Which instruments did you use for this live? What kind of aesthetics did you build the recording on?
We have a studio which we have been putting together for a long time. We still add new instruments sometimes or change something in the studio. I have been collecting Soviet synthesizers and other devices since high school. Not every piece of equipment fits in, and if I don’t use something for a couple of years, I switch it for another device. Therefore, the closet accommodates approximately the same amount of equipment as the studio does.
It’s hard to recall what instruments did we use exactly. The structure of our performance emerges during the performance itself, and we choose those instruments that would be most suitable as means of expression. All our gigs are usually like that: we just start playing, not trying to convey anything specific, and then a common beat appears and develops. Sometimes it doesn’t appear immediately; if that’s the case, we take a break, because there is no point to continue. We drink tea, talk about books, movies, science, well, about anything but music. Sometimes we also use templates, developing them in a new direction every time, so they always come out completely different. Developing a living thought, without getting stuck in repetition, is our attitude.
We have been collaborating with Pavel for almost 15 years with some interruptions, and we’ve dedicated last 10 years to electronic aesthetics. It doesn’t matter, though, whether we’re playing guitars or synthesizers. The main thing is if there’s a pulse beating between us. A year ago we would record everything on tape and cut it afterwards. There was a compilation released on NYH label, but a lot of material was lost because of incorrect recording process. Thus, we had to switch to 16-channel recording. A friend gave us an old G4 mixing desk so that we could record and edit material properly.
Do you think you could manage to create the same material without analog gear?
Yes, I do think so. Analog is a matter of preference. We used to perform on computers as well, and it didn’t hurt the music that much. However, if you work with software, you need to expand the frames of internal self-restraints as much as you can — the variety of expressive means is huge.
How did you meet Pavel?
Kursk independent music scene has been actively forming in the ’90s, and Pavel was one of its key figures. It was impossible for us not to meet. In 1996, I presented my project, programmed using a Spectrum ZX, in a club where Pavel was working at that time. We became friends and eventually started playing together.
How big is music scene in Kursk?
There are several emerging musical movements, but mostly it’s all about showing off and photos on social media. However, you can easily spot a true musician or producer from a kilometer away, even if they can’t play or mix at all. Being sincere is what’s important, and if that’s the case, I reach out and try to help in any possible way. Moreover, we also have people with impeccable taste who know exactly what they do and why, without any regards to trends. Usually, we make good friends with these people. For example, there is DJ Killer — everything worth paying attention to in terms of dance culture in our city has been revolving around him for the last 15 years.
Tell us about Kursk independent scene in the ’90s.
It used to be a vast and diverse crowd, united by sincere and honest approach both towards the audience and the work. Viktor Pinyaev, music critic and a friend of mine, has written many articles concerning the fact that our scene was very unique for the entire post-Soviet territory. Some bands of those days still don’t fail to enthrall, for they had anticipated the trends which came into fashion much later. Of course, it was mostly about guitar culture, but with a strong dance foundation. An integral part of any concert back then was that after the show we used to dance to a cassette DJ performance.
There was no separation or segregation; it was an open cultural environment, and its values were transparent. That’s why I had no fear to present electronic music works after a live show. The message and content used to be far more important than the form they took. Truly honest approach of the scene’s key figures is indisputable: they still remain at the forefront of Kursk’s cultural and musical life.
So, the scene is still there, but remains little-known, especially among the younger generation, isn’t it?
The younger generation is more concerned with creating their own scene, as it indeed should be. Still, we are extremely open to those who are interested. As it turns out, generation gap really exists. Some of our listeners are greatly surprised that we aren’t 20 years old. However, I would rather not evaluate art in terms of age, residency, nationality, gustatory tastes, or other contingencies.
Are there any interesting musical events in the city?
Speaking about interesting parties and concerts, they are held as often as we organize them. Throughout this spring, our team spared no efforts preparing a party in an abandoned bomb shelter on the outskirts of the city. As a result, we’ve created a great location to come together, and our guests were happy. Speaking of generic events, a lot more concerts are taking place now.
Interesting artists, pianists, orchestras, jazz bands come to Kursk as the flow of European and American touring bands touches our city on the way to Moscow. I try to select the most interesting ones and enjoy the performances.
Can you feel the influence of Moscow in Kursk?
There are similarities and intersections in popular culture sphere. However, since we're in another cultural dimension, we don’t feel any influence.
Do you feel some kind of “country charm” which influences electronic music?
I could probably speak of provincial openness and sincerity, but I believe that human individuality is the key factor. I know some incredible musicians from the capital who are open-minded and easy-going, despite their status and reputation. At the same time, I know local producers who are arrogant and narcissistic, and I can’t help but wonder how would anyone justify this kind of behavior.
That is, the place where you live and work as an artist does not matter at all, right?
Absolutely. You shall not show off or lie to yourself, but do your work with honesty, not worrying about gaining hundreds of weeping fans. The meaning of your life is perhaps to help a specific person with your music. And that’s much more important than many other things.
Is that the point of making music for you?
That’s my meaning of life. Music is a way to express it. I don’t think there is a universal meaning of life, though. We’d like to engage in creation of meanings, but there is no time. So, basically, we just play, relying on intuition and cultural background.
What if that’s a kind of musical graphomania?
Graphomania is when you have a single consumer who is at the same time the author. We create the product exclusively for ourselves, but often find it being played at unfamiliar places by people we don’t know.
Do you have a lot of releases?
We don’t keep score, but try to send all the worthy stuff to labels so that it won’t get lost. To me, a proper release has to be on physical media. This is something we are still working on.
Why physical media? By the way, do you imply vinyl?
Vinyl, cassette, reel, wax cylinder — it’s about anything touchable that colors the sound in a specific way. We have a release on vinyl, but I haven’t even seen it. It is a DIY mono record, and it’s not purely ours, but a collaboration with Pochemu Komutator Molchit (rus. — Why Commutator Is Silent).
Do tactile sensations still matter in the internet era?
They are more important than ever. Modern foreplay is all about putting likes on photos instead of touches and kisses, and music is mastered to be played back on notebook speakers. In the age of internet, or the era of unlimited access to knowledge, it is much more important to be able to simply touch the outcome of your worldview. Incidentally, we organize small parties for our friends where one to twenty people gather at our studio to listen to our music. That is the only way they can experience the music the same way we do, rather than the way it sounds on the record. This sensation of sound is also a kind of tactile sensation.
What do you plan for the future?
Sometimes you can confuse dreams for plans. We plan to continue refining our own language and develop our sound to express ourselves more clearly. Speaking of dreams, we would like to dive into rave-travelling and play lives more often.