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German Air: about hybrid djing and techno

от Sergio Gareth
German Air Top Event Magazine 2021

You are one of the first, who started working in the Hybrid Live format in St. Petersburg, and possibly in Russia. How many years have you been in the club industry? And when did you first realize that you want to be more of a musician than just a DJ?

I have been in the club industry for 20 years. And yes, indeed, I was one of the first who became interested in this form of performance in Russia. For the first 10 years of my career, I was doing great with vinyl and CD. The next step was to abandon the use of turntables, and a complete transition to using a laptop. I have to say, I have never had much love for the Final Scratch (and its similar) technology. Yes, at first there was great interest, whatever one may say, it was a truly revolutionary decision!

However, this technology has never evoked a feeling of reliability. As a result, through a lot of trial and error, midi controllers turned out to be the most optimal and reliable solution. Well, after that, I realized quite quickly, that having in my arsenal a laptop with the midi-protocol used for control, it wouldn’t be entirely correct to dwell on the classical performance technique, and it would be simply boring.

Many people know how a DJ set looks like, but not everyone understands what the Hybrid Live Set is?

Well, let’s start with the fact that the term “Hybrid Live” itself doesn’t imply any specific setup and type of artist’s actions. This is a conventional concept that can cover a whole range of different types and forms of performance. Hybridity can consist in a combination of different kinds of technologies or a combination of several traditional types and forms of performances into something completely new. Speaking about me, it is about a combination of a DJ set with a live performance of an electronic musician.

Let’s talk about the technical side. Usually, DJ needs a standard Pioneer set of equipment, which includes two CDJs and a mixer. The Hybrid Live Set is more complicated … Can you tell us about the equipment you need for this kind of performance?

My setup can be roughly divided into two parts: DJ and live. The NI Traktor program is responsible for the DJ part, and Ableton Live is responsible for the live part. Traktor uses 4 decks and 4 effect blocks. Ableton is used as a drum machine, sampler, and vst-host for side effects and synthesizers. Each Traktor deck, as well as the Master and FX Return channels from Ableton, are fed through a multi-channel audio interface to separate mixer inputs. To control this entire system, I use the Allen & Heath Xone: K1 and Ableton Push controllers. This setup allows me to «disassemble» tracks into elements in real time, create multi-layered constructions from loops, improvise in Ableton Live, each time creating something new out of all this.

Let’s talk about music. As far as I know you play Techno. It is believed that Techno is dark music. How would you describe this genre? Why Techno anyway?

Historically, Techno has never been a bright and positive direction. Of course, a lot depends on the subgenre, but the current conjuncture of this direction creates an unambiguously dark image of this music. For me Techno is about loops, their combinations and interactions in the mix, syncopation and polyrhythm in structure, a combination of dynamics and reverb in sound. Unlike most other genres, techno doesn’t have a rigid framework. Techno allows experimentation. It has always been the most innovative trend in the mainstream of electronic dance music. In the end, even the very format of my performances is closely related to the concept of techno music.

The coronavirus is making its own adjustments to the touring schedules of artists around the world. The performances of artists at large venues have noticeably decreased, but many still have the opportunity to perform. How has the pandemic affected your touring?

Yes, the entire world stage was under attack. Fortunately, all this time I continued to perform regularly in St. Petersburg. Of course, these were semi-legal parties in secret locations. This spring I managed to play in Yekaterinburg. Summer has almost completely dropped out, since I experienced all the «delights» of coronavirus infection for almost two months by myself. Back in late September, when the restrictions were eased, the SnapBack festival took place in SevKabel Port (St. Petersburg). Well, now, as you understand, everything is again under a big question.

Is Techno in demand in Russia today?

In Russia, as well as throughout the world, this direction is still very popular. And the difficulties with holding events, in my opinion, only increase the demand.

New Year is just around the corner, what are your plans for 2022?

It is very difficult to plan something in the face of repeated lockdowns, bans and restrictions on events, as well as forceful raids against those who disobeyed. Moreover, a large number of already agreed events may be canceled literally a few days before the date of the event. In general, very little depends on us now. Therefore, plans are limited to spending more time in the studio, trying to record something, and continue to hope for a full-fledged resumption of the club and concert industry.

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