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K Loveski [Interview]

36 min read

Russian artist K Loveski has been a beloved figure of the progressive house underground for well over a decade. A series of releases for Omid 16B's Alola Records spearheaded what has been a thirteen-year creative swell. The Saint-Petersburg resident now boasts a resume highlighted by releases via Nick Warren's The Soundgarden, Balance Music, Mango Alley and Or Two Strangers, while also earning the support of Hernan Cattaneo and Guy J along the way. This week sees K Loveski (in conjunction with Geronimo Eguiguren) making his debut on Colombia's premiere progressive house imprint Clubsonica Records with 'Chaia | Kamikaze', alongside remixes from Simos Tagias and Ruben Karapetyan.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with K Loveski to learn more about the release of 'Chaia | Kamikaze', his musical history, studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hi Progressive Astronaut, thanks for having me. I’m actually writing this on Monday so it’s a mix of being chilled and spaced out in a way. It’s also the beginning of April and we’ve still got snow in the streets here therefore there’s a healthy dose of confusion as well as I was planning to say goodbye to winter with the end of March at least. As for the music it will be more correct to ask what I’m listening to at the moment, because I usually always do. Right now it’s a relaxing piece «Altostratus» by an Irish ambient composer Mick Chillage and to round it up I would like to say that ambient music is my most frequent companion.

How has your start to the year been and what are your plans for the week?

It’s was definitely an exciting start. Literally the year has started warming up before Dubfire at a cool New Year party in Goa. I also got five premieres on the ever mighty Releases Promo since January. Some cool releases are out including the ones on fantastic labels like The Soundgarden, Or Two Strangers, Mango Alley to name a few and some are almost ready to see the light of a day on Clubsonica and onedotsixtwo which will be my debuts there. Some cool parties and heartwarming feedbacks, so yeah, it’s a nice start. I’m having a birthday party with an all night long set in WARPP club this Saturday, so I will be busy with preparing some special music during the week. I usually start this event with spinning some vinyls that’s why I need some time to go through my records collection as I plan to combine evergreen gems with brand new tunes cause I still keep on buying 12-inches. I also hope that I will find some time for the studio to start a new remix or an original track. Big and sort of thrilling plans to be honest.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I do not separate this, one mission helps another in a big way and I think combining those two is a perfect balance. The only difference is while you’re djing you see people having fun and while you’re producing you imagine them having fun. You can’t beat the feeling of playing at a cool party but the most enjoyable part is dropping your own tune and watching the crowd having a good time and freaking out.

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

1) Gat Decor «Passion» - they say it’s a first progressive house tune and also it’s an ultimate hands-in-the-air thing.

2) Paul Rogers «Krafty» - perfect prog funky roller from one of my all time favourite labels Sumsonic, these guys really shaped my sound.

3) Finitribe «Ace Love Deuce» (Justin Robertson Remix) - classic old school rave tune, proper English sound.

4) Spectrum «Brazil» - an example of quality party tune, simple yet effective

5) Brian Eno «Thursday Afternoon» - 60 minutes long ambient goodness, listened to it countless times, an essential tune for chilling and/or meditation.

I would also like to include The Stone Roses «Fool’s Gold» as an extra - that’s when I understood that an indie rock tune can be as funky and danceable as a house track.

You started your musical journey being classically trained at playing piano, tell us how you transitioned from that into an electronic music producer and DJ? And how has that past musical history helped your work in electronic music.

In fact I was not training piano, it was a guitar. The idea was the same - to become a famous artist like being a member of The Beatles, to go on tours, to create beautiful music. That were my teenage dreams, later I realised that doing the same as an electronic music producer and DJ is much more fun. Also you are much less depending on somebody else (i.e. band members) and I love creating being on my own. Apart from that I’ve got basic musical knowledge (chords, notes, harmonies, rhythms etc.) which is obviously really helpful.

There have been a lot of amazing electronic music artists come out of Russia over the last two decades. How did growing up there influence your music taste and direction? Or did it at all?

When I was a kid it was not very easy to be a music collector. In Soviet Union we did not have proper record stores or magazines. So every album or any information about the bands we liked was very treasured, that’s where this enormous obsession with music takes its roots. Older guys with original vinyl albums by Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths etc. were my heroes at the time. «I want to be like them» I thought. We’ve spend so much time recording tapes, writing down discographies and line-ups of different bands, listening to BBC - it’s unbelievable. Also Saint Petersburg where I live was always full of gifted and bright people ahead of their time especially in the late 80s. I was happy to appear in the right place at the right time and got to know the first promoters, djs and party people around. Like a guy who introduced me to an underground night life first came up to me at the subway station because I was wearing Public Image Ltd badge. That’s how it worked here.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Saint Petersburg, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

Well, being a resident at WARPP club my choice is obvious - we’ve got strong residents line-up and Funktion One sound system. There are also very cool one-off events here and there so it will depend on the occasion.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Preparing for DJing more likely), listening to some new music, making tunes, walking around with my iPod (I love hanging around in the city with headphones on), spending time with my family.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

It took quite a long way. My first teacher was Darko from Sumsonic Records when I was learning Logic. Later I switched to Ableton which I found much more fun to deal with and it was Ewan Rill who helped me with that - he is very skilled and pleasant to spend the time with. As for new producers I will definitely recommend to enrich your musical taste. I believe it will help a lot to create something beautiful. Ambient and jazz music are highly recommended to get the right idea of hypnotism.

You started DJing all the way back in 1992, winning several awards and travelling to over twenty countries to perform along the way. How has your work as a DJ influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

It certainly helped to realise what is working on the dance floor and what is not and that covers the right groove, the right percussive elements, the proper bassline. Sometimes listening to new dance tunes I need literally 1 or 2 seconds to switch to another one and that is very valuable. Basically I’ve become very selective, it’s hard to describe but you kind of start to feel the music and predict it a little bit.

Djing is a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

It always sort of a flow. I prepare my set by tagging the tunes with it’s key and thinking of maybe first two or three tunes to start the set with. Everything else depends on a venue, the crowd, the atmosphere so I think it’s pointless to prepare a longer order of tracks - you never know what the exact situation or the vibe will be around. I also like to add some percussive loops and some slightly used effects like reverb and echo to make the set more dynamic and expressive. Being open-minded and turning down pigeon-holing while selecting the next tune is another great feature which I hope I’m very close to be presenting.

You’ve accomplished a lot across your career with releases via Balance Music and The Soundgarden highlighting your discography. What goals do you have going forward? Or is that something you even think about?

There are certainly some other mountains left to climb and I hope that this is achievable. Everybody reading this knows the top ones so it’s even no need to name). The moment of seeing people going nuts to your tune and being released on quality label go often side by side, so I’m just trying to create something beautiful.

You have a new EP written in conjunction with Geronimo Eguiguren out now via Clubsonica. Tell us a bit about the release, who’s been playing it and what was it about the label which made it feel like a comfortable home for your music.

It was a pleasure to work with Geronimo because he is also into funky, trippy yet delicate dance music, so there were no any arguments while doing this. I’ve been following Clubsonica since I’ve noticed it and it was very pleasant fact to appear in their catalogue. The first major ringing bell about this release was Marcelo Vasami playing «Chaia» in John Digweed’s Transitions radio show. It’s hard to imagine better start of hyping about.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically on your Clubsonica release?

My main friends are Ableton 11, Access Virus TI2, Novation Launchkey 25 and Beyerdynamics DT 880 Pro headphones. As for the VSTs my favourites are Falcon, Pigments, Omnisphere and Massive. I believe that most of the sounds on Clubsonica release from my side were made on Virus.

Let’s talk about production a bit more for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play in writing music for you?

Anything matters - dreams, thoughts, feelings, impressions, memories, any forms of arts, sightseeing. I only can’t remember politics being too much involved. The impulse comes itself as soon as something exciting begins to collide.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I try to spend as much time as it requires for a tune to become a groover but hopefully not for too long. Sometimes when it’s more or less finished it’s good to give it a rest for two or three days to get a fresh listen but not always. I basically test it myself - if I want to start dancing while listening or to start waving hands in the air then I know that I’m moving in the right direction. I like to send my new tunes to Kabi (AR) with whom we made an exciting EP out on Jukebox Music a couple of years ago. He always gives some cool advices which help to take a look from a different angle which is important. Another option is to send it to a label owner where it’s planned to be released but that’s only if everything is totally finished.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

The best part is creating the groove and the main idea - these moments are the happiest while working on a tune. I leave the mastering process to professionals so far I can’t compete in this field.

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

I think building a proper studio as an audio prepared room with the best monitors is the first thing that comes to mind. I’m not dreaming of any particular synthesiser but I believe that any legendary one will bring a lot of fun and satisfaction.

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?

I would love to have Daniele Baldelli for the warm-up, next one will be Ezequiel Arias, then DJ Ruby, then Guy J and Nick Warren. But this party should be really long.

Current top five tracks?

Pakkio Sans - PLAN B (Weird Sounding Dude Remix), Blanka Barbara - Celestial Trail (Funksun Remix), Juan Deminicis - Samhadi (Wolfframm Remix), Kamilo Sanclemente - Honest (Leandro Murua Remix), Glen S - Activate Bliss.

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

The film: «Control» by Anton Corbijn. Very visually impressive and describes the ups and downs of a musician in an intimate way. The book: «Essays» by Michel de Montaigne. I love to get back to it from time to time. Very useful and down-to-earth philosophy.

You’ve got one meal left on earth, what are you eating and where is the meal taking place?

It’s a rather sad perspective but ok. I would say it will be a proper pepper steak somewhere with a great river or sea view.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

An exchange of positive energy, getting nice things in return while not expecting it.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

I’ve mentioned some above. I believe the best are always the ones which are not being planned. It was a quite entertaining journey while answering this, thanks for great questions. And to all our readers - stay true, support the ones you love - it’s a joint venture. Peace and love.

'Chaia | Kamikaze' is available now via Clubsonica: https://bit.ly/3GKjmo0

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