Truancy Volume 320: diskevich

When it comes to unearthing some of the most obscure dancefloor heaters in the world, diskevich is one of the hardest-working DJs in music right now. Raised and based in Kyiv, he started his Youtube channel in 2017, supplying followers with a regular stream of impeccable music digs both old and new. He spent his formative years dancing at the city’s most celebrated club, Closer, where the venue’s kaleidoscope sound of 90s US house, timeless Detroit techno and head-twisting minimal house had him hooked before he even realised. We caught up with diskevich (real name Denys) on growing up in Kyiv, his introduction to Closer, coming-of-age summer festivals in Odesa, setting up his goldmine of a Youtube channel, his approach to digging, and the comprehensive, significant change in Kyiv’s musical landscape these last 10 years. His Truancy Volume, a masterful hour of golden era tech house and chuggy house gems, will undoubtedly get people chasing track IDs. A selector and avid record collector truly in ascent, 2024 is set to be a breakout year for this Ukrainian DJ.

Hey there, thanks for taking out the time to answer some questions and doing this mix for us! So just to start, how have you been, and how has the year been getting on for you so far? “Undoubtedly, the recent period has been challenging, particularly due to the situation in Ukraine. However, this has also created a unique opportunity for local scene development. A robust sense of community and resilience is propelling the scene, enhancing its vibrancy and diversity. This era is about transforming challenges into creative fuel and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in electronic music.”

So as it’s your first time getting interviewed on the site, I thought we’d go back and just ask about how you got into electronic music in the first place. What was the first dance music listening experience that really stuck with you? “It’s almost a decade ago, and I’m lost in the electric energy of a dancefloor. The art director of Closer club, Timur Basha, is at the decks, weaving magic into the air. Then, this track by Klubb Family aptly titled “When I Fall In Love” began to play. The female vocals, both ethereal and haunting, resonated through the room, singing “Let It Come To Me.” It transcended mere music; it was a call to dreams, a feeling of belonging, a promise of achievement. In that moment, the lines between the beats and my heartbeat blurred. I was captivated, experiencing a sensation entirely new to me.”

What was it like growing up in Kyiv in regard to partying and going to clubs? Do you remember some of the first parties and artists you were attending and going to see in the city? Was there a particular club night you were going to regularly? Growing up in Kyiv, I was surrounded by a diverse club scene, yet it took time to find my place. Before Closer’s emergence, my nights were spent exploring various clubs, none truly capturing my essence. It was a journey more about seeking than finding. However, Closer’s arrival transformed everything. More than just a club, it was a revelation. Its superior sound system, exceptional DJs, and unique soul set it apart from anything Kyiv had previously experienced.

As a regular, I delved into the rich tapestry of electronic music at Closer. DJs like Jan Krueger, Seouil, Binh, Nicolas Lutz, and Zip made indelible marks, each infusing their distinct essence into their sets. For two consecutive years, Closer’s line-ups were unparalleled, with each weekend featuring artists on par with Europe’s finest venues. These artists and nights transcended mere events; they were profound experiences, each shaping my appreciation and passion for electronic music.”

What are some of your favorite memories associated with Kyiv’s music scene? “One of my most treasured experiences in the Ukrainian music scene was an unforgettable journey with the Closer crew and Oskar Offerman. We embarked on a remarkable adventure on the two-tiered Trip Bus, traveling from Kyiv to a summer festival in Odessa. These moments, brimming with laughter, dance, and a collective passion for music, perfectly encapsulate the essence of Kyiv’s music scene. It’s about a community uniting to joyously celebrate life and music. The days spent in Odessa, basking under the sun and stars, amidst peers who shared my sentiments, are memories I cherish deeply.”

Image1: This photograph captures a moment from a journey that resonates with the joy and vitality of music, friendship, and the call of the open road. It was taken during an excursion to a music festival, an adventure undertaken by the Closer team and their friends. Imagine, if you will, the anticipation as they boarded the festively adorned party bus, the hum of excitement mingling with laughter and the distant promise of rhythm.

Image 2: This photo was captured by myself during one of Yuki Masda’s inaugural visits to Closer, at a time when the club was the target of a police raid. The ambiance was charged with tension, the air filled with the unmistakable chaos of an unexpected intervention. Yet amidst this challenging situation, Yuki’s demeanor stood out as a beacon of resilience. Despite the frenzied surroundings, Yuki strived to maintain an air of youthful bravado, a testament to his courage and an indelible symbol of his character.

So where did the interest in digging and collecting records come from? And what was the spark that made you want to start a Youtube/Instagram channel in 2017 with all your finds? What has the reception been like? “My passion for record digging and collecting truly flourished at Closer. The club was a sanctuary for music devotees – DJs, dancers, and listeners alike. Closer’s distinction lay in its residents’ dedication to an eclectic range of records. This diversity inspired a friendly, unspoken competition within our community, with everyone eager to make their mark on the Closer decks.

This atmosphere served as my springboard. I recognized an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the electronic music world, to share my enthusiasm and findings. The inception of my YouTube channel emerged from this aspiration to engage with the community. My goal was to create a platform where fellow enthusiasts could discover a track from my videos on a Discogs release page, feeling an immediate connection. This endeavor was about more than just disseminating music; it aimed to build a legacy and reciprocate the gifts I received from the scene. Reflecting on this journey, it’s fulfilling to observe the tangible benefits it has brought to both myself and the community I hold dear.

As someone who is a little out of the loop with the Ukrainian dance music scene apart from a few set clubs and crews, is there a big community of record collectors, diggers in the country you might trade/talk with nowadays? What can you tell us about the current scene? It’s a vibrant community that’s constantly evolving and growing. We have several key record stores that are the heart and soul of this scene. First, there’s the Closer Connections Shop, which is affiliated with the Closer venue. This place is more than a store; it’s a cultural hub for music enthusiasts.

Then there’s ABO Records, run by the esteemed Borys – a mastermind and well-known figure in the Ukrainian electronic music landscape. His store is a treasure trove for collectors, offering a curated selection that reflects his deep understanding and passion for the scene.

The newest addition to this landscape is Octan. Despite being the new kid on the block, Oktan has quickly made a name for itself with a promising collection that caters to a wide range of tastes. Apart from these stores, the scene is further energized by regular record markets – up to five different events each year.

How has the music scene in Ukraine and Kyiv changed and evolved from when you first got into dance music? “The evolution of Kyiv’s dance music scene over time has been both comprehensive and significant. When I first delved into this realm, it appeared as a niche community, a hidden treasure known to few. However, as time progressed, the scene didn’t just grow – it surged in popularity. It has become increasingly accessible and attractive, not only to the dedicated music enthusiasts but also to a wider audience, including investors and entertainers. This heightened interest ushered in an era of new producers, venues, and events. Personally, this expansion has been a mix of emotions. The arrival of newcomers and the scene’s commercialization often evoke nostalgia for its early days. Back then, it felt more intimate, akin to a tightly-knit family of enthusiasts. Nonetheless, I understand that this nostalgia perhaps mirrors my younger days and the natural progression of any thriving scene.”

Who else should we be checking out coming out of Ukraine?In the production realm, artists like victor.b, Troy, and Brooht are making remarkable progress. Their work is distinguished by its innovation and excellence, highlighting the richness and variety of electronic music from Ukraine. These artists are celebrated for their distinctive soundscapes and their skill in creating tracks that appeal to a broad audience. Regarding DJing, artists such as Shakolin, Noizar, and SE62 have transcended the local scene, earning international recognition. Their sets are acclaimed for their dynamic range and their ability to engage audiences, both within Ukraine and globally.

Meanwhile, DJs like Borys, Bambu, and Alex Savage have played pivotal roles in sculpting the local electronic music landscape. Their commitment to the scene has contributed significantly to its evolution while maintaining a deep connection with the local community. They continue to be key influencers, remaining loyal to their origins and fostering the growth of the scene in Ukraine.

Do you value new music as much as you do digging for old unheard-of gems as well? What have been some of your favourite releases from the last year? My approach to music strikes a balance between uncovering old, hidden treasures and embracing the novel sounds of recent releases. There’s a distinct excitement in rediscovering an old track that time has forgotten – it feels like uncovering a treasure meant specifically for you. These vintage gems, often unfamiliar to many, possess a unique charm, adding a sense of discovery and uniqueness to the dance floor.

Conversely, new music has an undeniable allure with its advanced production, contemporary styles, and the ongoing evolution of electronic music. While new tracks are more readily available, this does not lessen their significance. They embody the current heartbeat of the scene, reflecting contemporary trends. Notable recent releases that have caught my attention include Numbat’s ‘Southern Exposure’ and Dj Gamba’s ‘Infinity’ both of which are exceptional.

In my record collection, the division is apparent – around 70 percent is from releases between 1990 and 2010, a period particularly dear to me for its diverse styles and influential movements. The other 30 percent comprises newer releases from the last five years, ensuring my sets remain vibrant and contemporary, merging the timeless with the modern.

With playing records out there has to be somewhat a level of preparation in deciding what to pack in your bag before heading out. What’s the process like for you? Is it try throw in as many as you can or slightly more calculated to the night you’re playing? I believe the key to a successful set is a profound understanding of the records you possess. This deep knowledge, coupled with experience in playing, lays the groundwork for my preparation. In selecting records for my set, I opt for a mix of time-tested favorites and intriguing new finds. I always include some ‘staple’ records – tracks that have consistently connected with audiences. Alongside these, I introduce recent discoveries that I am eager to share. These fresh additions ensure my sets remain vibrant and exploratory. Typically, my selection ranges from 50 to 100 records, adjusted according to the duration of the set I am scheduled to play.

Do you have a particularly favourite night or set that you’ve played in the past? What made it so memorable? Absolutely! One of the most unforgettable sets I’ve played was a recent back-to-back (b2b) session with my buddy Alex Savage. What set this particular set apart was the unexpectedly harmonious blend of our record collections. Each of us brought our distinct styles and cherished tracks to the mix, but together, they forged something extraordinary.

The atmosphere on the dance floor was electrifying. Our choices synced perfectly, igniting a wave of continuous dancing among the crowd. It was one of those exceptional occasions where everything aligned seamlessly – the music, the audience, the ambiance. This kind of synergy between two DJs, both attuned to each other and the crowd, is what renders a set truly unforgettable. Nights like these reinforce my passion for DJing – the power to connect, to craft memorable moments, and to leave a lasting impact on those on the dance floor.

Can you tell us about three albums that a) define you getting into electronic music in general, b) maybe a midway album when you were fully invested in DJing and and c) a recent album that you’ve especially enjoyed?

a) Early Influence: Shawn Ward’s “Nu Shoes” was pivotal in my initiation into electronic music. It’s akin to a rollercoaster journey through analogue sounds, displaying a raw, unadulterated energy that captivated me. In fact, it featured one of the first tracks I uploaded to my channel, signifying the start of my journey in sharing music globally.

b) Midway Milestone: Claro Intelecto’s “Peace of Mind” marks a pivotal time in my life when I was deeply engaged in DJing. It is a testament to emotional depth, merging profound, resonant beats with an almost epic, soul-touching narrative. The experience of playing tracks from this album on the dance floor and observing the crowd’s response was a defining moment, further cementing my bond with electronic music.

c) Recent Favorite: “Warbeat II (Club Mix)” by Warbeat II is a recent standout. Discovered during one of The Mudd’s shows, where Akaj, the Slovenian digger, showcased this gem.

What sort of other hobbies or interests do you have outside of electronic music? Are there any books, films, art pieces or other things you’ve seen or been reading/watching that you might want to share? Outside of electronic music, my life is equally vibrant and fulfilling, as I balance my DJing passion with a career in technical talent acquisition. In the corporate sphere, I focus on identifying and recruiting exceptional technical professionals. This role involves an in-depth exploration of online open source intelligence, a domain that intrigues me with its intricacies and potential for innovation. It’s a demanding yet gratifying career that harmonizes with my nocturnal endeavors in music.

In this dual life, the skills honed in my corporate role – such as meticulous attention to detail, thorough research, and analytical thinking – interestingly reflect the abilities I apply in music digging. Just as I seek out hidden gems in the corporate world, I also delve into finding those unique, undiscovered tracks in the realm of music.

Could you describe the process of creating this mix? Crafting a mix is an intuitive and organic endeavor for me, one that eschews rigid formulas. It begins with a spark – typically one or two tracks that I select as the introduction. These initial choices establish the mix’s tone and direction. Following this, I allow the music’s rhythm to lead, building on this base and naturally blending tracks into a harmonious whole. At times, the process clicks immediately – the tracks are mixing effortlessly, and the mix evolves autonomously. However, there are instances where it requires trial and error. If the mix doesn’t align with the intended vibe, I readily restart with a new opening track for a fresh attempt.

Image 3: This photograph, framed by time and tinged with nostalgia, portrays a section of a wall adjacent to the DJ place at Closer, adorned with the original stickers of a bygone era. It’s more than a mere image; it’s a moment frozen in time, a fragment of history etched in color and texture.

Image 4: This photograph, laden with echoes of a night’s sonic exploits, captures a fleeting moment at one of Closer’s famed afterparties. In this frame, two legendary figures stand side by side, emblematic of Closer’s soul and sound: Timur Basha and Vova Klk. They are more than just residents of the club; they are maestros, architects of experiences that reverberate long after the last note has faded. Together, they have spun tracks that have become the heartbeat of many a night, orchestrating journeys through soundscapes that defy mere description.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? What are your artistic goals for this year and beyond? Looking forward, my ambitions are sharply defined and focused. In the near term, spanning the next five years, I aim to broaden my reach as a DJ by performing at prestigious venues and festivals throughout Europe.

In parallel, I am earnestly dedicated to exploring sound production. This venture goes beyond merely making an impact in the industry; it’s about offering a substantial and lasting contribution to the electronic music landscape.The transition from DJ to producer is both demanding and exhilarating. It entails not just refining technical skills but also enriching my comprehension of music as a profound art form.

Last, usual question from us, what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face and when was the last time you had a proper dance? My daily life is brightened by a particularly delightful source – my dog. As a devoted pet owner, I find immense joy in the simple happiness my dog brings each day. The unconditional love and vibrant energy of a pet have a way of illuminating even the most mundane moments.

Regarding dancing, it’s been a while since I last fully engaged in a dance experience. The last notable event was at the ICKRA festival in Kyiv, shortly before the escalation of the conflict in 2022. For me, dancing transcends physical movement; it’s an outlet for emotional expression, a way to connect with the music, the people around, and my innermost self. I eagerly anticipate the next chance to immerse myself in the rhythm and liberating essence of dance.

Diskevich: Soundcloud, Instagram, Resident Advisor, Youtube

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