Could you have realized yourself in Russia? What have you been doing before moving to Germany?
I left Russia twice. First time in 2001. After Russian financial crisis in 1998 I applied for German residence permit. In post-Soviet countries there was a feeling of complete failure back then. When the answer from the Germans finally came, things in Moscow have already begun look normal, but I decided to take the opportunity and see the world, so I started working in Munich.
I was working on special effects for the cinema. I had climbed almost to the top of career ladder and then realized — it’s not my field. I also did realize that I just can’t live in Munich — this bourgeois city is not for me. Actually, at that time I began to write music.
Then I just returned to Moscow without any plans. A small business made me some money, enough for coffee. I settled in Moscow for almost four years; somehow, by accident, I began making parties which became more and more popular. I started inviting artists from Berlin and consequently visited Berlin more and more often. At that time I was doing video mapping and installations, collaborated with almost all the studios in Moscow and even gathered my own small team. This life in Moscow dragged me away from my dream — moving to Berlin, which I have been thinking of since 2003.
And what's happened then?
And then came a failure on a very serious project. I found myself tapped out and therefore realized that this way fate gives me an opportunity to embody an old dream. My wife and I gathered all our stuff and after a week we left for Berlin. After several months of complete isolation in the studio, world-class projects began to appear. For example, we worked with Robert Henke.
Once I was smoking a cigarette at the back entrance of a giant hall (in a French city Lyon) which has gathered 22 thousand people during four days of a show — they came to see the installation and listen to the ambient live by Robert Henke. There I realised so clearly that in Moscow we had been living in a hopeless swamp — our local audience is not ready to accept anything new. We all have to compete for government contracts, but there is not a single acceptable techno club.
Do you think Berlin is also no longer “the good old Berlin”? Aren’t there more interesting places nowadays?
Berlin is not really what it used to be even six years ago. I'm frightened by the changes that take away my favourite places. Whenever I go to a new country or city I inadvertently ask myself: maybe this is a new option? But every time I return to Berlin I understand that I'm at home and all the other places I've been to in recent years — Istanbul, Canada, Tokyo, Peru — are like another planet.
The main merit of Berlin is that there are lots of creative people. In spite of the fact that Berlin has less money than even post-crisis Russia, information and creative exchanges that take place here give a powerful impetus to internal development, creativity, and new collaborations. Berlin is a cultural hub of the world, and it is very difficult to get into the global cultural stream if you are sitting in a local village, even if this village is a big and rich one.
And what can you say about the evolution of our local scene?
There definitely is a certain progress. New promoters appear as well as new cultural sites; new galleries, festivals are gradually emerging. But every time I have to negotiate with local organizers I see that they often are very strange people with a strange approach to work.
I think the reason for slow development is the conservatism of the public and snobbery of the organizers who don’t stand by their words. That’s why it is worth appreciating those who make good events in this unfavorable environment and remain honest with themselves and with the global world.
Do europeans have interest in Ukrainian artists?
Everyone loves Tolkachev. Etapp Kyle seems to be also popular. I personally like what Subforms do.
How did you come from video and installation to music and how different are these mediums?
I’m a music lover from childhood. I guess music is the main activity in my life, I have always wanted to make music. At 25 years old, it came to me that this is the best way of self-realization and a convenient way to hang out with other people. Somehow the experience in video even helps. For example, after several years of work in another environment I began to work with modular synthesis, and it was an elementary task for me.
What do you think is the most interesting in Berlin’s clubs right now?
There are several collectives that I would call “post-Berghain”, they create interesting concepts and attract more and more locals and freaks of all sorts. Nowadays I am mostly interested in this kind of club life. These are, for example, Liber Null, Staub, Trashera, Gegen. It seems that there is also an increasing interest in experimental music and audiovisual arts; it's worth mentioning the Berlin Atonal festival. Also, unsinkable Tresor remains one of the pillars of techno culture.
How much is German nightlife commercialized?
Everyone wants to make money or at least pay off their expenses. There is almost no true underground left. Berghain is one of the most successful commercial projects. The Berlin public is peculiar to reject the visible side of commerce, so we probably wouldn’t see sponsored content at Berlin parties anytime soon.
Does techo lose its spot?
I think quite the contrary.
Is it because techno attracts the audience which previously hasn’t listened to this kind of music or went to raves?
I believe everyone is tired of house, which has reigned Berlin for five or six years because of the Bar25.
House and tech house?
Yes, kind of. Nowadays in Berlin if you play 128 beats per minute somebody would come up and ask: why so slow?
The London club Fabric is called by some locals as "the club for tourists". Could Berghain or Tresor turn into something like that?
In Berlin there is a very broad definition of the tourist concept. Somebody came here for a weekend, someone for a month, someone for a year. You could say half of Berlin are tourists.
And what amazes you the most about this city?
It is amazing how much freedom can exist in the center of Europe.