This website uses cookies to give you an incredible experience. By using this website you agree to the terms This website uses cookies, learn more ×

Label Worx

Top

 

NEWS NEWS

NEWS

How the Moscow bass scene is tearing down the city's techno barriers
Posted By : Laura Holness
|
Posted Date : June 12th, 2019
Despite being largely ignored by the west, Moscow has had a rich bass scene for over a decade. After reaching an impasse in 2015 as techno ruled the city's bigger dancefloors, there's a renewed energy as 4/4's dominance has inspired a new generation of underground artists and promoters to buck the trend...

Moscow's bass scene has a long and trend-setting history, although it's not had much attention in the west. A number of the city's promoters have strived to push sounds that exist on the bleeding edge of electronic music, underscored by a desire to nurture the next generation. But a change in collective mood nearly derailed the scene earlier this decade, before a wave of new promoters decided to re-energise it through collaborative effort.

The scene first solidified when Solyanka club first opened around the mid '00s, with parties such as Capital Bass - which also operates as a radio and label - that focused on underground UK club sounds of the time. One of the key tastemakers from the Moscow bass scene from the beginning was DJ, promoter and journalist Masha SKYE. Educating herself by buying vinyl and playing it at a nearby DJ equipment store, she ended up presenting the Capital Bass radio show, after friends asked her to start DJing to share her record collection.

'It was all about early dubstep and the dark garage vibe back then, everything surrounding the 'hardcore continuum'. The line-ups were really cutting edge: Capital Bass brought artists like Mala, Kode9 and Skream to Moscow right before their big hype around the globe,' she recalls.

While educating ravers with retrospectives such as UK hardcore specials, booking artists like Slipmatt and El-B of Groove Chronicles, the events progressed as new genres emerged. 'When the UK funky thing exploded, Oleg 'FStep' Rozov, the mind behind Capital Bass, made parties with Cooly G and Ikonika, Roska and Jamie George, Lil Silva,' Masha SKYE continues. Revered by peers for her vinyl garage sets, she now promotes under the moniker Tiger Balms with best friend Artem Mitrokhin. Then, further mutations began, 'We had showcases with Night Slugs and Fade to Mind - it was hard to label the music we were listening to; house, garage, electro, grime, techno, everything was merging.'

'Eastern European countries, including Russia, can be much more progressive, booking a wider scope of artists than big cities in the UK, as well as being more appreciative of experimental and live music' - Sofya Staune

Glasgow-based Russian DJ, visual artist and promoter Sofya Staune of bass-focused club night and booking agency FUSE by VAJ.Power agrees, while arguing that western media has seldom acknowledged these achievements. Instead, Russian club culture is fetishised, 'The common thread is, 'Wow, something does happen in Russia!' but it's usually a 'crazy Russian raves' narrative and stereotypes about drinking or drug culture. But, many Eastern European countries, including Russia, can be much more progressive, booking a wider scope of artists than big cities in the UK, as well as being more appreciative of experimental and live music. I see that as an AV artist as well - in Moscow, those who create visuals are considered a big part of the line-up and always put on posters,' she says, citing her own experience performing at raves in the Russian capital. 'In that sense, I feel Moscow is quite ahead of the UK,' she argues, 'but I've never read an article in western media where that point is clearly made.'

By 2015 though, the city's bass scene was at an impasse. As techno took over the city's bigger dancefloors at the same time as Russia's youth became disaffected by political changes in the country, attention to the underground scene that had developed began to wane.

'The new rise of techno dissolved every other genre and pushed us house heads, garage heads, any other heads really, deeper underground,' Masha SKYE remembers. As club culture inevitably reflects societal shifts, the changing trends were reflective of a deepening dissatisfaction in Russian society. 'The gloomy sound, black clothes, dark net - this aggravation - was obvious during 2011-2014 when we had [President Vladimir] Putin re-elected again. Then the annexation of Crimea happened and many people were marching in the streets, while others were supporting what was happening. So people started hating on each other, everyone nervous and a bit lost, some ready to leave the country,' Masha SKYE says.

According to fellow bass music promoter and DJ Moscow Legend, the emerging techno crowd were at times shortsighted, paying too little regard to what impact overt drug use would have on the wider club scene: 'People take risks, but I don't believe the audiences who visit the big techno raves truly love their culture and care about it. They just want a place where they can have fun, not thinking about the aftermath.' To this, Moscow Legend ascribes a slew of club closures, including the widely reported shutdown of the venue Rabitza in August 2017.

But the diminishing number of clubs and the increasing genre homogenisation across the venues that remained is precisely what inspired a new generation of promoters to start organising parties. And now, their hard work is paying off. Guests from abroad playing more genre inclusive venues like Pluton and Powerhouse, as well as secret location events, can't compliment the promoters enough.

British dubstep producer Squarewave, who played a UNITED party in November 2017 tells DJ Mag, 'You've gotta big up the UNITED promoters, they put on a full warehouse party in a central location in Moscow - real industrial vibes with a Funktion-One sound system.' Meanwhile, Rinse FM co-founder Slimzee, who played Pluton in December 2018, likened UNITED's atmosphere to seminal grime rave Sidewinder.

For UNITED spokesman Moscow Legend, the idea to become a promoter came to mind when garage and grime raves were reduced to small gatherings that he was going to. It was at these events that he cut his teeth as a DJ, while working in a skate shop by day. As he began to play out in clubs, his leftfield grime selections and own cuts left some audience members baffled, so in his frustration, he reached out to his influencers in the UK. 'When Slimzos Recordings started doing digi releases I was first to play this mucky stuff out here,' he explains. 'I made some vids tagging Slimzee and the producers who made this music, and got feedback. Then Slimzee hooked me up with a few guest mixes for his shows.'

When Moscow Legend realised there were others with a similar vision in 2017, UNITED was born, describing the coming together as 'collective education'. Now the group's events attract up to 500 people, and they're on a mission to show Russian audiences the intricacies and history of grime. When Slimzee played for them, they subtitled and screened 2014's Slimzee's Going On Terrible, a short biographical film which explores grime's beginnings on pirate radio. For his part, Slimzee continues to support the Moscow scene, releasing tracks by UNITED members Moscow Legend and Oddkut on Slimzos Recordings.

'It was really hard to imagine a full venue of happy young Russians raving to R.I.P. Productions ten years ago, but now, thanks to the emotional counter-reaction to the dominance of techno in Moscow, it's possible' - Masha SKYE

Get High On Bass club night founder and Moscow-based electronic music label Hyperboloid Records artist A.Fruit shares a similar story. She was 19 when she began to teach herself how to produce. When she started DJing a few years later, she found that there was nowhere playing genres like juke and footwork.

'At first I started putting on events just because I wanted to listen and play it out loud somewhere,' A.Fruit recalls. Her first event, 808 Juke Street, took place in February 2015. 'I then realised that there are many other genres that I like missing from Moscow club life and media,' she continues. 'And I found it almost impossible to find a place where I could play the music that I was starting to produce.'

Since those tentative first steps when A.Fruit was learning Ableton, she has produced a large body of experimental bass music, most recently releasing on London's Med School, sister-label to Hospital Records. The aptly named 'Obsession' EP is an eclectic moodscape that showcases her passion for genres in the 160bpm range, including her love of juke and jungle.

Now, she's keen to share her knowledge and platform with the next generation, and in March she curated an all-female lineup for her current club night, Get High On Bass. The impact was evident straight away. 'Since I started inviting more girls to play we started getting much more girls on the dancefloor as well,' she enthuses.

But for all the progress made in recent months, there are still challenges. 'Because there was no culture of clubs in the Soviet Union, it means that the older generation don't understand electronic music and are not seeing us as part of the culture,' A.Fruit, who relocated to St. Petersburg in 2018, explains. 'And, as there are no young people in government, most of the politicians see us as marginal, with the mindset of, 'it's just kids, they're not smart,' instead of understanding that young people may simply really love music and dancing.'

This lack of government support, coupled with the declining value of the ruble following 2014's financial crisis and international sanctions, means promoters have been struggling with the cost of booking international acts. However, A.Fruit is keen to stress that collaboration makes things happen. 'Together with the Grechafunk crew and Hyperboloid Records, we brought Shield from Denmark to St. Petersburg and Moscow, and Itoa from the UK, with Somatik Sound System,' she smiles.

'We always have support from the UNITED crew, PZDC Sound System, BIG ROBA Sound System and other Russian crews too. And, of course, it also helps when western artists offer us lighter conditions in order to support our Russian underground scene,' A.Fruit says. She adds that she hopes 'somehow, in the future, rave culture will not be considered as harmful here. And we will get more spaces for creativity, more powerful sound systems and venues will survive for longer.'

Moscow Legend also wants to focus on the positives, explaining that he thinks the government's crackdown on antisocial behaviour has, on the whole, improved nightlife in Moscow. 'I was raised in the '90s and that was hard times,' he explains. 'A lot of criminals after the USSR turned to Russia. Clubs were violent - I have a big scar on my face where someone attacked me. Now, I haven't seen any violence in clubs for years. It's different, the government is laying down the law and it's working.'

For Masha SKYE, the difference is also evident in the renewed energy on the dancefloor. 'It was really hard to imagine a full venue of happy young Russians raving to R.I.P. Productions ten years ago,' she says. 'But now, thanks to the emotional counter-reaction to the dominance of techno in Moscow, it's possible.'
djmag.com

 

Next Article : Guns N' Roses, Eagles Masters Among 100,000 Destroyed In Fire

Do you have questions?

Our team of specialists are on hand to answer all of your questions so please don't hesitate to get in contact.

GET IN TOUCH

Join Label Worx today

Signing up is quick and easy using our online form. Complete this and one of our Account Managers will be in touch.

SIGN UP TODAY

More News

New DSP: Boomkat

Our News   /   September 17th, 2019

New DSP: Boomkat

Boomkat Limited is a specialist, independent online record store that has been trading since 1998 when they opened up a record store in Manchester called Pelicanneck. They have been online since 2002 and in that time they have supplied the finest Vinyl, CD, Cassette and Download releases to customers in over 100 countries. Their focus is not on any one particular type of music; instead, they are constantly on the lookout for what they consider to be the most innovative, exceptional, interesting and often overlooked music out there - regardless of where it has come from or who it is made by. We cannot guarantee acceptance, but if you think the above is for you, please let us know.

New DSP: Hard Wax

Our News   /   September 17th, 2019

New DSP: Hard Wax

Hard Wax was founded in 1989 by Basic Channel duo Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald. Built on a no-nonsense policy, this is one of the most respected record stores in Europe. With 30 years of experience, and the respect of DJ's and customers alike, Hard Wax specialises in Techno and has a boutique range of rare past and future classics. Along with the reputation, comes an expectation of selling only tracks that they approve and fit with their already extensive vinyl collection. Whist we can't guarantee acceptance, if you would like to be put forward for the opportunity to be stocked at Hard Wax, let us know.

How Clean Is Your Beatport?

Industry News   /   September 5th, 2019

How Clean Is Your Beatport?

Beatport recently announced that they will begin to delete all releases, released before January 2019, that haven't sold any units since the release date. This is intended to become a yearly occurrence from Beatport. This is not new, stores like Juno and Traxsource have been doing this for years. So even if you like it or not, it is something everyone in the music industry is going to have to get used to very soon.

Beatport refresh their Indie Dance / Nu Disco genre

Industry News   /   September 3rd, 2019

Beatport refresh their Indie Dance / Nu Disco genre

Beatport has announced a refresh of its Indie Dance/Nu Disco genre category, in recognition that each style warrants a space of its own. The existing category now becomes Indie Dance, solely showcasing that genre, while Funk/Soul/Disco is updated to become Nu Disco/Disco (including Funk/Soul as a sub-genre).

New DSP: KKBOX

Our News   /   September 3rd, 2019

New DSP: KKBOX

We are very pleased to announce another new DSP - KKBOX! Taiwan-based music streaming and download service, KKBOX has a library of over 40 million tracks. Founded in October 2004, KKBOX has agreements with a significant number of international and local labels in South-East Asia. The Service is currently live in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan. Covering a large area of South East Asia, this is a very exciting and large market, and we look forward to increasing the reach for all of our labels!

Spotify Extends Free Trail To Three Months For New Subscibers

Industry News   /   August 29th, 2019

Spotify Extends Free Trail To Three Months For New Subscibers

Apple Music has long been a thorne in Spotify's side. While Spotify has twice the subscribers than its main competitor, Spotify is now extending free trials of its Premium services to three months to match Apple's offer.

Hull's top tech firms fighting for prestigious Yorkshire Tech 50 spot

Industry News   /   August 27th, 2019

Hull's top tech firms fighting for prestigious Yorkshire Tech 50 spot

Some of Hull's top tech firms are in the running to be named as one of the most exciting companies in Yorkshire. Business Cloud's Yorkshire & Humberside Tech 50 vote will shine a light on the region's best businesses which have technology at the heart of everything they do.

Apple Music Launches New Predictive Shazam Discovery Top 50 Chart

Industry News   /   August 23rd, 2019

Apple Music Launches New Predictive Shazam Discovery Top 50 Chart

Apple Music has launched a new chart called the Shazam Discovery Top 50, a weekly global ranking of the biggest trending tracks on the music recognition platform.

How To Grow Your Career on SoundCloud...

Industry News   /   August 22nd, 2019

How To Grow Your Career on SoundCloud...

What's next in music, is first on SoundCloud, so make sure you're always ahead of the game with SC101.

New DSP: NetEase

Our News   /   August 21st, 2019

New DSP: NetEase

We are pleased to announce a new DSP - NetEase! Netease Cloud Music is a freemium music streaming service developed and owned by NetEase, Inc. and is one of the 3 main music streaming services in China. We are excited to add this DSP to our roster, and welcome the opportunities it brings for our labels.

Spotify Untold Book May Become A TV Show After Screen Rights Optioned

Industry News   /   August 20th, 2019

Spotify Untold Book May Become A TV Show After Screen Rights Optioned

Swedish authors Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud have made a splash with their book 'Spotify Inifran'

New DSP: UMA

Our News   /   August 16th, 2019

New DSP: UMA

Established in 2014 United Media Agency license music, audio and video content, as well as distributing on partner Internet sites and through their own products. UMA's regular partner is one of the largest Internet holdings in Russia - the Mail.Ru Group, whose sites reach over 85% of all Russian internet users on a monthly basis. They also hold 100% shares of Russia's most popular social network VKontakte. This is a very exciting step, and we look forward to working closely with them!

Beatport Announces Merger With Sample Store Loopmasters

Industry News   /   August 15th, 2019

Beatport Announces Merger With Sample Store Loopmasters

Beatport has announced a merger with sample store Loopmasters.

Hi-res Streaming Service Qobuz Says It Has 25k US Listeners

Industry News   /   August 14th, 2019

Hi-res Streaming Service Qobuz Says It Has 25k US Listeners

Despite all the industry-conference panels predicting that high-resolution music is the next big leap for our industry, the idea has yet to really catch fire with mainstream listeners. For sure, artists and labels like the idea of music sounding like it did in the recording studio; companies like MQA have been working hard to put together partnerships across devices and streaming services; and when surveyed, fans tend to approve of the idea of higher-quality music.

Spotify Is Still Adding More Users Across Europe And North America Than In Asia, The Middle East And Africa Combined

Industry News   /   August 13th, 2019

Spotify Is Still Adding More Users Across Europe And North America Than In Asia, The Middle East And Africa Combined

We break down Spotify's Q2 performance around the world - with some surprising results.

Insider Knowledge, Facebook Loves Music Event

Industry News   /   August 8th, 2019

Insider Knowledge, Facebook Loves Music Event

Pssttt... Don't tell anyone, but we have all the inside secrets from Facebook themselves. Last month we attended the Facebook Loves Music event at the Facebook headquarters in London. A premiere event that we couldn't turn down and we hope there will be many more to come. We found it so beneficial and interesting, we just can't keep it to ourselves any longer!

How To Get Your Track Played In Ibiza?

Industry News   /   August 5th, 2019

How To Get Your Track Played In Ibiza?

If you wanna make it on the island you need to follow this advice. Right now, hundreds of young dance music aspirants are trawling the streets of San Antonio with one thing on their mind: Breaking. The. Scene.

Forging Electronic Futures in Karachi

Industry News   /   August 2nd, 2019

Forging Electronic Futures in Karachi

Overcoming Pakistan's conservative mindset and sometimes-dangerous political tensions, a small group of artists are building a future for electronic music in Karachi.

 

afemc4dilwanativeprimeradartonedenyour-edmyoutube