Odopt guys, Grisha Nelyubin (left) and Ivan Maslov (right), won our chart in 2016, expecting their third release in 2 weeks and still are a secret weapon admired by the dedicated fans including us. We had a special time chatting about their unique music, friends, the importance of education and addiction to traveling.
KF: Boys, does any of you listen Russian music? Russia’s music background is very rich. Which names, bands or particular tracks are important for you? And I mean not just Russia but also USSR, of course.
I. Not that many to tell the truth. Of course the biggest proud was always Skryabin, Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. No explanation needed. My latest biggest impression was this piece of music called «From The Life Of Planets» by our Russian band Megapolis. It’s a compilation of tracks created for some unfinished Soviet movies. Beautiful arrangements and a deeply profound piece of art, which sounds a bit like Geoffrey Barrow, and I can’t think about another comparison, because I never heard anything like that from western or Russian musicians. I discovered it when I was making the soundtrack for online movie project called «Norilsk» and the same time I listened to the hundreds of old Soviet records from the 50s and 60s — revelations all over, especially when it comes to the music composed before the time when all the arrangements were made on some cheap Casio synthesiser. I tried to sample some of the music by Tukhmanov or Pakhmutova but they didn’t make into the final track-list in the end, because everyone is afraid of Pakhmutova. You won’t be able to walk again if you steal any note from her music. But she is still the greatest. If we are talking about the 80s new-wave era, I missed that part somehow. Mainly because I just didn’t see any visible advantage of Soviet bands. Of course, KINO and KOFE were always nearby, but when we started to make parties it was already more fun to mix LCD Soundsystem with some cheesy Soviet boys band called Mirage.
G. KINO actually made the biggest impact on my taste for the rest of my life. I’m very pleased I had it on everyday rotation during my very very early years because of the lyrics, extremely clever and simple that stuck to my head forever. They sounded like all those good bands from England I didn’t know about in 1992 of course, yet they were very Russian inside. Besides, the singer Viktor Tsoy, had a sad heaven’s touch so the band didn’t mutate into a parody of itself and remained as a symbol of the era when everybody was waiting for something good to happen. I obviously didn’t dig deeper that time, because my parents didn’t have more VHS tapes with different bands from that late 80s Rock-Club era, so guys like Kuryokhin and Mamonov appeared in my life too late. I truly believe that what you do and listen in early childhood reflects on a very big scale on your life so I guess this tapes and concert VHS cassette and records of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin that my father used to buy on a black market for some big money — everything is the reason I’m still dealing with music as my main life occupation.
Since then though, I guess I never had any so-called «Soviet period» in my life. Maybe a year or two with Russian & British rock music at school. The main music education that I took was from our local version of NME magazine and from the time I spent in Spain. So, clearly, I jumped into brit pop and then big beat and then electro-clash even before I graduated from high school. It took me more than 10 years to discover something really interesting was happening during the 80s in the damaged USSR republics but, again, I’m not that «dig deeper» guy to have a lecture about it. To save my reputation a bit, I must confess that since I started to get lots of promos and demos from my friends and local artists I do listen to Russian music now more than ever. And that’s really great news.
KF: Anyone particular we should know about?
G: Well, it’s hard to hide something from you guys) Apart from anything connected to Leonid and Simachev Bar, I must say I was truly fascinated by the Interchain album on Hivern. So did you, I mentioned. Gloomy guys from Olta Karawane are making great first steps. Kostya KGBK sent us the great stuff last week. I guess there is more for sure, but my heart belongs to Zhenya Lavrinov and everything he is doing. We know each other for ages and now trying to put our native city called Bryansk on a map of the tiny world called underground club scene. He simply created his own genre and I admire the way he is growing inside it. I also visit Ivan’s Soundcloud page to listen to his works pretty regularly. I think he doesn’t even know how often I do it. If we look a bit wider, the guys from Belgrade are starting to show their balls to the world and I must confess they are also impressive. Vilnius is just the greatest city in the world with the best club and crew right now and, I think, one of the best festivals in Europe is being made by Roots United from St Pete. It can go on and on but one thing I know for sure: nothing can be hidden from Krossfingers.
I. I can agree about Zhenya, I deeply respect his method and I think he is the next big thing. When he first showed me his music I tried to force him to use multichannel for recording and classic mixing for post-production, put some drops inside the tracks and other fancy stuff. Only later after reading some press releases, I understood that it’s his OWN thing — to record everything in one take and just send it to be pressed, pretty punk way to do it but that’s 100% HIS approach and all the things that alienated me first are his biggest innovations and advantage. Its always the same with revolutionary ideas — people try to reject them because they are not used to it, they never heard anything similar and they can’t correlate them with their repeated experience. LVRIN’s minimalistic way to produce music is one the most honest things I heard during the last years.
G. It’s so pleasant to know that some of your favorite producers to date are also your good friends and drinking buddies and you can’t just sit on your ass doing nothing while Jaroslav from Linja is sending you masterpieces every week, but instead you are trying to create your own statement to be a part of the gang.
KF: Same for the DJs, right? Who are your favorite ones?
G. Yes exactly. But I don’t think I can use word «favorite». You really need to listen to a DJ ten times to fully understand whether you like him or not. Can he feel the room? Can she surprise you? Can they play for 10 hours without losing it? It’s a pretty complicated thing — to judge DJs, because they can have a bad day or a bad sound system, so you must keep in mind the context when you are listening to one. If you want names I would say there are some friends, that I will try not to miss if they are playing in my city. They all have a big personality and you can guess who is playing with your eyes wide closed. Towa, Powder and Doug for sure, Manfredas, RV, Lewie, Dan… They are just are the first ones who come to my mind because I listened them during the last couple of years on more than one party. I also can easily go to the party with big guys like Seth Troxler or say, John Talabot playing in a big room. Sometimes, it can be really exciting as well.
KF: Being born in two different cities, Bryansk & Oryol, how did you end up together?
G. We don’t have any divine moment to remember when we first meet. I think I was throwing the parties with my good friend Sasha and Ivan knew his brother so they end up going there dancing and drinking for the whole night. We both were studying and for me those five years were dedicated to parties, music forums and Soulseek nights which was the real education for me. I never came on time to early classes of the day at the university because I was already living by night. I think same goes to Ivan but he was always into synths and music production. The internet was cheaper after 12 and I usually put to download some new records I found online, switch on a movie and then listened to what I got before the sunrise. During the weekend, I played once or twice in some of the clubs we had in Bryansk and Oryol. And as I remember it now, on one of them, my friend Vlad who used to be a drummer in a band, introduced me to Ivan and then I went to their rehearsal and after they split we just started to explore Ableton together as a musician and a DJ showing each other how it should be. It is a very natural thing when you meet someone as dedicated as you.
G. I still think a lot about how the tiny things affect your whole life and I’m really happy all this happened and we did what we did. Back then I would probably choose the other way to get an education apart from spending 5 years learning economics. Like going to art school or movie school. But that was and still is a big privilege for the middle-class students. Besides, all good places are in Moscow and at the age of 16, you are just too young to move there. So I went to learn economy and tourism area just to avoid going to the army for two years service and I must say that time during working days was a total waste. My parents wanted me to finish and get my degree (and I even got two), but I never used any knowledge I got there in my life. In fact, I didn’t get any particular knowledge there. Except for table tennis maybe.
KF: How and when did you caught the character of the music you want to create?
I. From the very beginning, we were attracted by way more darker music than everybody around us that time. So from the first track, we tried to use bleak sounds and weird combinations everywhere. Generally speaking, it was and still is something we can call techno inspired around contiguous music genres, experimental records and soundtracks. Although the process of creating new track still remains very intuitive and every time we are more than happy if it doesn’t sound like the previous ones.
G. I guess the character of music was always inside of me, I just needed some time to realize what exactly are the tracks I wanted to put out, without pleasing a so-called «audience». I’d name it «peak time bangers with a twist», that’s the category I’m comfortable with. But what’s more important is not the character, but the time management of our creative process. It took us a few years to realize that we are a complete opposition to each other and that’s what makes it so easy for us now. Ivan is always in the process of learning something new and his work helps him a lot. He makes music for different things like exhibitions, advertising, movies or theater. So now he can just produce a samba track in a day or make a classical record of 23 minutes long. Rock song or dubstep if they pay him well. This experience is priceless but I think I don’t have time for it already. What I do is listening and talking. You see I think it’s very important for a musician or a duo of musicians to not only be able to invent something but to KNOW the context of what’s going on nowadays in the art world. To be able to speak to people, to scout gossips about labels and parties and festivals, or, say, galleries if you are a painter. It’s extremely hard to do both if you are alone and that’s why people hire agents to help them, but usually agent doesn’t get the point what an artist wants, because sometimes it’s not money, but something else and it creates a problem. Also don’t get me wrong I’m not the lazy motherfucker who comes to studio listening to Ivan and getting the best parts to release them as our joint project. What I think I do in the creative process is putting in that theory of CHANCE we all know from John Cage testimony. I never learned how to make music but I listened to some of it and the things that are really interesting to me to find or create are the ones that were born by accident. I was reading recently this short interview with Marcel Duchamp and he explained to me that simple thing. When you express your subconscious through chance, which is the only way to avoid the control of the rational. This fits perfectly to me (as an amateur), because it is a very individual thing, so what I try to put into the final track are that MISTAKES we made during the session, or some unrecognizable sounds (in terms of genre), but not the ideal solo that any sophisticated musician can play.
KF: Remember, I stayed at Grisha’s apartments and saw a machine, maybe it was 303, and even didn’t expect you’re writing music. That’s why I was so surprised with your debut record!
G. (online laughs) Now we all know you were in my bedroom. We actually never had a 303 because I always felt that the sound of it belongs to different people and different era. It’s hard to explain but when you put this acid sound to the track it immediately transforms into somebody else’s track, but not yours. You know what I mean? I’ll repeat, I was always fascinated to explore sounds and create something that you feel belongs to you only and sometimes I feel this when we are jamming.
KF: I heard you tend to break the rule “one record per year” and release two in 2018
I. There was never such a rule. But it’s a tough one to answer because in this business you never know. Since our first productions three years ago as Odopt, we already turned down four releases that were actually finished, with the tracks almost ready to be mastered and shown on public.
G. Sending or releasing tracks without knowing each other and having at least 10 beers together is a quiet unnatural thing to do. We essentially need that magical «click» and a real friendship between labels and us. By now, Born Free crew and Hugo are the only ones we are happy to share our life with. They are also the first and usually the only ones who get all our new demos for the review. We will see how it ends this year. There might be probably three EPs (at least in talks they are) or just one, which is confirmed and will be out the end of May.
KF: Your second record was Belgrade EP: does any of you were at the city before this record? What’s the magic of that place?
G. It was a complete God’s touch. In the beginning, I had this moment when I was naming tracks because of the nationality of samples I used in it, so our very first track was called Athens (it had some fantastic Greek acapella and I only discovered a year later that it was actually Turkish). A month after, we accidentally find ourselves sailing around islands and spending a week in that wonderful city. Somehow the thing repeated. A couple of months after I made Belgrade we ended up there the same day with Hugo. At that time we were discussing the EP on Discos Capablanca so it all made sense. The magic and cult status of the place was still unknown to me but it started to appear in my life more and more after we released the track. When I finally came there to play on a boat, the things definitely clicked in a pretty organic way. I just felt I’ve been living there for a long a time and all the guys I met felt like my classmates from 90’s. Every single one of them has something to show to the world as I already mentioned and I was so glad to be a part of our shawarma crew. For a while at least.
KF: You both use Instagram and there are a lot of photos from trips in your profiles, seems like it’s your another common passion. Tell about the most memorable trip. Grisha, I saw you were in some mountains, tell about it too.
G. I always thought that you should live now and feel the moment of the present, so instead of paying banks for 20 years for some apartment I don’t need, I spend all my money on traveling. Every time it’s more and more pleasant because we meet and make friends in almost every city we go to, we have fun together, I can later show them Moscow and they can show me places I will never find myself. Pretty obvious, if you can travel while working — it’s one of the coolest things that can happen to you. In addition, three years ago I was blessed by meeting Ksyusha who is into all my unpredictable moves and she opened to me the whole new world of mountains with tracking and hiking. Every time I’m a bit skeptical before the adventure but in the end, I always admit that the time we spent in the clouds is the best I can possibly imagine to myself. It’s a whole new level of living the life, incomparable to all that party and networking routine I’m dealing with everyday.
I. We went Faroe Islands a couple of years ago and my life was divided into before and after. It’s so fascinating how people respect their culture, music and poetry while living on such a tiny piece of land far away from big civilization. I remember there was a small record shop — nothing special, but it actually exists and the owner can organize you a super interesting excursion while talking about old and new Faroe music. Even if you are not into Scandinavian folk — visiting those lands at least once in your life is a must. During my last trip to Sri Lanka I was reading Phillip Glass Autobiography and he was writing about his adventures in India while traveling to Ceylon, discovering buddhism and traditional Indian music. Again, I was amazed that the civilians still prefer their own Indian music instead of the Western pop songs. They have this enormous musical background based on rhythm, on so called taalah, which is quiet complicated for any European, but thrilling to explore. That’s why, I guess, legends like George Harrison, David Lynch and Phillip Glass went there — so many treasures are hidden all around the world and you only find them if you get up from your couch and close a laptop. When I did this last year, I found myself on a Junun concert with Jonny Greenwood and we just stayed there crying for an entire hour.
KF: I have an impression that there are not so many cool places with music in Moscow, such a huge rich city. Why or am I wrong?
I. Pretty sure, you are wrong. On the contrary, every year we had a couple of new places to go and that’s enough for a city. Other big cities can perfectly survive for decades with only three clubs and maybe a festival in August. But the problem is different — the music genres and type of parties doesn’t evolve at all, and the lack of progress is the reason everyone thinks there is some kind of stagnation. I may sound a bit like a grandpa, but I usually prefer evenings at the pubs with friends and music halls with classical music, where you have a huge amount of concerts to choose from. It’s almost the same as a party as I feel like techno is not that far from the avant-garde of the 20th century. In the past, classical music concerts were the same as parties — the first rows didn’t have any chairs so the guests were just hanging out, speaking with each other, smoking and flirting.
G. Parties are trying to find different direction now. Become sort of attraction. It’s not a big secret that clubs are closing, because you can’t surprise a millennial two times a week, big monthly events and annual festivals make more sense. It was always about music, but the music is everywhere nowadays and it can only Reinvent itself because it’s really hard to come up with something new without any revolutionary instruments like electric guitar in 50s or synthesizer in 70s so its time for us to wait a couple of years. Maybe a bit more. But we can’t — we need a new thing everyday and that’s why we think there is nothing interesting happening. But I think everything is just great, but as usual, we will only understand it later, after buying the virtual reality glasses connected to headphones so you can hang out and dance wearing stinky underwear in your kitchen. At least Steven Spielberg predicts so.
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1 — Odopt, 2010.
2 — Head Bar, Bryansk 2017.
3 — Sri-Lanka, 2017
Interview Sasha Tessio.
The cover drawing Sasha Tessio (from Ildar Iksanov photo).