When did you think of starting your own label for the first time? What difficulties did you face?
In 2011, I realized that other labels don’t see any potential in my demos, so I decided that the niche is free. Having my label set up, I’ve invited like-minded musicians to join. I didn’t have difficulties, it was really interesting. The process was inspiring despite the fact that the first release appeared to be a complete failure and had to be pressed again.
Did you realize from the very beginning what kind of music you want to see on Muscut?
Debut release was planned as a test, to get the idea how does it actually work, whether this can work out at all, and whether there is any demand for our product. Thus, there was no musical concept at that moment. The understanding came along with the second release.
What is the label’s focus for now?
Presenting timeless music. There are no other criteria. The idea is to release music that is free from trends, from being modern; the less signs of a time period it, has the better. It’s perfect if I can’t understand when the music was released. However, I don’t want to be dishonest: there is a bit of a retrograde approach to the selection. It was my preference at first, but, eventually, I’ve realized that this music fits the label concept as well.
For the last decade, the flow of musical information has been too intense to be properly digested. People are not able to fully appreciate new trends while constantly getting into even newer ones, partly due to fast technological progress. However, there is still potential in what is left behind. That is the reason for fashion being cyclical: to go back and dig up some treasures. Music is no different. It’s not about repeating or reliving something, it is more about adding some stuff, stopping everyone and saying: “Hey! There are much more things you can do with it”.
What does the word “Muscut” mean?
It stands for “music” and “cutting”. It also gets back to the newspeak of the beginning of the last century, with its fashion to make up new words by merging abbreviations. (e.g. “communera”, which stands for “communist era”).
In the review of your latest album, The Wire compares it to the works of BBC Radiophonic Workshop and music of that time. What do you think about this?
In fact, The Wire managed to describe my initial concept and listed some artists from my mood board for creating the album, which was a great pleasure. The thing that surprised me was mentioning J Dilla or, to be precise, post-Dilla.
So, the album is a homage to the music of that time?
Yes, you could say so. It is a kind of tribute to the pioneers of electronic music.
Do you use instruments of that particular time as well?
Not really, I use various instruments from different periods of time. My main instruments are tape recorders, delays, loopers, sound processors, synthesizers (including digital ones), and computer, where I make the final montage.
Your new collaborative record Indirect meets Nikolaienko, Ode To The Sea is coming out soon. How did you record it?
In the end of 2014, I contacted the guys and offered to make a record together. We took some sketches to make a foundation. Some tracks were recorded live, some were just jams, others were tracked in parts. Production duties were held by Gena (Potreba) and me. He was responsible for the content, the formal aspects were on me. There are also Anton Ostrometskii on drums, Lesha Volusunov on guitar, Emil Asadov on bass and Ganna Brizhata on vocals. We’ve traveled to each other’s places a lot during the recording process. Huge part of the work was conducted remotely, though: Gena was sending me MIDI tracks, and I was sending him audio tracks back. It could have been done in a couple of months, but because of distance and workload, it took a year and a half. Anyway, all of us are satisfied with the result. Ode to the Sea is to be released on November 18.
Besides making music and running a label, you also organize experimental music events. How do they take it in Kyiv?
Last spring, I made a series of three events in Closer called Muscut Live. The guests were my musicians friends who I was willing to bring to Ukraine: Andrew Pekler, Nicola Ratti, and Mads Emil Nielsen. The plan was the same as with the first release on the label: to test the reaction of the audience. Sadly, dance events and parties gather more people than concerts do, making it harder to pay back the expenses. It depends, of course. For example, Andrew Pekler’s show had 80 tickets sold; according to him, this is twice the number of people he would gather on his solo gig in Berlin. Maybe next spring I’ll throw some more events.
You’ve been on tour in Europe, how was your music received by audience there?
You can’t tour that much with music like mine, because it’s not mainstream. It can happen, though. Last summer, I’ve managed to get on a micro tour and play in Zurich and Milan, which was just amazing. In Zurich, I was opening for one of my favorite artists, Space Lady. In Milan, I had a solo gig. Both audiences were great, being maybe 10–15 years older than our is, I guess.
The mix exposes your dance music side. What do you value the most in dance music?
For the mix, I’ve used my absolute favorites from different times. Honestly, I’ve never been fond of the “dance music” term. I use it only because the mankind hasn’t come up with a better one yet. There is music with quite an obvious pulsation which can also be abstract. As Jan Jelinek once said in his interview with Andrei Gorokhov, “What can be more abstract than 4 beats in a bar?”
What are Muscut’s plans for the nearest future?
If everything works out as planned, there is some new stuff for 2017.