We give you an exclusive podcast from Russian dance music supremo Poison Pro and find out what he’s up to right now.
1. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved in making music? You’ve cited your father as an important an early influence – how much of a role did he play in making you feel like music was the right path for you?
My father has great taste in music and I was fortunate to be listening to some very cool music as kid. My dad was a big fan of Pink Floyd, Queen, Depeche Mode, Kino etc so those bands formed the blueprint for my musical taste! I guess being around music a lot as a kid really inspired me to start making it. Things really changed for me when I heard the the Prodigy for the first time. They really blew my mind. Thank you Liam Howlett!
2. You’ve made music in a variety of different styles, from Prodigy-inspired breaks to trance, to the progressive sound you’re mainly known for today. How do you think that background has shaped how you make music today?
When started out in music, I was making tunes I could produce. I’m involved with some Nu-Disco, Trip-Hop and rock projects and my music takes a lot of influences from these styles. As time has passed I’ve learned new skills in the studio and I’m finally able to write the music that’s in my head. I’m also working on TV and Radio stuff now. So I guess you could say I’m really eclectic.
3. You must have known that ‘Alien’ was going to be big, but were you surprised at just how well people connected with it?
Absolutely. I never expected there will be so many great remixes. More than 15 at the last count!
4. The 50th release of Igor Cold’s Somebody’s Story label saw two of your most popular tracks, ‘The City of Gods’ and ‘Wake Up’, receiving remixes from Petar Dundov and Cid Inc. It must have been a huge compliment to be chosen to represent the label like that. How did it feel to get that kind of recognition? Do you have plans to strengthen your relationship with the label further?
Somebody’s Story is a great label with beautiful stylistics and Igor Cold is a big friend of mine. 2012 was the year of City Of Gods for me. A lot of supports for this track from all the big guys like Guy J, Nick Warren, Petar and others. TCOG is one of my favorite works ever. When I will have some new stuff that fits for SS, I will release it there.
5. Ministry of Sound TV have just premiered your remix of Blusoul’s ‘The Future is Yours’ featuring Amber Long. How did that come about, and how has the response to the remix been?
Mark from 99percent caught me online when I was on holiday in Thailand and asked me to do the remix. I loved the original so I instantly said yes. I actually started working on it whist I was out there. The remix is pretty special for me because it captures the mood and the spirit of the time. Mark was really stunned with the remix and I guess he sent it to Ministry of Sound. I’m really proud to be supported by them because MOS is a legendary brand.
6. What other releases can we look forward to from you this year?
In May there will be release on Intricate Cuts, new sublabel of Russia’s golden progressive community’s Alexey Sonar, Proff, Sergey Tkachev, with remixes from Andre Sobota and Marc Moan.
After this, there will be also couple of nice releases on some great labels. I’m keeping things a secret for now but i’ve been working really hard in the studio.
7. The progressive house and techno scene in Russia seems really healthy at the moment, with a number of Russian artists and labels providing some of the best new music around. Do you think that outside assessment is right, and if so, what accounts for it?
I will always be a lover of TRUE progressive house. Mainstream artists have ruined the scene by calling their music progressive. Now nobody wants to be associated with the name anymore.
I’m planning to go deeper and deeper with my music this year. Deep techno, Tech House and Techno is where i’m at right now but it’s really hard to categorise sounds these days. My sound is really evolving and I hope my fans enjoy the journey with me.
There are a lot of Russian artists making some great progressive music but none of these people are Djing anywhere. And the music isn’t getting played in clubs. There’s a reason for that. It’s because they’re not making music for the dancefloor. That can only comes experience and there are not many opportunities available for this kind of sound, because nobody wants progressive in clubs. It’s a big shame really because there’s so much talent out there.
8. In addition to your DJ schedule, you’ve done quite a lot of live performance recently, first with your collaborator on ‘Alien’, Miusha, and more recently with Marc Moan. What can people expect when they come to your live shows? Can you tell us a bit about your set up for these performances?
Energy! A lot of energy People need to get a buzz from the artist on stage. That’s the whole point of going clubbing. I love to get into a trip with music, cause real music always takes you on a trip. Same on performances.
With Miusha there used to be 5 of us on stage. Vocals, Live Drums, Solo guitar, bass guitar and keyboards programming. Now we’re a 3 piece; Vocals, Controllers and Guitar.
With my mate Marc Moan we are playing quite often: 2 Laptop Ableton setup synced with each other, 2 novation launchpads, Uc33 controller, Korg Kaospad3.
My DJ setup is quite simple, sometimes I’m playing with 2,3 or 4 CDJ Pioneer 2000 or 900. Or using Ableton Live and Uc33.
9. Where are your favourite clubs and destinations to play right now, and why?
Clubs that I respect in Moscow has to be Propaganda, Vanilla Ninja, Pravda and of course Arma 17. Only the best line-ups and soundsystems there.
There are so many places where I want to play and visit. Germany, Spain, France, England, Romania and other beautiful countries of our planet. I want to share my vibrations with people.
10. Daft Punk recently claimed that dance music is stuck in a rut. Do you agree? Which producers are genuinely doing something truly original at the moment, in your opinion?
Not really. I think EDM is at a crossroads right now and there are many new scenes emerging. I don’t think we will see a revolution right away but big changes are definitely come in the next few years as these new scenes start to take shape.
Right now I’m really loving Moderat, Burial, Jessie Ware, Radiohead, because their sound so different. My favourite artist right now is Eric Estornel aka Maceo Plex/Maetrik. For me he is the master of sound. Some people might criticise him, saying he’s a commercial figure in underground but he only reached this status by being succesful. What Eric does is just amazing. I also respect producers like Simon Garcia, Guy J and Chaim. Their sound is on the same kind of level as mine.
11. What are the biggest challenges facing the scene at the moment, and what are our prospects for meeting them?
Music sales are not very high. Piracy is a real problem. How do you earn money from making music is a big question for many artists, especially ones in Russia. There are so many talented people just leaving their dreams and go to work in offices…
…having faith in yourself is the first step! I’ve always been immersed in the world of music and it’s all I want to do. It’s usually artists with the right attitude and contacts who’re getting the gigs and this is where the money comes from. This business isn’t for everyone. It’s all about the way you operate. I’m pretty open minded about the whole thing and am just making the music I enjoy. If success comes, it comes!
12. Can you tell us a bit about your future plans?
I’m going to do a several releases under the different aliases and working on my projects like Miusha. We will make a lot of live gigs this year and produce some videos for my side projects.
One of my biggest goals is to start work on my first album. I want it to be really special covering lots of different styles. A lot of great musicians will be in this.
13. What advice do you have for those trying to kick-start a career as a producer or DJ?
Find yourself. Then, be yourself.