How was the last edition of Present Perfect festival and what are your future plans?
Everything went well: we made a step forward, both in terms of attendance and content. Moreover, the paramount achievement was the presence of Boiler Room at a dedicated festival stage. Speaking of art component, Street Art Museum along with a dozen of artists from around the world presented graphical works and installations concerning global issues related to migration. In the future, we plan to hold a series of showcases in Moscow and Finland, as well as several large projects in St. Petersburg, our home city. Moreover, our label is releasing a new album of a local artist Kuzma Palkin in November. We also work on a compilation, which is to be released next year.
Why do you think that having Boiler Room at your festival is an achievement?
Collaborating with Boiler Room is commonplace for many European festivals, but it is a complicated matter due to specific nature of the project. The Boiler Room team is very demanding, but we were lucky to be among the members of the team which brought them to St. Petersburg for the first time in 2014. We had already established good relationships and have been negotiating since December 2015, so here we go. Boiler Room’s broadcast from St. Petersburg, which had over half a million views, was not only a chance for international audience to watch performances of their favorite artists. It was also an opportunity to get acquainted with our local scene and see what is happening in Russia. Due to this fact more tourists may visit St. Petersburg. We are geographically very close to the Baltics and the currency exchange rate allows tourists to have fun here.
What did the Boiler Room team like the most in St. Petersburg?
Michail Stangl, curator of Boiler Room, has been following St. Petersburg’s scene for a long time, keeping produces such as Flaty and Nocow in sight. The guys from Boiler Room have got a lot of favorites as well. Speaking of reviews, we can quote Michail here: “One thing they do not talk much about is that young people are alright here”.
Are you looking forward to continuing the collaboration?
Yes, we have plans to repeat it. It was a good experience.
Has St. Petersburg’s nightlife changed since the appearance of Roots United?
Oh yes, it did. We started in a club for 200 people, where great artist from Detroit would barely gather a small crowd. But then financial crisis happened, and St. Petersburg flourished in terms of club culture. During the past three years, we have been witnessing a renaissance of club culture in almost all major cities, though. Last year we’ve organized two big events in the regions (Yekaterinburg and Nizhniy Novgorod). Those events combined different facets of contemporary art: music, art, technology, and urbanism. It was quite a success in both cities, there is demand for this kind of projects.
Renaissance during the crisis?
Financial constraints do correlate with the choice of leisure activities. It is quite expensive to bring artists from abroad every week, so the audience became focused on our local scene. Crisis is always high time for new opportunities and for the culture to flourish: more people begin to pay attention to things within arm’s reach. Actually, I think we have similar kinds of “problems” both in Russia and in Ukraine.
Why did Roots United decide to organize events in other cities? What’s the big idea?
The idea is to unite prominent creative forces of a city and make them work together in the field of music, art, urbanism, and technology.
In a recent interview you’ve said that you can actually hold festivals and parties legally in Russia. Why do people usually think otherwise?
That’s a stereotype and, like any other stereotype, it can live for a long time. Of course, there are some difficulties with bureaucracy and even some governmental restrictions. However, you can hold festivals and parties if you prepare carefully.
St. Petersburg has a long and patchy rock history. Is it somehow reflected in modern dance culture?
Overall, there are few common themes. However, you can feel strong influence of home-concerts culture, squat culture, and punk movement in the atmosphere of the city. St. Petersburg is a melancholic city with bad weather, but it is also relatively cheap to live in, compared to Moscow, and its architecture adds to the “poetic” mood. The city is a poet’s dream indeed: it always throws topics for reflection at you. And, of course, every raver in the city knows Viktor Tsoi’s song “We want to dance”.
What is your role in Roots United?
I am the A&R, DJ, and one of the founders of Present Perfect festival and Roots United community.
New releases don’t come out on your label often. Why so?
We launched it only last year, so we need a bit more time to put everything on the rails. Of course, we strive to highlight the development of our local scene, carefully selecting the material that will fit our concept, so that we don’t tumble into a too specific direction. We are always balancing on the brink of musical styles: it shouldn’t be exclusively house, techno, or bass music. Every track has to be eclectic. Therefore, it can be difficult for us to find the material that suits us. However, the situation with release frequency is moving forward. We are going in the right direction.
Which kind of music do you pay attention to right now?
I like everything that is happening in house and techno music. All these mutations with breakbeat and jungle in house and EBM; jackbeat and industrial accents in techno. I also adore electro. Overall, I fancy broken rhythm. Speaking of choosing music for a mix, I pay tribute to eclecticism — it's the right way to do this kind of stuff.
Do you make your own music?
Yes, I try my best to allocate some time to making music. Hopefully, you gonna see the results soon.