Cxemcast 018 – Potreba
03. Dancing Karateli
04. Raspil & Otkat
What’s the difference between your solo project and Indirect?
First of all, Indirect is two persons’ work, the kind of music in which instrumentation sometimes conditions the composition, although there is often choice as well. In contrast, Potreba’s music is often made spontaneously, it determines how to develop itself. The difficulty is to catch that feeling as fast as possible.
That is, the method of Potreba is chaos, incertitude?
Potreba (from Ukrainian потреба, ‘the need’) is something that needs to be calmed, giving out a huge amount of energy. By the way, I began thinking about this name much later than I began to sign the tracks this way. This is rather a method in which the process is guided by fantasy, an attempt to grab what seemed to have been mentally heard. However, chaos and incertitude are elements of the composition, but not of the method itself. There is a certain aspect of the rejection of the analysis.
It seems you need a peculiar setup. What exactly do you use to make tracks and play lives?
My setup for making tracks is surprisingly simple: a DAW, headphones or monitors, a mixer for recording instruments, keyboards — when I need to quickly play something. In software I appreciate variety: Live, Reaper, Traction, Cool Pro, Soundforge. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses; I try to use every medium where it works best.
My favorite technique is sampling. Even working with simple synthesized waves at some point I begin to sample them. This is partly because some of my instruments do not support MIDI (Soviet synthesizer “Maestro”, for example). Also, I am strongly influenced by dub techniques: mixer as a tool, unnatural equalization and the use of some effects as a tool. My live-setup: four samplers, a mixer and a delay.
Have you already had some releases?
Nah, not yet. I’ve got some material I’ve worked on for a long time, but I want to bring it to a certain condition. At the same time I’m looking for a releaser. I don’t want these records to be lost in the information flow.
What attracts you in being a musician, producer and DJ, here and now?
We are now living the energy that was released during the protests and the war. There is a sense of engagement in musical life; there is a demand for those who can distract from cruel reality. There has always been some distance between musicians and public, and only in dance culture this distance is significantly reduced. Some musicians hate it, some adore it. DJs are now closest to the energy of people, almost like shamans.
Just listening to dance music is absurd for me — we will lose the atmosphere of the club, the ritual aspect. Dance music needs to be danced! But there's an interesting question: is there any music now people can’t dance to? Personally, I am very curious what it is in the music that directly interacts with the human body. It seems to me that music should be correlated with the movements of the body, so that rhythmic pulsations correspond to the movements of human limbs.
Don’t you think that our imagination is also pulsating because of music, creating an image in our heads?
It seems to me it's rather a process of observation: when I look at fire, I have similar associations, there is always a pulse. I think it's important that music creates something you can contemplate — a set of textures, your own space. It's like a "second level" of bodily tissues over the "skeleton".
And what can be called "skin" then?
Mastering (laughing). If everything is well-built and balanced, it's hard to spoil something at this stage. Although, this analogy may not be entirely correct. Music can still be considered a building in which position of walls and ceiling is constantly changing. If the foundation is laid, it remains to be built only upwards as long as it is at all possible.
It makes music a kind of construction set, doesn’t it? It seems that the "magic" is lost this way.
Well, it's true. I blame the cult of hardware for this — everyone knows how to make a 4x4 beat. I believe salvation will come with specialized machines; but you should always remember the classics: Punish Your Machine!
And what do you think about software availability? Doesn’t software simplify the process of creating music?
Of course. In the past, software was similar to the tools which could be found in labs: Generic UI, a lot of counter-intuitive sliders — without knowledge and discipline nobody could do a thing. It was even harder to implement these ideas with old hardware, though. Just think of the old samplers and floppy disks — it was a disaster!
Have electronic music just become the new folk music?
It’s certainly the modern musical language of everyday life.
Is it necessary to keep this language local?
I think it's more important to look for new subjects. The dictionary itself is not very important — the color emerges from peculiar combinations of words.
Has techno music become a reflection of social events in Ukraine?
In my opinion, the decisive moment is in extensive gathering of people. There is a feeling that you need to form a pack, otherwise anyone on their own will just be eaten alive. Other musical forms are somehow unable to gather so many people.
Does it explain why every party feels like it’s the last one?
Public events have generated a huge amount of energy — now it's even too much. In club culture, a DJ does not have the role and place that a musician has in a concert hall. The purpose of a DJ is quite modest — to support dancing people as long as possible, to help to survive the night. The parties help to chill out, to release tension. Our club life suddenly revived, it became interesting to observe. But this recovery is a way to process this social energy.
How long you think it will last?
Nobody knows. I would like it to have some sort of public effect — local colorful scenes that would incorporate our music into history.
Is it difficult to be a musician in Odessa?
It’s hard enough! The demand for music is very low, provinciality is perceptible. There is a lot of artists, but the situation with music itself makes me sad.
They say you helped Vakula with his stuff, is it true?
Not with his music. I’ve helped to create the cover art for A Voyage To Arcturus.
So you are a visual artist as well!
Yes, I was educated as painter. Actually, Indirect was conceived as a project of two visual artists.
Has visual art overtaken music in the level of development?
No, there is no gap at all. Visual artists now use Photoshop the same way musicians use Ableton. By the way, the slow technique of painting terribly lags behind high-speed information exchange. Although there will always be a demand for "timeless" things, it is a rather marginal interest.
Therefore, the development of art depends more on the development of technology and not on new ideas?
In the twentieth century there was an artificial focus on the authors who studied the processes of personal and creative evolution. For the rest it was only technology — photography, vinyl, etc. After punk and its idea of adapting technology to our needs we are moving to a new stage. In general, our modern life is about technology, yes.
You have once shown me your strange sampler. What would be your ideal instrument?
I imagine something like ROLI Seaboard or Haken Continuum — something that allows you to control synthesized textures through pitch, volume, and timbre without handles, wheels and pedals. Something as convenient as a piano keyboard; something that gives the same connection between hands and sound. Currently all the synthesizers I’ve used were endowed with some flaws in the interface. However, I like Novation’s tools.
If we talk about what a conductor (and a DJ) does, then there's a need of a new format that would allow to control the sound more abstractly — like "softer attack," "slow down and increase intensity," etc. But interfaces of Max / MSP, Pure Data or similar still seem repulsive. You only need to create a good interface, so that hands and sound could reconnect.
You are not a fan of modular synthesis, is it right?
I know this type of synthesis and I have even made a small synthesizer from two oscillators, a filter and LFO on “bananas”. The only advantage I could find in it was a very rough sound which you can’t create digitally. Now I'm using VAZ Modular. However, the world of modulars is the world of simple sounds.
You do DJing a lot. How different are sets and lives for you?
My way of DJing is primarily to select songs which will be comfortable for people. When I'm a DJ, I just have fun and think little about what to play next. It’s really important that I know all the tracks very well and I only bring to my sets those which have settled down in my head and won’t go.
Live, on the contrary, always has a clear plan. I often plan lives as much time as I work on the material in them. It is important to rehearse the performance, to know every sound, every loop. At first, the structure is created, and then goes improvisation — free working with the sound.
And what did you play in the mix? Are there your tracks?
There is only my production.
Do you have breakbeat motives there?
Yeah! I wrote it in the 90's style. I worked for a long time in Fruity Loops 2.5, ReBirth 338. Then there came the opportunity to use the drum loops. Later I began to look for original songs from which these drum loops were cut; I started cutting everything that fell into my hands. In this set there is a somewhat retro-nostalgic attempt to recreate those feelings when I first heard Prodigy's debut album.
By the way, don’t you think that it’s high time we should finally let the 90's go?
Time has come a long time ago, but the 90’s do not let themselves go! It is difficult to prove to the public that the style you invented yourself is worth attention.
How do you see the future of your solo project and Indirect?
I don’t actually want to make predictions. The future will be the way we make it.
What would you like to do as a musician?
First of all, I would like to make a big piece — a cohesive story of 60 to 90 minutes long. In the future I would like to conduct my own orchestra.
Interviewed by Bohdan Konakov.