Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Ljubov Dzuzhynska
Kyiv-based agency for electronic artists.
12th October, Kiev -> Celestial w/ Rebekah, Under Black Helmet
How was Celestial born and what is the ideology behind it?
Maks: To put it roughly, there is a certain group of people that can do way more than just occasionally play in local venues. They simply couldn’t do more because they didn’t have the time or the opportunity. I don’t even really know why. Everyone has contacts but no one uses them. After we’ve done our first party, which wasn’t that great, but it was cool in its own way, we thought why not try and aim for more. For example, international artists can easily travel and perform wherever, it’s not that hard to book someone. But for those who live in Ukraine – it was a bit beyond reach. At least on the surface. If our DJ gets a gig in Barcelona, for instance, then it instantaneously becomes a reason for hype. But it’s all rather easy. Either way, that’s how it all started. We wanted to send our DJs into other countries, to travel with them, to create our own events and share them with like-minded people. That’s one of the main ideas behind Celestial. Our friends photographer Tanya Timal and Misha Karaman also help out with the project.
Tell us a bit about the artists on your roaster.
Maks: We knew Ilya Midnyte, so we talked to him first. We wanted to gather artists who were not famous, those who were in the shadows so to speak, although they are famous in certain circles and a lot of people go to parties where they play. One of our DJs is Recid, he contacted us during our last party and said that he’d like to play at one of our events, and he also had a release on ARTS (like I Hate Models, who we booked last year). I didn’t know about him and I was quite unfamiliar with the whole scene, but that’s how we’ve met and afterwards we asked if he’d like to be a part of Celestial. With Nastya Muravyova there is a whole other story of how we came together. We didn’t communicate much before Celestial. Also, I’d like to point out that some may think that we are the reason why Nastya started touring oversees a lot, but it’s all her and her achievements. We’re just there to make things easier for her. Then there’s Tecture from Berlin, we partied with him. At first we thought he’s from Detroit, because all his social channels stated Detroit, but turns out he’s never even been there, yet we already put Detroit in the press release. We visited him a lot and he visited us, the recent being our event in Odessa. It’s more of a community, rather than a business. As Kostya likes to say,
‘I’m getting old to attend parties, so we throw our own to see each other more often.’
How did the two of you meet?
Maks: We were classmates. But we had a falling out when Kostya was married.
Kostya: I was going through a creative pause. Then we met on my divorce and had a great party. The divorce was better than the wedding.
What’s the best party you’ve been to?
Maks: I guess it was in 2017 when Stingray played in Closer.
Kostya: The best recipe for a good party is being spontaneous. We met a friend on Pozniaky and just decided to go without any prior planning.
What are the pros and cons in this field of activity?
Maks: I once worked as a stylist on M1 and during my first ever live interview I was asked why I chose this line of work. I was nervous and instead of saying that it inspires me, I said that it overly excites me. The pros – to be able to spend more time together and to travel. The cons – there is no money.
Kostya: But we keep finding new ways of cashing out credit card accounts.
Maks: There is another advantage. If there is someone who pressures you (in a good sense), gives you deadlines, asks you do get something done then you start taking more actions. Hard work pays off, even if takes a year or so. You gain experience that will one way or the other shall be useful in the end.
Tell us some funny or awkward stories from your time with Celestial.
Kostya: It must remain untold! I mixed up Reflec‘s time of arrival when he came for the party with I HATE MODELS. But I made it on time fortunately. Since then I try to book flights to Zhulyany instead of Boryspil, if that works with the artist’s rider. That way I only need 20 minutes to get there. Another story with Reflec was when we had to leave Plivka, and for him to get in the car I needed to pour out his Long Island that he had just gotten. He’s still mad at me for doing that. But whenever I have some extra money for a trip to the UK, I shall return this dept. We also had a funny backstage at Plivka. It was extremely dark and everyone got lost there.
Maks: There was a slight gap between the stage and the wall and it seemed that it was back to back really. Misha, Kostya, Tanya, and I all fell down that hole. No one broke anything, but it was intense.
Kostya: Also, whenever it’s time for Midnyte‘s set he simply disappears. He reappears last minute, but still. And all of our out of the city parties are one big confusion.
What lacks in Kiev?
Maks: Organization. We’ve encountered the fact that everyone is unreliable and not serious about things. We work in the digital sphere and there we have order and consistency. With parties it’s all nonexistent. You have to adjust and get used to it. There is a lack of decency. A lot of people in this business are acting very competitive and there is a lot of gossip behind backs. People simply don’t support each other in the local scene.
Kostya: It also lacks venues, otherwise it all evolves naturally. Survival of the fittest.
What are your future plans and do you have a final goal in mind?
Maks: There should be a point when a shisha rider request is going to be taken seriously. Our further plan is to organize a few parties in Europe, and not just Europe. We’d really like to send some of our DJs to the US, it would be quite an experience. We’d also want our DJs to have releases on some cool labels. And for people to stop asking for a guest list.
Kostya: To travel more, to see more cities, more countries. When you travel with DJs you meet the promoters and make helpful contacts. It’s my personal goal. Regarding Celestial – we’re not planning anything big this year, because the event with Rebekah requires a lot of energy and work. But for the coming year we already have a list of things that are a priority and some parties planned for Europe. But we are having a party in Otel’ this year – we want to make an intimate party with December as our guest. I think he could really open up in this particular venue.
What recent trend annoys you the most?
Maks: Сan this be anonymous ?! It’s annoying when some DJs from Ukraine that moved abroad come to play in Ukraine and state that they are from Germany or Poland.
Kostya: I’m also annoyed by the word ‘techno’. I don’t even know why. I’m in charge of working with the girl who does our texts and all of these texts that involve this word are annoying. It’s what also lack in Kiev – not enough new things and manifestations. But a ‘techno rave’ is what is familiar to people. It’s probably just my own prejudice.
Tell us about your upcoming party with Rebekah and Under Black Helmet. What are your expectations?
Kostya: A techno rave.
Maks: We’ll try to close all of the financial aspects before the party in order not to worry about it during the party itself. We hope that in the morning everyone will start playing B2B and it will be the coolest part of the party. Why Rebekah? We’ve spent last New Year in Belgium with Guillaume (I Hate Models), and she played at a party. We really liked how she played. We also bought her water. We haven’t listened to her before that.
Kostya: She’s been in the scene for so long that I’ve lost track of her activities. She’s been around for 20 years now. I don’t really like what she used to play at the start of her career but what she’s playing now is a recipe for a good party. I’ve known Under Black Helmet for a long while and it turned out that he’s in the agency of our friends and he was available for this date.
Maks: They messaged us in our chat that we need to ‘approve UBH conditions’. We didn’t get it at first and started googling it, thinking that it’s some sort of legal thing, but it turns out it was just an abbreviation for Under Black Helmet.
Kostya: In all honesty, I’m expecting all hell to break loose at this party.
Is there a dream artist you’d like to book for one of your events?
Kostya: Taylor Swift?
Maks: No one in particular. I like that Worn Pop are doing a Lebanon Hanover gig. I think everything is within reach. We were actually thinking of repeating last year’s September party – same date, same lineup, same place.
Kostya: I don’t dream of artists in general.
Maks: We wanted to book Amelie Lens because she’s cute. Just joking.
Kostya: And then we received an invoice that wasn’t exactly fit for us.
Who would you want to join your roster?
Kostya: Nina Kraviz. Also a joke. But there are so many local artists that I’d like to join Celestial, but I won’t name them.
If you had the chance to switch genders for 24 hours, what would you do with that time?
Maks: I’d work and make money.
Kostya: I would be doing the very same thing as I don’t see any difference that it makes. I think people create their own boundaries. It’s important to do what you feel like doing in the end.
Maks: What I definitely wouldn’t do is dance behind the DJ. There were two of Rebekah’s girlfriends dancing behind her when we saw her play and we didn’t see the point in that. Didn’t like it that much.
What would your venue be like?
Maks: Nothing striking. It would be a small place with a limited amount of people. But one key factor that must be present is a backstage. There should be a separate room for to chill and talk to each other. The dancefloor would probably be the same size as the backstage area.
Kostya: A lot of people in our city want to open a venue, but if it were that easy, we’d have plenty by now. I also get annoyed that whenever a big event is happening – there is always a long line. Everyone goes to one place because there is no alternative. I’ve also heard some wild rumor that some Germans are building a Berghain-like club in Kiev. I also have to recurring dreams in regard to a venue: one is a dancefloor with an incline. A symbolic reference to the Tower of Babel. Everything that is happening right now has happened with the Babel. Time is cyclical. I’ve never been to Atonal, but what I’ve gathered from stories and videos – the floor is separate from the DJ. And that’s my second dream – you enter a mist, you only see flashing lights and hear the music. That is it. Lately I’ve been looking closely to DJs who develop the concept of solitude on the dancefloor.
Could you elaborate?
Kostya: This whole techno scene is an abstract phenomenon. You can’t exactly call these repetitive sounds music (in a classic interpretation of music). These sounds and accompanying visuals create the circumstances for a person to look within oneself during a rave. On the other hand, it’s a very social gathering, where you can communicate with a lot of people. Maybe this juxtaposition in itself can enhance the feeling of loneliness.
Squad : Ilia Midnyte / Terawax / Tecture / 909Machine / Nastya Muravyova / Recid