With love: Philipp Gorbachev - Artists - Mixmag

With love: Philipp Gorbachev

A stroll through Moscow with Philipp Gorbachev

  • Words & Photography: Paul Sullivan
  • 12 October 2016
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These days Philipp is based in Berlin, where he first moved with his family in the 80s before the Wall fell and they returned to Moscow again. In 2010 he returned to the German capital and teamed up with Matias Aguayo, whose Cómeme label released his early tracks. The ‘In The Delta’ EP (2011), ‘Isaac Johan’ EP (2012) and ‘Hero Of Tomorrow’ 12” (2013) audibly fuse his early post-punk influences with dancefloor house and techno, with additional deft and quirky touches supplied
by Aguayo.“I moved to Schöneberg in Berlin and became good friends with Matias,” says Philipp, who also met the Kompakt crew around this time, “and worked with him at the District Union studios, which were very special: no mixing board, no chairs, no internet, no sofas, just hand-picked analogue equipment and other fun machines.”

This live studio set-up appealed immensely to Phillip’s sensibilities, and it was here that he recorded his debut, the ‘Silver Album’, an upbeat riot of dance music and post-punk that incorporates acid house grooves, intense drumming and exuberantly delivered PiL-style vocals in Russian and English. Featuring John Stanier from Battles, Tobias Freund from Berlin’s Ostgut Ton label and Daniel Maloso, the record was recorded with live instruments and was mixed and mastered in Hollywood by Brian ‘Big Bass’ Gardner (known for his work with Snoop and Dre) and Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers fame.

Which brings us neatly to his second album, ‘Unlock The Box’. Philipp removes his orange overcoat to reveal an equally orange vest. “You have to photograph the back,” he says, turning to reveal four more Russian letters and the number 17.
“The letters stand for Ivan, the fictional protagonist of the new record. The 17 is for Arma17, the creative club community I evolved with here in Moscow.”

The orange outfit was created for the live debut of ‘Unlock The Box’ at the weekend’s Outline Festival, the Arma17 event which, in the last couple of years, has put electronic music on the map in Moscow and beyond. This third instalment was to take place in a Moscow industrial site and feature DJ sets from Ricardo Villalobos, Palms Trax, JD Twitch and Nastia alongside Philipp’s show. However, the authorities closed down the event just a few hours before kick-off, citing security and licensing concerns which the organisers, Arma17 , vehemently countered.

“My first ever show in Moscow was with Arma17,” reminisces Philipp. “They are a professional community on every level, from the drivers to the sound guys. I really love them as people and they operate at a whole differen level of production here. And they’re pretty much alone these days as there is no real industry here – no music PR service or booking agency. I’m thankful to my parents that I can speak English, but many of my friends can’t. They also can’t compete with the records coming in from the West; things like getting a decent mix or mastering is very hard, and thinking about making money is even harder. Only pop and mainstream get any investment. This is why I wanted to come back here to launch the record – to try and help.”

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