase the Comet Astronaut T-shirt – white ($20) and black ($25)
- Chase the Comet beanie with embroidery – $35
- Chase the Comet Astronaut hoodie – $55
- Chase the Comet signed poster – $10
It’s a BUY 1-GET 1 FOR FREE: purchase ‘Out of the Matrix’ CD and get ‘Rush’N’Rule’ CD for free! Use coupon VOYAGELA at checkout
- Website: http://chasethecomet.com
Matt Martinez, Elizaveta Gushchina, Tia Naayem