With a base in Moscow, Michael pursues a variety of activities as an artist. He is a designer, DJ, music producer, and live performer who at some point decided to bring together his two favourite passions, art, and music. By joining forces of those two art forms he steadily and naturally outgrows himself at an extremely fast pace. In 2008 he became one of the co-founders of the Slowdance art project, which swiftly transformed into a record label, a series of events focusing on conceptual electronic music and a highly creative collective. What unites them is the profound conviction that ever-changing music determines how people perceive life and how it shapes their minds.
Ten years later Michael founded his very personal project Finetune where musical poetry is told and the sounds of modular, as well as classical synthesizers, drum machines, and groove boxes, are mixed up, and sometimes are accompanied by his own voice. Also on the canvas, we are able to get a glance inside the extremely talented artistic mind of his where he lays great attention to details by turning his vivid imagination into reality. In a Fascinating, captivating manner he proves art to be an exciting way to daydream unexpectedly. He sees art as the connection between reality and dreams – being able to travel through many dreamworlds while listening to music or looking at a specific painting, or doing both at the same time. The contemporary paintings are later inserted into space around, while his art messages can be interpreted and rephrased in many ways, creating infinite new meanings. Michael is also in charge of Slowdance artwork, doing flyers and posters which shaped the brand identity. Let’s find out more.
Could you tell us about how everything began? What is the story of slowdance?
I came up with Slowdance with my friend Yury Zinchenko, and for the first two years, it was like a podcast series on Soundcloud and on our website. We asked our DJ friends to make a mix with the music they usually don’t play in clubs – something alternative and unusual. After some time, Alexey Orlov has joined our team and became an active participant. Two years later, we started to make our own parties, in small bars, terraces and then in the clubs. Then in 2012, we launched our digital label but in a couple of years, we had closed it and concentrated on our vinyl imprint.
How do the art installations and performances fit into the concept of slowdance?
We actively collaborate with various artists. Integral parts of the project are well-thought-out visual design, installations, and art performances. The main goal is to immerse the audience in an unusual and lively atmosphere through visual images and interactive elements.
What are the current problems modern Russia is facing? How is the situation now for artists/clubs current during the pandemic?
The government in Russia is not very accepting of the club culture, but at the same time, new institutions are emerging that try to establish interaction with the government and the music industry. Sometimes, as elsewhere, we have problems with the police, but this does not greatly affect the possibility of holding events.
The situation with the pandemic greatly influenced the club culture of Russia and Moscow in particular. On the one hand, it was impossible to hold events and concerts for most of the year, and most of the musicians suffered greatly financially, as government support is very weak and irregular. But in my opinion, there is also a positive influence. Musicians stayed at home and began to make music with no rush, someone wrote an album and someone came up with a new live project. And we had a moment when the events could still be held (from August to November) and since the borders were closed, only local artists performed at all parties – that was really powerful and atmospheric! This is a very inspiring and key moment for musicians and to realize we have a strong culture
I went to Mutabor once last year and still get goosebumps when thinking about it. Would you agree to call it the current labor of art in Russia?
Mutabor has really influenced club culture in general. I have a strong feeling that this is not just a club or an art center, but a living organism. Since the opening, something is constantly changing there, new spaces appear, and those that have been modified and transformed, and the process itself does not look like a seasonal change in design, it happens very distinctively, smoothly and there is a feeling that Mutabor grows like a plant-like microorganism, and each participant in this process understands this at some deep and subtle level.
What are you working on at the moment and what are your upcoming projects for slowdance? Now we are working on our upcoming showcase in Moscow and also on our Europe tour, and our Map festival.
So, let’s talk a little bit more about you. When and how did your love for music and art start, and how did it speak to you?
From the moment I first heard electronic music, I was most inspired by experimental music, minimal house and breaks also had a big influence on me.
Is your art a steady stream of your inner feelings and inside colours or rather a projection of the outside world? And is there anything in particular that you express through your artworks?
I feel it’s like a mix of everything: music, people, traveling, live gigs, and the most important thing is a spiritual practice and work on oneself, not only meditating or something similar but also observing yourself and the world around you. When I do my art I am trying to make something special, surrealistic, trippy, and something that is perceived differently from all sorts of perspectives and sides.
Your work, images, and style are very visual, where do you get your inspirations from? Who is or was your biggest inspiration, when it comes to art?
One of my favorite artists is Yayoi Kusama, and I am really inspired by Olafur Eliasson. His art and conceptions are incredible! But in general, all that I see around and on the internet it’s like a flow of imagination and creativity, I have a small blog on Pinterest it’s more about architecture and product design, it helps me to save things that inspire me.
Artist, designer, DJ, and music producer. You are immersed in the creative world at many levels, anything else you would like to try in the future?
I am really interested in experimenting with contemporary dance (theatrical sides of it) and want to integrate it into my live performance.
What does social media do to you and your creativity? Does it have an impact on your artistic side?
For me, it’s a way to be connected to different cultures, and creative people, I like to use it as an instrument, and not to spend much time there.
What current projects can we expect from you?
I am currently developing several projects: The release of the Finetune album which turned out to be quite ambitious and took about 4 years to realize. At some point, I realized that I wanted to combine my musical and art components, and this album was no exception. I created an object from more than 350 vinyl record sleeves, which form the album cover. Idea was that each of 350 record sleeves embodies a single element of the soul, distinct from the others yet a part of the integral whole. It was made like a performance on the Slwdnc showcase at Mutabor art center. It took about 4 hours to paint this artwork.
We were looking for a place to implement such a project for a long time because we needed a fairly large area, also protected from weather conditions. There were many technical issues that we did not immediately figure out how to solve, for example, in order not to walk over the envelopes, we came up with a bridge on wheels that drove over the painting. It was a really special feeling when I started to paint because I understand that most of the difficulties are behind me. But anyway making it public and presenting such a big painting for the first time was really exciting for me.
I am also preparing a double release for the new label “Internet Is Over” made by Arno (Einzelkind) and Simon, his label partner. One part will be released on cassette and the second will be vinyl. The cover will be a collaboration with an artist Ivan Kabalin and going to be painted by the robot, made by Ivan. So every cover for cassette and poster inside the vinyl sleeve will be different, a bit like if it will be made by human hand but with great precision.
Last but not least I am working on my next solo exhibition like Michael Dop, it will mostly be art prints and some installations, unlike my last year’s exhibition where it was paintings only.
Fast Round Questions:
Theater or cinema?
Last place you traveled to:
Tea or coffee?
Most memorable festival experience:
Nils Frahm on Sonar 2014
What are you most comfortable with?
Being at home and making music
What is your to-go beverage?
What colour palette do you like the most?
Turquoise, light green, and purple
Name your favourite movie:
When do you feel most energized?
In the morning
Which politician would you like to meet in person?
Arnold Schwarzenegger 🙂
Artists you’re inspired by:
Bjork, Aphex Twin, Steve Reich, Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Frahm, Underworld, Board of Canada, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Brian Eno…
What does music mean to you?
Music to me is a parallel world and at the same time the entrance to it
Images: Mutabor – Camille Blake