who will be bringing ALL the techno from France with him on Friday, July 3rd, when he performs his Manchester debut live set. We caught up with him beforehand for what turned out to be a really insightful and honest interview. Read on!
You talk in an interview about a ‘weird art school’ you went to in Cergy (sounds fun!)
You mention that it helped you develop a deeper understanding of repetition, and subversion. Can you talk to us about this, and how your time in Cergy may have influenced your production styles now?
Well, my life began there when our installation-art teacher locked us in an auditorium for five hours and we were forced to listen Einstein On The Beach by Philip Glass. And no one could get out.. at any point.. that was the game. Talking about subversion and repetition that was a pretty tough start. But I instantly knew that I would be happy there.
I spent five years of my life there in a complete freedom of creation, learning whatever I wanted to know about computer programming, cognitive science, field recording, audio synthesis, film theory or contemporary dance and architecture. It was totally informal, we could easily jump in any direction without barriers – it was a really exciting time where I met incredible artists and my best friends.
We also spent half of our time in shitty trains going there, in the middle of nowhere, every morning and coming back to Paris at night, three hours a day. Three hours of introspection, watching the same suburban landscapes moving sadly every day. It taught me patience too, possibly one of the most important skills in a DJ’s life!
You’ve done several collaborations, with Kartei, and Tropical Agitation. Can you talk to us a bit about the dynamic when working as a collaboration – what do you get from it that working alone doesn’t give you? Do you prefer it?
Yes this is something that I really like, meeting people, other artists, and trying to imagine what would be the outcome of our work. The result is always different depending on whom you are meeting with. Some associations like Tropical Agitation, brings more complexity and chaos. Some other like Vrilski (with Vril) are picking only the best part of two people and combine it to create one single fused identity. Working with Kartei is bringing out more of my sunny side and makes me smile, and other projects like Hbtvsk activate more of my cloudy side. I don’t know if I prefer it but I think I feel more healthy artistically when I work this way. It’s like opening windows to some new world and it’s always refreshing.
Can you tell us how the Unforseen Alliance came together?
Quite easily actually, we were good friends, releasing on the same label Construct Reform where I put out Ad Infinitum. We talked about it a few times, more like a fantasy. Then some friends from Sonotown parties and Weather festival (watch here) heard about it and booked us without having any idea of how it will sound!
We started to work together, Zadig, Antigone, Birth of Frequency and I, and tried to fulfill the great expectations of everyone staring at our four names together. That was quite intimidating! But we did a good job I guess.
Your talents transcend both music and visual art; how important are those two things to each other? How much does your art influence your music and vice-versa? For example are there things that you find you can express through one, and not the other?
I think music and contemporary art are two parallel worlds. Their functioning is similar but the intercommunication between them is complex. It’s hard to find the bridges, and make ourselves understood on both grounds, so I prefer to jump from one world to another without trying to connect too much or only interacting very subtly. The art thing is where I try to put more ideas, like an active philosophy, generating pieces questioning about life and future.
The music world is more “expressionist” in a way. It only expresses simple feelings. Even if on projects like Kartei we try to create songs with a conceptual approach.. the only thing that remains in the end is a happy track, or a sad track, a sort of basic manichaeism with more or less subtlety.
You can never have an idea of what really stands behind a song until the artist comes to talk about it. And the only spaces where we can infuse ideas in techno music has to be found in title names, sleeve design and inserts in editions, eventually notes on runout grooves, or taking over the means of communication (press picture, text, and interview etc.)
But music listeners might be a little bit more laid-back in their apprehension of work. I think more passive than art showgoers. They would not immediately want to dig about what is behind, since the emotion is already sufficient, catching all attention. On the one hand it is a simple and sincere reaction and it’s fine, feelings don’t lie, artistic discourse does.. sometimes. But, to me, it is also limited because what a track can express by itself is only the reflection of a mood and never of what most artists would like to say.
I’m pretty sure most good techno tracks have hidden stories that I would love to know. This curiosity is definitely something that I got from art and that I find hard to satisfy in the music field.
And conversely, I could say about art that it misses the simple aesthetic interaction that I find with the music crowd.
Come see Voiski play his Manchester debut, a live set down at Soup Kitchen on Friday, July 3rd.
Tickets start from £7. Buy one here.
If you were throwing your very own sad party, who would you invite?
I would do it in an abandoned nightclub named the “Follow Me” in a small town in the French central region.
I would invite John Elliot, Legowelt and NewWorldAquarium to play in an empty room (or for the ghosts of former dancers) with moving lights, disco ball, smoke and everything.
I would let six other people in, one bar maid, one bouncer, a camera man, two friends and one complete stranger.
The peak point would be a drop of a pitched-down version of the Space Frog song that gave the name to the club. It’s actually an art project that I’m dreaming of… a kind of tribute to these “failed” party moments we probably all experimented with as performers or dancers (parties we strangely remember the most).
Time to talk technical… what’s your go-to of the following (and if you don’t have one, what could you see yourself using?) .. feel free to tell us why!
– DAW: I’m on Ableton Live, I like the loop workflow on audio files, it brings a lot of freedom and possibilities. I always find strange connections, mostly by complete chance – I use luck a lot in my work in general. (That’s also something I learned in art school. Mostly from reading John Cage on life and his particular perspective on artistic creation.)
– Polyphonic synth: Roland JX-8P! For a very best of 80’s dance touch.
– Monophonic synth: I’m currently having fun with a Future Retro XS, and I like it a lot. it has a great presence, a heavy massive and polymorphic sound.
– Drum Machine: My old and beloved Jomox 888 aka Jojo, she grooves really badly but its kick drum is devastating.
– Outboard effects unit: (delay / reverb…) Eventide Space Reverb, make almost everything glitters like gold.
You’ll have been no doubt asked about your trademark Pirelli hat many times; may we ask, why is Ayrton Senna such an inspiration to you?
I think that behind his carbon-fibre hard shell, Ayrton Senna [a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One world championships, who was famously killed in an accident while leading the 1994 San Morino Grand Prix] was an extremely sensitive and compassionate person and a charismatic philosopher. He was a mystical driver. I did use the term mystical (and not mythical) referring to the numerous comment he did about the state of trance he was reaching behind the wheels. When in Monte Carlo for example, in 1988, he was breaking records on the track that he was setting again and again, lap after lap, and suddenly realized that he was no longer driving consciously. The loop, the repetition, brought him to another dimension. He felt like being in a vortex where his soul almost left the car now driven by the only instinct of his empty embodiment.
I see racing and techno music strongly connected to each other… It also explain the success of video games like Wipeout 2097 on Playstation that posed a major key frame of the 90’s rave culture in my opinion.
Actually, this techno/racing game was already sponsored by Red Bull 20 years ago… the Austrian energy drink company who first did this connection and which is now leading one of the greatest Formula 1 racing team along with a world-famous Music Academy for electronic music artists.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
Reading in silence, watching movies, eating ice cream,
Driving anywhere at night.
What is the most memorable gig you’ve played to date?
It’s hard to tell, probably in the small boat club 20/44 in Belgrade.. or somewhere in Tokyo.
Or at Club 101 in Clermont-Ferrand.. for a very special and weird moment of our history.
All those who attended would probably remember it, if they find me on here.
France has always been a cultural hub for music, but recently there has been a huge surge in techno artists coming out of the country. Do you think it’s been simply cyclical or can you pinpoint a certain catalyst or catalysts that have ignited this?
I think the general interest for techno music in Paris started to grow 4 or 5 years ago when small party promoters started to infiltrate our usual clubs and suburb warehouse with daring lineups. They were bringing cutting-edge international artists alongside a bunch of newcomers that were hiding in the shadows of the city. Thus they started to develop a local scene. More and more young people came into the electronic music, partying first and creating next. Events became bigger and bigger and we soon needed new venues and more spaces.
Now the scene is more alive than ever, and I hope we will be bold enough to make it last long.
Finally, why are you called Voiski?
-Voiski Voiski wherefore art thou Voiski?
-I don’t know.
-Are you the quiet soldier hiding in the darkness of my heart?
-войск means troops in most slavic languages.
-It might come from an old fascination I had for the elite infantry units of the Ottoman Empire.
...Now you must be intrigued!
Come see Voiski play his Manchester debut, a live set down at Soup Kitchen on Friday, July 3rd.
Tickets start from £7. Buy now!
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