INTERVIEW: Dmitry Distant about ‘diskotēkas’ vibe and Electronic Leatherette

INTERVIEW: Dmitry Distant about ‘diskotēkas’ vibe and Electronic Leatherette

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For a while, Dmitry Distant has been producing electro and wave tracks and in 2017 he was often visible as a contributor thematic compilations, recently for Helena Hauff’s Return To Disorder. After appearing on labels like Mechatronica, Bass Agenda and others, he is now giving final touches to own imprint Electronic Leatherette where the debut release is expected in February this year. The Russia-born producer from Riga, Latvia kindly agreed to share his thoughts for Terminal 313 readers.

You are launching a new label, Electronic Leatherette, which sounds like a tribute to the post-punk group The Normal. Does it give some guidance about the label’s future repertoire?
Yes, the label’s name was inspired by Warm Leatherette. But with my idea of the name, I put into it just an inspiration of 80’s synth vibes from MUTE label. I think the label’s logo as well can clearly represent my sci-fi point of view. And yet I have no plans to contribute to post-punk, minimal wave artists.

The label’s first release “Element: Earth” is clearly an electro compilation. How did you choose artists and tracks?
Earth is one of four basic nature elements and it’s also the first V/A release from the series “Elements”, so you can look forward also to Water, Fire and Air.
I had the idea to start the label many years ago, but due financial crisis in Russia I ran into financial problems to invest money in label and decided to keep this idea on hold until the situation improves. Back in the day, everything was ready for the first release: distribution arrangement, artwork and mastering. The concept was different, the only things I kept are the label’s name and Franck Kartell’s track. All other tracks I had chosen are by now released by different labels. For the current moment I found the idea to make “Elements” series where each element clearly represents music vibes as they are by my point of view. I believe in harmony around the world and I hope music vibrations that I release under these series will help to boost it a bit. For me, selecting tracks for a release is comparable to ancient pagan ritual, so it’s hard to describe how I choose the music, I just feel it.

Looking at numerous tracks you have released in recent years, it seems that you don’t have any problems to release your own music? Do you think the new label is rather a platform for other artists than for yourself?
I can say that I truly believe in searching for new names in electro and related scene, some of them are really cool and they should be heard and released. I’m also helping some good Russian guys to send and select tracks to other labels.
So far, I’m not interested to release my own music on Electronic Leatherette, I have quite a lot of requests from labels, but also can’t promise that I will never put my own stuff under my own label.

Latvian group Zodiac was an act that produced cosmic sounds and influenced me in getting into the music. How strong are the roots of synth and electro in Latvia or is it a rather new phenomenon?
I was on Zodiac concert last summer and that was truly amazing!
Well, I’m not that guy who is strict about borders between genres in music :-).  Latvia has very rich electronic music history, I really like and listen a lot of old local electronic music. Like some from Ingus Baušķenieks and his Dzeltenie Pastnieki – they were lately been re-issued on Dark Entries label, this fact is really cool. I also like Sapnis Tumsa, 19 Gadi Pirms SākumaNSRD, some of early JumpravaMirdza Zivere‘s “Vienmer” is a really cool disco song [see videos at the end of the interview – ed.].
For sure all what I named is not really electro… I personally know only Gatis “-=UHU=-” who was pushing electro music years ago, but he definately was not the first. Riga was one of the first cities in the former Soviet Union where raves started to happen, even before Moscow. The movement was brought in by Indulis Bilzēns, who is a Latvian living in Germany. When ‘perestroika’ – ‘the change’ started to happen in the Soviet Union the borders started to open up, he brought the new dance music movement from west to east. In the 1990s Latvia parties called ‘diskotēkas’ were happening everywhere, it was a whole new movement itself.

There have been many interesting electronic artists from Russia in recent times. Do you know what is the situation with electro in Russia?
Electro is very popular now in Russia! But promoters there give more attention to DJs with electro attitude instead of boys and girls who are producing electro and can play it live. For sure I know some of them, it’s Gestalt, MSRG and few more guys. We keep good contact and I will release their music on my label.

What type of artists do you expect to see on your label? Any geographical preferences?
All I can say that you can expect a lot of interesting music, from well-known names and new unknown names. I personally don’t have any geographical preferences, it’s up to music and person itself.

In your own productions, electro seems to dominate but you seem to be fond of dark wave and even disco. How did your music taste develop, what are your influences?
Music production is always up to my mood and rarely it’s up to labels’ choice, they know better what sells good. I also think that it’s quite boring to work in one genre for a whole career or life, so I’m always interested to explore new sounds and genres to include in my music. There are some things which always give me inspiration, it’s books – I like to read Blavatsky, Crowley, Pyotr Ouspenskii and related literature. It’s also travel, nature and of course it’s fashion. I was really impressed and inspired when I discovered for myself Japanese avantgarde fashion brand Julius. Tatsuro Horikawa is a third genius after Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamomoto. My wife is also fashion designer, so I can hear music in my head while I’m expoloring fabric, cutting or structure of clothes, it gives me a breath of fresh inspiration all the time.  

What other news can we expect from you?
Wait and see.

What artists and releases would you like to point out when recalling the year 2017?
You know, there were quite many releases last years, even as a buyer I can’t follow each release as well it’s hard to sell records due to same problem. So I can note only self-titled albums from Slowdive and Farbror Resande Mac, also Gary Numan‘s “Savage”. Of course there is more good music out.

VIDEOS: Vintage Latvian synth and disco tunes

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