Interview: Vadim Peare (DJ Vadim)

DJ Vadim: «I will go insane within the next 10 years» 

As a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the label, Data.Wave spoke with DJ Vadim, one of the main headliners of the Ninja Tune golden age and a Latino Grammy nominee.

1. What are you busy with at the moment? What's going on in your creative life, where is it heading to?

I am currently in Budapest, spending my vacation with the family. I am making a lot of new music right now. My new album, Lost & Found has just come out.

2. Presently, you are working with many labels. What is the most important thing for you as an artist when it comes to dealing with them?

I am mostly doing work for my own label, Mama Do It Records. In the past, I used to work a lot for Ninja Tune and many other record labels, but nowadays I am mostly focused on mine. As for the industry itself, the rules of the game have changed and now an artist has all the tools and opportunities to be in charge of everything on their own.

3. Where do you currently reside?

As of right now, I live in Barcelona.

4. How did working with the label Ninja Tune influence your career and you personally?

Well, it was the very first label that released my music, and it was obviously incredible because it was a very important step for my career. But keep in mind that they only got me on board because I was working for my own label Jazz Fudge back in 1995. It was a big project and it greatly impressed the bosses of Ninja Tune.

5. How was the album U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory Of Verticality) recorded? What motivated you to create this abstract hip-hop record? What inspired you to create it?

Frankly speaking, I am not too fond of that album. Perhaps, I was just in a mood for weird abstract sounds. I was just making something.

6. Tell us more about your project, One Self. What is the idea behind it?

Yet again, it was just another project that I happened to be a part of. We were touring with the album Art of Listening that had just come out in 2002. The MCs were Yarah Bravo and BluRum13, and the keyboard player was John Ellis. This project was born out of that tour.

7. Why was there only one album, a few singles, some concerts but other than that the project didn't receive any continuation?

I was married to Yarah Bravo. Then we got a divorce. It wasn't that simple.

8. How did you meet DJ Woody? Are you two still in touch with each other?

Yes, we are. He used to live not so far away from Manchester, and that's where I met him. I knew a lot of turntablists: Scratch Perverts, Mr Thing, First Rate, Prime Cuts, Beat Junkies and others. I have always admired their art.

9. What is the difference between the British music scene of the 90s and the current one? What changed? Has anything become worse or better?

The British black music was in its inception  back then, 25 years ago. Back in those days, there was a lot of Hip-Hop and various MCs, but none of it saw commercial success, there were no radio programs or any support from magazines. Nowadays I can't even list all the various MCs on the radio, there are so many! The ratio is practically 30:0 in favor of the English black music against American.

10. What guides you in the process of creating music? Where do you get your ideas and your inspiration from?

I can't quite say for sure. I just love music, and I enjoy creating rhythms. It is like a hypnotic feeling, you get in the zone and feel awesome, it's an immeasurable enjoyment.

11. What about the Soviet aesthetics was so attractive to you at one point in your life?

When I was only starting out, you could see all of those influences on album covers, on pictures in the press, traditional colors. It's all gone now. It's just related  to the place where I was born, and I feel some kind of close connection to it.

12. How has your stance on that changed with the passing of time?

Are you asking about the Soviet Union? I'll tell you. It's a love-hate relationship. I love the people and the culture, but I despise the politics and totalitarianism. I feel absolutely no nostalgia for communism and I have no thoughts on Perestroika or Putin.

13. Is there any track or album that you went absolutely crazy for, and that inspired you to make music?

I think there have been multiple ones, not just one. Even such movies as Wild Style and Beat Street helped me form my musical vision. I grew up on the Hip-Hop, Funk, Soul and Reggae of the late 80s and the early 90s.

14. What is your take on the evolution of music as a whole and how has this evolution affected your own creativity?

What can I say, my own music and music as a whole are two entirely different things. Both saw significant technological progress. When I was starting out back in 1992, music was sort of geeky, there were a lot of expensive devices made for studios. Convoluted computer programs and rather basic by today's standards opportunities to process sound. Fast forward 25 years ahead, and it's not rocket science to realize how much everything has advanced and received unlimited possibilities. The technology of today is really cheap, you can make music on your iPhone, Gameboy, PlayStation and utilize a ton of software. Nowadays, it's really easy to bring your music to the audience, there is Soundcloud, Spotify. You no longer require the aid of a label. You can just use social networks. There have been really big changes. The opportunities to keep in touch with people are limitless. Although, the downside of it all is the superfluous nature of information that turns people into an inconsistent and volatile audience that doesn't know what to look at for guidance. It is extremely difficult to attract people's attention. It was craftmanship back in the day, but nowadays any random fatty can create "music". The difference is obvious. A Chinese proverb says: "Only he who spends at least 10 thousand hours on his craft, becomes a master". I still believe that to be true. Now you can find all your favorite musicians and singers online. 25 years ago, in order to get to know a rapper, you'd have to meet them personally.

15. How has the technique of creating music changed?

I don't really do sampling anymore. It is way too risky in terms of copyright laws. Nowadays, you can download sample packs, loops. I use a lot of different software. Modern computers are so powerful that you have truly great opportunities.

16. What message for the people does your art carry?

All I can say is: listen to it. There are tracks with a certain message like hope, love, care, justice or equality.

17. Jazz Fudge went out of business long before the digital collapse of the music industry. How did that happen?

On top of the event that you've mentioned, there was also a lack of time and an obligation to go on numerous tours.

18. Which Jazz Fudge release is the dearest to your heart?

I think, the very first one, Abstract Hallucinating Gases, as it was the very beginning of my music career.

19. What happened to the project Andre Gurov?

It is all in the past. Life moves on.

20. Is creating and managing a record label a huge undertaking or not?

It is not that complicated. You can do everything online. It's enough to watch some tutorials on YouTube.

21. What do you enjoy and dislike about modern day society?

On one hand, interconnectivity is a thing, but it always pushed you into technologies, and in a way, I feel like we're looking into a black mirror. You are being watched, there is robotization. I feel like I will go insane within the next 10 years. I always draw parallels between 1990 and 2030. How much destruction and loss will there be?

22. What's DJ Vadim's regular work day like?

It is a mixture of making music, administrative responsibilities and family affairs. Every day is a little different. Sometimes I entirely devoted myself to music, and sometimes I am just a loving father.

23. How do you see yourself in 10 years?

Like I said, 2030 will be crazy. Implanting... what percentage of jobs will be computerized by then? 10%, 30%, 50%? What role will the people play? I think I am talking way too much about politics, but it is what's really on my mind.

24. What makes you truly happy?

My family, my daughter, tasty food, nature and sport.

Questions: Ilya Kudrin/Krib