Our next pin on the Boiler Room Poland map drops just outside a primeval forest by the Belarusian border. Białystok’s geographical and historical situation has forged a landscape where people of different nationalities, religions and cultures have coexisted for centuries. The city that marks the Eastern end of Schengen area is also home to Technosoul – a record label slash collective of DJs and promoters, whose parties and energy has turned many eyes to a region of Poland that’s never been properly discovered. Most notorious for running events all over the country (including their own festival that turns six next year), they’re also responsible for introducing a wider audience to a handful of unmissable talent hailing from all around this part of Europe – Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, just to name a few.
We’ve exchanged a couple of e-mails with the label bosses Dtekk and Essence ahead of their set in December and here’s what they’ve told us about the differences (or lack thereof) between the East and West.
GOSIA HERMAN: Obviously Polish club music is inspired by Germany and particularly Berlin – but how much are you influenced by other countries like Belarus on the Eastern borders?
DTEKK: We had to grow up to actually realise the influence of our Eastern neighbours. Poland has witnessed a major transformation during the last 25 years, which of course enabled us to travel and explore. Unfortunately, these changes have also influenced us in relation to Belarus and Ukraine. Not only the Schengen borders were introduced [there are strict checks on borders between EU and non-EU countries], but a lot of social and mental boundaries have emerged – for our Eastern neighbours, it seemed that Poles might have left them behind and neglected the old relationship.
Luckily, the more recent history, and a number of our collaborations with Eastern European artists during Up To Date Festival [a festival run by the Technosoul crew in their hometown Bialystok] proved otherwise. As promoters, we always aimed at painting the full picture of the scene, regardless of whether it comes from the East or West. We feel obliged to keep in touch with the Eastern scene and look for opportunities to find a common ground, to provoke interactions and kick off new projects. And apart from formal obstacles, it is not difficult at all. Technosoul is a label who aims at cultivating local culture.
Is there an ‘eastern’ sound as distinct from the club sounds western Europeans might know?
Sound-wise, the music might not be so different than it’s Western counterparts – we’ve got producers making everything from deep house, drum and bass, primal techno, as well as sophisticated IDM and ambient. However, the Eastern club scene in many ways is still very underground. Electronic music as such, has never made it into mainstream; whether you go to Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania or Poland – it is still considered a niche. People realize it and appreciate it – the atmosphere of the parties, the fact that you bump into friends, it all makes up for it.
What struck us most when we went out in Belarus and Ukraine was the energy – it was exactly like in Poland around 10 years ago. People start to dance from right when the DJ plays his first record. It’s amazing. It might be that people of the East have always had a thing for those “secret societies”. If you look at the history, conspiracy, rebellion and generally being against something was always a part of the local landscape. We feel that in certain ways, the local club culture here might have inherited from those traditions. So, it’s more a thing of the ‘eastern attitude’ than the ‘eastern sound’.
You have worked with artists from Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia amongst others. Do you consider all of you guys as an ‘Eastern crew’? Do you think this fusion could mark a beginning of a new movement?
Technosoul definitely has an eastern vibe about it. A lot of our crew members live in the far East of Poland but we haven’t thought about it yet in a wider context.
We can definitely sense a movement of contemporary electronic music growing strong further and further to the East of Europe. People here have always been trying to catch up with the Western scene, and for our neighbours it’s pretty much the same in relation to us. We like to think about all our activities as a transit of ideas, values and energy. At the same time we want to make a real impact and express this message as much as our fellow artists and promoters from the east.
Five tracks from the east that encapsulate the Technosoul spirit:
Vakula – “Picture Of You”
One of the best tracks from Vakula – it combines the best in modern deep house and techno… and that piano breakdown! Makes people mental each time. There’s so many great deep gouse names amongst our neighbours – not just Vakula, but Anton Zap, Etapp Kyle and Nina Kraviz, just to name but a few. We admire Vakula for his attachment to his Ukrainian descent and Ukrainian culture.
Pavel Ambiont – “Error Asking Thread To Dub”
Pavel Ambiont is a Belarusian producer, promoter, label owner and activist. It’s amazing how proactive he is, despite the constant, ridiculous struggle to do anything (not only creative) in Belarus. As an artist he’s very prolific too – his label Force Carriers deals with experimental electronics, as well as proper dancefloor techno-weapons. Pavel frequently offers his insight into Eastern electronic music scene, together with us he co-curated line-ups for Taste The East events we have put on in Bialystok. Minsk, where Pavel is based, is full of contrasts that are also visible in the club scene. Rich kids’ tech-house parties happen in glitzy clubs, while round the corner, a small, insiders-only techno gig could be going off.
Stanislav Tolkachev – “Like A Cat’s Shadow”
Stanislav Tolkachev hails from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, which used to be a centre for Soviet Union’s nuclear, space and arms industries, which has definitely influenced a local interpretation of a twisted techno sound. His trippy, tonal excursions into contorted sound is truly unique worldwide.
Etapp Kyle – “Aurora”
The young Ukrainian producer, Etapp Kyle, thanks to being released by Klockworks, quickly became recognized in the techno world. We must admit that we didn’t know about his existence until this very release, but when we heard it everything became clear. Gentle, yet groovy. Perfect for morning hour sets.
Energun – “Copybook”
Raw acid track from duo from Minsk, Belarus. Energun (they previously released hard techno under Energun 22 moniker) regularly put out effective techno tracks that attract our attention. The consistent work they’ve been doing will surely result in wider recognition.
Make your way over to the Technosoul Takeover session page to find out more information HERE
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