Nyzhneyurkovskaya Str. 31
Firstly, could you tell us a bit about who you are, what’s your story?
Fabien: My name is Fabien, I’m from France, from the suburb of Paris. I lived in Berlin for two years before coming to Kiev. I came to the city as a tourist and I really liked it so I decided to live here. I think it’s an amazing city and a lot of great things are happening. It’s been one year and a half since I moved here. I enjoy it very much.
Anton: I’m Anton and I come from a city in France called La Rochelle in the south, a beautiful place, you should visit. I came to Ukraine for the first time in 2014 because I was hitchhiking in Europe and I was going from France to Bulgaria and I passed through Ukraine. My girlfriend and I fell in love with the country and we always tried to come back after. So I’m here for four years now. It’s like a presentation right now haha. I love electronic music! Also cats and water.
Fabien: You love cheese, man.
Anton: I love cheese. It’s very important.
And how did the two of you meet?
Anton: We met here through facebook. It’s funny because I’m really not active on social media in general but Fabien sent a message on some expat group and he really looked and had the same name as one guy I met from my hometown in France. I thought it was him, but it wasn’t. When I checked Fabien’s profile on facebook I saw that he was really into techno as well, and I thought to myself, ‘finally an interesting french person’, because a lot of people from the french community, and in general in western europe, came to Ukraine for really bad reasons.
Fabien: I know in the beginning we spoke about finding a place; I was looking for a studio even before coming to live here – those were one of the first conversations we’ve had.
How did the MetaCulture idea come to mind? How did it all start?
Anton: At first, we started a project called “Ф р а к ц и я” that was near the Bessarabsky Market.
Fabien: I was still searching for a studio to rehearse my music and my girlfriend Sonia found an amazing place with an entrance on Khreschatyk and another on Tarasa Shevchenko, and it was way too big for a person studio, I think it was 45-50sqm, so I was hesitating to take it. When we visited with Anton we were thinking that maybe we could use it as a personal studio, but also as a place where we could organize public events sometimes. We took it at the start of January 2018 and it lasted for around 7-8 months. We had movie screenings, parties, our friend and photographer Svetlana Levchenko organized photo meetings and Sonia organized feminist meetings and an exhibition.
Anton: I wanted to do something that I always liked, which is close to activism in general. I wanted to continue with something that I could live with and continue to move in this direction. That’s why we’ve decided to continue with MetaCulture. We found a place that fits us and I was searching for it for 8 months: almost every day hitting on every door. It was frustrating.
Fabien: You were almost crying in the end haha. And two months before finding this place you were considering stopping the search.
Anton: We found a few places, but it’s hard, especially in the neighbourhood of Podil or the city center. Maybe in 2-3 years it will be easier, but at the moment people are totally not open to cultural projects in general; when you come to someone and mention that you want to do something related to culture, they just tell you to get the hell out.
Fabien: Some people just didn’t want to rent them, even empty places that no one had used in years. Usually they wouldn’t give us the contacts of the owners.
Is MetaCulture going to be a part of the upcoming Strichka Festival?
Anton: The place will be a part of Strichka Festival, we will surely be there, but we won’t participate as MetaCulture at all – it’s all Closer. We’re in a good relationship with everybody in the building.
What’s good about being young in Kiev?
Anton: With money or not?
Let’s go with in the middle.
Anton: I think Kiev is in an era of interesting occurrences: a lot of things happen, both good and bad. We don’t have a perception of a young ukrainian because we come from a country of higher wages, so I can’t say that it’s the best city in the world to live in, it’s simply not true. But for a lot of cultural reasons it’s a good city to be in. For a lot of other reasons it’s not the best place. It depends who you are and what jobs you’ll get.
Fabien: I think it’s an exciting time: we meet a lot of great people that create nice projects, a lot of things are starting, yet at the same time a lot of our friends are struggling with money, jobs. Exciting, but not so easy.
Anton: All eras that have, let’s say, a lot of energy and a lot of excitement also have a lot of the opposite. I hope the economic situation gets better. I remember someone was working in a cafe to have money to go to raves and her boss gave half of her salary in amphetamines. Can’t exactly say everything is right.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
Fabien: For me it was my first party in Tresor. I wasn’t that knowledgeable about techno at that time and it was a revelation that night.
Who played that night?
Fabien: There was Reeko and Sleeparchive in the basement, and Mike Dehnert in Globus. The lineup was super cool actually. But at that time, I had no idea who they were and I only checked one year later. I really fell in love with the place. It’s one of the big inspirations of what we want to do, party-wise.
What about the time you played in Tresor?
Fabien: It was very stressful actually. For me, it was a big thing happening – to play in the place I basically discovered techno. It was an achievement, but at the same time nerve wrecking. It was also the first time I went back to Berlin in a very long time after living there, so there were a lot of things happening. I’m not completely satisfied with the set I’ve played there. I know that now I would play differently, more violently and with more freedom. It is a good memory though, the sound is good and you really feel in control of what’s happening, which is something that didn’t happen a lot when I played in other venues. In Tresor the equipment is the way it should be, you have everything you ask for, there are no issues and the sound is great inside the DJ booth.
What about your best party Anton?
Anton: I think mine was the closing night of Plivka. I loved Plivka, it was a really great place. The last party was all about the ambience, a lot of people came, it was a crazy party. It’s a sentimental answer because I really did love that place.
Tell us about VEIX. What do you expect from the upcoming parties and what trajectory are you going to take?
Fabien: I’ve created VEIX when we started thinking about the parties, because we felt that maybe we need to separate the cultural aspect of MetaCulture and the techno part of the project. I’m really inspired by collectives that have a strong identity. I also have ideas create a label in the future, or a podcast channel. This is why it didn’t exactly fit with MetaCulture and the name itself. The direction is all about us working together for an indefinite time. We are also in favour of pretty hard techno for our future parties. For us, it’s really important to consider the whole atmosphere of the night from beginning to end: tension, building up the energy, closing sets…
Anton: I guess the best way for people to check our parties is to come and see for themselves.
Will you also work with other promo groups?
Anton: We will be very cautious about it and I think it will be rare.
Fabien: It might happen, but for now we’re just going to focus on our own events.
Anton: We want one particular style and that people don’t even have to check the line up of every party that takes place in MetaCulture – they will simply know what to expect sound-wise.
What about the art aspect of the gallery?
Anton: The gallery and everything that will happen in MetaCulture is going to generally focus on socio-active topics. In terms of art, we will focus on contemporary work, but there could be a lot of other things as well. To me, quality is the most important thing. It’s stupid to say, because everyone says that nowadays. If you ask my personal opinion of what I want to see – quality first. My heart will bend towards matters that have social aspects, towards provocative pieces of work, or pieces that provoke emotions. There will be a lot of exhibitions for sure. In terms of social activities there will be two upcoming events: a free legal consultation with a lawyer, and also MMA training for women.
Why just women?
Anton: I had a conversation with a woman who had an experience of being attacked and she said that she just froze. She started boxing afterwards and she discussed how important it is to be informed about that sort of thing. I think that a violent confrontation is something that could happen to anyone and it’s good to be prepared to defend yourself.
That’s a great initiative. What about the library located in MetaCulture?
Anton: It’s our collaboration with Bibliotheca, a group that was in Plivka before. They have a great collection of books.
Fabien: I’m super happy about it because I find it really hard to find good photography books in Kiev, which is a bit frustrating for me; I used to go to a lot of photo book stores before, in Paris, Berlin, or Brussels etc., and it’s pretty much the first thing I look for when I visit a new city. Kiev was really difficult in that aspect. We discovered Bibliotheca some time ago and I truly think that they have an amazing collection.
Who are the people behind MetaCutlure?
Anton: There is a core of Fabien, Rina Diakova (art curator), Ilya Novikov (chief executive), Victoria (accountant) and myself. There will be more people involved in the future but at the moment we want to be effective and concrete.
And do you have any specific goals in mind with MetaCulture?
Anton: I think to be able to live and continue work in this direction, for me at least. I really hope that the economic model will work. It sounds stupid but it’s important, because we will make all the art and social events with the money that we earn. We are not sure about grants, so we do hope that it will work well and that we will have the chance to do all the great things that we have in mind. That’s my goal – to do as much as we can and as much as we hope.
Fabien: To create good events and a great meeting place for people, to do something meaningful and fulfilling. This project is a dream actually, it’s things that we love doing. It was a goal by itself already, so I hope we succeed doing it.
What’s the wisest thing you’ve heard?
Anton: I am not wise at all. Every time I want to do something I just do it, which is a problem sometimes. That’s how I moved to Kiev. I’m empty of ‘wiseness’ and I hope I continue this way, because it’s great to do what you want and say ‘fuck it’.
Fabien: I guess if we would listen to the wise things people tell us we would never start this project haha.
If you could switch genders for 24 hours, what would you definitely do with that time?
Fabien: Have sex haha.
Anton: I wouldn’t change anything, I would do this interview in the same bar and say the same things pretty much.
But with longer hair?
Anton: Not even that, I would keep it exactly this way.
If you had to choose between sex and music, what would you choose?
Fabien: There is no answer to that. I would kill myself. I thought about this question in the past and there is no answer.
Anton: I think maybe in the beginning I would say sex, but I guess when I would reach 60 years of age I would prefer it to be music. Music lasts longer.
Fabien: What if you go deaf from all the parties?
Anton: Well actually, a big part of the population is not even into sex so maybe music is the better answer.
And some final words about the upcoming opening of MetaCulture?
Fabien: Come to the opening to see what it is all about.
Anton: And play safe, it’s important.
Interview: Elena Savlokhova