Top Tight 2018
It has been a crazy year for sure. So many things happened that I could never have expected. The year started with me joining Odd Fantastic. It might sound insanely cheesy, but being from Kazakhstan where the scene is still in its baby steps, and so distant from Europe, I have never even dreamt of being on the same roster with Aurora Halal, Mike Servito, and Objekt. I played a lot of sick gigs all over Europe, including De School, Tresor and many others. Very recently I have also fulfilled my lifelong dream of visiting Japan where I played an amazing festival in Kyoto called Mazeum. It is a dream to get to travel around the world while doing what I love most and also connect with people who share the same values as me. This year has also seen a strengthening of a party series ZVUK which I run in my hometown. We've definitely got more ambitious and managed to bring fascinating musicians to Almaty this year - An-I, Via App, Don’t DJ and Giant Swan. This would all be impossible without my ZVUK crew, which is more of a family by now.
Even though all of these things were happening to me, it was still quite difficult for some time to accept my new lifestyle. Growing up I had completely different dreams and aspirations - I wanted to become a scientist and have a 'normal' life. Music was always there, but I never considered it as something that can be my main occupation. So for a long time, I was going with the flow, trying to balance those two lives I had. But this year I came to a point where I had to choose one because I couldn’t balance it anymore. This choice between what I wanted before and what I want now turned out to be very tough. Also, recently I have realized that if I were given a chance to wake up tomorrow and do whatever I want, I would be doing the exact same thing I am doing now. So I guess I am in a pretty happy place.
I want to wish everyone to have their dreams come true in 2019. No matter how wild or abnormal they are. Not everyone should have the same dreams, or the world would be fucking boring. So, you know, wishing everyone love and money is kind of imposing your own rules. Maybe everything one wants is a koala and a lifetime supply of weed. Anyway, may all your dreams come true and don’t let anyone dictate you what they should be.
Top Tight 2018
If I choose one thing as a "highlight," it will push so many other things into the shadows that don't deserve that! But OK, let me try - well, something that jumped out, literally, were those dolphins at the old submarine harbor in Odessa. My flight was due in three hours, but Polina and Ganna from Chillera felt like there is enough time to go for a swim and have some lunch. So I had just gotten out of the water where I had had some strokes of butterfly before encountering a huuuuge jelly-fish. When suddenly about five meters from me this enormous animal jumped straight up in the air and let itself splashingly crash down on the water's surface. I was stunned, and so was everyone else around. No second did I think of jumping back in to play with that creature, which measured surely four meters in length! There were two smaller dolphins following it, and after turning one or two rounds in the basin, they jumped over the wave-breaker and were gone, leaving us to our stoked excitement.
As to professional highlights: this is even more difficult for me! I mean there is one mostly every weekend recently - what a luxury-problem to not be able to pick one. But, the lineup at Terraforma festival; people dancing barefoot on mossy dancefloors after five days of an 8000 visitors festival like Mo:Dem; the sound at Shadowplay in Beijing; Samarkand; Rhizom festival not having an entrance fee or bouncers... How am I supposed to choose? Well, OK. I gave a one week, 9 hours per day (turned out to be more like 12) workshop at the conservatory in Amsterdam. The young students there are all masters of their instruments. This was very special for me as my approach to music comes from a very different angle than theirs, I learned so much! Took so much inspiration! And everything I had to say was sucked up by very open ears who would instantly turn it into music or Max/MSP programs. That encounter was just buzzing with creative energy, and we performed a series of concerts which deeply surprised me!
I wish everyone can pursue their passions without restrictions from anywhere! The world will gain the most from letting people do what they love: they will innovate and progress and be generally less fearful and vengeful!
Top Tight 2018
I guess the professional highlights is the easy one - definitely doing my first installation at CTM. That was massive for me. It’s definitely something I wanna do more often, more than music actually. That might be the biggest highlight of the year. I wanted to do something new that I’ve never done before. I was working with this concept - it was new, it was exciting and liberating; you don’t worry about the record. I mean CTM as a whole experience was really cool.
That was great, and then the Trigger Finger was cool. I was very self-conscious about releasing that track, because I don’t know much about jungle. Yes, it was the first time I made a jungle track. Besides that, it was very well received. And then, obviously finishing this album that I was working on for ten months and presenting a new sound to people. Yeah, and Unsound was great - seeing so many talented people, performers always inspire. And 100% of people there are music lovers.
The most important lesson this year: The internet is the most powerful and valued tool I have. Immensely grateful to be alive in 2018. Personal highlight of the year: Deadlifting 160kg. Yes, bro!
For digital releases to be taken more seriously and for music to be assessed on its quality rather than the story behind the person creating it.
Top Tight 2018
It's almost the end of the year. Time passes so quickly. I have been so busy, and up to my neck in a day job in 2018. I've always tried to strike a balance between my job and music, but I couldn't set aside enough time to make music this year. Sometimes I wish to live my life by doing only what I like to. On the other hand, I believe the music has to be inspired by the daily life of the musician. So, both job and music are essential to me.
I went on business trips to many places and traveled alone on holidays all year around. The places that left the impressions on me were the crowded streets in Hanoi, Vietnam and the bars beside the sea in Vladivostok, Russia. I always thought about lots of things while traveling, my everyday life, friends, and music after all. Fortunately, some of my tracks and remix works were released in 2018. My 6th EP was released on Canadian label Solar Phenomena in September, and remixes by DJ Sotofett will be out soon!
Wish you and your family the best for 2019.
Top Tight 2018
It is really difficult to remember everything, but one of the truly pleasant memories was Dekmantel Sao Paulo where I played with Lena. We arrived there, being really sick - both of us. I could barely move - I had some nerve problem in my back I was eating painkillers for breakfast, and Lena arrived 30 min before we had to play with some flu, barely able to stand. Then we played for 4 hours, and it somehow felt nice, we got somehow connected to this whole environment. A few days later we went to Bogota, to the Video Club, and that was amazing too. The architecture of the club felt like something I have never seen before. The part of the club is under the roof, and another one is under the open sky - it is kind of a rooftop, and it’s concrete. It could be Berghain, but it is friendly and psychedelic a bit in a nice way. The whole atmosphere influenced something really charming and special that happened there. I also played there with Lena. The third highlight was probably April birthday of the boat 20/44 in Belgrade. And the fourth highlight was playing with Lena again at Selectors in Croatia because there was a full moon and we played music like for this imaginary fairytale.
Shit, there are so many things! Also, playing Elysia in Basel. Elysia is a club with an insane sound system. They basically built a room for that sound system. You listen to music not just with ears, but with the whole body. Also one of the highlights was playing 8 hours at Kraftfeld in Winterthur, in Switzerland again. I should have played from 11 till 5 and then at 4:45. The organizer came and went "Oh! It is too nice to stop it. Could you play longer?" So I played longer. And then at 6 he came again and said that it is still nice. So I finished around 7 in the morning, and I couldn’t even stand on my feet, but that was lovely.
Oh shit, there was another one! Houghton festival in England where I played with Ivan Smagghe. It was excellent - you really have to go there! I think we played there for 4-5 hours. It was this four hours of falling into Alice in Wonderland hole, kind of never-ending free fall.
Regarding personal highlights, it is staying healthy. I mean, seriously! Having in mind the amount of stuff that I do every day or try to do, my body is OK, my mind is OK, I'm not depressed, and I don’t complain about "Oh, touring life!" I don’t have any such thoughts. So, my personal highlight is definitely staying healthy and also releasing music - Make Dogs Sing by GLP and Suba’s Wayang on Offen. Meeting Suba’s friends and musicians in Sao Paulo was something really special. Hearing their stories about Suba and being able to release that music, preserve that music for the future. That's something that makes sense to me, kind of not wasting time.
Stay healthy and optimistic. That's the main things.
Top Tight 2018
Thank you TIGHT for the interview you had with me this year. Regarding the highlights of the year, of course, your media is one of them. What else? Two records were released on Muscut - an album by Zhenya Fadeev under his new pseudonym Wrong Water and a Test Pressing II compilation of associated artists of the label, and artwork from the creators of your publication - the Jugoceania design studio. What else? TIGHT readers may have noticed my report from the Meakusma festival on your Instagram in September. The best festival in the world for sure. Many thanks to Michael Kreutz for the invitation. I do not have much festival experience, but it was indeed something special. I will definitely go there again as a visitor. There was also Brave Factory. Thanks to the Closer team and Dasha Redkina for the invitation to jointly supervise the Garden scene. Thanks to Lcia Udvardyova and Shub Roy for organizing our showcase at arkaoda Berlin. It so happened that my accommodation at the time of the event was revoked and the girls from Chillera got me to their friend Florian Mayer aka Don’t DJ. Thanks for the shelter, Florian! Coincidentally, this was the day when an interview with Don't DJ came out on TIGHT, from which I learned, a couple of hours before the meeting, that Florian was one of the members of Institut Für Feinmotorik, which had a significant influence on me in the early 2000s. We performed together at the Sound Details Festival in 2006 in Kyiv, where I took their autograph on a Penetrans record. Florian was a little surprised at my memories, especially when I recalled an interesting detail - after playing live, they had a DJ set at the Cinema club, and I remember his blue plastic cooler bag, which he used to carry records. Hearing all this, Florian pointed his finger under the table, where that same cooler bag stood, which, like Florian, I had not seen for 12 years. It turned out that same evening Institut Für Feinmotorik had their first concert in five years in a small gallery in Kreuzberg, which we attended with Chillera, and it was one of the best shows of 2018. Speaking about other live performances, I should mention Ramzi's appearance at the Primavera festival, Tomaga on Meakusma - they were providing live sounds for the Lucifer Rising movie. And, of course, Chillera on Meakusma, where they wrecked the applause and became the highlight of the festival.
At the end of the year, Sasha Tsapenko, Dima Prutkin and I finally stepped up with the project, which we have been working on for the last three years and launched a pre-order for the debut release on the Shukai sublabel. It’s a soundtrack to the 1967 sci-fi movie Air Seller, the music for which was written by Victor Vlasov. However, I suppose we’ll talk about it in more detail next year.
I wish you and your readers more experimental features. TIGHT is the best!
Top Tight 2018
My personal highlight is that I have a few. I learned to swim this year. Melina taught me how to swim in Iceland, and that was great because I’ve always been afraid of the water. My niece got married on top of the mountain outside of our hometown, and that was amazing. Also, my sister bought a farm, so she lives on the farm now, and she has chickens and horses and all that stuff, and I can go and visit her.
Basically, it was just another year. I'm 28 now I’ve survived the "27 club," which is both cool and a bit sad. I also feel like I'm outside of the club in other ways. I'm more organized; I'm more structured.
My professional highlights would be Crush album. After I did Gore-Tex City I was almost done with it, as it had the same core as Gore-Tex City, but I ran out of energy to make music. I kind of lost all my inspiration for doing stuff, so Crush album got pushed around almost for a year. So I'm happy that I finished and released it, and then it got so many nice reviews. People liked it, and they had me put away my "writer's block." My inspiration came back, and now I feel re-inspired. I have finished Nordic Flora Series that was a chain of projects that is not really my thing. I'm not good at keeping my work like "this gonna happen, and then this gonna happen." Especially with so much impulsivity that came into all of the works. The Flora project is flourishing. That's also the highlight of the year. We only released one release, and we still manage to get so many shows and travel so much and get so much appreciation for basically doing nothing. I mean, we work hard, but we haven’t really shown people how hard we work.
The story with donation was something sick because I'm used to people in electronic music to be quite difficult, hard to do stuff. It was so simple to go outside of that frame. I woke up one day, and this Yemen thing has been in my head, causing so much stress. Then I saw this advertisement, the emergency need for money to get food. They are fucking starving now, like, we need money now. This is a fucking emergency. I checked my bank accounts, and I couldn't donate basically anything. I announced the record without even having it recorded, so I had to make the record on the same day. It was amazing. I got like 8 000 euros. That was fucking great, and that made me happy. It was a surprise to see so much dedication and involvement from people in this project. I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell my PR people, or my manager - no one knew about it. Only Melina knew about that, and she was the only one who helped me. That was sick.
I wish more people would share and appreciate your work. And I wish people be more respectful to the planet, to the water - all of the shit we are failing. Otherwise, I wish courage to be whatever you may be and not try to be something else. Just to be the best you can be. And to be honest to yourself about what you need and have power to both survive and fix your shit up.
Top Tight 2018
If I have to go personal, it would definitely involve la Bretagne. Luckily, in 2018, despite all the heavy traveling, I was able to visit my home region several times. My favorite part of it is le Finistère for sure. Probably the most regionalist part of la Bretagne, but not necessarily in a weird nationalist-slash-asshole way. People have just a certain need to preserve strong ancient aesthetics, tales, etc. But they are happy to share their knowledge, spreading it with a general warm attitude with outsiders.
Editions Gravats, the label we are developing with my long-time friend Jean Carval, intensely uses specific aesthetics and typical graphic designs from Brittany. Either middle-age and ancient Celt imagery, or 80s designs from anti-nuke propaganda and environmentalists associations. My visits to Brittany are always occasions to discover more source material for the label, and I certainly have to be grateful to my partner in life about this, who put me up on all of these a few years ago. And since then, every trip to la Bretagne together morphs to strong researches and infinite quests.
Pretty hard to pick one professional highlight to be completely honest. This year has been amazingly generous to me. I never traveled that much, and I never met so many heroes, artists and long-time source of inspirations. But if I would have only to remember one thing, this would have to involve Gravats. We toured a lot together in 2018, lots of label showcases or just being on the road with artists from the label. So, one highlight you asked, right? Let's go with the Maoupa Mazzocchetti release album party that we organized in Paris. It took place at Les Instants Chavirés, legendary venue based in Montreuil since 1991 - main home for DIY, free-jazz, noise improvisation, industrial. Something happened that night: Maoupa and the opening act (Opéra Mort, a duo composed by Èlg and Fusiller) were sick as fuck, all our friends were there, the party was sold-out, the crowd was amazingly reactive, and the Instants Chavirés team were the best hosts we could wish for. Just a strong and uplifting feeling all over, that doesn't happen quite this often.
Wishing a happy end-of-the-year to all TIGHT readers, to all the people supporting Editions Gravats. Now I'm just stoked to start 2019. Big up everyone, eat more cheese, and do more tequila shots.