Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Marcus Glahn
What’s it like to be you?
In simple words: a perfectionist, weird and with an odd chaotic mind.
In your opinion, what is the appeal of nightlife?
I personally consider it to be very important to create spaces for escape, to seek environments of joy where I can just be without any restrictions, stress or struggle of any kind. The nightlife plays a major role when it comes to creating these environments. It allows us to step into another dimension in which we feel safe and not judged for whatever it is that we love to do. Having these ideas and possibilities connected to music is something that I consider to be a privilege.
What was the turning point you realized that you wanted to pursue music? How did your journey start?
There wasn’t really one significant event that has made me want to pursue music. I would say that it was rather a process that slowly began when my old friends and I used to organize little DIY raves. We used these opportunities to spin some of our own records that we had recently bought back then. We always had to drive to the bigger cities close by in order to get them, since there weren’t too many options in the countryside. So it all started with us simply wanting to have fun until that fun suddenly got a more and more professional touch to it. The moment I realized that people were starting to book me more often around our area, I realized that this could be something I would want to pursue with more engagement – let’s call it the turning point.
Do you think that an emphasis on the artist’s persona is an integral part of the work or should the work always be seen separately?
That’s an interesting question. We are living in times, where the „artist’s persona“ does not only seem to reflect an integral part of their work but often almost even plays a major role. To understand the music industry, I feel like it has always been a fine line between simply being acknowledged for your music, skills or art performance and the image that you somehow represent. It seems like that there will always be a big part of people that are looking for something or someone to identify with (the artist’s persona) and there will always be the part that simply sees the value in your artistic output and connects to you based on that. Generally, I think that both are somehow connected and can be equally important as long as one is not distorting the other.
I’d like to believe that the art comes first and the persona second.
My music is weird, experimental and a reflection of my own little chaotic mind, so it takes a moment to dive inside and a genuine interest for my musical perspectives. Everything that is happening online is simply a tool in order to communicate with a crowd that has hopefully taken the time to connect to my persona through my music.
What is the most unusual thing you have to deal with while running your label Voitax?
First of all, I would like to make clear that I am not running the label all on my own but with my partners Christoph, Martin, and Marcus. This also includes the support of our friends and a big circle of musicians that continually share their ideas with us. Something unusual would be the fact, that we are running this label while having all our 09-05 obligations outside of the music industry, that keep us very busy with the reality of everyday life. So we’re either working in quite challenging positions inside the social sector, as professional photographers and one of us is still finishing his university degree. So „The Unusual“ would be the contrast of our everyday lives to weekly label meetings, arrangements, daily studio sessions that all can make this project very challenging sometimes. Nevertheless, we are all doing it with love and passion.
How different was your life one year ago and what were some of the highlights?
I finally managed to set up my new studio space that allowed me to get back into my own creative process. I’ve had a load of ideas that needed to be translated into my new projects. Apart from this, I’ve played the main floor at Berghain twice last year, which was a very nice experience. I also enjoyed plenty of new shows around the globe, such as in the US and South America – all things I am certainly very grateful for.
What absurd and useless piece of information can you share with us?
I always wanted to become a pilot and could spend hours watching airplane documentaries.
What is the best gig you’ve ever attended as part of an audience and why? Could you describe it?
I would definitely say that the raves I used to play in the East of Germany, in some of the old soviet airplane yards, had a very strong effect on me. This might make me sound like a grandpa but back then they used to hand out those typical cheesy flyers that got me so excited about the upcoming events. These parties also connected some respectable artists from abroad and I always felt very lucky to be part of it. The energy was crazy. Everyone was so driven by the music and was simply freaking out. Of course, these heated energies are still being created today but I have very fond memories of the excitement in there. None of us took the experience for granted.
What’s your take on digital media? What are the best and worst effects the digital has on music?
Generally, I think this topic used to be Pandora’s Box when the whole industry suddenly got digitized. I am a vinyl lover and I love to physically touch the music and the beats that I play as well as the sounds that I produce through my analog gear. Nevertheless, I personally don’t like to take sides in this since I am well aware that there are so many incredibly talented DJ’s and producers that simply have their very own approach to play and produce – no matter if it’s analogically or digitally. I just enjoy the lifestyle around buying a record and physically feeling the music. I love going to record shops, digging through the new arrivals over a good coffee and some potential conversations that might come along – it’s connecting something for me.
Could you share an awkward or bizarre story from your music career?
Let’s say NYE 2017 in Paris. I was having a rest with one of my label partners – Christoph, before heading to the party. When we arrived, the whole club seemed to be burning already and completely overloaded. The construction of the DJ booth somehow allowed about 100-150 people to dance in there/right behind me, which made the situation around me quite hectic – if not say, a little out of control. I remember asking the night manager to make some space around the booth for me so that I can play without any disturbance and jumping needles. His answer was: „I am very sorry, but I have lost control over the party“. I started playing but parts of the crowd behind me seemed to be extremely wasted.
I had guys biting my shoulders, throwing my records covers into the crowd and so everyone was going absolutely nuts.
I thought it was somehow quite funny and I definitely enjoyed the heated energy in there but of course, I had moments where all of this felt a little scary.
What emerging artists would you suggest to look out for?
Cressida, Cyan 85, Jana Woodstock, NGLY, D.Dan, Le Sujet, Artik / VCO, Brenecki, DJ Spit, Rory St John, Veronica Maximova, Invia, Trainee, Walton, Debbie Cha, Emre Zaim Dermitas, Masha Motiv.
What disappoints you the most in your field of activity? Is there something you would like to change about the industry?
Well, sometimes it feels like the joy and appreciation of a long-lasting creative process doesn’t seem to be something that is all too appealing these days anymore. The world is going faster and you need to be quick to leave your footprint behind. As I’ve said before, I consider social media to be a valuable tool that can help you to connect your work to a lot of people in a blink of an eye. Nevertheless, it can have a very distorting effect on each one of us. It creates pressure, comparison and it somehow detaches the artist from their actual work. I feel like it is nothing that can be changed and the world itself is too complex by now in order for us to intervene in these structures. So everyone somehow needs to find their own path to make sure not to step into the trap of alienation. Also, as an artist in this industry, I find it important to keep in mind how privileged we are. I am being invited to play around the globe and we get a taste of so many interesting cultures and people out there. This is more than I could have ever asked for and so I find it very important to reflect on that and be grateful for what I have. I guess it’s very human to always want more and more – something that also reflects this industry. I am glad that that reality of my professional life outside the music industry keeps me in balance with that irrational hunger.
What truth have you learned after all these years you’ve lived?
Value your friends and family because those are the souls that will always give you love and inspiration in all aspects of life.
What’s coming up for you?
I’ll be releasing my first Mini-LP with our dear friends from Midnight Shift. For this, I also teamed up for two collaboration tracks with some very good friends of mine. Both of them have always inspired me a lot and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them. It’s been a little while since my last EP and so I am very much looking forward to presenting this project soon. This week I will also be heading to China, Taiwan, and South Korea for a little tour and I am very excited to be back in the Far East. Apart from this, I am also thrilled about our current Voitax x Midnight Shif