Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Cover Photo: Kasia Zacharko
What is the appeal of the nightlife?
Damn we going straight into the difficult questions? Haha ok, well I guess we all need to tune out sometimes and the time I spend in clubs is when I’m the most present in the moment, like actually present with people and not lost in my own thoughts, and I get some temporary relief from worries and issues that exist in the outside world. I think this is true for lots of people and it’s really precious.
What excites you the most in what you do?
The adrenaline kick and release of DJing has got me so hooked! The cocktail of nerves, excitement and energy is quite something. It sweeps you away no matter how bad your day has been or how little sleep you’ve had. One of my favourite things about it is also that I don’t have to feel bad for spending money on records anymore, I now need them to do my job haha.
You’ve mentioned that before pursuing a career in music you were considering a path of academia, particularly that you were doing a PhD in extragalactic astrophysics. Could you please share a bit how you got into that field? Is it something that still interests you?
I was always intrigued by the night sky, where I grew up the light and air pollution was minimal and you could see lots of cool objects with just your naked eyes. As a child I’d be lying in the snow in -30°C to stare at the sky. Winter is the only time you can see the night sky there, as I’m from the north of Sweden where it doesn’t get dark in summer. Maths and physics also came easy to me, so it was a no-brainer really. It still really interests me for sure, and I read some astrophysics news from time to time, occasionally checking the preprint ArXiv for interesting new papers.
Is there a best gig you’ve performed? If there is, could you please describe it?
Best gig? My memory is getting really bad recently haha, I barely remember what I did last week. I had a crazy night in Cologne recently though, where the club was absolutely packed and I was invited to play for longer than I was supposed to, going into the high-140 BPM territory and tried out lots of recently purchased old schranz techno and abrasive acid that I hadn’t played in a club before. There was some problems with feedback from one turntable and we were trying to fix it with extra foam under that deck, changed the needle a couple of times, and my mixing was occasionally a bit sloppy, but the energy was there and I had a great time. I find that it’s often the non-perfect ones that are the best. When I let go of trying to pull off the smoothest blends I take more risks and that’s when it’s the most rewarding . I think it’s more interesting for the crowd too when the DJ is not playing it safe, even if they mess up a mix here and there as a result.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how minor drifting between the beats of two records actually improves people’s perception of your set. If you’re mixing absolutely flawlessly, the crowd often can’t tell when a transition is happening, and they miss out on the exhilaration of a successful blend. If you let a record go slightly out of sync and then correct it, you suddenly have people’s attention.
Things that are constantly on your mind.
Things that I urgently need to do but never get round to. When it comes to my personal life there’s a lot of talk and no action.
You say that you have an “all or nothing” attitude towards most things. Is moderation something that you seek or would you say that maneuvering on the edges is better?
I’m a big fan of the edges haha. Saying that, moderation is key sometimes, and I’m trying to learn some of that when it comes to partying, for example. At the moment I’m learning to drink less when I’m away playing, be more productive and get more sleep. It’s a balance. Edges are good though, I much prefer them to middle-of-the-road things. Occasionally I find tracks or items of clothing or whatever that at first almost repulse me, but after a second inspection I surprise myself by being intrigued, and then I get obsessed. I love it when that happens and those items or tracks stay with me after that.
How to get through times that suck?
I guess the answer is: barely. I have some unhealthy coping strategies haha. I’m working on that.
With starting your label ‘Intrepid Skin’ you’ve said that you grew in confidence and formed an attitude of “fuck any haters”. Do you think that people worry way too much of how they are held in the esteem of others, especially in the digital era?
We’re all guilty of this to some extent, but I think when we take other people’s opinions into consideration too much we get stuck in this echochamber where nothing is progressing, everyone is too concerned with what others think to dare do something different. We need mad individuals who don’t give a fuck to push the boundaries and drive change. People who worry too much about what others think just aren’t likely to do anything new.
How do you seek the best within yourself?
For me it’s a balance of constructively questioning myself, trying to look at what I’m doing with an objective set of eyes, and simply doing the opposite, letting go and not worrying about it at all. I have such high expectations of myself that it can be crippling, and constantly seeking to better myself is something I do obsessively. I should probably focus on relaxing this mindset to actually find the best within myself.
What’s coming up for you? Do you have a specific goal in mind that you’re aiming at?
Some announcements coming very soon! The second release on my label being one of them. I have lots of exciting things in the pipeline but I don’t want to rush them.
What’s mad is that I’m ticking off a lot of dream things this year already – De School, Unpolished, Concrete, Dekmantel, Dimensions, a few rounds at Säule in Berghain and also soon Bassiani. I’ll be going to India, Canada and South America soon too!
What question would you like to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
I’m undecided whether this is lazy journalism or a creative question lol, but one thing I would like to be asked in an interview is: “What are some producers that you are particularly excited about at the moment?”. And the answer would be: VTSS, Peryl, Danilo Incorvaia, Illnurse, Nene H., Rendered.
Twitter follow up:
“catching a flight after waking up less than an hour before departure was fucking great today”. Is that something that happens frequently?
Haha it’s happened a couple of times now, this was in Geneva after playing at Le Zoo and I had changed my flight back to Berlin to an early one. It was very important that I not miss that flight, because it was my last chance to pick up this very special little kitten I’d fallen in love with. Of course, that’s the one time I oversleep. I have this maths alarm, where I have to do some sums in my head like 13×12 + 5-9, and get five of them right before the alarm turns off, but I’ve got so good at it that I can do the maths and fall asleep again, so I still woke up in a panic later that morning. It had been a long weekend of sleep deprivation. Thanks to the airport being a 15 min drive from the city centre, and some quick legs and luck, I made it just seconds before check-in closed.
The second time was in Helsinki after a Herrensauna night at Kaiku. It was the weekend of ADE and I had again slept very little the days leading up to it, having stayed out all night at the Spielraum x Bassiani night at Radion there. That party was just too good to leave haha. Shouts to those guys <3
“currently getting (more) drunk at the airport – wot u guys up to”. What is your airport drink of choice?
It’s beer, always beer.
“it is acceptable to always be late if you have a kitten isn’t it”. What’s the weirdest or funniest thing about Mara?
She doesn’t meow, she squawks. It’s like a “MEH” sound that she does when she wants a cuddle but also when she doesn’t want to be touched, which makes it very confusing and you need to pay attention to her tail to find out which it is. She also thinks that my toilet time is her cuddle time, she’ll come squawking and collapse on the bath mat right in front of me, presenting her majestic belly for a little rub.
“practiced two important skills this weekend – DJing when you are stupid drunk & DJing when you are stupid tired”. So which is worse in the end?
DJing when stupid drunk might be marginally better, the mixing might be sloppier but the vibe is there, although I’ve pulled through with some vibe even when I’ve been stupid tired, so it’s hard to say. I think one often leads to the other so they’re not mutually exclusive.
“ahahahahhahahahahhaahahah sometimes I don’t realise how hard I play”. We cannot wait to see you not realise how hard you play in Kiev.
I’m looking forward to it too! Although this is such a subjective thing, and the way I play is usually hard for a while but not relentlessly so, I try to infuse dynamics into it. Some people would say that makes my sets softer than expected. Let’s see what you think?