Monokle is the alias of Vlad Kudryavtsev, a musician and producer from St Petersburg, Russia. Monokle has been releasing his own blend of downtempo electronica since 2006, beginning with his debut album ‘Something About Frost’ on the now-defunct online label electrosound.ru. He followed his debut with three more albums, including a split LP with Russian beatboxer Galun.
This November Monokle will release ‘Saints’, the fifth LP to be pressed by Hamburg-based imprint Ki Records. Since its inception in 2009 Ki Records has grown from strength to strength releasing records from Christian Löffler, Biodub and Steffen Kirchhoff, and ‘Saints’ is an album that nestles harmoniously within the high calibre of talent that Ki Records have helped develop.
In the mix and interview below, Monokle explores some of the diverse influences that led to the creation of his fifth full-length release.
For those who may not know, could you introduce yourself and tell us what you’ve been up to recently?
I’m a sound-producer from a city with horrible weather, St Petersburg. I produce electronic music and experiment with sounds under the name of Monokle. I always try to put my own perception into various musical styles. People often say that I do selected electronica. Even though I don’t like that narration, I think it pretty much describes what I do.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got interested in electronic music? And how you began producing?
I started making music in the year 2000. At that time many were highly influenced by the music styles of Glitch and IDM that came to life. I was no exception. I was impressed by the way this music was approaching towards sound and building compositions. After listening to this for a while I started to become interested in programming and synthesizers. At that time I had no fast internet connection nor people sharing the same interest in music, that’s why I had to learn everything by myself and needed quite some time to get this far with my productions.
You’ve cited Erik Satie and silence as major influences, what else inspires you, within or outside of music?
I can’t say that Eric Satie directly influenced my music but he influenced me personally a lot. I can listen to his music at every time of the day or even every season of the year. Sometimes I play his music by myself which is really enjoyable. What else influences me… maybe nature. I like being in the forest or at a river. I’m often outside in nature as I’m a big fan of fishing. The more I get away from music, the more creative I get and new ideas come to my mind. Everything has its limit and I need time off to be creative and productive again.
How do you feel your physical surroundings influence your music? Can you describe where you work?
My music is often dark and sad, I believe this reflects my environment very well. In St Petersburg this atmosphere is created by the weather. We rarely have sun here but people living in this city are still friendly and polite. At the moment I don’t have a proper job, I only do music. Sometimes I have a part time job or I write music for advertisements and computer games.
The video for ‘Swan’, from the EP of the same name, is a kaleidoscopic interstellar vision – what do you envision when you hear or create music?
Concerning the video, this is the personal vision of the director Alina Anca when listening to the song. I find it very interesting to see what people reflect to when listening to my music.
In general it’s important to me to get feedback by the people surrounding me but this also slows down the process of making music and that I don’t like. I have to get away from this and do my own thing.
Your forthcoming ‘Saints’ full-length has found a suitable home on Ki Records – how did you get involved with the label? How do you feel your music complements Ki?
We’ve know each other for a long time now, since the first releases came out. I like what they do and wish that they will develop further in this direction. I feel that my album “Saints” fits perfectly into the Ki catalogue.
How would you compare these two releases to some of your earlier work?
This work is more consequent and conceptual. I tried to use the same patterns and ways throughout the whole 9 tracks to communicate and emphasize the spirit. I think I succeeded in this way very well. I used a lot of ambient, drone and modern classical sounds and mixed them up with modern rhythms. I really like this kind of mashup and will keep this course.
You’ve talked about a fondness for Warp records, what about the label appeals to you?
I especially like Warp’s discography during the 90ies. The music they published at the time was amazing and a great contribution to modern electronic music. I doubt that there are many young and upcoming producers of electronic music today, that have not been influenced by Warp releases.
Can you tell us a bit about your mix – is it reflective of how you play out, or is it more of a conceptual thing?
The tracks I chose for the mix are ones that are currently in my playlist. However, at the moment I almost only listen to music without beats but didn’t want to overexert the listener with those.
Are there any artists, including those featured in your mix, that you’re enjoying/excited about right now?
Any shows or events coming up that you’re looking forward to?
I don’t go clubbing or to concerts really, only to my own. I’ve been enjoying the theater lately. I’ll be going to a performance from Dostojevski soon.
Lastly, any words of wisdom for our readers?
Don’t be afraid to go into the wrong direction, be afraid not to go anywhere.
1. How To Dress Well – Cold Nites (Koreless Remix)
2. Flako – The Awful Dynne
3. John Roberts – Paper Frames
4. Zelany Rashoho – True Song
5. Dam Mantle – Canterbury Pt.1
6. Caribou – She’s The One (Brokenchord Edit)
7. Evian Christ – Myd
8. Monokle – Even (Wols Remix)
9. Monokle – Homesick
10. Slava – I’ve Got Feelings Too
11. Corduroi – You And Me (Future)
12. Magical Mistakes – With Love (Featuring Jake Falby)
13. Sven Kacirek – Marid
14. Kwala – Lost In Knightsbrdge
15. Vessel – Aries
16. Clark – Brigitte
17. Monokle – Glow (Milinal Rmx)