Cxemcast 045 – El
How did the last edition of Present Perfect festival go and what are your plans for the future?
Everything went well: we made a step forward, both in terms of attendance and content. Moreover, the absolute achievement was the presence of Boiler Room at the festival within a separate stage. As for the art component, Street Art Museum along with dozens of artists from around the world presented their graphic works and installations concentrated around 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 our native St. Petersburg. Moreover, our label is releasing a new album of a local artist Kuzma Palkin in November and a compilation planned to be released next year.
Why do you consider Boiler Room’s participation to be an achievement?
It is quite a common practice for many European festivals. This is a complex process due to specifics of Boiler Room. They are very demanding and we were lucky to be among the members of the team, which brought them to St. Petersburg for the first time in 2014, so we had already established good relationships. In brief, it is not that simple dealing with them. To begin with, you must have reliable background of connections. We have been negotiating since December 2015 and this is the result. The festival’s broadcasting had over half a million views around the world, which means that wide audience was able to see what was happening in Russia. Next year it may affect the arrival of larger numbers of tourists to St. Petersburg, as we are geographically very close to the Baltics and the currency exchange difference allows tourists to spend time with fun here. Boiler Room’s broadcast from St. Petersburg was not only a chance for international audience to watch performances of their favorite artists but also to get acquainted with our local scene.
What did they most like in St. Petersburg?
Michail Stangl, the curator of Boiler Room, has been following what happens here; he is very interested in the local scene and such St. Petersburg producers as Flaty and Nocow have been in his field of view for a long time. As for Russian scene in general, the guys from Boiler Room have got many favorites. Speaking of reviews, Michail’s quote about the festival is to the point: "One thing they do not talk much about: young people are alright here".
Are you going to continue this collaboration?
Yes, we have plans to repeat the collaboration, as it was a good experience.
Has Petersburg’s night life changed since the appearance of Roots United?
Oh yes, it did. We started with a club for 200 people, where a small crowd barely gathered for a great artist from Detroit. With the advent of crisis, the city flourished in terms of club culture: we have been witnessing the renaissance of club culture in almost all major cities during the past three years. Last year we organized two big events in the regions (Yekaterinburg and Nizhniy Novgorod), also combining different facets of contemporary art: music, art, technology and urbanism. It was quite a huge success in both cities, there is a demand for such projects.
Renaissance during the crisis?
It is correlated with financial constraints and opportunities of spending leisure. The audience focused on local scene due to the fact that it is quite expensive to bring foreign artists every week. Actually, I think we have similar ”problems" in terms of club industry as in Ukraine in many ways. A crisis is always a time for new opportunities and flourishing of culture; more people begin to pay attention to things that lay just in front of their eyes.
Why did Roots United decide to organize events in other cities and what is their main idea?
The idea is to unite key creative forces of the city and make them work together in the field of music, art, urbanism and technologies.
In a recent interview, you said that it is real to throw festivals and parties legally in Russia. What influences the domination of the opposite stereotype?
Because this is a stereotype and, like any other stereotype, it lives for a long time. Of course, there are some difficulties with bureaucracy and even some governmental restrictions; however, it is real with careful preparation.
St. Petersburg has rather long and colorful rock history. How is that reflected in the dance culture?
Overall, there are quite a few similarities; still, every raver in the city knows Victor Tsoi’s song called "We want to dance". In addition, the influence the home-concerts culture, squats and punk movement in general is felt rather strongly in the atmosphere of the city. In general, Petersburg is a rather melancholic city with bad weather but is not expensive to live in compared to Moscow. The architecture also adds to the mood. The city is a poet’s dream; it always throws topics for reflection, in the broadest sense.
What is your role in Roots United? Tell us about your responsibilities.
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 often on the label, why?
We launched it only last year. We need a bit more time in order to put everything on the rails. Of course, we highlight the development of our local scene, carefully trying to select the material that will fit our concept, but not tumble in one direction or another. We are always balancing on the brink of musical styles: it can’t be exclusively house, techno or bass music – it has to be eclectic in one track, so we are not always able to quickly find the material that suits us. However, the situation with the releases frequency is moving forward. We are getting up on the right way.
Which music do you pay more attention to now?
I like everything that is happening with house music and techno, all these mutations with breakbeat and jungle in house and EBM, jackbeat, industrial accents in techno, I also adore electro. Overall, I fancy the broken rhythm. As of the choice of music for a mix, I pay tribute to eclecticism: I think it's the right way for such things.
Do you make your own music?
Yes, I try to find some time for this process as well. Hopefully, you gonna see the results soon.
Interviewed by Bohdan Konakov.