How long have you been playing and how did you become a DJ?
I started taking serious interest in electronic music in the early 2000s. There was no such abundance of sources to get music back then, and I had to get creative. I remember that I used to buy CDs at Petrivka book market and at Dva Melomana shop. Moreover, I was lucky to be friends with people who had a real treasure — high-speed Internet access. By hook or by crook, I was getting new music and discovering new names. The next step was that we, administrators of radarr.kiev.ua forum, began to throw our parties in 2006. This was even before I started buying records. I played my first public set only in 2009 (I was a music journalist back then). I think that was a good thing, though, because I didn’t just become a DJ to be hip, so I had managed to develop my taste, acquire useful contacts, and my own vision of how it is “supposed” to be. Then I started playing techno and house out of feeling of true necessity. Fortunately, today playing techno or house is not uncommon. To be honest, I started having fun DJing while ignoring nervousness and stress, associated with this activity, only recently. Now I really enjoy the process: I see it as a hobby and as an opportunity to have fun.
Were those parties different from what we have today?
Back then, parties were sincere and naïve in a way, in comparison to what we have now, but it was an advantage. Our first party was held at Status Party Bar in Ukraina shopping mall. Local lineup only, but the room was packed very tight and the bar ran out of alcohol by the middle of the night. We started booking artists from abroad the next year. At first we were inviting DJs from Moscow, then switched to foreign “stars”. Before I got involved in other projects (Djam magazine parties and series of events Addicted), we were able to organize Kyiv performances of artists such as Joris Voorn, Prosumer, Scuba, Move D, etc. Dub FX’s show is a special memory. I'm not sure whether I would do something like this now, but back then it was really important for us.
Why wouldn’t you do something like that now?
I had a shift of preferences and also changed my attitude. I even changed my expectations from parties, as well as my musical taste.
Many people talk about the future of Kyiv scene. In previous interviews, snobbery was always a topic.
Snobbery is a bad thing. I know that many criticize me for it as well, but it seems to me that the best approach is to find a balance between different audiences which can potentially come to your party. A good party is when people enjoy the atmosphere, no matter who is playing and what is your headliner’s Resident Advisor rank. By the way, Cxema is one of the best examples of these parties. On the other hand, I wouldn’t organize a party simply to make money. Each person must have a healthy ego, and my healthy egoism is reflected this way: at my parties I want to hear music which I like personally. Currently, this music is techno, especially in its psychedelic variations. Something like Rrose, Tobias, Vril, and similar artists.
I am fond of the latest Vril release as well. What’s up with Addicted? Tell us about the mission it had.
Addicted no longer exists. It was a small community of friends who have tried to make parties of a certain format. However, we eventually realized that our collective was too big: five DJs and a visual artist. It was too difficult to find musical compromises. Also, people change their interests. After the party with Svreca in December 2013 I decided to take a break, so we didn’t make events anymore and stopped running our podcast. I started attending diverse parties, tried to absorb their atmosphere, and visited musical events abroad. I had to get rid of snobbery, the one you were talking about, and learn to enjoy the party itself. Now I feel the energy to start organizing something again. No one has talked about it in public, but soon we are starting a new project called Rhythm Büro, with Sasha Sunchase and Vera Sue. We are preparing a couple of interesting events with guests from abroad, but I would like to see these parties accessed not according to the name of the guest but by the fun aspect. We're going to do our best.
Do you think that listener can ignore the name of the artist?
At “before the party” stage not really, but at “after the party” stage it is quite possible. A good party needs everyone: first of all, party animals, then their friends and acquaintances, then people who just accidentally crash at the party. Even snobs are welcome. The only kind of visitors who are not needed are completely stray ones, those who haven’t encountered anything similar before. You can’t generalize a portrait of the visitor. Someone likes to discuss who played which track; someone won’t give a shit about it, but you should not blame them. I see our audience this way: the people who had somehow interacted with techno before. It doesn’t matter how anyone sees a “proper” techno party, we have to please them all.
That is, to be conformists?
Not really. A conformist lacks their own position. We have our own position, a very liberal and open one. If you like what we like and you're ready to make a contribution to the party’s atmosphere, we will always be happy to see you. And your friends too.
Many could use this much open-mindedness, but music is often damaged by compromise, isn’t it?
There is no single right way. You can try to make compromises. Or you can act in your own way and forge ahead. However, nothing guarantees that the process will be fun. At this point, I'm just expecting to have a good time at the party, and that depends on my attitude. If you want to prove something or show off with a cool guest's name, that’s the wrong approach. However, if you think of having a good time and manage to create the conditions for it, this might do the trick for you.
Do you write music? Or just DJing?
For now, I’m only DJing. I started taking my first tentative steps at Sasha Sunchase’s studio, under his supervision. I don’t want to guess if I succeed or not. Perhaps, I will get results one day, but as I have always been my biggest critic, I will only show something really cool.
In any case, wish you luck in this field. How does it feel being a DJ?
Thank you. Being a DJ is hard, especially if you have a corporate job, which is my case. However, I like it and I really relax at the weekend when I play.
Is it possible to be a full-time DJ?
It is real, but maybe for one in a hundred, if not less. Personally, I spend money DJing, not make it. This situation is different for some, but many have to adapt. Speaking of Ukraine, there are just a couple of guys who are doing well, and they deserve it. To me, the money issue is of secondary importance. Money doesn’t bring happiness, it’s just a tool to achieve goals.
However, money issues are understandable. Also, everyone starts DJing nowadays, and often badly: designers, advertisers, insurers, students. What’s going on with all these people? They really discredit the status of the DJ! Shouldn’t we do something about it? Sure, each and every product has its consumer. If not for the demand, there would be no place for them. We can’t say for sure what is “good” and what is ‘“bad”. In this situation it is only natural for some kind of filter to appear. Cxema is a filter, Closer is a filter, albeit slightly different one. They did not pop up out of nowhere, for they need something to oppose. That’s why Closer was started recently, not in 2005. There was no need to keep social media managers away from DJ tables ten years ago, as there was no need in a number of other tasks which this place handles successfully.
It may sound funny, but still, what advice would you give to young DJs?
Don’t listen to advice and do what you think is right.