Up until a few years ago, there wasn’t much that would come to mind when discussing modern Russian electronic music, unless I were to mention t.A.T.u.(which some may consider an insult). In early 2009, Muscovite synthpop trio (now duo) Tesla Boy changed that when it lit up the blog circuit and brought international attention to the Motherland’s thriving scene. The rise of prominent domestic blogs such as Raketa 4000 and Russian Adults in recent years has given outsiders further insight into the country’s underground, one which is surprisingly receptive to the balmy, breezy, and yes, “blissed-out” sounds of balearic disco and deep house. One bright example to emerge from this is the Saint Petersberg-based quartet known as D-Pulse.Self-described as “a ragbag of different influences and styles” and “the most expressive, vivid live electronic band in Russia,” D-Pulse’s journey began in the former industrial city of Izhevsk, where its members grew up together as schoolmates. Following the release of its debut album in 2003, the band has toured extensively both in its home country and abroad. In the ensuing years, there has also been a string of 12-inch EPs leading up to 2010’s On a Highway to Saturn, featuring remixes by Max Essa and Lithuania’s Proper Heat, and the recently released Velocity of Love, which includes a remix by Hot Toddy (of Crazy P fame). They’ve also produced a number of their own remixes for a variety of acts, ranging from fellow Russian peers Pompeya to world-renown disco legends Space. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing band member Klim Sukhanov.
ND: How was D-Pulse formed? Is there any special meaning behind the name?
KS: Well, we grew up together; one school, one class. Generally speaking, it all started in school, with experiments in mixing rock sounds with ambient, house, and jungle. This was around the time when we also came up with the band’s name; it means Deep Pulse, the deep rhythms of your heart and music of our feelings — I guess that’s the most poetic way of putting it (remember, we were just schoolboys!). Eventually, we signed with a local label and toured Russia while our first releases came out on CD and cassette. By the ages of 16 and 17, two of us held DJ residencies at local club Babylon Disco. There we had the opportunity to pass our demo CD to DJ Linus from Munich, who released our first 12-inch, the Memory EP, on EXUN Records in 2005. This EP has been pushed by many top DJs like Laurent Garnier, Sasha and James Zabiela. That’s how it started… Later, there were gigs in Japan, a festival with Air, and a move to Prague. Now we’re in Saint Petersburg, continuing our music journey.
ND: Your MySpace page cites French artists like Air and Phoenix as major influences. Who else do you look up to?
KS: We all have slightly different musical tastes, but French artists are the ones we most commonly admire. ROB… who else? I need to check our MP3 players 🙂 Everything that Studio and Dan Lissvik are doing is also great. Thom Yorke’s collaborations, Röyksopp, Australians like Canyons and Tame Impala, Ariel Pink, many 70s and 80s kraut/progressive/folk rock bands… we can go on and on.
ND: Describe a typical D-Pulse live show.
KS: Hmm… I don’t think live performances, by their nature, can be typical, especially due to each venue’s unique atmosphere. When we last played at Yota Space Festival with Hot Chip, we had our VJ (ST25) on visual backgrounds and the dynamic was outstanding, despite our band’s lack of a frontman. In smaller clubs, cafés, and bars, we don’t even have visuals, and it’s all about the sound and how the audience reacts to it.
So it’s always different! We even have a couple of tracks that are almost entirely improvised (by “almost,” I mean we just know the tonality :)). We don’t use MIDI sync. I love that different MIDI clock in old synths; it makes them more alive, and you constantly have to adjust the arp tempo according to the beats coming from the drum machine. That’s fun, and these improvisation tracks can be anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes long, depending on the audience and how much our guitarist has had to drink.ND: Judging from prominent Russian music blogs like Raketa 4000, as well as domestic artists like Tesla Boy, Acos CoolKAs, and Volta Cab, there seems to be a vibrant nu disco/deep house scene emerging from the country. What can you tell us about that? Anyone else we should be looking out for?
KS: We don’t think this is a recent trend. Social media has certainly helped get the word out, but take a look at AN-2 and his Theomatic label. He produced great records and excellent remixes, back when there was no such style as nu disco! Speaking of fresh blood, definitely look out for Eclectic Sound and Lipelis. Taras 3000 and Sportloto are doing some really nice production! We also have a great dance-rock band called Pompeya! And you’ve already mentioned our good friends Acos Coolkas.
ND: What’s the band doing now, and what’s on the horizon?
KS: The horizon… it’s something unreachable. 🙂 D-Pulse is currently settled in Saint Petersburg to record an album. That’s all we can say. We love to travel, seeing and trying new things, and the same goes for our music; we love to travel in it, experimenting and trying not to repeat ourselves. I think that’s the core of our perspectives.
Featured below is the aforementioned On a Highway to Saturn, a shimmering slice of galactic pop that started out as a B-side on 2009’s More EP, and later received the star treatment in the form of its own EP, complete with added vocals. Also available is an impressive take on Space’s Prison that transforms the influential French trio’s sweeping melancholic disco into a lush house jam. Space- Prison (D-Pulse Remix)
D-Pulse- On a Highway to Saturn (D-Pulse Australian Shore Reversion)If you like what you hear, be sure to check out D-Pulse’s SoundCloud page, where you can not only discover and purchase more quality material from the band, but also download a number of excellent mix sets. Their latest one is a bid farewell to the summer of 2011, hosted by the fantastic Ukrainian blog Hip Me.
Guest post by Luciano Medori