Photo: Kieran Behan (Philipp Gorbachev)
Philipp Gorbachev is one of dance music’s most singular figures. Growing up on punk and falling for techno when he was teenager, he brings a rough and raw attitude towards machine music that is rarely to be found elsewhere. Over the course of his career, the Berlin-based Russian has just recently widened his scope by putting a band together, The Naked Man, with whom he released the I Don’t Give A Snare LP on Arma last year. Despite the post-punk-inspired sound of the record, the PG Tune founder’s heart still beats at 130bpm+, as his contribution to our Groove podcast proves.
Your road to electronic music was unlikely shaped by local punk veterans from the Moscow scene. What drew you to dance music?
I love to dance and I love when everyone is dancing. I am attracted by those moments of unity. And more, with all the equipment available now, collaborations with visual artists, stage design crews – all possible arts, dance music, as we face it now, became a culture where an individual can fullfill creative dreams on so many different levels, still being able remain close to house – as a feeling, as a loving music family.
Historically speaking, dance music has always relied on widely-available machines and later software. You usually incorporate live instrumentation and other, more traditional elements into your production and performances. Doesn’t the idea of musical virtuosity contradict the original, generally considered egalitarian idea of this tradition?
I don’t know. I just work hard to bring the best to the audience from my side. Try to stay fit, feel good and bring a sound that I worked on. Sometimes, at bigger parties with a big PA, I feel the sound works more like an installation, dance sound installation, keeping space for the audience and the contemporary environment.
It has become increasingly common for producers – among them Floating Points or Leon Vynehall – to focus on full-band performances. How do you perceive this recent trend?
For me it has been since early years very close to perform, hang out in musical communities, with people, who can value music creation process as a collective action. For instance, Cómeme from the beginning is all about that and I would have not been able to start making music alone, thats for sure. I try to maintain same spirit for my Moscow based music platform, PG TUNE. Do you know the rule of two in music? When two people dance – that’s already a dancefloor! My touring schedule, in addition to solo live shows at clubs and raves, recently features dates as Philipp Gorbachev & The Naked Man. If I look back to the day we started to rehearse for that Boiler Room show in 2014, I would not have been able to be where I am now musically without having those wild gigs and extended jam sessions with other talented musicians, learning a lot. For instance one of our last shows in Moscow at ARMA17’s secret event A was one of those portals to the unknown fun before. Show time was 10am an it was a true rave with a live band instead of a DJ.
For the album I Don’t Give A Snare you recruited musicians through Craigslist. What made you take that direction and how did the working process between this newly-founded band look like?
The fact that the majority of dance music artists playing events are usually solo acts – in rare cases duos or trios, not speaking about more complex collectives, leaves a lot of music players out from the groove of what we call dance music culture. So I had to dig via internet message boards to find someone fresh. That was my thought and even if Kevin “Bucket” and Marco “Skinny Bones” where the best after quite a few auditions, I was shocked by the amount of messages I got back and by the level of the skills discovered… All hard working, full time music players with amazing skills, completely under the radar and not in the club.
In the past, the Russian rave has been facing state repressions and fell victim to gentrification, as indicated by the closure of Arma17 or the cancellation of Outline festival in 2016, where you were supposed to perform. How would you characterise the Russian dance scene at this point, and which obstacles does it have to deal with in the moment?
Tbilisi with the recent episode around Bassiani and Café Gallery, or the Closer crew in Kiev, protesting in front of the Parliament were situations where the officials had to listen to the people of the territory they work for and go for a compromise. Due to its uniting and aggression-healing effects in the society, club culture, dance culture clearly is something much bigger than pure entertainment industry, at least for me. I wish this breakthrough could have happened in Moscow too, but may be the reaction from the officials would have been the opposite of dialogue. Just more dangerous consequences. We are far away from Holland or Germany here, unfortunately. But may be as a result of this, I hear more new music around me in Moscow and I am happy to work with acts like Obgon, Interchain, ushi333 for future releases via PG TUNE. Alternative, cross-genre festivals, communities like NII or Rabitza, who run MINIMUM events or JOY parties also inspire a lot our actions and often give a platform for performing, very thankful to these lovely people!
“I usually never do this, but there is a special music story coming together that I want to share,” you’ve told us when you approached us to record a mix for us. Which story is that?
I was requested to play an off location rave called D.O.GS in Milano last summer and the people behind it asked me to do the opening, to play live and to close the night, which meant I was supposed to play a DJ set too – a discipline I have put on a hold to focus on DJ-inspired live setup for raves. Anyway, I played for 5 hours and it was so special! Since then at super special events, like the epic party MAMBA NEGRA in Sao Paolo, Brazil, I ask to play an extended show, where I take over the stage for ay least 3 hours. This podcast is inspired by those special moments we had with dancers around the world.
Last but not least: Where can we see you live or behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
I am working hard to keep the schedule tight with my team, to stay music focused and low on social media. This summer I play at amazing festivals, like EXIT or Moonland. At EXIT I really wanna see Grace Jones live, as I am big fan. In Russia I am very happy to perform at AFP, it is a very big festival and there are a lot of great artists performing, both, local and international. The curation of our stage is done by Evgenii Mashkov, who is behind System108 community and never fails to throw an outstanding event beautiful dynamic visual effects. In addition to Philipp Gorbachev & The Naked Man, me and my Moscow artist friend Obgon started ДЭКА (DEKA), a new band that will be releasing an LP this fall and play just a few selected dates. Our first single “Rush” is out now on PG TUNE as part of Centrifuge One: New Dance Sound Of Moscow compilation, check it!
Stream: Philipp Gorbachev – Groove Podcast 167
01. Vakula – Modulation 04
02. Margot – Moderno
03. Obgon – Dust
04. JASSS – Oral Couture
05. Philipp Gorbachev – Light and Sound
06. Sharplines – Out Of Control
07. Ushi333 – Dolphin Spy (Edit)
08. Philipp Gorbachev – D-scription
09. Ryan James Ford – Beltline
10. The Mover – Nightflight (Nonstop to Kaos)
11. Alpha 606 – 808 Trax (Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir RMX)
12. AAAA – Acid Derrier feat. Marie Davidson
13. AJ Christou – What do you think?
14. Society Of Silence – Paracusia (Dj Stingray rTMS Remix)
15. Dubrovsky – Oranges and Lemons
16. UMFANG – Force
17. Phil Moffa – Alma Del Mundo
18. Sedvs / Peel – No Touching
19. Heathered Pearls – The Packard Plant (Sophia Saze Remix)
20. Stanislav Tolkachev – You Spoil Everything