Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I believe my production work does not differ much from how it’s done by a huge number of other artists. Earlier, I’ve already touched upon my creative process … First of all, I have my notebook where I have Ableton Live 9 installed. And that’s what I use, so nothing extraordinary here. There’s this software, a bunch of plugins, and a big library of samples. However, nowadays I tend to apply fewer loops because we see a kind of “back to the roots” movement in techno. Very popular today are the sounds ranging from classical TR909, TR808 keyboards. So I do use these libraries and virtual analogues of these synths. So that’s how it’s cooking. In general, promotion and classical marketing takes up most of my time during weekdays while my creative work is done at a 10,000m altitude where I am immersed deeply in my music without any distractions and I can work with my sequencer there.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Over the past period, I have not done too many joint projects. Now, the first joint work in almost two years has been released. That’s the one with a good friend of mine Alan Wools, who is also a Ukrainian techno artist. Here everything happened like in a ball game where we both worked on a single project uploaded on Dropbox. So we kind of passed the ball on each other’s pitch. I would write something and pass it on to Alan for him to upgrade the idea, and vice versa. As a result, after Alan mastered the whole thing, we saw this release which I can call quite successful. In general, I’m more inclined to, or rather, I more often dealt with file sharing because most artists with whom I cooperate today live and work far from each other. So, in terms of my geographic location, I am a bit isolated from my musical colleagues. But soon this will change as I plan to move to Barcelona.
But at the moment, yeah, it’s more about file sharing. There is also communication via Facebook and Skype but primarily, it’s passing some project around online for an upgrade. Actually, it’s a rather comfortable format of joint work for me because I really like sitting there and digging deeper into a certain loop or groove for a long time. I’ve had experience when we would be in a studio together with other artists and I felt a bit of discomfort because I thought I wasted too much of our common time searching for that perfect groove and this irritating others in the studio. Probably, that’s not a thing at all, who knows. Anyway, I will soon have an opportunity to confirm whether I’m right or wrong and try some other forms of joint production after I move to Barcelona.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
My weekdays are mostly all the same. I have a certain schedule, which is related to my family life. Many things depend on my baby daughter, like whether she goes to a kindergarten today or reports sick. My wife and I spend a lot of time taking her out, just walking. The day starts with a family breakfast and then we’re off for a walk. That’s probably my favourite part. I really love spending time with my wife and daughter … After we come back home, we put our daughter to sleep and I go to my office, put on my headphones and start working. Once again, I spend a lot of time on management and marketing issues, I also work on my podcasts and videos, refreshing my social media profiles and my website. So all of it takes up a lot of my time. However, I truly enjoy developing my artist profile. If I have some urgent work to do, some deadlines to meet when I write some remix, things like that, or if I just started writing a new track which got me on a hook, then I am totally unable to do any of that management stuff. I will be hitting that rock until I get the job done, that’s for sure.
If my daughter needs to be taken to a kindergarten, my day starts way earlier. On these days, I start working at about 10am instead of 1pm. And I would be working up until she is back home from the kindergarten and we have to go outside for a family stroll in the evening hours. I really adore my family and I miss them very much when I’ on tour somewhere. Of course, while my music and my work are calling on me, my heart is always with my family. So I try to give them as much of my attention as possible, always. So my daily routine mostly depends on the schedule and plans of my family members.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I could describe my creative process, using an example of my new remix I’ve done for The Yellowheads, which will be released on my Codex label. Actually, the work on this track was the same as it has been on my other pieces. As a techno artist, I really pay great attention to my groove. So I start off with selecting a right kick and a right bassline, then compressing these two lines and trying to catch that delicious sound by its tail. I add some percussions, hi hats, maybe some vocal lines, and trying to build the track up to the first break. After the first break, I work on my drop and give myself some time to rest only to return to my production in half an hour or so. I go make myself some tea to let my ears rest and reload. That’s because I am deeply confident that if one sits too long working on a certain track, the effect will be the same as for a shop assistant in a perfume boutique. You just lose the sense of the dynamics and the hook, so I try to make such pauses to reload. When I am not happy with the outcome of my work, with the way the track sounds, I try to listen to some fresh works by other artists that may inspire me in a certain way or direct me softly toward a right path and a better result. So yeah, there is a certain sequence of actions in my production work but I can’t claim there is a single recipe of how to make your track perfect. If I manage to develop my initial idea and I am happy with the result, I go all the way from start to finish on my own. But whenever I feel that I need some kind of additional data or more inspiration, I listen to tracks made by other artists or listen again to the original track I am remixing. But again, any creative process is difficult to measure in any way so it’s different from track to track.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I don’t know … However terrifying or pragmatic it may sound for many creative people out there, the perfect incentive for me to write more music is feeling that I don’t have enough tour dates booked, when my touring schedule is not so tight anymore. Maybe I will seem a terrible and even greedy person but, frankly speaking, my ideal state of mind for being creative is realizing that I have holes in my touring schedule. The tighter the schedule, the less inspiration I find to launch my sequencer. Sometimes, a month may pass without me writing any new music but then I can spit out like five or six tracks within a week. Throughout these 15 years that I’ve been writing music and those 12 years that I’ve been a DJ, I’ve realized a simple thing. If you don’t have a desire to write music, if no deadline is hitting you on the back of the head, then better don’t squeeze anything out of yourself as nothing good will come out.