Cxemcast 023 – Konakov
02. Tender Age
03. STS-33 Tropicacid
04. Povyvox Arp
06. MS-1992 Acid
07. Trop. Metallic Organ
08. Clnki Part 2.
09. Clnki Part 1.
10. Dist. Guit. Smplr. (Skit)
11. Out of there
13. Going to Poltava
14. Walking with Papa
How and why have you become a musician?
It seems, I have never become a musician. From early childhood I mumbled songs to myself before going to bed — without words, melodies only; then I sung something while playing in a sandbox and so on. A trivial story: the older I became, the more I fell into music: father’s vinyls, first cassettes, radio, CD exchange, piano lessons, guitar. Several albums in eJay, of course... For some time I played trumpet in an orchestra.
I always wanted to do music; it was my dream. I did never master any instrument on a level when I could consider this obsession as something serious, but I always wanted to prove to myself that I was able to do something, to make music.
About two years ago I decided music was the most important thing for me, and since then I am writing music around the clock, studying it, exploring my own capabilities and enjoying the moments when something comes out. That choice was not spontaneous — I’ve just realized that I am unable not to make music. It's like a stretched bow tie. This is my need, so I decided to sacrifice prosperity, full-time job and, in general, the "right way" to live my life.
I am not interested in ordinary things anymore. Incidentally, I really like the word "musician" — it’s how I perceive myself. What kind of Dj am I if I’ve never bought a single vinyl record? What kind of producer am I without proper monitors? Perhaps it makes no sense to put music above all, but I still do it. I remember a case in second grade when our music teacher, who played accordion, had missed our lesson and it was held by a piano teacher: everyone was doing their own business and I was watching her hands, impressed by the beauty of her playing.
What artists have influenced you?
My music world is like a sponge — something influences me all the time. If I’d make a list of influences, it would be too long. What really matters is that I have never taken a negative position. On the contrary, I listened to everything. I started to use the Internet quite late, somewhere in 2009, so I had to trust the recommendations of friends and acquaintances for a long time.
If I did not like something, it was conscious and irreversible. When I got into the Internet I developed a habit of listening an album or even a few releases a day. It should be noted that listening to me is when you close your eyes and dive deep into music. It is difficult to listen on the go.
I can’t say that my taste had been special from my childhood, but the more I listened to music, the more I wanted to find exactly what I like. So, if I loved a long intro before the song, I wanted to find something similar. Once I heard the sound of Hammond organ from the '60s and made a collection of tracks where you can find this sound.
In general, I did not take electronic music seriously for a long time — it seemed to me that it was only dance music, and I avoided it. Although I had already been fond of all these electronic incuts in psychedelic rock, I was delighted when I learned that electronic music is not just ‘boom boom’. Music for me was rather an important social factor: the second question after asking one’s name during acquaintance was usually a question about music. Well, now I'm not doing it — the snobbery has increased, nothing to fancy.
Could it happen that you would be tired of all of this? There is a lot of people who are breaking up and starting to do ordinary commerce; how long will you last?
How long will I stay that strict? I'll die old and poor! I think I am responsible for the abilities that I am endowed with.
Don’t you think that the era of music as art has ended a long time ago? Everything has been already studied and used and there are no options to experiment. What's next?
Recently I called one of my tracks ‘experimental’. I was just saying so, and then had to explain a lot about what it was to me. In fact, when I sit down to make something I start experimenting... over myself. There are no meanings of life, everything has been already invented; so I just write tracks and maybe someone will enjoy them, or even better — the opposite! Once I thought of music that was so disgusting that it was impossible to listen to it without consequences, fatal in particular. That's funny. Seriously, I don’t think when I make music. I just have this lifestyle: wake up, make music and go to bed at six o'clock in the morning. I'm happy!
Is it a dead end then? Neither you nor another musicians can bring anything new into music anymore?
I can’t discuss this. Well, I could say that I'm cool and I have a lot of gorgeous music in my basement and a tank in my backyard and all that pretentious shit. And in fact there will be just shit. It seems, something is happening, there is new and good music out there. Just now it's all in great abundance, and because of this it seems that everything is bad.
One person who likes to criticize music has told me that I am responsible for what I am doing, and giving birth to freaks is a bigger crime than not doing anything. However, I have come to a conclusion long ago that if something goes wrong, we must continue to do it; then just don’t show the result of this work until you are sure about it.
It seems to me that electronic music has now turned into folk and becomes "for folk"; what is happening now is a usual thing: if before everyone could take a guitar and sing a song, now technologies allow you to sit in a café with a laptop and make, for example, a techno track. By the way, it's also interesting — you can convey the effect of a moment, capture the spirit, atmosphere, something like that. Generally, I hope that it will be fashionable to make sculptures or furniture soon, and all these horrible musicians will be removed from the field one day — then it will be easier to breathe. It only frustrates me whether I give birth to freaks as well.
If music has become your way to live, how does your normal work day begin as a musician?
It is rather a working night, not a working day. I write mostly at night, while I sit at home. I wake up, I toggle the switch, I put headphones on and start. The problem is that I sleep too much. I do not like it, but I can’t make myself sleep less. I live in a private house: garden, cats and dogs. I even wanted to go fishing in the morning.
And what's in the everyday life: coffee, breakfast, sticking in the window? Few people know how a modern producer lives.
Coffee, of course! I'm a coffee lover. I often argue with my mother about food, because sometimes I forget to eat when I make music. That is, I almost do not eat when I'm doing music continuously. When I am in the city, I want to go home to write something else. I love my garden. By the way, I should to restore it to a proper state. In general, my home is a total wreck, because nobody cares for it, and I cordially like all these thickets. I just need to get a big extension cord and make a video live there.
The process of making music is always chaotic: I could start with rhythm, development of some kind of sound, or just from sampler mutations — everything depends on my mood. I work on some tracks in parallel, and sometimes I'm deadlocked; then I postpone one track and start the second, and then put it off and return to the first one. Sometimes I forget to return and in a week I find a project that I have already forgot about — I turn it on and there is a lot of new ideas right away. Now I sometimes work with a year old sketches. I do not even remember how have I made them, so it seems to me sometimes that it is totally stranger music.
Every time when I start to do something, I have to self-educate myself: I sit all night (often not only one night) and I study some kind of synthesizer or pedal. A few days ago I was thinking about the reason I started making electronic music, and the answer came to me accidentally — since the hardware does not allow you to record several instruments at a time, I can only make music where there are no more than six or eight tracks. If there are more tracks, there would be problems with software. So I’ve got a kind of rule to work with only three main tracks. I called them energy, beauty and newness — they are the main components of a successful record.
Recently we talked about a second dance floor at Cxema. Whom would you suggest for a local line-up?
I'm just starting to explore our local musicians. By the way, it all began when a few years ago in one questionnaire I had to write about the Ukrainian scene, and I spent several weeks studying. There are those who like me; it is important that we have already got acquainted a little. I do not want to call the names. You’ve also heard somewhere about me, saw my page, invited to make a mix. And now I'm already discussing who's cool and who is not.
I’d better talk about one case: once upon a time in Poltava me and my friends have decided to make a party and bring DJ Borys to it. Borys quite reasonably expected that local support in the musical field would be rather weak, but he was pleasantly surprised by the opposite. It seems to me that in every town there are two or three people who play or write good music. The one I would like to highlight is my friend Nikita, who works under Kaan Kaas nickname. He had once shown me dudes like Daniel Lopatin, Colin Stetson, Actress, The Caretaker and many others; but he also writes interesting music and DJs. It would be great if Koppfmann started playing, because his taste is wonderful.
You are currently interviewing other musicians for the Cxemcasts. Do you think we need to develop this direction, publish a magazine or something like that? Is there a need for a local media at all?
Of course we need to! We have nothing: neither portals, journalists, nor labels; there are only a few good promoters. Even the DJs — the same people play at every party, because everyone else is an office monkey who wants to play on Friday evenings only. The blog would be already great to begin with, but I would like to create a label.
I even thought that under the brand of Cxema we could organize not only rave parties, but also other events. Actually, I began to do these interviews to meet other dudes — we are all on the same page and have something to talk about. If there will be some need not only for musicians, Cxema can turn into a "springboard" for guys like myself.
How different will be your live set at the next Cxema from the previous one you played in January?
Well, I won’t be mocking around with my abstract sketches. Now I'm doing more dance music, because it's interesting for me to study how an ordinary pulse can drive the dance floor crazy. Thus, this live is deliberately dance. Although, I still write a lot of ambient, broken tracks, sketches, but only for home use (laughs). Maybe I'll even wear a costume, ha! Nowadays no one is surprised with your music only.
Do you have an approximate picture of your audience? For whom would you strive to play in a perfect world?
Sometimes I play my tracks to my parents — it's interesting to watch their reaction. Generally, I don’t really like that a lot of people now come to parties not for the sake of music. I would like to understand myself that dance music is for dancing. I still have to learn a lot of things so that my music reaches people and passes onto them what I’ve put into it. Several times I’ve caught enthusiastic gazes of the listeners and it cuts me to the bone. But in general I do not think about these things.
Are you more interested to play for those who are "in the loop" or it doesn’t matter to you if your listeners are musically grounded?
It’s all the same. First of all, you are perceived by those who are in the loop, and then, if you continue to do something worth attention, all the others notice as well. If a person whose musical taste I respect is patting me on the back, it means a lot. One can say that recognition is not necessary for a musician, but in any case it motivates us to move on. It would be too selfish to make music only for myself.
When I see those who are listening to my music, it is important for me on a personal level. It's much better than faceless listening on the Internet. Also, I'm glad when I send my music to great musicians or labels and they praise me. I have several cool labels in my arsenal with whom I communicate according to a certain principle: I send them a bunch of new records, and they say "cool-cool". This is some kind of self-assertion. Of course, I am worried that there are no certainty about releases yet, but I think it's a matter of time. And when somebody criticizes me, there is a desire to make things even better, to get it totally right.
So, the last question is: what did you eat today?
Today I went to my parents, so I ate porridge, salad and fish. And in the morning I had semolina porridge for breakfast while listening to Severed Heads — Gashing The Old Mae West.
Interviewed by Slava Lepsheev.