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Press / Interview with Stanislav Vdovin for Sound Proector webzine (2006)

Tell, how did you get in the world of music? What kind of music did you listen to? When did you start to record anything? Which were your first experiences in the world of music?

Love to music was inculcated in me by my father. All his life he was in either way connected with music and sound engineering. When I was a baby, he earned vast of money, playing in the north with his vocal-instrumental ensemble. He brought vinyls, reel-to-reel tapes with pop and jazz music. I remember, when I was in the first grade at school, I liked the record «Stars On 45», which I spinned to a thousand rpm by finger. A year later I entered music school in piano class, that I successfully finished, and later I dealt with jazz piano and drums for some time. In matter of electronic dance music, I was fond of it in my middle school by means of «Reactivate» compilations, which were presented by DJ Groove. Later, I began to listen regularly to various dance radio shows, record them on cassettes, then listen again and try to build all that I heard on Ensoniq digital synthesizer. Those were my first steps in composing.

Why did you take such a nickname Unit 21? We associate the nickname Unit 21 with such idm collective as Unit. Have you heard their album?

Nick came out banally: from searches through solid Muller's English-Russian dictionary. I searched something short and euphonic. At that time, in 2003, I did not know, that the server discogs.com existed, and there were countless units in the world, none of them I haven't heard, by the way. As for the index, at first it had some meaning, but now I consider it inessential.

What would you say about existing of own sound on records of musicians from Nizhny Novgorod? Does the sound of musicians from St. Petersburg fantastically differ from the sound of musicians from Moscow? Is there anything like that with musicians from Nizhny Novgorod?

Nizhny Novgorod is a common industrial province with appropriate situation in the sphere of electronic music. There are only a few musicians, who work directly with sound. Probably, their music is quieter, than in the capitals, because of life speed. But in fact, the city is quite big, and people are separated. It's not like in Izhevsk, for example. In terms of author's self-expression and avoiding of unification, it's even for good. But absence of the scene is a disappointing thing. Anton Cherkasov, our promo group and I try to get the things move.

Who is Holden and what's the promo group? What do you do? How do you want to force the situation?

Holden exactly writes the quietest electronica in the town. He leads free net-label called Green Rat Records. Around this label and its musical ideology, based on experimental electronic music, some people gathered (they are five), who tries to bring the idea out of virtual space of the net. In summer of 2006 three small open-air events were organized with participation of Holden, Unit 21, STM, Dimitry Ghost, and with presentation of CDr's of the label. We wish to show people, that not anything in electronic music is for dancing, and in the future we'd like to bring many more interesting artists. Since 2007 Anton Cherkasov and I perform under the name Rat hole, trying to find points of contact of our creative views.

Who exerted influence on you, as a musician?

During the last years it's Basic Channel, Wolfgang Voigt, Jan Jelinek, Vladislav Delay, Minit, 12k label. Actually, there is quite a little amount of music I listen to, and I hardly seek for anything new.

Basic Channel — legendary and cult theme. You pleasantly surprised us. How had you been familiar with Basic Channel?

I was familiarized by my friends, that is the usual way for me to be aware of new music. I listened quite attentively to Maurizio, and then I went into more experimental things. The track «Find A Way» by Round Four I've heard at the first time in 2000 on a radio, in a mix by DJ Uho, but I realized that this is the production of one of the divisions of this legendary label only after 5 and more years.

Could you tell about how and with the help of what do you create your compositions? What devices and programs do you use?

Now I work practically only with samples: digitize old vinyl, record noises on microphone, sometimes play on mentioned above Ensoniq TS-10 and bass-guitar; then I cut, stretch and mix recorded fragments. I practically don't use VSTi, like I do VST plug-ins. Software sounding, if only it's not digital micro-music, undoubtedly, is not the way I go: the principle of sound concentration and static composition is closer to my way of thinking. This was reflected in «November», and will be reflected in the next album, which I'm working on.

Who inspires or surprises you in the field of active musicians? Whose album did you listen to with an interest and not for one time?

It is hard to say. I experience keen pleasure in guitar music, whatever it is Mogwai or Sepultura, but it is rather a rest than pursuits of inspiration. The album of Ariu Kara was surprising, but giving it multiple listens is a feat. The music by Sasha Ananyev, whatever it's Beautumn or Sleepy Town Manufacture, is close to me, I always listen to his new compositions with interest.

Do you need any mood to start composing music? Or you begin to record compositions only when the definite motive, idea or conception appears?

With my approach to composing music, it's often that mood is determined by samples and their combinations. I noticed that being in a dispirited mood, that should cause the dark composition, it goes in major itself, and vice versa. That's why I don't plan anything now, and just watch while in the process of manipulating the samples, something finished, determined and interesting in case of sound brings forth. Usually I can't compose several tracks in one mood one after another, that is why compiling of full-length can be dragged on for a year or more, like it happened with «November».

Tell a little about your album «November», which is preparing for release on Peace Technologies/Lagunamuch community at the moment. It is too minimal and conceptual music. We would say it is the entrance to the world of minimal and conceptual music. And through all of the tracks, some line leads the direction of the mood or attitude, and this line is depressed itself. «November» has strong difference from all your other works, even from the release on Thinner net-label. Once you said that «November» is sequential to mini-album «September-October», but the sequel comes in a quite specific way; the combination of fairy ambient and minimal unkind techno-plant. What is this album about?

In two words this album is about seclusion and remembrances. When I studied in high grades, my friends and I spent much time in a forest, near the railroad, waiting for a goods train, which we can saddle secretly and ride to the next station. Sometimes I came to that place alone and listened to the trains and constant noise of jet planes from the airport, located in a mile from there. That hum filled all winter forest, and seemed infinite and comprehensible. The sound, very similar to that hum, opens the second track on the album «Longway Railpull», and after that composition evolves in a musical way. Composition «Get Home», which consists of three layers of microphone record, appeared while waiting of beloved girl in a studio, who did not come that evening. So, I put the microphones on and started to move the books. «To The Temptress» lulled me at home late in the evening, so I slumbered in curtained room, moved tightly to the speakers. «Snow On Your Bed» and «Call Up The Silence» lulled me to sleep. As for the mini-album on Thinner, the course of it was held rather technically. «November» is much more winter and nocturnal. At the same time I would not say it's depressing, it's rather thoughfully-contemplative.

As a musician, did you reach the result you wanted?

I think, yes. But in the future I'll try to work more productive, and spend less time for albums.

Could you tell about basic steps of creation, say, a techno-track?

Great, if the very first step would be, say, a «fit» of interesting book, favorite movie, some life episode, etc. I mean the main is to start, and then everything's individual. Maybe someone still counts the squares, I don't know.

By means of what could you explain your transition from dance music production to experiments? How did you get to the point of recording ambient?

The less I became listen to dance music, the less I became produce it. The moment of satiety of rhythm, commerciality and standardization of sound has come. I came to careful listening, slack of structuring and harmonic accuracy of composition, giving more attention to atmosphere and defensible sound design. If the result may be called «ambient», feel free to call it so.

As you see it, what is creative work, art today?

Of course, not any process or result of creative work can be called art, especially today, when a large field of actions exists, and everyone feels that it's necessary to say something somewhere. Creative work with pretension to art, first of all, is a hard work, demanding the consumption of all kinds of energy, and also the time and material resources, promising nothing in return. There are very few, who ready for it, and very few can step from life aside, giving a look of sentient observer at the world. I mean, I think that art becomes art in a concrete realization, having the real world refracted through the many sides of outlook and psychical activity of creator and viewer. Of course, both of them need to stand on defend personal level for mutual understanding and insight. But, in principle, every creator can find his viewer.

Your recent performance in «Brestclub» differed musically from all the others by presence of high frequent glitch sounds. What do you think, understanding of noise music is the highest point in musician's evolution?

In spite of the fact that Coil is not cult for me, it was nice to appear, play, communicate and listen to really talented musicians. Drone, that I played that evening, is atypical for my creative work, as well as aggressive high-frequent noise is atypical for it. The point is in experiment: I wanted to make it, so I've made it. Particularly, the subjects of the event allowed. As for understanding of noise music, probably for someone it will be the highest point of evolution, especially because there are living examples of the musicians before your eyes, who make it for life. As for me, noise is an integral part of each composition, but building the piece, limiting myself only to this expressive tool is not in my plans yet, in spite of the moments at the performance, when only noise layers sounded.

You've been already released on different net-labels; tell what you think about tendencies of appearance and development of net-labels? At least in Russia. Aren't you amazed that there are lots of newborn net-labels? What is net-label: harm, good or rule? What is the meaning of creation a net-label in your opinion?

I do not watch the statistics of appearance of net-labels, and if I have interest in some of them, I am very careful. Point is that during uploading tracks on the net for a long period, musician condemns himself to dilettantism. Here for understandable reasons it's doubly important to watch the quality of the stuff. Nevertheless, on this criterion net-release usually is inferior to real one. I like those cases when label runs both physical and virtual releases simultaneously. I think it not impedes, but stimulates the sales.

What can you say about the quality of music on net-labels (with examples, if you can)? In your opinion, did Thinner realize your idea with mini-album? Tell about your appearance on Thinner.

Releases of all net-labels, related to one or another sub genre of techno, have one shortcoming: they sound like they all built only with software. Thinner is not exclusion. However, there was a release on it «Demo(n) Cuts» by Vladislav Delay, but, sadly, it appeared not to be the best release of the musician. As for the EP of mine, the point was that: I decided to send a demo CD by usual mail, but a month later it returned unclaimed. Sebastian did not find the time to pick it up and proposed to send the tracks through the net. After I've done it, I received a positive answer concerning the release, which happened a half-year later. Three musicians had been released before I had. That was release schedule. Photographs of Nizhny Novgorod, shot by my friends, were used for the cover, which was flash-animated by Thinner's designer.

Which of net-labels are you interested in not as a musician, but as a listener?

Sometimes it's Sutemos, which often releases compilations — they always consist something interesting. I was impressed by the release «Post_piano 2» on .term net-label (12k division). Some from early Thinner I also periodically listen to.

From all the albums, tracks and compositions you recorded at the moment, do you have work or composition, which is precious and has a great value to you?

I won't be original it's «November», my debut album. From early works I would mark, perhaps, the two: «Lain: I Care», there were personal things related to it; and «Noch», which was recorded with St. Petersburg musicians Twin Solo, it has strong vocals and amazing, built on alliteration and playing upon words, lyrics.

How often do you listen to your own music? Or you like more the process of composing than the process of listening?

This helps me periodically return a certainty about what I do. Process of listening to fresh track gives strong excitement, and the process of creation, especially if it's close to final, can pretty bother.

What are you except in music? What is of interest for you?

Except music I work as a sound technician in art school and studying economics at Technical University. I try not to miss interesting events in cultural life of the city, especially organized by the Centre for the Contemporary Arts. Time to time, I go to the cinema, if there is something author's and independent.

Which books do you read? Do you read at all?

Some time ago I signed in the regional library, and after that I did not drop in there. When I wish to read, I look to the virtual library of the humanities and read publications. Sometimes it's philosophical essays, sometimes works of psychology, more often is culturology. Recently I found at home a story-book by Stevenson and reread it with pleasure.

What are your plans for the future?

Plans have a tendency to change unpredictably under the influence of the life factors, especially if they are spoken loud. So, I could say only, that music for me is in earnest and for long.

What would you say by your creative work?

I love you all so much.


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