Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Janine Billy
Don’t miss the last release on Rapid Eye Movement ‘Every End Is A New Beginning’ EP out on the 15th of November 2019
Tell us how you got involved with music and how did your journey start? Was there a specific moment when you realized you wanted to pursue this path?
Well, it may sound like a cliché, but music has always been a part of my life. As a young kid, I was always surrounded by vinyl, audio cassettes, and CDs that I had at home, starting from classic rock music to traditional Italian songwriters, but there was nothing electro or techno.
When I was in my teens I started to listen to grunge music. I relate to many songs from Melvins, Mudhoney and obviously Nirvana, the first punk and metal concerts with their own mosh pits and stage diving.
Later on, I have been captured by the sound of the Bauhaus and Alan Vega’s Suicide (“Wild in Blue”, of course, is one of my favorite tracks), then I made my first trip to Berlin that was a major turning point.
The approach to DJing came naturally, in fact, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of mixing different sounds and creating something new, something original.
My early DJ sets took place in some occupied community centers near where I used to live. Just to give you a picture of the geographical area, I played in community centers in the area between Bologna and Modena, in Emilia-Romagna. Those were the only places where someone could experiment and offer something different from the usual. I would say that precisely in those moments the spark has been triggered in me, the possibility of turning a passion into a real job. The feeling and energy from people kind of talked me into it.
What is your advice on how to survive in the nightlife?
Let’s say I would recommend to recognize and divide the multiple worlds of nightlife in their own categories and focus on attending those events that you enjoy more yourself and where you feel free as much as possible. You need to decide what to listen to and dance to while trying to avoid being swallowed up by crazes and trends. I think the commercial drift has taken possession of too many places and often everything doesn’t look very honest and credible. We are literally bombarded by so many events that unfortunately music often goes second if not in the third place when instead it should come first.
What excites you the most in what you do?
I love and I really enjoy the preparation of the set. In fact, I am an inveterate digger and I would call it almost kind of an obsession, there is no way out of it haha! I like to research and identify the right tracks, even if it comes from different genres, let’s say post-punk or new wave, then going to the studio to edit them and serve them in the evening. I often spend entire afternoons playing and recording and then listening to everything afresh to see if something can be inserted elsewhere. I like the idea of combining different genres, mixing a new sound with an old school one in order to create something different. I also love the idea of constantly traveling, visiting new countries and meeting people around the world. The part of the performance in the evening is the moment in which you forget all the sacrifices you’ve made. Every time it reminds you of the reason why you have decided to pursue this path. Once you start – there’s no stopping you.
Could you describe the world you are trying to create during your performances?
The attempt is to offer people the chance to totally forget the world standing outside the club. Unfortunately, too often, in my opinion, what happens in the real world is not nice nor pleasant. We are constantly under heavy fire with terrible news. The club can and should be the perfect opportunity in order to get away from it all. The challenge may seem cocky, but it is exactly what I was looking for when I went watching a certain performance that interested me. When the artist is able to take you somewhere else then the feeling is blissful.
I love a certain type of clubbing, where I feel a strong sense of belonging and sincerity to performances that are meaningful beyond commercial motivation. I like to combine different worlds that are mad, gloomy and thrilling. I like to variate between techno, EBM and industrial and love long sets because they create a real journey that brushes the various nuances between these worlds.
What disappoints you the most in your field of activity and would you like to change anything about the industry?
Part of the answer is already in my previous one, I really care about authenticity. Everything today is too spectacular within each sector of music and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find something genuine.
The industries are fast-evolving, fashion constantly evolves whereas the music industry remains sustainable. I can assure you I will continue to create content without too many compromises and it’s not in my nature or character to agree if I don’t like something. I’m convinced if you try to do something that doesn’t represent you it will emerge and everything you’ve worked for could fall apart. There is no social network marketing strategy to help you haha.
How would you describe the philosophy and aesthetic behind your label Rapid Eye Movement to someone who is not yet familiar with it?
This question comes at the right time. Rapid Eye Movement is on its last leg. The REM chapter was conceived for a duration of two years and 7 releases. I believe that every release had solid imprinting, ranging from ambient to deep techno, from techno to a certain type of trance/industrial.
The aim of Rapid Eye Movement was to become a springboard for new techno territories to look for experimental, ambient and cinematographic textures. Well, in some way I think this purpose has been reached. Things do not last forever and it’s also for the experience. I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging notes with the boys of “Memorial Home” and shortly, on November 15th the label’s latest EP will be released, specifically the seventh one: “VII Circle- Every End is a New Beginning”.
After the REM chapter, it’s time for a new beginning with my new label “Destroy to Rebuild” that will see the light in the first months of 2020.
Do you have a specific goal you want to reach?
No, I have absolutely no goals and I don’t like having them but I would like to arrange some things so that I could live less stressfully and obviously I hope that “Destroy to Rebuild” manages to take the form I have imagined for a long time. I have no particular expectations. Let’s say that I prefer to face things when they happen. In the meantime, I do not let go, on the contrary, I work hard while living a normal life.
What topics fascinate you outside of music right now?
I am very interested in contemporary ups and downs, I am attentive to the social sphere and what goes on around the world. I believe that politics should take into account the changes and needs of the people. I like art in general, from exhibitions of contemporary art to cinema and photography (especially black and white imagery). I love traveling and cycling for several kilometers and walking my dog out haha.
Moreover, I am fascinated by technology, even at the present time I have a strained relationship with this one, as I try to stay away from it. I mean, I have as many interests as other people have.
What’s your take on digital media? In your opinion, what are the negative and positive effects the digital has on music?
New media, like all things, has certainly had a positive and negative effect at the same time. Among the positives is the possibility of communicating with everyone around the world, being informed in real time, attending events in the comfort of your own home (when unable to attend). On the other hand, as time passes more and more negative aspects come to light. I believe although people are connected, the reality is everyone is becoming more and more lonely. I guess that contact with reality has been lost and isn’t the one you can see through a monitor. The fact that there are people who believe seeing someone live on a social network or on a tv is the same as in real life fills me with sadness. I often think when there was no digital media and we were forced to go out, grind kilometers and live an experience, it was special because we lived it in that precise moment and it was unique.
Now, for those who actually live glued to a monitor, everything looks definitely far away, aseptic, static and fake. Off-topic, I truly believe that digital media has had a very positive impact on the world of production by exchanging useful information and tricks live, was quite impossible in the past.
What absurd and useless piece of information can you share with us?
We are not alone in the universe haha.
What does it feel like to acknowledge having power over a crowd on the dancefloor and being able to set a certain vibe and narrative?
I guess it’s a matter of honesty. The possibility of meeting people who came specifically to that place to listen to what you have to offer and I consider that to be a privilege and a unique opportunity.
It’s a magnificent satisfaction that gives infinite energy when the public responds positively and that makes you forget every sacrifice you’ve made. I can assure you that I 100 percent live in the moment of a set without ever taking anything for granted. I feel it so much and have reached the end of the set without even realizing it more than once – it’s a very crazy feeling. It’s also a big responsibility, and the tension is always quite high. I always get pretty jumpy before every performance … You have to realise that you are there because the crowd is there. Every time my hope is to succeed in transmitting what I have inside me in the best way possible.
Give an example you have witnessed the strongest or most memorable influence music had on someone or yourself.
I can tell you about the constant effect that music has on me. It is something that changes my days and my mood, both in positive and in negative aspects. I’m telling you, as a teenager I used to listen and follow the concerts of groups like Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Deftones or Queens of the Stone Age (just to name a few) and the emotion that I felt was some kind of melancholic rage that I still can’t help to include in my sets.
However, in 2005 I attended the live concert of Slipknot in Bologna and I was struck by it, for those years they were really something new and unique, 9 (I think) components on stage, boasting with rage with a devastating wall of sound ready to make you explode at every restart. And when they played “Spit it Out” I thought I might never get out alive from that infernal mosh pit.
How different would you say your life was a year ago and what are some of the highlights?
Although my musical career has become a little more solid compared to twelve months ago, I have tried to keep the same enthusiastic approach when dealing with things that are happening around me. There are mixed moments, but the things that are taking shape are making me happy right now.
The debut last March at KHIDI in Tbilisi and the presence at SYNOID (Griessmuehle) in Berlin in July were certainly two very important highlights for my project. I cannot fail to mention the amazement I’ve felt while listening to the set of Paula Temple at Timewarp when I recognized ‘Eternal’. I’d say I fell off my chair haha.
I tend to not have too many expectations about the future as creating false expectations can be damaging …. better to be amazed every now and then in order to enjoy receiving good news each time more and more.
Things you can’t unthink (things that are constantly on your mind).
This is definitely the hardest question so far. There are many things I can’t stop thinking about and these are also the ones I can’t bring myself to talk about.
What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?
Which are your favorite non-techno tracks?