A raw techno talent with a knack for conjuring up solid, dancefloor driven techno, Spartaque is undoubtedly one of Ukrain’s finest techno exports. Now residing in Barcelona, it’s a move that’s clearly granted him a new lease of life — and it shows in his music too. We caught up recent;y with the man himself, as he gave us the lowdown on what he’s been up to recently!
Interview With Spartaque
1.) How and when did you get into music in Ukraine? Did you attend parties or was it more over the radio or?
Actually, my whole life has one way or another been revolving around music. My parents were into academic music. My dad was an orchestra director, so when I was a little kid, I was being raised in a family of musicians, always hanging out at rehearsals or listening to my parent’s team who were frequent guests at our house, coming over and singing songs at the table. I was engaged of course, and I would also sing songs while my dad or mom’s friends would play along. I still reminisce of those times with the warmest feelings. As I got older, when I was in high school, I went on to actually make music, starting off with some primitive software. I would also do dance events at school. So back then I think I already knew I would live my life along a musical path. I remember I asked my school principal to have our old radio booth repaired where me and my friends would then put on breaks, techno, house tracks… Some of my classmates who were into rock music just hated me for that. I even received threat letters with demands to broadcast some songs they loved. But they never succeeded in their endeavor. I didn’t concede so our school was listening to the music I at the time thought was dopest.
2.) How long till you started producing and collecting yourself? Was it easy to get the gear you needed, was there a community back home?
Yes, as already said, answering to your previous question, I started producing my first tracks when I was around 14, I guess. I got hold of some primitive soft, like Music 2000 for Sony PlayStation. I didn’t have my own PS, so I would ask a friend share it with me sometimes. I remember one time I took it for the entire summer as he went on vacation to visit his grandma at the seaside somewhere. Before he came back to take it, I’d already produced an entire EP. I do realize this was a rather primitive sequencer, but that was enough for me at the time to express my inner musical ideas. I was so thrilled! I even tried to pitch my tracks somewhere, perhaps try to release it. Of course, when you’re 14 or 15, you have no idea of how the industry works. Besides, none of my friends or family was working in it. But anyway, step by step, my perception of the musical world has gradually shaped up into a certain framework and I started to develop my skills. As for gear – no, I never really had any. See, I even bought my first monitors no earlier than 2008. Those were KRK monitors. So although I had to use primitive equipment to write my first tracks, I never regretted a thing. It was a truly great experience. I sometimes enjoy listening to my old stuff. It even seems to me that they had more heart in them and less technique. It was the case where ideas prevailed over anything else, and that was a really exciting to do. And yes, I’m still excited to listen to those tracks.
3.) What took you from Ukraine to Spain – what were the main reasons?
There were many reasons, of which the major one was the borders, passport control routine, visa issues… Also, it’s much better to live in a city hosting so many events, where artists flock all the time, where you can be in constant contact with a huge number of stars and music industry professionals. In this regard, Barcelona was a perfect choice. It’s not just a place really convenient to an artist, it’s also a great place for my kid. I love people here, really. Whenever I travel back to Ukraine, it takes me a few days to accept this, you know, kind of grumpiness in people – that’s compared to Spaniards – always happy, always shining, never having any problems at all it seems. I do realize problems happen in their lives, too, but I believe that we all should learn from them how to get through stressful situations, that’s for sure.
4.) Did the move change the sound of your music, affect the sort of beats you were making?
I don’t think my music changed too much as I moved to Spain. Of course, it’s subject to evolution based on some global trends in techno. No we see that acid is really popular, although this wave will probably soon be gone. Anyway, now it works well and the tracks I write in this style get an awesome feedback. But in no way has it anything to do with me moving to Spain. Generally, my music changed some three years prior to the move to Barca. So honestly, I believe no huge changes ensued music-wise. On the other hand, living in Barcelona allows me having a different perspective of what’s going on here in Spain and globally, too. Once again, while most touring has been suspended so far, I always have an opportunity to hang around great artists here and gain from them, have them share their experience. So of course, life in Barcelona is full of nice bonuses.
5.) Tell us about your One Man Festival EP – what inspired the title first off? Was it written with a festival setting in mind? Is it big sounds for big parties?
This is actually an amazing story. As I was writing this track – this was in December – I couldn’t even believe how prophetic and up to the point it would be in about three months. This track was conceived as a manifesto for those who would love to party solo no matter the circumstances, those who are ready to enjoy a festival on their own. This was the case where I, as a teenager, would come to clubs alone as my friends didn’t really want to go. So here I was, alone, having walked across half of the city to the venue only because I craved so bad to get to some event… This is the case where you spend great time, have at it on the dancefloor all by yourself, with no friends around at the festival. So when I was making this piece, I thought how amazing this is when someone loves music so much they can storm into a festival solo and enjoy their time there. And then in March comes the collapse… And although this track had been bearing a certain narrative, people started perceiving it differently. And now amid lockdowns, people on isolation have their only available connection to DJs via the internet – and the DJ is playing only for them. In fact, in every room at your crib, you get your One Man Festival. So this track has been working great. Its message has changed due to circumstances that ensued once it has been produced. No one could predict anything of this kind to hit us all. It seemed to be some nonsense. But it is what it is… A really exciting track and an exciting story of its making…
6.) Do you always produce with certain labels in mind, to suit their sound?
Although it would be a perfectly logical decision to produce tracks while keeping in mind the labels they’ll be released on, it was never the case with me. I always produce whatever I want. And now, due to the efforts of my great team, we have powerful labels that are part of the IAMT Music group, and I don’t even bother about releasing anywhere but the IAMT Music group’s imprints, and I can tell you why. That’s because now labels have to do much more than many are doing. They have to think beyond BeatPort. They’ve got to think Spotify, streams, YouTube. Working to further develop my labels, I realize how deep and complex the efforts must be to promote tracks, pitch your content to various audiences. When I release stuff on my labels, I am definitely sure that this job will be performed perfectly. This will be done as it must be done. And how can I be sure that any other label will do this as good as my team can? So, today, everything I write for my own labels and I’m always ready to offer other artists sending in their demos the same high quality service to promote their releases on our imprints.
7.) You are hugely prolific, what inspires you, where do the ideas come from? Do you write all the time or only when you have inspiration?
I don’t know, I don’t see myself as a super prolific artist. It doesn’t take much producing to have a new track released monthly. You have to complete perhaps one track each two weeks. Sometimes I have periods when I write a lot. I also have periods when I stay idle, so there’s no scheme to my producing. As for inspiration, I believe I’m mostly inspired by other music, when I hear some interesting samples. For example, this one track of mine Feel Burning: One day I heard these words in some other song, rushed to the mic, recorded the phrase, and that was it. Now this track has almost a million plays on Spotify within just around six months, which is a great result for a techno track, I believe. I guess, inspiration comes from some new samples, sample packs, synths, VSTs, plugins – anything new that could be interesting to check out and mess around with. So as I try new things out, this gives birth to some new ideas bound to transform into new tracks. Now I’m going through a period where I don’t write any new stuff. The thing is, I had produced a lot lately and we’re now preparing for a release of my EP, new releases which have been scheduled until year-end… So yes, the recent period hasn’t been fruitful in terms of producing new music. I’m just harvesting…
8.) What is the outlook for your CODEX label? What the vibe, the musical aim, the sound you’re trying to push there, and why?
I launched my Codex label primarily as a tool to show people my shift toward a new techno format, to show my new sound. Many labels were well aware of me but they knew me as a guy writing minimal techno. So my new format was different and I had to take measures to show people my new self and do it fast and effectively. So I thought under those circumstances the best thing to do would be to launch a totally new label and that’s how Codex was born. As for the label’s sound, it’s pretty much all I like. First of all, it’s high-octane, mega-energetic techno that’s a great driver. As we say, it knocks sneakers off your feet. At the same time, I think it’s a rather mainstream format. I also may allow some of those more melodic flows, or perhaps some tracks could be more underground, or take One Man Festival, which is a classic acid track. And I’m not afraid to mix formats. So I enjoy realizing that people can never guess what kind of release will be coming up next on Codex. On the other hand, I appreciate all those artists sending us their demos. We have gathered an awesome team of artists here. We’ve literally become family. By the way, our site is codexfamily.com. I really hope we will soon be able to launch events. We’d already done them in pre-corona times, but of course COVID-19 made adjustments to our plans. But once again, this gives us more time, which is also a win in some sense. Our label is getting stronger, we’re spinning our flywheel harder, and I hope we will hit new highs as soon as this terrible corona nightmare is over and offer people not only awesome releases but also dope parties across the globe.
9.) What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
Plans are huge. Lots of releases are coming out. Besides trying to deliver a release a month on my Codex and IAMT labels, I also have a few projects cooking in the oven. I have sent several demos to a number of great labels, at their request. Now we’re awaiting feedback. Of course, on October 30, my first studio album is being released. This is a colossal milestone for me. And I don’t care that people at the moment are unable to come to clubs and enjoy my new tracks on the dancefloor – I’m sure they will enjoy them from home just as much. Anyway, I am happy to realize that “the show is going on”. There’s a lot boiling around our labels. They have been developing steadily and rapidly. I’m very optimistic about their future. And that’s something I wish all people – to remain optimistic. I hope we will soon see each other on dancefloors, things will normalize and defreeze, and everything be even brighter and exciting than it used to be. See you all! Thank’s a lot for this interview!
Turn it up & enjoy!