Diamandy is a Russian, Israeli raised and Stockholm-based DJ, Producer, Remixer, Booker and Record Label Manager whose label has taken part at ADE this year, following a residency at Tillsammans this winter. He has also shared the stage with DJs such as Boris Brejcha, D-Nox & Beckers, Ellen Allien, Umek, Alex Tolstoy, Da Fresh, Ann Clue and has released music on labels such as Digital Structures, Iboga Records, Undergroove Music, Funk n Deep Records, Rusted Records and CatsLoveBass Records. We are glad to have met him in person and to have a chat with him about music-related matters.
Hey,nice to have a chat with you! What’s on your agenda in the following months to come?
Hey Illegal Ground – my honor to chat with you. Following months are really busy for me. Preparing my own and the labels’ 2019 releases, working on bookings for the summer festival seasons, raising a little baby boy and preparing for a move to a new place which means a studio move as well.
How did you get into techno and tech-house and how has this experience been so far for you?
I started with Electronic Music at the age of 10 (1998) when I first got a Scooter and a Prodigy cassette tape, exactly a few days before my family moved from Russia to Israel. It blew my young mind and helped me to overcome the difficulties of immigration. In Israel, at the end of 90s, a psy-trance wave just exploded and became almost a national music. Infected Mushroom, Skazi, Yahel, Astrix – everyone was listening to that and me as well.. A little later, I started to play around with Fruity Loops and other software. My best buddy Slava Pogorelsky aka Kulten Yeuk and I created a PARALYZE SYSTEM project of dark psy-trance (150-165 bpm) when we were only 16. We got few gigs in dark dark forests where 50 hippies were dancing their ass off to horribly resonant sounds. Few years after we got called to the army (it’s a must) and we were there for 3 years so naturally, we stopped the project. At the service, I met Andrey Mir who introduced me to Zenon Records which is kinda Techno Psy label around 125-135 bpm. I found it really interesting and I loved the progression of sounds and rhythms at lower BPM. After that, I got hooked on UMEK and PERFECT STRANGER music and I understood that Techno and Minimal is my call. Influenced by that, I started to do 120-128 bpm music under DIAMANDY project till today.
My music took me to so many different parts of the world and introduced me to so many lovely people. I also have to say that music was the best bridge for me for integration into society here in Sweden. Most of my friends in Sweden I met through the underground community and I believe that those are the best people one can find. Of course, the experience is also hard sometimes – music business is a bitch and it can influence a lot your state of mind, ego, and self-confidence. But with years passing by you learn how to deal with it.
How would you define your style?
I do not have only one direction. A lot of producers choose to open different projects for different styles – Techno, Progressive House, Minimal and such. I try to keep it all under DIAMANDY. Usually, it’s all under minimal techno to melodic techno and prog house. I like to keep it melodic with a unique idea for each track and it has to have ‘’cojones’’.
Best gig ever?
It was in Oslo in 2016 Parkteatret. I was warming up for Boris Brejcha. I came there as pretty much no one (big shout out to Dekel Rind and Marius Kristiansen for bringing me there) and it ended up with 500 people chanting my name by the end of the set. Ann Clue and Boris also gave compliments for the set so it was really nice. It also opened for me a lot of doors to perform in Norway – I am visiting there every year.
And now worst gig ever?
Ecuador, Quito in 2010 I think? I got booked by a family member of my girl to play in a commercial salsa reggaeton club. After 3 tracks it was enough for the club owner and he brought the reggaeton DJ back. It felt shitty than but now I laugh about it. I learned my lesson – know where to perform!
Can you please tell us a bit more about Friday Lights Music? What is your vision and what sound do you focus on?
FLM was started by Igor Ilgiyaev aka Big Show around 7 years ago. 3 years ago he asked me to join and help the label. I declined at first, however 2 years ago I felt that I get a lot of requests from different artists to give them feedback or to work with them. In addition, I was fed up with trying to suite myself for other labels and felt that I wanted to spread my vision of electronic music so I joined in. Igor letting me to have 100% freedom as A&R which is awesome. We see ourselves as a boutique label that releases deep, minimalistic, different and interesting music. Sometimes we release every month (like now) but sometimes I cannot find anything that is not a copy/paste from today’s trend so we stand empty for 3-4 months. And it’s ok – as long as we find that gem worth to be released. It can be melodic, progressive or aggressive, light or dark – doesn’t matter really. It has to be interesting and it has to be something I and our tastemakers would play. In addition – Techno in Scandinavia can be really tough and industrial. We feel that there are enough labels that represent that style. We are more into something that is good to dance to and also to listen in a car/subway, office, after party or home.
I know that now you recently became a dad, congrats! How is this new experience for you and how will you combine it with your music-related projects?
Thank you! It is an unreal journey. Will not lie – it is a really tough job. But I love that boy so much – never thought I can feel like this again. Also, love to my wife doubled-tripled because I am just blown away by her abilities as a mom and as a human being. About the time for music projects – I did a lot of music in the summer to release during 2019 because I knew that I will take a break from producing. I have to move to a new place and when it’s set up and the boy is sleeping a little better – I will come back full power to the studio. I am lucky that some very big labels were kind enough to respect my break and they are waiting for my remixes and tracks till spring – summer 2019 instead of just canceling. So there is much to look forward to! Right now I am focusing on releasing everything I prepared in the summer, bookings and a lot of label work.
More congratulations on your residency with TIllsammans!! What should we expect from you on the night?
Yes, thank you and it is awesome to be a part of such a big crew. I played for them few times and one gig was like a dream comes true – end of 2017 when I closed the party after UMEK – the same artist that kinda got me into Techno. Also connection with Kenneth and the rest of the crew just feels right. There are few parties planned till the end of the year and the new concept is in the making for 2019. Follow the right pages and people for more info. There are also some plans for the spring like to bring artists that never played in Stockholm and a label party for Friday Lights Music.
A musician/producer that has influenced your sound?
I think everything I ever listened to shaped my taste in one way or another. But if to pick one – no doubt it is Yuli Fershtat aka Perfect Stranger. He found me in Tel Aviv underground 8 years ago and gave me few compliments on my I AM A SPIDER release. I was a huge fan of his minimal melodic style and so it was just a breakthrough for me – especially when I visited his studio and we had a session. Till today he works with me on my releases for Digital Structures label that he runs. This guy is just a sound magician and psychology wizard. He knows how to press on my sensitive points and depress/stress/push me enough in order to squeeze the best out of me. He is a role model in how an artist needs to be, to work and how to run a label.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic career?
When I got an opportunity to play for the first time for a huge crowd in Tel Aviv in Klika parties. I was a regular on their line up. It was an important experience that shaped me and gave me experience in working with a big audience. Another moment is when I met and connected to Yuli Fershtat – as I already explained it in a question above.
What are currently your main challenges as a DJ?
As a DJ – like everyone’s else challenge – hunting for the right gigs. It is hard. It takes too much time and energy that I can invest in music production or A&R. Today’s scene and booking business are very different from before – you have to be represented by an agency to get far – or at least to where I aim. Otherwise, you will continue playing for lunch money or flight tickets – been there, done that. I have an agent that works with me however mostly in Scandinavia. My next challenge is to find an representation that will fit me and I’ll fi them like a glove on a worldwide scale. Another challenge is to be better in music sorting – I am pretty lazy in doing it so everything is everywhere on my USB sticks. But it is not always a bad thing. Actually – sometimes it gives me more freedom just to go through the tracks till I find the right one and not to search them by styles or BPM.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
First of all, I am trying to understand where I am going play, which kind of crowd goes there usually, after who I play or before who. When I get some info – then I decide what kind of a story I want to tell. I kinda know what I am going to start with (or at least I have 2 options), and where I wanna take it. The feeling is that I am experienced enough to feel what’s needed in what time and have enough music prepared for any situation – so I just flow with the crowd and vibe.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
It has to be well produced and mastered with an interesting rhythm section and atmosphere. In addition, I always have those 2-3 unreleased tracks by me or from the label that I have to try. That’s about it – all the rest depends on the real-time vibe in the event.
A track that you can’t get enough of?
Oy that’s unfair one…I still play Doppel – Melt (Original Mix). I think it is 2-3 years old already.
Underground events or bigger clubs?
I think the answer to that is influenced by where I am right now in my career and life. I did underground for almost 15 years and I still love it. There is a raw truth in those events especially when they are well made. However, right now I would prefer to see my music spreading for a larger audience so I must say bigger clubs. But one does not cancel another.
What do you think will happen to techno in the next 10 years?
I think it will be here proud and strong but it will change its shape like it always does. I would like to see it a little bit more complicated with soul and even maybe psychedelic, acid and intense. Please, less ‘’arenas and stadiums’’ soulless same loop music.