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INTERVIEW: Spartaque

Hi S, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey, I appreciate you having me here to do this interview. It’s really nice to be speaking with you. Things have been going great, I just returned from Spain where I spent a great weekend. On Friday, I played at a major festival Aquasela. This is the second year I’m being invited. Also on Saturday, I performed at City Hall club in Barcelona, that was a Happy Techno event. This party was real lit, huge crowd. We got it going down there. So, Spain was great, yeah. This Saturday I’m returning to the Pyrenean Peninsula, to play a gig in Portugal. That will be at Sound Wave festival in Porto. So this summer the vibe is on… Now I’m here in Kyiv, doing this interview with you, guys.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “No Bullets Please”?

Yes, the release on Tronic label is a major benchmark for any artist, so of course, this is of great importance to me. We’ve been selecting the right tracks for the upcoming release with my man Reno, that’s the label’s manager, and with Christian Smith… Finally, we’ve come down to these four tracks, which I’ve personally tested on various dancefloors. Indeed, they are working well. As for No Bullets Please, that was more about the search of a unique sound. There were some elements I had to refurbish, so to say, on Christian’s recommendations. To me, this guy is of great weight. He’s a real professional, you know, so it’s great to have an opportunity to be working with him and make use of his kind advice. So, to be released on this label is a very big step for me as a sound producer. I’m really glad it all came true, and I’m hopeful that this collaboration will yield excellent outcome to all sides involved.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

As I’ve told, No Bullets Please is unusual in its sound. It’s sharp and full of energy. Of course, there was that one event that actually pushed me to naming the track this way. It’s not really about being inspired by it but it left an extraordinary impression on me though. I was just working on this track, that was during the festival called BPM in Cancun, and so there was this armed dude causing mayhem in the club as he started shooting at people randomly at a closing party. This all has stricken me bad as an artist. And I wanted to make a sort of a manifest pushing the idea that guns and parties must be as far off each other as possible. Music should unite people and bring them joy. But things like that are just terrible, really. So, basically, that’s why the track has such a title. I hope that further in my career I will never be confronted by anything like this. I feel really sorry for the victims, for those young people that never made it home from that party on that deadly night. My condolences to their families… But again, show must go on. Music must live on. Through such manifests, we can do our best to speak up against such atrocities.

Any plans to release a video for the track?

I never considered the idea to release a video for this track. But I record plenty of videos from my live gigs at various festivals, and the most recent one is from Aquasela. It came out to be a real good video, and I see a nice feedback to this track and this clip in particular. I have already uploaded it on my Facebook page and Instagram as well. See, I’m a techno artist, and I would really hate it ifsuch elements in my work looked cheesy. So I don’t see any real sense in making official videos for my tracks. At the same time, again, I always share videos from my live sets so that my audience could see who I am and how I work on the dance floor. And it’s not only for the fans, it’s also for my fellow colleagues, DJs who consider purchasing the record. They will see for themselves that the track is working and it can be included in their sets because the crowd is digging it. Of course, for me, as someone who has produced the track, such things are also pleasing to see.

Why did you name the EP after this track in particular?

Actually, it wasn’t me who made a final decision. It was Christian Smith. It’s his label and I believe that in general, the track’s title carries this powerful message – the one I’ve mentioned before – and Christian rode the same wave on this one. So the EP that consists of four tracks has been titled No Bullets Please.

How was the recording and writing process?

As far as I remember, as it often happens with other tracks, I started writing this one while flying somewhere on tour. The plane is a perfect place for me. See, there’s nothing that can distract me. There’s no incoming mail, besides the noise level on board is high enough for other passengers not to be uncomfortable with what’s going on in my headphones. So, yeah, it’s a win-win situation. I’m killing time on my flight and do something productive at the same time. I don’t remember exactly my destination that time. I just recall that once I arrived and checked in at my hotel, I spent some time fine-tuning the draft and later the same night I was already playing it at a club. Upon returning home, I mastered it and sent to Tronic together with a bunch of other tracks I’d selected. So that’s how it all happened. Nothing difficult here. Writing music during long flights is something many DJs with a tight schedule are up to these days. That’s because, you know, when I’m home, when I’m at my office, I spend more time on management issues than on actually writing music. Therefore, writing tracks amid flight is a great way for me to find peace and tranquility in my creative process.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else than when you are writing music on your own?

That’s been a long time since I’ve last collaborated with someone on writing music. Each and every collaboration is different in its own way. For example, the tracks we wrote with my homie Skober, the ones that are soon to be released on my vinyl label Codex… I was the one who would start them off and then Kostyantyn [Skober] would pick up on my drafts. So that was one way. Some collaborations presume that I get demos from other people. It’s a rather interesting thing that although we use the same software, the ways we set up plugins, our approaches, send-return issues, mixing routine, setting up audio tracks within certain demos is different all the time. So every time you do a collab with someone, you also learn something from them, as well as they do, I guess. When I make music myself, I depend on no one. And given the number of tracks I’ve already produced, many things are automatic for me. I know what I want and I how I want it done. So probably, it’s easier for me to produce music on my own. Of course, it’s very interesting when there is an opportunity to write music with someone when both of us are at the studio at the same time. But once again, I live in Kyiv, and that’s not a close call for most of the DJs I’ve been working with. Most of them live in Europe, and so it’s a big problem for us to communicate in person and write music together in a studio. But in the end of the day, given all this modern technology, I suggest it will soon cease to be a problem at all. Anyway, I’ll be honest with you, I’m probably more inclined to write music on my own, not to depend on anyone, rather than making collaborations.

What role does Kyiv play in your music?

Kyiv is a great place, I really love it, a beautiful city, really. It has this great energy in it. It can inspire me. However, as of today, it has minimal influence on what I’m working on. See, my tours are mostly across Europe, the Americas, so Kyiv is just a place where I reside at the moment. But I’ll open up a little secret. I’m preparing actively to move to Barcelona, where my agency is located. To me, it’s a great opportunity to save a huge amount of travel hours and focus more on my family. Besides, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a great chance to achieve the much needed proximity with a great number of techno artists and write some fresh tracks together, hold interesting events both for my label and for the artists that would like to take part. This city will give me a wider window of opportunities. But once again, having all of this in mind, I don’t stop enjoying this warm Kyiv atmosphere. I do love this city a lot. Although, in terms of inspiration, it doesn’t play too big of a role for me and my music.

After more than 300 released tracks, do you always try to explore new realms of the Techno and the electronic scene or from time to time do you get back to your roots?

When I start writing a new track, I always try to experiment. I never use saved presets and things like that. I always start my work on new pieces from scratch, from an empty project each time, just one audio track and one midi track looking at me from the monitor screen. So I never use the old stuff. Of course, there are some features that I continue to use and so you can tell if this or that track was written by Spartaque or some other artist. But once again, having produced such a huge bulk of music, it’s time for me to slow down, to listen to other works and figure out the ways techno is going right now. I need to make sure I see what trends are returning and what’s new on the scene. Of course, it’s no secret that the old school sound is gaining momentum. It seems to me that this kind of sound is now more popular than it’s ever been when it was fresh from the oven, when it was only discovered. Now techno is at a colossal level, indeed. I’ve said I’m planning to release less tracks now but at the same time, I try to be ultimately close in my new production to what’s cooking on the global techno kitchen. I pay great attention to podcasts of other artists, to understand the whole spectrum of the latest developments on our scene. Talking about coming back to the roots, I could say that indeed, everything is like that these days. Both the sound, technique, and certain hooks that are used in the process of production.I remember about a year ago I was listening to some charts of Slamon Beatport and I was amazed with how cool it sounded. When I checked those tracks out more closely and saw that they had been released back in 1995-1996, I was stunned at how these 20-year-old tracks are up-to-date. So, I think that we have already gone a long way back to the roots in terms of the sound. We are yet to see where it will be going now. I follow really closely the latest trends on the market and, of course, I will respond to what I see, through my tracks, my production, and my sets.

Where did you find the inspiration for the music on this record?

As I’ve said before, I make new techno while listening to more techno. I follow closely the latest developments, and probably the best place for me to listen to the new material is my gym. So when I work out, I’m also pumping up my creative part and make up a kind of a picture of what’s happening in modern techno these days. The tracks I hear are really different, and it’s great. I really enjoy the process of trying to cover the widest segment and make a diverse release that would receive a positive feedback among a large number of other artists and be enjoyed by as more people as possible. I believe we’ve manage to accomplish this task. So, I’ll conclude that I feed on other artists’ techno to write my own techno. And so I get the desired result.

What are your tour plans this summer?

As I’ve said, this summer’s schedule has been rather tight, and it’s great. Plenty of different events and festivals. Not many are left to play at until the end of the summer season but I still plan to visit Portugal, Spain, there will also be a Rooftop Showcase set up by my label in Kyiv – that’s also something I’m waiting for in great anticipation. It is the second event of such kind this summer, and the first one was a real blast. Great party, and I’m looking forward to it. I will also be playing at a Dream Beach festival in Spain. That’s probably the best festival in Spain today, with a great line-up. I’m really proud I have a chance to play there. Then there will be anZUL Open Air, Mioñoin Spain, Kremlin Club in Lisbon, Portugal, then I’ll be playing at MTV club in Frankfurt. Then in the upcoming couple of months that we could also count as “summer,” there will be an open-air festival Platforma in Kyiv where we will be hosting a stage together with KeiserDisco, there will be Helsinki, Finland, then an event held in a German castle, Muelheim’sSchloss Broich, then an open-air in Spain’s Mirida, Audio Gate festival in Germany’s Memmingen, then I’ll fly to Saragosa, Spain, andthen another Codex Showcase will be held in Kyiv. Industrial Copera in Granada, Spain, Montevideo, Uruguay, Rosario, Argentina, then Germany again, and then September will wrap up with a gig at Studio 22 in Liege, Belgium. That’s my plan for the summer and September. Plans are major, and I’m glad it’s so.

What else is happening next in Spartaque’s world?

Spartaque’s world is really wide. First of all, my world is my family, and my family is now getting ready to move to Barcelona. Of course, my work is under way on developing my labels. We have recently changed a distributor, and I’m happy to announce that. Beatport has started to support my labels, and I’m excited to see that these guys pay great attention to us. Besides, my Codex label keeps releasing vinyl records. There has been a growing number of great artists who keep sending me those great tracks, and I’m really happy to be able to present to the world through my label these brilliant pieces. It’s an amazing thing I’m really proud of. I have many-many plans ahead of me. New releases, more work on my own tracks and on other artists’ releases that will be published by my label. There are yet many heights to conquer, but I’m positive that we are moving in a right direction. I really appreciate the performance of my booking agency Cubo from Barcelona. These guys are really great and they do a bunch of work for me. I’m happy to have a great PR team, UrbanRebel PR, who also do a lot for me. In general, that’s what my world is about, and that’s the kind of life blooming in it.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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