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Interview: Forty Cats

26 min read

Christina Gavrilova aka Forty Cats is one of a few female Russian producers whose tracks have been supported on the global stage. As of today she has two EPs and the remix of Lane 8's "Don't Let Me Go" out on This Never Happened imprint. Her other releases include Sudbeat, Meanwhile, Sound Avenue, Juicebox, Mango Alley, Manual Music and more, while a list of supporters consists of Lane 8, Yotto, Above & Beyond, Paul Thomas, Haze-M, Gabriel & Dresden, Sultan + Shepard, Shane 54, Oliver Smith, Gai Barone, John 00 Fleming, Paul Oakenfold, Jaytech and more.

With 13 years of active DJing under her belt Forty Cats has already become one of the highlights in Murmansk city and shared a stage with such artists as Nick Warren, Jody Wisternoff, Dave Seaman, Yotto, Just Her, Miss Melera to name just a few. Now embarking on a new remix of Kamilo Sanclemente & Arbey Gonzalez for Deepwibe Underground, we catch up with Christina for an exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hi Christina, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello! Thanks for having me on the interview! I decided to get isolated until Spring due to another heavy wave of Covid-19 deceases here in Russia. Well, what could have been considered as a nightmare for an ordinary person is a blessing for a bedroom producer. The last piece of music I listened to was the Kazantip Festival anthem from 2005: R-Tem – “Voiceless”. Such a classic!

What are your plans for the coming week?

I have no gigs and specific plans until the end of February, actually — just sitting in my studio, writing music 24/7. I’ll have a DJ gig in Moscow at the end of February and soon after, two shows in my home city — Murmansk. Until then I’m gonna be locked down at home.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

I started as a huge fan of trance scene, so the first tracks that made a big influence on me were “Yet Another Day” by Armin van Buuren and “Nothing But You” by Paul van Dyk, then I switched to progressive house and my top-3 producers (not the particular tracks, sorry) would consist of Guy J, Khen and GMJ & Matter.

How has growing up and living in Russia influenced your music taste and direction? Or did it at all?

Lucky enough for me, there has been a strong electronic music scene and a lot of memorable events with international acts in Murmansk since I was a student, so I’ve had enough of inspiration to start producing music and DJing from the early ages.

What is the current state of progressive house in Russia? And how has its popularity changed over the last decade or so?

I should admit that I’m a rather new artist on the prog house scene: it’s been a little more than a year since I decided to switch my sound direction from Melodic House to Progressive House even though I was able to release more than a dozen of releases and remixes in 2021… It all depends on the specific city of Russia: the cities like St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Murmansk, Krasnoyarsk, Kazan have some really dedicated promo groups which bring a lot of great progressive artists from the different corners of the world and put a lot of efforts to make some of the best parties in our country. But all in all, I’d say that prog house can still be considered as an underground genre here in Russia.

You were a DJ for quite some time before eventually turning to production, where are some of your favourite places to play in Russia and why?

The best shows I took part in were held in Murmansk, “Garin” club, St. Petersburg, “WARPP” club, and Krasnoyarsk “True Emotions”. All these places have the most loyal and grateful audience — they know what music they’re going to and dance to.

You’ve performed with some of the world’s largest DJs over the last decade, Nick Warren, Yotto and many more; are there any gigs which hold the best memories for you?

I’d say that it was that party with Yotto and Nick Warren headlining: I’ve had a lot of fun playing a warm-up set before these legends and had a chance to talk to each of them.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Well, the ideal line-up of my very own “The House of Cats” festival would look like this: Lee Burridge & Sebastian Leger for the perfect organic house warm-up sets, then Guy Manzur & Guy J in the middle of the show… and yours sincerely to round-up the perfect night with some kick-ass prog house action! :D

You’ve had a rapid rise as a producer, already notching releases via Sudbeat and This Never Happened. Has it been challenging trying to navigate remix offers and ultimately figuring out what the best path of projects is moving forward from such early success?

I’ve had a privilege to release a lot of music on the labels I truly admire and respect in 2021. I really enjoyed and easily accepted many offers, and it wasn’t really challenging because I work quite fast and can deal with many originals and remixes in a short-time period. I can proudly say that last year I was able to reach a level of income that exceeds the salary at my last official job. A dream of a typical producer to earn enough for living with their music is coming to life rather fast for me.

You would have to be considered one of Russia’s fastest rising talents at the moment. Who else do you see as great up and coming artists from your country?

Meeting Molly, Fløa, Seawayz, Anton Borin, Bondarev, Motw to name just a few. But there is really a lot of talents in our country who deserve much more attention on the electronic music scene.

You have a new remix of Kamilo Sanclemente out this week on Deepwibe Underground, tell us a bit about the remix and the production process behind it.

Well, there’s not much to say about the production process: I tried to make an atmospheric remix and really hope I nailed it! :)

What was it about the track and label which made this project attractive to you?

Kamilo is a famous artist on the prog scene — I really liked his music and often support his tracks in my sets. It was so cool to receive an invitation from Deepwibe and remix his tune!

What does your set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of the remix?

My gear is more digital rather than physical. I write music on Ableton and use 5-6 favorite plugins. The only physical gear I have is Typhon synth by Dreadbox, and Arturia midi-keyboard.

Where does your inspiration come from and was there anything that inspired this particular remix?

It might sound boring, but my inspiration comes from the actual process of writing new music. In this specific case I just wanted to show my own different vision of the original track.

What is a piece of gear that gets used in every track?

It’s gonna be a “digital” gear: Pigments VST.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

It would be Nord Lead 4 synthesizer. Perhaps, not an extremely expensive one but certainly an object of my desire lately.

Do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

Not at all! I’m writing music real fast: it usually takes 2-3 days for me to finish and polish an original track started from scratch. Remixes are even easier to perform because a significant part is already done by someone else — I just need to adjust the key elements of the original track to my style and creative vision.

Looking back over your discography which release are you most proud of and why?

I think it’s “Ledokol”. This EP was very personal to me, and it was supported incredibly well by so many respectable artists around the globe. Couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I do a lot of road testing indeed! I check all freshly written tracks while driving in my car, as well as checking it in my headphones and even check them through the smartphone speakers (if a track sounds ok on such poor speakers, it’s gonna sound good on any professional sound system). I also send out a new tune or remix to my friends who are great producers themselves: Meeting Molly, Mango, Anton Borin, and a few other guys.

What has the last year and a half been like for you? Have you focused more time on making music? And has the pandemic affected your creative spirit in any way?

It’s been tough but not as tough as for the extravert people, I suppose: I’m a homegirl most of the time — I enjoy sitting in my studio and writing music day and night… and that’s what I’ve been mostly doing during the last two years. The pandemic still affects on me: it doesn’t allow me to spend enough time outside, hang out with friends and go on vacations to other countries. These are the things I miss the most, I think.

What is the situation with the pandemic in Russia at the moment? Are there parties or events happening yet?

The situation with covid is rather bad in Russia right now: we had a huge growth of deceases in January once the Omicron arrived, and the numbers keep on growing every day. The parties are still happening here and there but a lot of them are now being held unofficially: underground events behind the closed doors with the limited guest lists.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

I think the biggest risk was when I quit my job in the furniture store back in February 2020: I was an ordinary sales manager back then, I hated that job, but it paid my bills. I quit it right at the beginning of the global pandemic with no savings and alternatives, and just focused on music. I’ve never regretted about that decision, but it was a risky one with no doubt.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

That’s an easy one… Harry Potter! Like millions of kids around the globe I got instantly captured by the depth of the world, magical creatures, charming characters, and overall epic story.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Meeting with friends and family is what I miss the most these days. Every chance to meet them makes me really happy.

What does 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I hope to have more DJ gigs in different cities and countries, there’s a plan to find valuable connections in Europe and South America to become more of an international act. As for releases, I can’t really share anything specific yet, but I can say that there are more than 10 original works and 8 remixes by Forty Cats ready to come out in 2022. It’s gonna be massive, I promise! ;)

Forty Cats' Remix of Kamilo Sanclemente & Arbey Gonzalez 'Free Falling' is available now via Deepwibe Underground: https://bit.ly/3AUBMhK

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One Comment

  1. Aleksandr Chernov

    10th February 2022 at 17:58

    Прекрасный ремикс на VELVETA, поздравляю от души!


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