Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: David Chan
How is your personality a trauma and how is it a blessing?
I have generalised anxiety disorder and I’m narcoleptic so it makes me behave manically sometimes. I enjoy being unmedicated because I retain a sense of personality and childlike curiosity vs when I’m operating on a normal sleep schedule. Being nocturnal is a blessing in my opinion.
Was there an exact moment when you’ve realized that you want to pursue music?
Hearing Daft Punk on the radio in 1999. I wanted to do whatever was related to that. I heard Homework on the radio on a late-night station in Boston & I immediately turned the volume up and just loved whatever was coming out of my small bedside radio. I’ve been following that path since.
Would you say that you are confident in your vision as an artist? What role does self-doubt play when it comes to your work
I am a Leo, which means I am a very brave and confident lion on the outside and an obnoxious kitten on the inside. This applies to art. I think
Andy Warhol said something about making art and the moment you put it out, start working on something else so that you don’t even have time to pay attention to what people are saying about the work you just put out.
Completely avoid the conversation about your past work because you’re already onto the next thing. I think that’s a good way to bypass self-doubt. We all have it. I choose to respectfully avoid it.
What does music mean to you?
Music is passion and decadence and large scale conceptual sculptures that zoom around in the air into our skulls. It’s fun and means a lot to me. If I didn’t have music, I’d just go back to being a Pharmacist or an alcoholic.
Would you say that creativity is something that can be learned?
Humans can learn so much from whatever you give them. What we call creativity is innately a human concept. I doubt I can teach anyone to be creative, but it would be possible to unlock it for others with the right conditions.
Could you give an example that you’ve witnessed of the strongest influence music had on someone or yourself?
Music got me to disobey my parents, sneak out of the house to go to raves, have sex and skip school. It the best influence I’ve ever had in my life. There are no more specifics I could give on this topic without divulging too much of my personal history than I’m comfortable with for any one publication.
What’s your personal take on digital media? Why does it at times faces resistance and is being faulted instead of being celebrated?
Social media has no true morality. It’s just a way of communication. It’s not something to be celebrated, just used appropriately, like a tool. A tool can be used for good or bad purposes.
Сonservative people love to hate what they don’t understand.
You don’t celebrate newspapers or text messages.
What disappoints you the most in your field of work? Would you like to change anything about the music industry?
My work is entirely dependent on travel and the precarity of people’s desires for my personhood rather than viewing my music as an art object with high value. Now that we are in the middle of a global crisis, things may begin to change. To elaborate, I resent having to be flown around the world to perform music that I’ve already recorded for such a low price. I’d rather just stay home and have my work bought at the price I believe it is worth like one would for a painting.
People demand physical objects and aren’t interested in investing in conceptual practices like music-making.
I believe I would change that.
Do you think the mind works best under a certain amount of pain and suffering when it comes to being creative?
The idea that suffering equals great art is an old fashioned idea that needs to be retired. I think suffering forces people to be extremely creative problem solvers but sometimes the art can be just as trite. Art comes from experiences of all kinds.
Art is a reflection of the world around us through the lens of the artists.
What ultimate truth have you learned after all these years you’ve lived?
Tell your own stories. Control your own narrative. Do not wait for others for approval to move forward.
Did your reality ever exceed your fantasies?
At one time, yes. Now it feels sort of apocalyptic? My fantasies keep changing though.
When do you feel truly alive?
What is the phenomenal quality that amazes you most about music?
Cultural Geography impacts how you perceive music. For example, techno sounds differ in a country that doesn’t need it versus a place that does. I went to Puerto Rico recently and was asked if I would ever DJ there and I said, “Probably not”. Puerto Rico is a beautiful place where dance music like salsa, reggaeton, bomba, y plena are weaved into the fabric of society. Techno doesn’t sound energizing there because it’s unnecessary. Such music of those frequencies in a club feels frivolous when dance music is everywhere already: in the streets, in people’s houses, in the restaurants, in the soul of the people. If they want “techno”, they’d go somewhere bourgeoisie and designed by the global north for entertainment, like the nightclubs in the hotels of the Condado. It is not the pilgrimage that Berghain in Berlin is or Bassiani is in Tbilisi. Those places need techno for people to express release and catharsis. Those cultures demand it.
What was the most challenging part of working on your new Underneath EP that you’ve worked on alongside Elle Dee? What is the philosophy behind it?
It was remarkably easy to work with Elle. She’s already an accomplished musician so working with her was uncomplicated. For our record, we wanted tracks that could be self-contained, longer, and told a story. It is a dance record and a music object and a piece of literature. The names of the tracks on the record, when read in order, make a poem.
What is one rule that you always try to follow?
“Eat the rich” is the rule I follow. It’s a good rule to follow because it leaves you somewhere in between communist, anarchist, syndicalist, and libertarian socialist. I like the idea that your political affiliations can be vague and nondescript but sound like they are really aggressive. It makes me a tough guy when I’m actually quite gentle.
What’s coming up for you?
I’m currently in the United States quarantined, awaiting the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. I hope to return to my home in Berlin soon. I have no idea what’s gonna happen or if my career will resemble anything it did prior to COVID-19. I have no clue.
What are your thoughts and concerns in regard to the current pandemic reality that we all live in now? What changes do you expect or would like to see in the world?
This is a complicated question. I don’t have a good answer for it. I’m currently sitting in my old bedroom in the United States worried about the health of my elderly parents and the precarity of the US healthcare system that will leave them to die without care should they become infected. I would like to see Bernie Sanders elected to the presidency and for many of the politicians who currently have the power to be violently removed for their crimes against humanity. I expect reparations for Black Americans and a national healthcare system and a return of land to indigenous Americans and Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and other vile human beings to stand trial in the Hague. I expect justice. Then maybe I DJ a party later.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
“Are you gay?” is a question I like to be asked. I learned that from my friend Katya Zamolochikova. I always like to know if a man is gay. A good question to ask. Very appropriate at all times and occasions. It makes conversation easier and more catered to the individual asking the question.