DJ Kassir enjoys an enduring fascination with the weirdness and confusion of modern life. Employing a wide canvas for his world-building, the Moscow artist’s output seems to fly in the face of common sense, layering obscure aural ephemera and lo-fi aesthetics to forge new narratives with an uncanny valley quality.
Part of the Johns’ Kingdom collective that also counts Buttechno amongst its members, not to mention a respected DJ, Kassir truly announced himself as a producer with his recent Gost Zvuk debut. Brown White is like the first proper glimpse into his fully realised sonic environment. Complete with assists from Perila, Shumopeleng, and DJ Anibari, it pulls together material recorded between 2015 and 2017, resulting in a 9-tracker that spans soporific, wistful iterations of jungle, techno and ambient. Suspended in a hazy dream-state, his mix treads a similar path.
Hi Boris, can you tell us a bit about the mix? When and where was it recorded?
Hi! 85% of the mix is compiled from my own demos and jams with friends. I tried to collect them into one theme – these are new and old records, some are 3 or 4 years old and I consider them important. While I was working on this mix I was rather focused on collaborative aspects of my work.
When and where was it recorded?
It was recorded in my studio in Moscow on December 12 using a two-channel remote control, an MP3 player and itunes.
How would you recommend listening to it?
Indeed, I would recommend listening, not just hearing it. I decided to call it ‘Souvenir for Criticism 2’ so I suggest listening to it with a pinch of criticism.
Gost Zvuk just released an album of music you recorded between 2015 and 2017, but why has it taken so long for those tracks to see the light of day? Were you initially reluctant to put them out?
This is a difficult question for me. At the time when the initial release was planned, I was in a conflict with myself and my surroundings, which I still have not fully resolved. This is a great success and the merit of [Gost Zvuk founder] Ildar and my close friends that this release came out, at least at the end of this year.
What is it that draws you to lo-fi aesthetics and the imperfections that come with such production techniques?
First of all I find it rather sincere and I am interested in turning mistakes into art. I am also curious about the conditional spontaneity in the workflow. Sometimes you get real magic or alchemy, if you like.
The accompanying text for Brown White describes you as “a sonic counterpart to Russian meme culture”. Would you be able to elaborate on what they meant by that?
Honestly, I would like to know the answer myself. It’s hard for me to talk about myself anyways.
In your opinion, how important has Gost Zvuk been to the local scene in Russia?
I think Gost Zvuk currently plays one of the key roles in the electronic sound of Russia and it’s a pity that there are not so many worthy domestic alternatives. I also want to change this a bit and share my vision of electronic sound in Russia. There are a lot of talented producers around that are quite under the radar and it makes me sad.
What’s your association with John’s Kingdom, and how did you become a part of it?
I loved music since childhood, but it was difficult for me to truly share this love. It was the John’s Kingdom community where I found my first like-minded people and began my journey as a musician and a DJ. I am very grateful to all Johns and especially to Pavel Milyakov [AKA Buttechno] and Savier. I reminisce NII times with great love, it was really incredible, real magic. I believe these people are able to change the world.
And finally, can we expect anything else from you soon?
First of all I work on the quality of my material and secondly, I would proceed on working with emptiness. Practically speaking, pretty soon a few of my tracks will be out on fellow compilations and I’ve got an upcoming limited seven-inch, not on the label, just a self released drop. And I still have to create my own little world in the form of a new local imprint – and I feel that I finally came up with a name for it.
Brown White is out now on Gost Zvuk | Buy it here