The chillout scene is growing and not only in Russia but all around the world. Many chillout music producers, djs who are in love with this genre, and listeners who download relevant releases are appearing every day. The number of creative people who get inspiration from chillout music is constantly growing. Chillout has stopped being just an additional stage at trance parties with the weird and unsuitable music, which is played either by djs-amateurs or those who is not allowed to play on the main stage.
Several years ago I was fascinated with the following idea: it would be great to unite particular people for creative collaboration. Talented music producers, djs, designers of clothes, artists, dancers, creators of art objects and installations – they rarely meet each other yet they could do so many things if they keep together! So holding this idea in our mind we – chill in tribe team – began to organize the first regular chillout parties in Moscow, and they covered only downtempo styles of electronic music. At the very first events we started to involve in our culture such styles of dance art as tribal with all its substyles. Before there had been events with chillout music only, but they rarely happened.
Since that time we can see the chillout scene in Russia has been gradually growing and expanding. In the same 2010 year Janco began to organize his legendary events in Kiev. One year earlier in St. Petersburg Misha Sensei, the head of Microcosmos Records, began to make chillout parties as well. Nowadays we have a rich variety of parties all year around regardless of the season. In winter we have regular parties from Mystic Sound, Time Resonance, SpaceRadio, Sticky Music, Mudra, Starwoods in Moscow and from Microcosmos in St. Petersburg. In summer chillout stages are always integral for big festivals; they are just essential. Unfortunately, there have been sad incidents when festival organizers pursue their own aims; therefore they cheat musicians and other participants. However, we can exclude any interaction with these people by uniting our efforts to develop chillout culture in Russia.
Money is not the main thing
The scene is growing, though we can’t call chillout culture a mass phenomenon. For sure there are some benefits in this phase but it’s critically important to realize that chillout is underground, and you need to understand clearly that music can be a passion but it will not fill your refrigerator. Music doesn’t give a regular income. Almost none of music producers at the chillout stage earns a living by creating music only. There are some rare examples when a musician earns money by touring but it is always hard work. Or besides musicmaking they have side projects at the commercial scene, teach musicmaking, or do mastering and mixing. Unfortunately this is also valid for labels which are now in an ambiguous position: on the one side there are producers who want to earn money by releasing their music. And on the other side label managers need to spend a lot of time, forces and money just to deliver released music to listeners’ ears. At the most these costs are compensated to zero. For example in some circles a release becomes “full-fledged” only after it appears in free file hostings or torrent portals, i.e. after its pirate rip. Unfortunately music gets the maximum coverage of listeners via this way only so far. But the situation begins to improve with the appearance of streaming services like YouTube, Google Music, iTunes and Spotify on which musicians pin their hopes.
Growing of the streaming market
Where to grow?
Good news is that there is a direction to grow for chillout music producers. Moreover this direction does not lie in worldwide scene only. Many ethnic events are organized in Russia and all around the world. In some countries ethno and eco theme is actively developed and supported even at the government level. This summer I visited several events of this format with my musical project called Maiia. I can say that such a genre of downtempo music as ethno-electronic integrates with self-evolution practice very well. This works in the opposite direction as well: ethno musicians sound excellently at the chillout stages. There are a lot of examples; one of them is Bulat Gafarov, a genial multi-instrumentalist who hypnotizes by his playing even the most devotional listener of electronic downtempo.
Incredible artists working both in digital and traditional genres of art get inspiration from chillout music and organically integrate in this culture by decorating stages at the events, developing artworks design for albums and compilations. We are always in search of collaboration with the visual art. We should also mention video artists, vjs who create live paintings mostly live at the events. In this area Mystic Sound collaborates with the project called Nemehaniki. A lot of visual projects both in the context of events decorations and video-mapping come to chillout from the neighboring trance scene.
Sergey Mikhailov, Art Group Line
Apart from audio-visual art psychedelic fashion industry is very developed in Russia: there are even special clothes brands for adepts of the culture and a lot of independent designers who work at individual projects of clothes and jewelry. We have huge markets at some festivals and several offline shops in every big city in Russia.
We cannot ignore another cultural aspect this overview is not complete without: – spiritual and physical evolution. There are many yoga schools, creative disclosure trainings and other practice of self-evolution. Many of us strive for a conscious way of life, and we are engaged not only in entertainment but also in educational events. Ideas of healthy way of life are gaining ground and being propagated during different events as well as at the festivals.
Worldwide known Russian projects
Russia is presented at the worldwide music scene by such well-known names as Chronos, Astronaut Ape, Uchu, Maiia, Koan, In’R’Voice, Psyfactor. You can find more detailed list of artists in this article. Besides, we are strongly promoting to the worldwide scene new names like Rukirek, Liquid Crystal, Kayatma, Airform and many others.
Russian music producers are incredibly talented and they cover all styles of the modern downtempo – from beatless ambient to trendy psybass; one of the brightest representatives of which is Mindex.
Tribal dance schools, which are perfectly integrating with chillout music, simultaneously develop within whole Russia and far abroad. Downtempo music dominates while choosing a track for performances among tribal dancers, and many tribal dance stars love to improvise along electronic downtempo. There is a very big potential in the massive community of fire workers, theater performances and unique members of the psychedelic show. Being tightly integrated with music, wonderful theaters and shows that hypnotize with their performances even the most sophisticated audience are constantly evolving in Russia.
In Russia there are chillout releasing labels which function in diverse degrees of activity: Mystic Sound, Microcosmos, SpaceRadio, Time Resonance, Tunguska, Plexus. Some of them focus on releasing music mostly of Russian producers; some try to cover talented producers from the entire world. However – I’ll repeat it – there are a lot of talented producers in Russia and the world will 100% find out about them in the future.
Apart from that not so many Russian producers appears at the chillout stage of foreign festival. We can’t find proper explanation for this situation: travel expenses from Russia are not that high, neither do I think that Russian producers require too big fees for their sets. Anyway we hope that this situation will be fixed soon and more music of Russian artists could be heard from the chillout stages of broadly known festivals.
Chillout at the parties and chillout-parties
Above I’ve mentioned that apart from individual chillout events indoors this summer we had a joy to dive into chillout music almost every weekend at festivals and other outdoor events. I think nobody will dispute that the best chillout stage of this festival season in Russia was at Trimurti. Special thanks to the festival for the possibility to present separate showcases of several Russian labels: three nights of the festival were shared between SpaceRadio, Microcosmos and Mystic Sound Records. This is a nice tradition, which should be taken on board by others organizers of similar events. Besides Trimurti this year the core team of Mystic Sound Records worked on organization of the chillout space at the Forest Quest festival and took an active part in organizing the chillout at the Seminar of Alternative Tourism event under the direction of X.P. Voodoo.
Mystic Sound has great plans for the forthcoming club season: we are preparing several parties from October till April where we’ll invite foreign chillout representatives besides the label residents. Although we’re preparing incredible releases – it will be both full length albums of Chronos, Maiia, Dubtrak, Naturelement and a compilation from DI.FM PsyChill Channel director Frank Mandarino, plus a compilation from a dj and producer Anastasiya Fusionista (she is known for her monthly Fusion Power radio show), and of course the long awaited fourth part of our legendary series of compilations Ethneomystica. As far as I know Microcosmos is also preparing a nice big event apart from their weekly parties in St. Petersburg as well as a number of interesting releases, and Janco in Kiev is gathering friends again for events in September and November. That means that each of us can expect tons of wonderful music, creative collaborations and communication with like-minded people.
We are one
Chillout culture evolves only due to volunteer work of individuals all around the world – somebody leads labels, somebody leads thematic portals, somebody – radio stations and shows. But together we are the power. It’s very important to realize that only by joining our forces in developing chillout culture we have a possibility to make the next step and reach something bigger… Check around you – maybe you have somebody near whom you can take by hand instead of pushing elbows… Music can make the world a better place and we want to wish success and inspiration to everybody who shares this passion to downtempo as we do.
Thanks to everyone involved in this publication and feel free to comment if you have to add something. Special thanks to Tanya Z-a and Vera U for editing.