Watch the live stream of our Dekmantel broadcast here.
– The first artist to be announced for our three-day stage at Dekmantel Festival this year is Vakula, a long-time favourite selector of ours. His sound morphs and matures faster than it is often easy to keep up with, and it’s that constant state of progression that makes him a captivating figure – especially set against an uncommon backstory. Raised within what he calls the “cultural isolation” of pre-independence Ukraine, his restless strive for artistic evolution comes from a different place, and takes on a different form, than most others he rubs shoulders with in the contemporary electronic sphere.
Read on for the man’s own detailed explanation for how this has shaped his taste and worldview; and how it manifests in the reality of being a musician in 2015. –
When growing up in Ukraine, my only chance to get some interesting music was through people who had a possibility to go to Europe and the US. Otherwise there was no way to have a free public success towards any good stuff.
Moving to Moscow was my first introduction to a big community who had a lot of knowledge about music. This city has always been greatly developed in all aesthetic aspects and it was a completely different level compared to what I experienced when growing up. I believe that coming to know the underground scene in Moscow was a big luck for me. However, I also believe that it was meant to happen as I always felt there was so much more to explore and discover out there.
The biggest problem for Ukrainian musicians is that they are not supported by the government in their artistic development.
My first possibility to go to Europe was in 2008, when guys from the Meakusma Records invited me to play in Belgium. At the beginning I was shocked at how calm and confident people in the West seemed to be. The ambience was completely different. My fascination has faded over the years though, because I started realizing that if living abroad, I would be missing a sort of wild realness that is still to be sensed in our yet undiscovered East.
There was time when I was thinking about moving to some other country such as Portugal or Australia, but every time I come to a conclusion that people who leave their countries in search for a better place are simply not strong enough to build something in their land. It is much more challenging to make things happen in countries like Ukraine. Therefore I deeply respect people who do not escape abroad, and instead try to build their future in their native surrounding.
The biggest problem for Ukrainian musicians is that they are not supported by the government in their artistic development. They are mostly forced to earn their living by playing old stuff composed by someone in the past which does not give them any space for trials, errors, and creative progress. There are almost no festival and projects where young artists could exchange their visions and develop musically. Such situation offers them a very limited range of career possibilities.
I have tried to encourage musicians that I work with to think of some kind of project where we would collaborate equally and play live performances, for example. However, I have not got a proper feedback or proposal yet. Unfortunately, professional musicians here are too stuck in their surviving routing and do not understand the potential of the underground scene.
I am not insisting on going back to live instruments only – but I want people to be responsible and conscious of what they call music.
Recently, I myself have started playing some instruments, including drums. I understand that years of practice are needed in order to achieve speed and a desired quality of performance. Therefore I always treat experienced musicians with big respect as I realize that their skills are a product of much practice and hard work. These are years spent at home practicing instead of hanging out with friends in hoods and bars. That is why I feel sorry that not all of them can widen their horizons and go beyond per-hour-paid sessions.
I have always had an intense desire to make my music career happen. I invest a lot of effort and money in learning music production, collecting instruments, records, and searching for the sound that I want to achieve. My production also includes finding and working with studio musicians, studying arrangement and setting up my own studio with unique instruments and equipment of high quality. I think all these physical and mental investments have played a very important role in my today’s success. In my view, it is all a matter of persistent work and dedication. I also try to be attentive to energies that come my way as well people that surround me.
I have been getting really pissed off lately because of so many releases of bad quality coming out on vinyl. There are so many people who do not take responsibility for what they put out there, trying to make money by pressing a couple of keys on a drum machine. I am not saying that amazing music cannot be created with machines only. When I listen to Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, for example, I can feel the magic and soul of their music. Both house and techno can be musical and full of life. So I am not insisting on going back to live instruments only – but I want people to be responsible and conscious of what they call music.
There is so much cheap stuff being produced at the moment that I cannot help but get very angry. And I am not afraid to talk about this openly.
I have been asked quite frequently about the connections that I make between music, poetry, and literature. These creative fields are strongly interconnected, and these are not books but personalities that inspire me. I believe that Jim Morrison, William Blake and David Lindsay belong to one energetic chain that I am lucky to be a part of as well. Since childhood, I have been strongly attracted to the spiritual and the subnormal. I think that I joined the channel that all these artists belong to.
When I discovered Jim Morrison for myself (which has nothing to do with the ’50 best tracks of The Doors’ on YouTube), I felt like I discovered myself in another person. The strength that I received after getting to know Morrison keeps me going further.
I am annoyed by people who think they know something about Morrison, although in fact, the only things they keep saying is that he had a self-destructive lifestyle. I also had some journalist writing a feed about my new album dedicated to the frontman of ‘The Doors’, who presumably died of heroin overdose on the 3rd of July. If these are the only facts that someone can describe Morrison with then, I believe, they shouldn’t call themselves journalists, as this is a totally incompetent and unprofessional attitude.
I see Morrison as an absolutely underground persona, who was unselfish and real in everything he did. Obviously, he was the soul of The Doors. His poetic mind and dedication to creativity and not profit were outstanding. The roller coaster of extremes that he was constantly exposed to is astonishing. His talent, passions, charisma, and authenticity are immortal. The freedom of punk in a body of a sex symbol. Freedom of spirit and inability to get off the crazy roller coaster. These are the things that are mostly known to his fans and curious audience.
When discovering Morrison’s heritage and learning about his spiritual journeys, I could feel the extraordinary power of his mind that was stronger than an average mortal person can emit. This is what fascinates me the most and what I dedicate this album to. It was also important for me to have as much analogue input in the album as possible. Therefore, even the artwork was made manually, with no Photoshop involved.
I try to be attentive to energies that come my way as well people that surround me.
I have always been very demanding towards myself and notions such as a musician and a DJ. It took me a while before I was able to talk about myself using these words. This is why I expect a person who claims to be a producer or a dj to have high skills at technical and instrumental performance. Obviously, a mixer is also an instrument. That is why I cannot take seriously people who produce music with a drum machine and one pedal.
Music is about creating unique sound and not using somebody else’s technical achievements.
– Vakula plays Day 1 of our stage at Dekmantel Festival 2015. Full line-up announced Wed 10th June. Keep eyes peeled. –
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.