Interview: Vladislav Delay

Vladislav Delay

1. Your debut album Ele came out back in 1999. Do you remember that time well? Were there any like-minded musicians around you at the time in Finland? 

I don't remember the time too well. I was in a difficult situation with substance abuse, maybe I also don't want to think that period too much.

I was musically very much in solitude, I didn't know the genre/scene/people in it. I think back then there also weren't that many people involved in it, as far as experimental electronic music goes. I also came from a non-electronic music background and felt a bit alienated by the electronic music or techno surroundings.

2. Have you changed at all during this time as a person? If so, in which aspects?

If a person doesn't change in 20 years, isn't something deeply wrong?

I surely have, anyway. I'd say I'm personally a little more mature. I'm certainly healthier than in my 20s. I'm happy to be able to live without intake of all sorts of narcotics. Becoming a father changed my life quite radically, there's a stability that wasn't there always. I have more patience now. Maybe I'm even happier these days.

3. Your music came out on Mille Plateaux, a label that we respect just as much as your music. How did you come across this label, and what is your opinion of it?

The owner got my phone number somehow and called me one day, asked me If I want to release then we started a good run of releases. I think at that time the label almost held a monopoly, they wanted to have all relevant/potential artists on their roster, they were very busy. They did great work for more interesting electronic music, it's a shame it ended up in such a mess. They deserved a more dignified end

4. Where do you live at the moment?

Island of Hailuoto in Baltic Sea, Northern Finland.

5. How so long ago you started your own label, Ripatti. Could you tell us more about your future plans for it?

There are no plans at the moment. I haven't made up my mind for the future releases and I'm not thinking about it too much.

6. Let's talk about your new album Rakka. Rakka combines various elements of experimental techno rhythms and even industrial music. What inspired you to create such heavy and aggressive sound even though you hadn't done anything of the kind before?

Actually my background is in grindcore, hardcore metal, that sort of stuff. I guess it's about a quest to push music further and forward personally, looking for new ways. Sometimes you need agression, let steam out. Maybe it's the times we live in, seems like people and art are in autopilot in many ways and it makes you feel like, maybe, things need to to be shaken up a bit. Not a time for pretty loops.

I have also spent time in calm and quiet surroundings for more than a decade and it has allowed me to absorb and play more extreme sound than when I was living in a noisy busy city.

- How much time did you spend working on this release? 

I worked on plenty of stuff during a year or maybe a little longer. Can't really say when the active part may have been, some months, I guess.

- What kind of gear did you use to record Rakka?

Mainly computer and software sampling, some guitar pedals, contact microphones, iPad software. It was done with a very limited amount of gear.

7. Your Multila album is re-released on vinyl a few days ago. What motivated you to make that decision?

I think, at least 5 different labels have asked me for the rights to make a re-release, and I thought maybe it was time someone did it. The album had never been released on vinyl before.

8. Since we're on the topic of your albums, there is yet another question about them: do you remember which of your releases was the most successful in terms of sales?

Honestly, I don't know.

9. It is a known fact that you used to be a jazz drum player that decided to sell the drums to get a sampler instead. In one of your interviews, around 20 years ago, you said that Jazz was dead. How that there are such interesting artists as Kamasi Washington and Thundercat, do you still hold the same opinion?

Yes. They might make interesting music, but jazz, as I knew it and loved it, hasn't come back from the dead.

- In your opinion, what is the reason of the death of the genre?

Surely some cultural and sociopolitical issues had an influence on it. White people and money ruined some of it. But even isolating the issue only to music, I think it just had its moment and eventually ran out of ideas. You know drum & bass or 2-step, for example, ran out of ideas only after a few years and started repeating itself, sounding very homogenous. Maybe it's only normal that things come to an end, it sounds very natural to me. Jazz did last really long though, 30 years or so, it's really quite something.

Maybe only classical music had a longer progressive growth (which ended a long time ago anyway), and various indigenous music forms that had a chance to slowly evolve without any result-oriented pressure, marketing influence etc.

10. You claimed, at some point, that you despise house music, yet it didn't stop you from creating the Luomo project which entitled certain house-themed albums. How can you explain this contradiction? Would you say Luomo was a useful experience for you as a musician?

To me it was a way to make pop music. House beat or house music was just the vehicle or the medium I could make pop music in, alone in the studio, not having to do any traditional side acts of pop music (band, stage, etc).

I don't despise house music but I never was into it, never inspired by it. Because it was such a remote and alien thing to me it was easy but also interesting to step in and give it a try. It was fun for a while.

It surely was useful experience musically and otherwise as well.

Vladislav Delay

11. What other experiments in terms of sound would you like to conduct? Do you have a feeling that there is still something you can surprise your audience with? 

If not audience, then at least myself. I trust and hope I can surprise many times still. I'm keeping my mind active and ears open, interesting things come along that way. In many ways, I'm still in the beginning, making little progress slowly. I look at it for the long goal, there's still so much to do and so much that can happen.

12. What music production techniques do you use nowadays? Acoustic instruments, only synthesis, or your own special way of creating sounds?

As an electronic music producer the gear is in the limiting factor and I try to fight against that, not let the gear play too big of a role. Because of that or maybe by coincidence I have lost a lot of my interest in synths and electronic music tools, finding other ways to produce more personal sounds.

I'd say that I find a mixture of real acoustic/recoorded sound sources mixed or processed with electronic ways gives most interesting results these days.

13. What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a duo album with a great guitar player from Norway, Eivind Aarset. It's a little bit more towards ambient/drone stuff for a change.

I have tons of material that I might want to finish off, haven't really made up my mind about it yet.

I also started vd5, a quintet with great musicians, a bassist Derek Shirley, Maria Bertel (trombone), Lucio Capece (sax) and Max Loderbauer (buchla). We are slowly working towards an album and playing some concerts.

Vladislav Delay official website

Questions: Ilya Kudrin