We caught up with St Petersburg deep house collective Untitled Gear to discuss their music, their influences and the underground scene in their home city. The group released the highly regarded White Nite EP on SOBO in November last year leaving fans hungry for more.
I really like your sound – it’s really got a nice deep groove to it and some really funky tunes like “it’s wonderful.” Is there much of a scene for similar music in Russia?
Dmitri Takis: Not so much. But you should check all of the Udacha label catalogue, there are guys like A5, Pjotr, Shine Grooves, Cuisine Dub and many many others.
Dices: Not too similar, because each producer has their own unique sound but over the past few years the scene has grown a lot and there are a lot of house producers. Alexander Lay-Far, Plentev aka Ponty Mython, Kito Jempere, OL, Buzz Compass... It's hard to recall everyone. All of them are well known outside Russia. The scene is large and every week there are more and more musicians and new releases.
Q. Tell me more about the Untitled Gear collective, how many of you are there? Who are the different members?
D.T: Dices, A.Nevski, Dmitri Takis, Nick Ossia, Flaty – this is the main collective. And some times we have live musicians for the session work.
Flaty: Actually a lot of people around. And sometimes not even musicians.. Well, the basis are Dices - Nic Osia - Takis - A.Nevski/ Our invited DJ's - Hoopa & Maxim Panfilov as well as a lot of our friends who are musicians that take part from time to time. Untitled Gear is a studio project first. I personally haven't met more than half of participants to be honest..
Q. I’ve heard Dices’ tracks, do you all have solo careers?
D.T: I`m on the way, still experimenting in my own studio.
Q. How do you produce your music?
F: Nothing extraordinary in terms of process - just jams and a lot of work. All good music comes from hard work. Its rare when in the studio that there are more than three people. Someone starts one day and others end. There are a lot of us around so there is always opportunity to be there.
D.T: It is all about a huge jam session at the beginning and then micro editing after – I think that's why we have what we have.
Q. So you had a release on SOBO – how did you get to know the people from that label?
D: Oh, first of all we want to say thanks to Alexandra Zakharenko, who currently lives in Berlin. She is one of the people who launched a great project about Russian culture called "InRussia". Two years ago I did podcast for the Udacha label where I collected some of our/my unreleased stuff and she introduced the music to Project Pablo . After that he contacted us and offered to release some of the tracks on his new label. The world is full of pleasant surprises, thank you Sasha!
Q. What’s happening in 2017 – will there be more music from your guy’s solo projects or Untitled Gear?
F: A lot of solo stuff coming!
D.T: We are working on our solo projects but also keeping in mind Untitled Gear. At the moment we don't have any EPs planned for Untitled Gear.
Q. Can you give us names of EPs and when they might be released?
D: I'm waiting a Internal Ambience EP on Cologne based label Pandora (ambient-focused sister label of Rough House Rosie). We have a few offers from labels in Germany, UK and USA, but there's still work to be done. Also we're collecting new material for a new album with Flaty. It's too early to disclose our plans.
Q. Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
D.T: Dices introduced me to Gong four months ago and I'm still in love with it. Thank you bro!
D: It's pretty hard to define. There is lots of good music and artists around in the past and in the present! You can list them without stopping. Most of all releases from Music From Memory, great moody and funky stuff from Kolour LTD. Usio from Studio Barnhus. Dj Aakmael. Forthcoming Kausto' releases on Roots United Records and Gost Zvuk. I like all production from our brothers-in-arms Gamayun (congratulations guys on a great EP on Hesperian Sound Division!).
Q. What are your five favourite tracks of the last year or so?
F: 1) Shine Grooves - Runout 04
2) VTGNIKE - Marita
3) Flakes- Go Sleep Loop
4) Piper Spray - Category
5) OL - Hand Plant
D: It's never easy for me to choose favourite tracks. It's easier to still mentioned labels or artists. Sometimes i'm looking back in time and re-discover music from 90's-00's - Orb (The Orb's "Orbus Terrarum" is all-time-favorite for me), early releases from Compost, Pork, Scape, Merck, Pussyfoot. Jazz-influence works by Warren Harris (aka Hanna). The great "Air Farina" album is alway in my mind. Techno- and ambient-era of John Beltran. Ian O'brien. Dj Mitsu the Beats... I could on and on. Music is like food - while you're listing your favourite dishes you reminisce of something else and your taste is always changing
Q. So you guys are from St Petersburg right? Tell me more about the music scene there.
F: The music scene is not huge but it's growing very fast. However, we've still had a rich music background since the early 90s thanks to the first generation of St. Petersburg pioneers.
D.T: It seems that the electronic scene is growing right now. More and more new producers are releasing music and as I see it it's more about house/techno and experimental electronic. Finally we've had two electronic music festivals and we're currently waiting for the third called PRESENT PERFECT organised by the Roots United crew. Also Saint-Petersburg has a rich history of rock bands, you may know such a names like Kino and Akvarium, so there are still a lot of rock studios here. And the latest trend is Jazz bars with live music which became very popular in the last two years or so.
D: To list some events:
Eclectic Music Fests "Off" and "Present Perfect" from Roots United crew.
Electro estetic in Mosaique club.
Warm or raw sounds in Stackenschneider club.
Experimental performances at Masts club on the coast of Gulf of Finland.
Small and private parties from crew which i remembered from wonderful place G1 (thank you guys for all events where everyone can feel welcome).
Techno raves at Nobel's factory from m_division.
As you can see there are many lot of venues and very rich music scene. It all depends on what you want and what you are looking for.
Q. Do you guys ever put on parties or play out at events?
D.T: We haven’t live as a UG, but most of us are DJs.
D: We're not as active as before. My last live performance was at Present Perfect fest in 2016. My last DJ set was in March this year at MIR party with Project Pablo in great Moscow' venue "NII" (Science&Art).