You are one of the founders of Dark Side Of Techno, a community which organizes parties in Grodno, a city in western Belarus. What do you make these parties for and what do they look like?
Vadim Nobel and me created this community in 2010. It's hard to say if there was a particular vision at that time. Probably, the name was simply a title for our first party: there was a lot of techno, electro, and acid. We’ve made the first parties on our own, and later the local community began to join — those with whom our tastes coincided but who had something to impress us at the same time. Then we began to invite DJs and musicians from Minsk, Belarus capital city. We’ve also cooperated with Polish community Technosoul and began to actively invite them to our events. I think, the most powerful shows were by DMX KREW and Hadamard.
It's difficult to talk about the public. We have our audience, but the city is small. However, it is certainly not enough for serious shows. In addition, we’ve always had problems with locations: we have no clubs, so we make parties at bars that are not designed for that.
How can you describe the musical scene of Grodno?
Grodno is a city of punk rock. People go to techno raves and then on the next day they go to concerts of local bands. I’ve always been fond of local Overdose community, which was making wonderful garage parties, from dubstep to speed garage. We also have a strong house scene, many artists are releasing actively.
Grodno is at two borders at once, with Poland and with Lithuania. Do you feel the influence of the West?
Yes, obviously! The influence is huge: we live at the border and almost everyone has a EU visa, so it’s not difficult to go abroad. I went once to a festival in Bialystok, Robert Hood and Aux 88 played there. What is happening abroad is teaching and helping us. But there is also a negative side. People like to compare everything: here’s what they’ve got and we haven’t, here’s how little tickets cost abroad — and our tickets are more expensive. But there is nothing you can do about it, the reality of Belarus is different.
Is Grodno more developed than other cities of Belarus?
We certainly get to see more, we have access to much more information. But I can’t talk about the level of development. Almost anything here comes to an end quickly. At first there emerges a place that becomes iconic, and then it is abruptly closed for inexplicable reasons.
How do your local authorities treat techno parties?
Everything they do not understand has to be forbidden. Therefore, all our events are semi-legal. We can’t advertise them because there is going to be a fine. We can’t do anything huge and official because “it's not music”. In addition, we have a curious requirement: most music at an event has to be Belarusian.
Once in 2010, we’ve made an open air which gathered a lot of people. Our friend helped us to find a location, and then this situation happened: we are in the middle of the forest and a Lada (Soviet and then Russian car brand) drives in. Two men in the car are asking our friend explicitly to push them some drugs. „They“ are everywhere — the Drug Control Bureau never sleeps! Although, in Minsk everything is different.
How is it different in Minsk?
In Minsk I notice a boom. I’m very happy about it. They have great events with good music, but what’s really important, there is a demand for it. The techno hype has come there, albeit with a significant delay.
Okay, and how’s it going there with authorities?
Same as in Grodno, unfortunately. The main difference is that Minsk is the capital, so there will be at least a few events anyway. No one knows how long the organizers would keep up to their desire to continue working while they are tortured by security checks. At some point authorities will probably say that these events are opposition rallies or that organizers are selling drugs to children.
However, Minsk is a big city and the amount of proactive people is bigger there. They are doing something, trying to defend themselves and the right of our kind of music to exist, as well as our alternative places. I believe, they are doing their best.
Whom would you highlight among Belarusian musicians?
Speaking about techno, the most credible guys are from Energun, they are the first wave. Not long ago they’ve had a performance at Boiler Room. I also like Pavel Ambiont, I’ve used his track in this podcast.
From Grodno community I would highlight Misha aka Four Walls, Sergey aka Funkyjaws — these guys have released a lot of titles that have received positive feedback from house music grands. I should also mention my colleague and friend Vadim Nobel who is actively writing music right now (his tracks are also in this podcast). Probably as everywhere, many of us write “for the drawer” (for posterity), so there will be a lot of cool stuff soon.
How did you choose music for this podcast?
I’ve been pondering for a long time in order to make it. There were a lot of versions, but each of them had a dead end. Then I decided not to restrict myself stylistically. In addition, I wanted to use the material from local musicians to show what Belarus and Grodno are, to show where do we live, what air do we breathe, what do we love.
Are there any prospects for development of the local scene?
There are! We could give up and go on with our everyday lives, but we continue hard work. We aren’t always as active as we need to, but we are trying to make good parties. The only thing I want is to have a new generation involved in the process: they should also organize something themselves, develop their new local scene.
It is now very evident that everybody tries to make music, although previously everyone was engaged exclusively in DJing. And they already have a result, although they’ve just started developing their skills!