Caturday with Kedr Livanskiy

Gemma Lacey

We chatted with Moscow based singer and producer Kedr Livanskiy, who has been described to be spearheading Russia’s electronic underground scene. Kedr released her debut album Ariadna in September, which encompasses Greek mythology and romanticism along with sounds from the 80s. We talked about hosting parties, the Russian electronic scene, her visuals and themes of exit and hope.

You’re inspired by the 80’s Russian Electronic music scene, most people won’t be so familiar with that, how did you discover those artists and what is it about that sound that resonated with you?
The fact is that in the second half of the 80’s in the USSR almost no foreign music penetrated through the iron curtain, people were not allowed to go abroad. While the electronic revolution has already taken place all over the world only records like Beatles Led Zeppelin reached Russia. In Russia in the underground there was only rock’n’roll and punk basically or something close to the synth pop experimented around these genres and jazz. There was very little electronic experimental music. It is not clear how, in Izhevsk at that time a group of people managed to achieve such an amazing sound without access to the heritage of world music. In fact, they formed their own scene, and in fact they themselves discovered what was already open in the whole world. For this reason, this phenomenon is surprising precisely in the context of the history of our country because there was no cultural continuity and some kind of musical experience exchange and especially as Izhevsk is not the capital.
You throw parties with a lot of your friends which sound amazing – what prompted you to do this?
Well, I was more likely party at these parties but not a direct organiser due to the tight tour schedule.
What are you most excited about with the community you’ve created?
That these people are the most talented, whom I know in Moscow, they have a lot of passion and energy. They create a lot, inspire other people, generate ideas in almost all areas. Creating a city in a city in which you really want to live in. They create labels, collaborate with each other in music, collaborate with other kinds of art, like cinema, fashion – enlivening this city. I think in every corner of the world there are such groups, communities, without which nothing would move, history is moved by such people.
What’s your process for making music?
The main thing is to have a laptop. Sometimes I just need it, for example, on an airplane, you can sketch something cool or on tour then go to the home studio and have to work through what was outlined. The process is not tricky, you throw patterns, rhythms, melodies together then the main thing is to feel these things. You sit digging for hours. All this is overgrown with new layers and sometimes from the original idea one can go very far inside ones work. The main thing is not to be afraid to turn in another direction and give up something. It is very important to catch this buzz and wave, you immediately feel when the track turns out to be real because it starts on some kind of internal level to resonate with you. In fact, it’s all much deeper than just technical process but beforehand you must live so that when you come home and sit down for work you get honest material. That is, very is important! So you need to start with drama and the history of your own life.
The visual worlds in your videos seem to go hand in hand with your sound – how do you cultivate this in your work?
It seems to me that we live in a world where it is impossible to ignore the visual and this is probably understood by all artists, sometimes its given into the hands of other people. I’m so absorbed in the visual side of creativity that I leave it to myself so all the art directing is on me. I like to generate ideas in different forms but music is in the first place anyway. This shift especially occurred in recent months, I completely stopped watching movies, djing, writing etc and began to spend all the time on music. Even the films that I left to myself were about music. This is probably because now I’m writing an album, as soon as I finish with this, then it’s time to think visually.
What inspired you about the myth of Ariadne and how do you personally relate to it?
For me it’s about going on the themes of exit and hope. It is very important to translate this image into a kind of psychic reality. I have a song that is called a destructive circle – this circle is exactly the same as the image of the labyrinth of the myth, in my understanding this is this endless suffocating self-reflection within itself – it resembles a labyrinth or cycle circle. The image that appears in the song about Ariadne is a saving thread that will break this vicious circle and get out of the maze roughly speaking. Shake this shit and look at the world with live eyes, stop obsessing over what kills you from the inside. Ariadne is not necessarily someone from outside, you can become one yourself so it’s very important to discover Ariadne in yourself.
You create mainly using synthesizers, what is it about these instruments that inspires you?
I am inspired by the  sound of ROLAND W-30, but not being able to buy it. I find similar patterns in my synthesizer Korg minilogue  and different VST. Working on the ARIADNE I used Roland Juno – at that time I liked his sound very much.
What are you excited to create or do next?
OH! All winter I was depressed and did not know where to move next, after Ariadne but the ice moved (and my friends helped me) and in general a new stream opened. Almost written an album, it will be very different from what I did before, it’s a qualitative leap up. It turned out to be music that reveals those aspects that I have long dreamed of showing. This is the maximum freedom! I wrote it with my friend, producer Flatley. I’m very grateful to him that he pulled me out of the creative crisis, in the last two years I have been in maximum musical isolation so all that I am now concerned about is working on new material, the elaboration of a new concept, the finishing of a new thought and idea, sound as well as insanely exciting upcoming performances at major festivals and a tour in the US.
Top three Russian artists, we should all be listening to?
Vtgnike, Lapti & Flaty
What are your must see and do things and places for a weekend in Moscow? Where shall we eat, party & hang out?
Friday in Moscow – go to the Tretyakov Gallery – look at Russian avant-garde, stroll around the city and at night, drop by the NII club. On Saturday morning, board a high-speed train to St. Petersburg, go there to eat at Tiger Lily, go to the Russian museum to see the wonderful classic art, and at night go to a club called CLUB. St. Petersburg have white nights in summer this is a very strange feeling, especially when you hang out at night and outside the window is light, I advise everyone to experience – a bit psychedelic.
Kedr is playing Primavera festival in Barcelona at the end of the May.

Click to listen to Kedr Livanskiy’s Caturday playlist

Click here to listen to Kedr’s full debut album!