What are you up to currently?
Now I am fully focused on my solo project, but I haven’t released anything so far. There is a lot of material, but you need to put it together somehow: consider the concept for each release all the way, mix and master it.
How did your musical career start?
I started off with hip-hop and produced beats. At 14, I began working with Bones, Chris Travis, Xavier Wulf, etc. After that, Bones invited me to his TeamSESH, which I was in for a while. It all lasted until 2014, when I met Denis GHOSTE2X, with whom we started doing other projects, WWWINGS in particular.
What is the story behind WWWINGS creation?
When I was 16, I met Denis GHOSTE2X on the internet. I did not know much about the things he was speaking about, but he did not know what I knew as well, and we somehow got together. At that time, I used to write music impulsively. He knew how to present and deliver it all nicely, but he could not produce. Later, Denis introduced me to Zhenya EYNE. In August 2015, we created WWWINGS.
What does WWWINGS stand for?
It refers to the fact that there are thousands of kilometers between us, and the project exists only on the internet. We wanted to romanticize it somehow.
How did your collaboration with Planet Mu happen? Did you send them demos?
We did not send them anything, just had some singles on Soundcloud. In the winter of 2016, Mike Paradanis reached out to us and offered to release our record which was almost ready, just a few tracks missing. We refused and offered him to do something else, and self-released PHOENIXXX, the album in question, on Soundcloud and VK. However, in the end, it was reissued on Planet Mu with bonuses: on vinyl, with merch, a bonus track, and another artwork.
You three haven’t ever seen each over, and your friendship is based on communication on the internet. Have you ever felt being limited by this fact?
Yes, there is discomfort and a lot of shortcomings. Nevertheless, if not for the internet, which, by the way, appeared in my life when I was in 3rd grade, all this would not have happened at all. There would be no collabs, no acquaintances, in particular with Denis, who changed my life dramatically, turned it upside down. The internet is a tool, a springboard which you can use to go out into the physical world and be ready for a lot of things, as well as a possibility to be connected with many.
There is little known about WWWINGS, it was deliberately positioned to be anonymous. There is not a lot of information about your solo project, Ars Was Taken, as well. Do you want to stick with the same concept here?
No, I have already moved away from this concept. With WWWINGS, we were apart, and we had a lot of ideas which had to go somewhere. Our project was originally a platform for experiments, we did not want to associate ourselves with this work so that it could remain authentic. We wanted to focus on creativity, not on individuals. Our style was being formed online, here and now. We did not have this situation when you have something slowly crystallizing and then it gets released after a while. Instead, we would do something on the go and release it immediately.
Yes, with WWWINGS you could have seven releases in ten months. Do you have a different approach now?
Yes, my approach became more conscious. Well, you also need to take into account that now I do everything myself. There is no one that could tell me: “OK, that’s great, let's release it quickly.” Now I am able to take my time and finish something for months. There are no deadlines, nobody pushes me.
Tell us about your latest self-release Hold On 2 Me.
This is a very personal release. I was just writing music for a whole year without having any particular idea for it. It was a difficult period in my life: I just left the mental hospital, my mind was shattered, and all the tracks were homebrewed at a party or at home, without an audio interface. At the end of the year, I had a lot of tracks with titles. GHOSTE2X helped me create a story out of it. A review on the nesthq portal indicates that this album is about a loss of connection. Indeed, I had such a period when all connections are lost. I got lost a bit myself.
How did you end up in a mental hospital?
I turned myself in. I used to work a lot in 2016–2017 in defiance of my capabilities and eventually burned out. When I started hallucinating, I realized I had to do something about it, so I went to a medical aid station at Shuliavka (a district in Kyiv). Now, I have changed my social circle, my attitude to life, started loving myself. It took me a while to get rid of the heavy emotional baggage that had been haunting me for many years. Until then, I did not even suspect that it was spoiling my life and my relationships with people, not allowing me to develop.
The time you’ve spent in the hospital, has it influenced your work?
It has, in a very bad way. I thought they would help me, but they prescribed heavy medication and I couldn’t even write music.
In the end, you recorded a great album, though. Interestingly, almost every track is a collaboration. This «feat.» issue is due to hip-hop culture influences, isn’t it?
Yes, I like hip-hop things: naming, aesthetics, track structure, slowdowns at the end of the track. It is fascinating to apply all that to electronic music and watch how it works: writing tracks with vocals, for instance. Besides, I like working with artists and expanding the geographical scope. As I was writing this album, I did not communicate with anyone in Kyiv, so it was the only way to interact and collaborate with people. My friends are scattered all over the world. Putting in all together was interesting.
How do you happen to know them?
Via the internet: Soundcloud, Instagram.
Have you ever met anyone you’ve featured on the album?
Only DJ Heroin. He’s been to Kyiv in 2016, I took him around the city. He is a very talented producer, we collaborate a lot. For example, I have no money for analog equipment, and he has a lot of hardware, but he likes what I do with software, and I like what he does with hardware, so we exchange sounds. In general, he has a hip-hop background. When WWWINGS was started, he also liked this approach of not getting caught up on a single thing and mixing genres, and we influenced each other at the time.
What about your other musical influences?
It all started with grime 2.0 or neogrime, as they now call it. I think it was 2013: Fatima Al Qadiri, Future Brown, Logos, Fade To Mind label. This scene influenced me a lot, I was building upon it. Overall, I was influenced by various scenes: techno, IDM as a whole, EDM, hip-hop, ambient, punk. I went through different conflicting periods, constantly changing. Over time, everything came together. Now I try to integrate everything I've ever heard, sampling and listening.
So now you do have a clear vision?
I don’t know. I’m trying to branch out, dig new stuff and weave it into my stuff. But the vision is there.
Do you spend a lot of time searching?
Yes, a lot. I even use the method called active sampling. When you browse the internet, watch movies, and listen to music, you record all that to Ableton or another program and immediately edit it. You can collect a lot of stuff throughout the day.
So that’s how you’ve recorded this mix? You have the soundtrack from Twin Peaks at the beginning.
Yeah, I love Twin Peaks. Hope grandpa will power through the fourth season.
Were you guided by your understanding of Cxema as well?
Yes, there’s even some techno at the end: onleash, a side project of Drippin.
Even so, there are loads of hip-hop.
I believe you can mix four on the floor and hip-hop perfectly. To hell with snobbery! In a Red Bull Academy interview, Fatima Al Qadiri said that when she comes to another city, her primary concern is hip-hop: what happens in the hip-hop scene and how it develops there.
Which kind of hip-hop influenced you the most?
Southern hip-hop, Memphis mostly. Russian hip-hop as well, Moscow and St. Petersburg hip-hop from the naughts especially, it has a very well-developed slang and original delivery. Smoky Mo, MC Molodoy. There’s a lot to sample and edit.
Speaking of the mix, what’s the idea behind it?
The idea is to show what is happening in the music now in such a way that all this does not conflict but complements each other. And thus, to show how diverse and incompatible things can be combined.
Does the environment you live in influence your work?
I live in Otradnyi district in Kyiv, it both motivates and demotivates me. This place is clearly not good for mental health, but I am therefore motivated to get out of it. I used to be focused on these issues a lot, but now it’s not as important. However, its vibe, mood and other cultural aspects are surely reflected in my music.