The intense bodily experience of listening and dancing to techno is often regarded as a spiritual experience. Russian DJ Yuka has a strong feeling towards the cosmic and the mystical, always looking for harmony. That is why she leaves cold Moscow behind during winter to hibernate in Varanesi, the spiritual capital of the world. The Indian city has been a source of inspiration for the mix of our first female contributor.
Yuka, aka Irina Solobutova was born in Siberia in the city of Bratsk and moved to Moscow in 1998 where she steadily built a reputation for herself playing deep-minimal techno. Through labels such as Pro-Tez and Fullpanda Records she met like-minded people such as Anton Kubikov (half of SCSI-9), Dasha Rush and Dino Sabatini. “Many things influence me (art, nature, people), but Fullpanda Records gives the biggest boost of energy. This label unites so many interesting musicians and artists, we all are in a collaboration more or less. It affects me very much.”
Another big influence is Varanasi. Every year the oldest still inhabited city in the world celebrates the ‘festival of lights of the gods’ (Dev Deepawali). During that time the city is decorated, oil lamps are set afloat on the river and devotees take a holy bath in the Ganges. “I’ve been in Varanasi many times. It’s my favorite city in India, I come there again and again, it’s a very powerful and a special place that changes you every time you visit.”
Siberia and Varanasi are both places that spark the western imagination; Siberia cold, empty, industrial and oppressive, while India is colourful, warm and mesmerizing. In a sense these divergent characteristics can also be experienced in techno music. “While my music is always abstract, experimental, cold and dark, I try to keep it beautiful and harmonious, [..] the repetitions of rhythmic patterns and sounds should immerse the listener into a hypnotic state.”
As such, a DJ can be seen as a shaman, an ‘harmonic navigator’, whom; “through a tapestry of mind-bending music, […] takes the dancers on an overnight journey, a psychic voyage and, with one finger on the pulse of the adventure and the other on the turntables, gives the dancers a safe passage back down to earth” (Hutson 1999 61). “When I create a mix I try to catch the listener’s attention and hold it gently through the whole story. On the way I change the mood to go deeper or give more groove, but all should be harmonious. It’s like a state of trance.”
On a visual level she looked for work that illustrates this abstract, mystical yet playful feeling and came up with artists such as Paul Klee, Salvador Dali, and Kazimir Malevich, but eventually chose a photograph taken in Varanasi by Ajay Jacob, a friend of Yuka, “It’s as an illustration to my music – laconic, hypnotic, dark but beautiful, cold and mystic, but not too much.” So, for the next hour, enjoy this mix of cold and dark music as a warm holy bath of sound!
Hutson, Scott R,(1999), “Technoshamanism: Spiritual Healing in the Rave Subculture”, Popular Music and Society, Vol. 23, issue 3, Routledge, 53-77