Everyone has a different opinion about the Boiler Room but for CGNY it often serves as a great showcase for new and exciting talent. Voiski is such a talent. While he is certainly no stranger to music, his set this year at Batofar was one of the standouts of 2014. After his most recent gig here (Bossa Nova for Jack Dept) I managed to grab a cup of coffee with him in Times Square to chat about his musical education and to find out that he likes "Sleeping with his Machines"! ;)
CGNY: So how was your gig – were you happy?
V: The first time and also this time I arrived in New York and played after very little sleep. Both times I’ve played here I’ve been exhausted. But for strange reasons both times, it was some of my best sets!
CGNY: The exhaustion brought out something extra in you?
V: Maybe I was motivated by some unknown parts of my consciousness. I don’t have exactly a memory but just a feeling of how well the gig went. The place (Bossa) is very nice too. I like it because it’s dark, no extra lights. All help to create the mood.
CGNY: So tell me a little bit about your musical journey – how did you get into techno?
V: I started listening to techno very young.
CGNY: In France?
V: Yes in Paris where I’m from. It was thanks to my Italian cousin that was living in Paris for one year and he brought with him a lot of cds. When I visited him I came across some really weird music in his house. I started to try to find the same music. I didn’t really know what it was at this time. In France this music wasn’t very popular. I kept coming across trance and hardcore stuff. I started to download a lot of mixes on the internet and go to parties.
Then I bought turntables and vinyl records in Paris. But I think my musical story just changed when I entered a strange conceptual art school when I was 19, Beaux Arts de Cergy in the north and I had a lot of teachers who were very into contemporary and repetitive music. For example I had a teacher who locked us in an amphitheater for 4 hours to make us listen to Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass.
CGNY: Wow! That’s a different approach for sure!
V: And it was super-authoritative. “You’re going to stay here and you cannot go out”. And it was very much the kind of thing that happened at that school.
I was fascinated by repetition in music. I intellectualized a lot of these things through this art school and discovered more stuff like techno and sound exploration. Also there was a really good sound studio there. I started doing field recordings – more experimental: a mix of weird and danceable stuff.
CGNY: When was your first gig you played out publicly?
V: My first gig I think it was.. I had some little dj experience in Paris but my first live set was in Switzerland in a squat, kind of punkish place. I was 18 or something.
"here was this feeling when I touched the bass button
and I could feel all this space, like the physical
contraction of space which was super exciting."
It was the first time I was playing on a proper big sound system. When I start playing first it was the melody and then there was this feeling when I touched the bass button and I could feel all this space, like the physical contraction of space which was super exciting. Just a feeling I will always keep in my mind.
CGNY: At some stage you decided you wanted to pursue a career in music – had you been studying art? How did the process of being a hobbyist dj turn into a career?
V: I think I was fascinated by music and when I started to do art it was just a question of taking time to let my life go on and see what happens and also not be afraid (to tell my parents for example!)
I think attending this school changed everything for me; the way I see the music, the way I like consider everything I do now. It was a very weird school almost like a sect. It makes you deeply think about whatever you do – and makes you think about the consequences of what you are making. You could do anything, paint or photography or make movies but the only thing that mattered there was to be able to talk deeply about it.
CGNY: It sounds like a fascinating place. Most people don’t get that kind of experience in an academic setting.
V: Yes certainly not academic in the traditional sense. Most of the teachers are philosophers and thinkers than actual academicians.
CGNY: It sounds almost sounds like it was the true experience of education – not just to have some ideas foisted upon you but to allow your mind to open up. So tell us about Construct-Reform. I met Sylvain in Tresor – great guy and a wonderful producer. How did you get to release on that label?
V: I met him way before he started the label. He was working in a record shop and I was like seeing him every month and I don’t really know it happened. Really slowly I think. He heard I was making music. “If you want you can send me some things” and that’s how it happened.
Sometimes I work particularly for a label but most of the time it’s about making a selection of my work. I can do 3 or 4 tracks in a week. Sometimes I do nothing when I start working and I can make 10 or 15 tracks in one month.
CGNY: What do you use to make your music?
V: I started with software like Ableton but over the past 3 years I’ve bought a lot of machines.
CGNY: Do you have a studio?
V: Yes my studio is in my room where I sleep – I sleep with my machines!
CGNY: What’s your process to go in to start making tracks? Do you wait to be inspired?
V: No divine inspiration. It’s really more like I turn on everything and I start to play and most of the time I’m very spontaneous on what happens. I can accept whatever I feel is okay. But even if it’s not super good after but if I feel there is potentially initially I will just trust it and make it very fast. I’m just convinced that if I like something at one moment it is probably okay and it deserves to be developed. But if I get tired of it – it’s not because it’s bad, it’s just that it’s been 4 hours I’ve been hearing this loop and nobody is going to listen to a loop for 4 hours! So I have to just trust what I thought at the beginning when I thought it was okay!
CGNY: I feel like the Boiler Room set this year sort of blew you up!
CGNY: Yes there was a lot of buzz on social media after and it was my first time to hear you play and it was such a great set. All the djs were on point.
V: It was Dj Deep, Sylvain and Francois X and we all know each other very well and so he (Sylvain) invited me. Batofar, the club was hosting the evening and they are also very good friends of mine and they wanted to put me on that one.
CGNY: Did you get a sense during and after that people were really reacting to your set?
V: I didn’t really realize – I just noticed that I got a 300 more fans on Facebook afterwards! But that’s good to know!
CGNY: How much equipment do you travel with?
V: For this performance (NYC) I have two drum machines, one reverb, one analogue filter and one controller and my laptop. I keep one drum machine with me as an emergency back up and put all the rest into checked luggage.
CGNY: And pray to the gods they arrive safely?!
V: Most of the time its okay but one time in Serbia all my equipment went missing. But they were very good – they just found everything in two hours!
CGNY: You have your own imprint Silicate Musqiue (check it for an amazing free download!). Is it a digital or a vinyl?
V: It’s a weird little label. We started as a digital label but we also produce very small editions of objects. We have several formats. We released one thing on a floppy disk
CGNY: A blast from the past!
V: A couple of CDs too. We are releasing right now a cassette and we did a VHS also. We found some information about a peculiar antenna in Russia that was used during the Cold War and was still transmitting some unusual signals. So we asked one artist to make some research. We met him somewhere in minus 3 floor of my parking lot and we gave him a suitcase with some documents and told him “You have 2 weeks to do something”. So he said okay and he went back and after 3 weeks he sent us a video tape and it was some strange KGB old documentary footage made with his music over it. We made and released 30 units.
CGNY: I like it! Are you excited about the state of techno and live music these days?
V: It’s growing a lot in every direction. There are some very good and bad things but globally I think there is really interesting music everywhere.
CGNY: When might you come back to NYC?
V: Another 6 months I hope! I will try to stay longer and make a little tour.
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