On Cue: Kedr Livanskiy
On Cue is our newly relaunched flagship mix series, celebrating the pivotal DJs and producers whose influence has shaped the world of electronic music, both in their local scenes and beyond. Next up is Moscow’s Kedr Livanskiy who, in writing her new album, ‘Your Need’, found inspiration and creative rejuvenation in DJing and in focussing her art on the joy of the dancefloor. Her mix is an electrifying trip into her eclectic tastes...
“I like the feeling of joy and extravaganza on the dancefloor,” says Kedr Livanskiy. “Not the harsh zombie mass.”
A few months ago, joy and extravaganza would not have been words that sprung to mind when considering the music of the Moscow artist, real name Yana Kedrina. On the contrary, when she shot into the spotlight from the Russian capital's undeground in 2016 with her debut EP ‘January Sun’, shortly followed by 2017’s ‘Ariadna’ LP, the sounds were infinitely more shrouded and crepuscular. Burnt out beats hissed and snapped beneath synth swells doused in fog, all while Livanskiy’s voice would weave through the heavy, surging mist with a mystifying and uncanny quality. Nods to club forms were there, sure, from EBM and techno pulse of ‘Sgoraet (Burning Down)’ to the shivering jungle breaks of ‘ACDC’, but the mood remained introspective, the dancefloor much more a blurry memory than a tangible space of catharsis and liberation.
Despite the hype, however, the months following the release of ‘Ariadna’ found Livanskiy fall into a deep melancholy. Creatively drained and unsure of where next to take her art, she took to DJing more regularly and found inspiration and rejuvenation in the meticulous process of digging, mixing and exploring sounds old and new. Rediscovering that love for music and the vitality of the dancefloor fed directly into the creative process of ‘Your Need’, resulting in a collection that feels more lucid and determined than anything she’s done before.
“DJing made me feel alive again,” she tells DJ Mag. “I wanted to dance again, I was listening to a lot of dance music, searching for tracks for my sets and mixes. In the end it was strongly reflected on the album. I wanted to hear my tracks on the dancefloor.”
“I was looking for a new self,” she adds. “New leitmotifs, new material, and accordingly a new form. It took time, but for any artist, this is probably a difficult time. Thank god I was not stuck in this state and found the same resources and inspiration for the new within me… Not without the help of my friends.”
Livanskiy’s DJ sets – and indeed her On Cue mix for DJ Mag – are colourful tapestries of style, rattling from genre to genre as hard drum cuts and breaks veer into lush ambience and balladry. It makes for enticing listening, with her eclectic taste creating an unpredictable atmosphere, encouraging listeners to join the dots themselves and realise where the disparate sounds informed her own productions.
“I like variety in a set,” she says. “It's very boring when playing only techno and electro, I like to mix everything - dubstep with ghetto house, drum & bass and baile funk, jungle and speed garage. In life there is so much shit, I want the experience to feel like a holiday. I will listen to serious music at home on the speakers but when I see people I want to dissolve in Dionysian fun.”
“For me, it is an important mission to record sets and mixes,” she adds. “To develop my listener so that they understand why the sound is changing; all this is reflected in the mixes that I write."
‘Your Need’ strikes a terrific balance between the starkness that made her previous releases so immersive and the lightness that she re-discovered in DJing. The murky atmospherics that saw her being compared to acts like Boards of Canada, Patricia and Hype Williams linger, but are less overbearing, no longer defining the entire mood of the album but lending a necessary darkness to tracks like ‘Why Love (зачем любовь)’ and ‘LED (лёд)’. On these tracks, the album’s vocal highlights, Livanskiy’s singing pairs with submerged, Depeche Mode-reminiscent melodies to invoke the dancefloor’s more introspective, fleetingly poignant moments. These pair magnificently with the raucous and ravey ‘Bounce 2’ and ‘Kiska (киска)’and the psychedelic ambient dub of ‘Lugovoy (November Dub)’.
“I would describe this album as equally audacious and life-affirming, but at the same time fragile and tender,” Livanskiy says. “These polar states pass from song to song, replacing each other, as they do in life. A lot of emotions are densely experienced and re-thought during the album, I think they are reflected in it. This is its charm - almost every mood has its own song. This album is like a mini life.”
“I like the numerous musical references sewn into the canvas of the album,” she adds. “I wanted to show all that I love and appreciate in music and its different forms. I feel that I hold everything in myself, skipping over it in my own way.”
Livanskiy invited Gost Zvuk affiliate Flaty into creative process with her, with each of their distinct styles merging to create something that was new for both of them and contributing considerably to the album’s irresistible atmosphere.
“Co-operation gave [‘Your Need’] a unique sound,” she explains. “Neither I nor Flaty separately would create this sound in projects we’d work separately on. I think it gave birth to something else, [that was] new for him and for me. This is a great experience. Flaty brought a lot to the form and diversified the rhythmic parts. I learned a lot in the process.”
With live shows and DJ sets lined up for the rest of the year, Livanskiy is determined to keep her current creative outpouring going, with plans for visual work and more new music already taking shape.
“I really want to make three clips. there are already ideas,” she says. “The visual component is very important to me. This is a large part of my creative universe. I also want to modify drafts that were written this year and release an EP before the end of the year.”
In the meantime, Livanskiy’s has sent over a superb mix for our On Cue series, which you can listen to below.
Buy ‘Your Need’ here.
Want more? Check out our On Cue features with Jubilee and Logos and our recent documentary on Moscow's underground club scene...
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