Photo credit: SBH photography
In the world of techno and parties it can be hard to not 'blend'. But not blending is what DVS1 does best! And at the Interface/Blank Code stellar after party at Movement this year, Zak aka DVS1 delivered one of the best sets I've heard in a long time. We were both checking out Mathew Jonson at Beatport and I stole him away for a few minutes ahead of the party to chat.
CGNY: So I’m here with Zak (aka DVS1) – Zak I don't know what your last name is?!! Forgive me!
DVS1: It’s a long one – Khutoretsky!
CGNY: Where is that from?!
DVS1: Russia, I was born in Russia!
CGNY: Disvedanya, spasiva! That’s it for me on the Russian front! So tell us Zak, is this is your first time playing in Detroit? I’m thinking no right?
DVS1: No I’ve played a couple of other after parties but this one is the one I’m looking forward to the most. They were all okay but I think this one is going to be good tonight.
CGNY: Yes! The line up is intense. You’re playing with Droid Behavior, Raiz Acid, Audio Injection etc.
DVS1: Yes it’s a bunch of the American guys.
CGNY: Droid has been really keeping the West coast techno flag flying I think. Someone remarked to me that there was really nothing techno wise from the west coast but I guess they hadn’t heard the Droid Behavior podcast!
DVS1: It’s true! And we all get along together so it’s all good!
CGNY: You’re from Minneapolis originally. So how does a Minneapolis/slightly Russian man get involved in techno?
DVS1: The short version of the long answer is.. I mean Minneapolis has a good scene. Now it’s obviously smaller and a little more underground. Clubs close really early. But in the 90’s every weekend there was a good party with 2000 people at it and it was proper house, proper techno and it was still underground. I always tell people that Minneapolis was known for really big sound systems. Even against Chicago or near us, our sound was always superior. We always had really big set ups for more people than they needed to have. So I found it in Minneapolis really.
CGNY: And can you remember the first song or piece of music that..
DVS1: (shakes head) No. I would say it’s more of an experience than anything specific. I would say it’s kind of like; you’re chasing the dragon after you find it. Because electronic music, once you go to a proper party…
CGNY: It changes your life!
DVS1: Well I explained it to someone, in the 90s in MPLS, there was a club called First Ave. that used to do Sunday night dance parties for kids. 21 and up could be upstairs drinking and under 21s would be on the dance floor or whatever. And they would play house, techno, hip hop: the proper version in each genre. And as you’d walk outside, you’d get hit by the promoters flyering for their genres other parties. And I always said you had a 50/50 chance of being taken to the proper party or the shit party. And if you got lucky you went to the absolutely proper one and you caught it and that was it. I got lucky; I got taken to the right place.
CGNY: You work with Ben Klock on the Klockworks label?
DVS1: I do, we’ve become really good friends as well as music mates. He helped me with that first release. I did another one for him in December. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other, it’s cool!
CGNY: Yes I think he’s mentioned your performance in an interview. And you do “perform” – I’ve seen you a few times!
DVS1: I mean there are a lot of people right now who are performers and not dj’s. I grew up as a dj, that’s what I know. And there are folks who even as producers can’t make a living from production anymore so they’ve learned how to become performers but they’re not dj’s. I think it’s the DJ who will save the party in the end. And I’m not putting down anybody. The technology is there; it’s good, it’s helpful and it allows them the opportunity to make a living from what they do as well.. But in the end music in the hands of a skilled dj makes all the difference.
CGNY: You’re known for having crazy energy behind the decks! People watch you as well as listen when you’re spinning because you’re so focused and involved on the decks!
DVS1: I love it and I hate it at the same time because…I remember I played for Anthony Parasole in New York. And we were joking because he said all the time in my parties the dancers come out but when you played the booth was surrounded by dudes just like staring at you! I shut off the light bulb in front of me because I wanted it dark, I didn’t want them looking! So I mean I appreciate that because I feed off that energy of people being interested but on the reverse I also want them to just dance and not pay attention either.
CGNY: That’s ultimately the goal of any dj I suppose! It’s nice to get people moving! So what’s new, what are you working on – coming back to New York any time soon?
DVS1: I’m hoping soon yes. I’ve played a lot there for close periods of time so now I’ll lay low for a little bit but I’ll definitely be back. I’ve got deep connections with a few people in New York, I’ve got to come back to see them and hang out. I’m finding the balance between splitting time between traveling and Minneapolis and finding a way to stay productive, writing music. When you’re on the road you might want to write music but you don’t have your stuff, you don’t have your ability to do it. You come home for maybe 2 or 3 weeks and you’re just not in the headspace to sit down and work. It’s just not there. So I’m trying to find that balance to make it work because I’ve realized the last year I did really almost only remixes for people and I decided that I needed to step back and write my own original music. So I got rid of all my responsibilities of doing remixes; the last few are coming out. So I can start working on a bunch of original pieces.
CGNY: And you’ve played in Ireland (we’ve a friend in common). You’ve played Belfast years ago right?
DVS1: I was coming to a wedding in London – nobody knew who I was. I had booked a lot of Europeans in MPLS in 95/96. So I made a couple of calls, got a couple of numbers and emails and in the end I got booked at Tresor and then I got booked by Gawain in Belfast! He had no idea who I was but I sent him some mixes, he liked them. I had a great time there, they were all super nice. And I didn’t see him for 11/12 years until that night at National Underground!! I recognized the beard!! That was so cool that I saw him that night!
CGNY: And have you played in Dublin?
DVS1: I just got a booking in Dublin at The Academy.
CGNY: That’s great – the Irish will look after you Zak! Have a blast tonight (at Interface) and we look forward to hearing you in New York again soon!
DVS1: Thank you!