A singular figure in the Russian electronic scene, praised inside and way beyond its frontiers, it’s no mystery why the sound of Art Crime has conquered some of the finest imprints out there. With a handful of 12″s on reputed labels such as W.T. Records, Crème, Phonica and Rotterdam’s Pinkman under his belt, the Moscow-based artist has steadily worked on carving out a unique and highly cinematic signature sound, both vibrant and elegiac in equal measure.
Fully geared towards the inner realms, Art Crime’s mix delivery for Inverted Audio shepherds its listener in a trance-like state of mind, offering up a sublime hour-long odyssey across spacious synthscapes and multi-hued downtempo laments. Socked up in foggy textures and other vaporous emanations, it’s a world of penetrating beauty that’ll arise before your eyes and into your ears.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"I just wanted to put together some of the music I have been listening to on repeat over the last couple years, things I don’t get tired of."
Hey man, thanks for this beautiful mix, it makes for a very deep and introspective listen. What was your mindset when you recorded it?
Thank you! I just wanted to put together some of the music I have been listening to on repeat over the last couple years, things I don’t get tired of. To find some sonic or mood similarities between the tracks, blend them together and let them create the kind of story I could personally listen to over and over again.
Near to two years have gone by since the release of your last EP, ‘Still Life’, on Pinkman. What have you been up to in the meantime?
I’ve been continuing to make the kind of stuff I did before but something just didn’t feel right. It felt like I “mastered” that simple, primitive melodic 4 x 4 house/techno style I was working on and there was nothing left to explore. I also realised I’m pretty bad at beat making. So I guess I had some kind of creative crisis which was also combined with the severe depression I was going through at that time. It’s when I started trying something new.
You chose to share your debut album ‘Leaving The Room‘ directly through your Soundcloud page. It sounds quite different in essence than your previous records. Can you tell us more about it?
It was made during the period I mentioned above, which almost felt like a one-year-long bad trip or something. Some of the tracks were made in an almost schizophrenic state of mind, it’s really weird to remember about it now though.
And regarding the concept, story or inspiration behind it: I was thinking about this whole depression or even a love thing, like this room you’re getting locked in without any chance to be objective about your feelings, behaviour or thoughts. Without ability to change something. Like a rabbit hole you’re falling into when you’re in love or having some mental issues like depression, or let’s say neurosis.
It’s just getting worse and further intense everyday, it’s getting harder to get out of this box, “the room”. Tunnel vision. Addiction. Partly it’s also a reference to Sartre’s “La Chambre“.
It is something I tried to express with those tracks, poisoned love stories, social disability, unintended self-destruction and so on. I also started to be interested in these noise textures and field recordings like layers you can hear throughout the album. It appeared like a new spectral world for me at that time, a new and different type of melodies. Partly because of the concentration pills I was taking for some time then.
Your music bears a strong emotional force, melancholic yet often propulsive and highly melodic. Is it fair to say you’re making a romantic kind of electronic music?
I don’t know…maybe. Pretty sure I’d like to make it look more like a song, definitely not a club track, “dancefloor killer” or something, even if it has that 4 x 4 rhythm in it. Electronic music in the form of a life story/short film would be the main goal.
"I’m not the vinyl kind of guy really. The only records I have are my own copies and friends’ presents. I don’t even have a record player."
What are your plans now?
At the moment I’m just happy to get rid of the album I made, it’s finished, online and I could forget about it now, not worrying about looking for a label and sitting with these tracks for ages. I probably will just be making the same or slightly different type of things now, there’s still a lot to explore, we’ll see where it goes.
What triggered your interest in electronic music in the first place? Do you recall attending a life-altering gig/party or buying a special record that changed everything?
I started to listen to electronic music at the age of 14 or so when my older friends were showing me lots of stuff. Then it fully replaced all the guitar music I liked. Not any special story behind it really.
What prompted you to start producing music yourself?
I think I just needed to make something in my teenage years, the time one could feel himself so special, the deep inner-world, blah blah. So I started drawing, writing childish diaries, messing around in photoshop and when I discovered fruity loops I was spending most of the time figuring out how those buttons work and what is it about instead of hanging out with classmates. And I was also into music more than in anything, so yeah, a pretty common producer’s story.
Your first record, the excellent ‘Never Look Back’, came out via William Burnett’s WT Records a few years ago. How did you land on the New York label?
It’s a funny story, I felt really unsure about what I did at that time, so I dropped a couple guys Facebook messages with a link to my tracks like “Hey man, what do you think about it?”. One of them was Will. I didn’t really know who he was yet, but felt like he was someone from the electronic music world. So he asked for more tracks right away and in like 15 minutes he offered me to make a record. Then we became friends and he’s still one of the best guys I know.
Piano has held a dominating position in your compositions over the years. How come you made it your instrument of choice? Do you have a classical training?
It happened pretty simply actually. 8 years ago or so I suddenly realised I can’t even play two or three notes, like I just completely can’t hear if they match or not. It’s when I started to train myself by messing around with midi keyboard with the piano preset in software. Just figuring out which notes work together and which don’t, over and over again.
Then over the years it became the instrument I got used to, so when I was making a track carcass and all of the melodies with the piano synth it felt weird to turn it into something different after. Piano started to sound like the most natural and beautiful instrument for me as I spent most of my time playing it.
You’re operating out of Moscow, Russia, where the artistic emulation seems to keep going super strong. What’s hot in the city?
I was afraid you’d ask that question. I have some talented friends who are making music here like Kedr Livanskiy, Buttechno, Zurkas Tepla, Vtgnike or Kp Transmission and Rrrthia, but I can’t say I’m digging too much. I’d love to listen to some Moscow/Russian music but usually it never gets to my iTunes for some reason.
What are your favourite places to hang out in town?
For me personally, there are like 3 or so venues in the city. NII (Art and Science) which is my friends’ club. The place I spent thousands of hours at over the years. Can’t even remember how many L.I.E.S. guys played there. Rabitza – a DIY, Berlin-like industrial club where the parties last up to 3 days and which was unfairly shut down by corrupted cops last year. During that exact party I was handcuffed while finishing my DJ set! And probably Bar Simachev – a little bit of a luxurious bar with free entrance, good house or disco DJs, litres of alcohol and good food.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
I’m not the vinyl kind of guy really. The only records I have are my own copies and friends’ presents. I don’t even have a record player.
What can we wish you for 2018?
Ha! Working more and harder, failing in stupid destructive love stories and drinking less probably.
Discover more about Art Crime on Inverted Audio.Art CrimeCrème OrganizationPhonica RecordsPinkmanW.T. RecordsElectronicExperimental