PODCASTS ARE LIKE LIFE. IT'S ALL ABOUT EMOTIONS. TODAY YOU CAN HAVE A POSITIVE MOOD, TOMORROW – SOMETHING DIFFERENT: AN INTERVIEW WITH DENIS KORABLEV
Kir & Val (CultKitchen), 29.11.2020
Kir: Tell us, what kind of music did you listen to in your youth and how did you get to know the electronic music?
Denis: That's a great question! I can talk about it for hours as the story of my musical journey is very long. It started when I was very young. At first, there were some tracks that my parents were listening to. I was not very interested in it. Then, in the mid 90s, if I'm not mistaken, grunge movement began in the area where I lived. Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, In Utero album – I was a real fan.
I was born and raised in Kamchatka. There was no Internet at the time. I got all the music from guys who were interested in this or that style. I, myself, was somewhere in the middle between grunge and metal at the time.
Val: I have Nirvana's Nevermind album on CD! This is the first CD that we bought with my brother. The first CD of all I have – from year 1991.
Denis: Cool! I remember even playing guitar at that time.
Kir: So, what happened next?
Denis: This hype passed and I got interested in rap music. Onyx, Public Enemy. Their first merch appeared, and we went to the market in Kamchatka. There was a kid who was selling this merch, as well as music CDs.
Then it happened that I went to the USA thanks to the students exchange program. These were the years 1997-1998. That's when my acquaintance with electronic music began. Do you remember this movie – Hackers? One of the first roles of Angelina Jolie. You can literally take its soundtrack and cut it into several classical tracks of electronic music. That's when I learned for myself who Orbital and Crystal Method are.
I remember in the USA I came to a shop. At that time there were no Mp3 or anything completely digital. There were only CDs, vinyl records and audio cassettes. I bought the Vegas album by Crystal Method and listened to it like everywhere and 24/7. It gives me goosebumps when I recall these emotions. I used to spend time there quite lonely, didn't really like the American culture. I had Crystal Method in my headphones all the time and used to walk around listening to it.
Prodigy was there too, but more to my taste was stuff like Underworld – Cowgirl, King of Snake as the main tracks in my player and the main memories from the late 90s, early 2000s.
Kirill: Val introduced me to Underworld at some point, and they came to Moscow shortly afterwards. Their first concert – 4 hours live non-stop. It was something out of this world.
Denis: Yes, this is really amazing! I first listen to them at the Alfa Future People festival six years ago. I played there, and I remember when I saw Underworld in the line up. I went crazy and realized that I will definitely go. The sound quality is truly outstanding.
After the USA, somewhere in 2002, I went to England. It was there that I got acquainted with the club life. At that time, I listened to progressive trance and artists like Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk, Markus Shulz, Above & Beyond... I guess younger generation doesn't even know them. Now it is already more like a classical pop trance. Oh yes, and drum-n-bass, of course! These illegal parties in huge hangars, with 160+ bpm and Afro-American guys doing their MC stuff in the microphones. This was a completely different stage of my musical journey. That's when I learned what club life really is. I also went to the Fabric club on Goldie. He held drum-n-bass parties there. Back then I did not even know who Ricardo Villalobos is and all that minimal was not yet so popular.
Kirill: It's funny after so many years that we know each other, I understand that our musical journey is very similar. I also remember those raves in the hangars when you come home, take off your sneakers, and your feet are steaming.
Denis: Yes, there were no thought of 24-hour parties because we had no physical strength left after such events. Drum-n-bass kind of dancing would take them away completely. You just wanted to come home, fall into your bed and just die.
I always listened to music and I even tried to become a DJ when I was a kid, used to play audio cassettes at school parties. I even tried to play Nirvana tracks there, but teachers were outraged – "Let's have something to dance, something Russian..." Still, I broke through after all. I returned to Moscow in 2005 and began my acquaintance with house music. At some point I decided that I need to start working with music more professionally.
Val: Now, I'll move on to the second question. When you started doing all this and some time passed... Did you ever regret starting your professional music career? Many agree that it's a completely different experience – when you just listen to music, and when you listen to it after you started playing it yourself. Have you ever been sorry that you started counting 4x4 in Arma17 instead of just giving yourself up to the party?
Denis: You know, guys, I really was sorry for that a few times, but for other reasons. It's not that I wanted to party like hell. Somehow, I've already got much of it. Now I also don't hang out much at parties. Of course, I can go out partying but not so often. That's probably why I came to DJing at the first place. I realized that I've had enough of this madness. I wanted to do it more professionally. The doubts came five or seven years later. I saw some progress, but I did not understand where it was going. I felt like I was giving too much time and health to it. My projects that are directly related to my earnings began to limp. Some business projects had to be shut down. I understood that it was because of the music. It's not that it was bad or good. It was my choice. Finding balance was hard. That's what the doubts were all about. But thank God, I found that balance and I still following it today. I can do music, maybe in some other formats, seeing it differently, more professionally now. I started to listen to many different styles and returned to some long forgotten ones.
Val: How is jazz going on with you? I feel responsible for it.
Denis: Ha-ha! Yes, if you don't know there are these guys called CultKitchen. They gave me a Miles Davis record - Kind of Blue about 7 years ago. I was shocked! I never had such music on vinyl, never listened to it. When I got this one, I listened to it almost every morning during breakfast. I could feel all that texture of minimalism in jazz. As it turned out, there is something similar to minimal house that surrounded me at the time. Thanks to you, I started collecting jazz, I started buying records, and now it's all transformed into something deeper.
I started to like experimental jazz. Nick Barach – a Swedish musician. He has the roots of jazz and electronics stunningly intertwined in his works. Incredible music. Eivind Aarset, Avishai Cohen – modern artists who have transformed classical jazz style. I have bought a lot of it on vinyl over the last six years, including classics. Weather Report, Modern Jazz Quartet, and, of course, I bought many records of Miles Davis after that gift.
The collection increased. This became my hobby. I am not a jazz performer, but there were a couple of DJ experiments. I realized that I had a big collection, so the conversations started – let's meet, play poker, have some wine, play jazz. It was actually great, a kind of different atmosphere. Everyone liked it. When the situation with the pandemic ends, we can do it again. I like where it has led me and still does. Thank you, guys!
Kir: Speaking of the pandemic, how has the year 2020 affected what you are doing in general? In all areas of life.
Denis: There's more positive than negative. Of course, I really miss performances outside of Russia, as well as travels in general. This year I have to stay home. But that doesn't mean that I can't do music – on the contrary, there is room for improvement. I've been immersed in production, now finishing several remixes, and I've done ten tracks in the last three or four months. I don't release them anywhere, but I'm making progress for myself. Plus I go deeper into the search for music, on Discogs in particular. I have already found 50-70 records this year. It's always a pleasure to get a parcel of music and discover new artists.
If you're an artist, a DJ, a producer, then these moments when you stay with yourself have to push you towards improvement. Many people say that they don't have time to write tracks. In fact, everyone has a huge amount of time now. When they tell me that they don't have time, that they can't do anything, I guess they just don't want to. To sum it all up, for me, there are only positive things happening.
Val: Moving on to what you have recorded for us. What is this story about? Is it about something at all? Artists answer this question in different ways. Some tell a story, some just create something beautiful. Some want to tell something to the listeners, some don't. What about you?
Denis: Let's start with the fact that I didn't prepare any story at all. I had a set of records, tracks that I wanted to include in this podcast. I knew each of those tracks, got to my DJ booth and played the way I felt, in no rush. Recorded it in one go, not planning anything. I think that some story came out in the end.
In recent years, I've had enough of that monotonous long-hour sets. Here, there are ups and downs. Podcasts are like life. It's all about emotions. Today you can have a positive mood, tomorrow – somehow different. These are the waves that I tried to build the podcast with. Maximum emotions, without concentrating on one particular mood. Of course, this story consists of tracks that I like, that are close to my heart, that I have chosen and which I know.
Kir: There is a story I think, and everyone can hear something different. It turned out to be very interesting. The last question remains. We have been asking it since the very beginning of our show.
Val: And we will ask it as long as we are alive.
Kir: Yes! Tell us – which place on Earth you would recommend as the best for listening to this music.
Denis: Well, probably, the first thoughts that arise with this kind of mixes are related to the places where I most enjoyed listening to such music, and it was in nature. Absolutely. With loved ones, in a small company. Maybe even alone, somewhere in the woods or in the jungle. When you walk, don't think about anything fussy, when you are in maximum harmony with yourself and nature, you look around and think about some deep things. Totally not at home. It can be interesting in a club too. It all depends on the circumstances and the atmosphere.
Kir: Yes, that's exactly what this whole idea is about.
Val: The idea is actually simple. We invite artists that we like, ask them to play music we like. Then they tell us where to listen to it. That's it – we have a playlist.
Denis: Great job, guys! Thank you very much. I am really grateful that you invited me. Because it was an interesting experience. Recently, I've become more and more immersed in experimental areas of music. Your show is a great opportunity to splash it all out, keep it up!