Oleg Galay: Well, as far as I remember I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first showed my more or less serious interest in music for the first time. I think it was ABBA and Boney M. Then I tasted more alternative genres like heavy metal and punk, so I guess that is typical for teenagers. And in the mid ’80es I discovered new wave music / post punk and it was my type of music! The next logical step was moving from post punk to industrial/experimental, and so I did in the early ’90es, which finally led me to my first record label Tantric Harmonies in 2000.
Chain D.L.K.: Which were the first records that really caught your attention and why?
Oleg Galay: Do you mean the first record that changed my world? Hm, it’s hard to say now… I think it was Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” and The Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds”. Both records have atmospheres I had not heard before. Something dark and cold that I liked.
Chain D.L.K.: What was the Russian scene back then? Any bands you’d like to mention?
Oleg Galay: I could mention early Kino records, or Auction’s “Comment Je Suis Devenu Un Traître” were good. But I never paid much attention to the Russian scene. I was and I am still into the European scene. The problem with Russian scene: it was all clones of European bands, but 99% of them were cheap clones. There was however at least one jewel: Kofe’s “Balance”. The album was recorded in 1986 and never officially released. I will release it this year on Other Voices.
Chain D.L.K.: What was the political situation during the cold war in Russia, compared to nowadays?
Oleg Galay: Do you mean the political situation in the ’80es in Russia?
Chain D.L.K.: Yes.
Oleg Galay: Well, it was strange, but those were probably good times. We still have the iron curtain, but even back then there were some holes in it. I was too young to pay much attention to politics, all we heard were the news on TV and anecdotes about authority around the kitchen table. Looking back I must say not everything was bad in the USSR. Alas we almost lost all good things from the Soviet States and took too may bad things from “Free World”. We still had something… I mean. Searching for some interesting music was a great adventure in the ’80es! As fas as the political situation of today goes, I think the title of everyone’s favorite New Order album describes it very well: “Power, Corruption and Lies”.
Chain D.L.K.: Did the Russian bands reflect the political situations in their lyrics? Did you have punk/hc bands back then like in Poland?
Oleg Galay: Yes, we did. Bands like Televisor and Grazhdanskaia Oborona always reflected it all in their lyrics and music. Sometimes too childish and naive, but it was the voice of an angry youth.
Oleg Galay: Yes, but I can’t play any musical instrument (although as we now know it’s not required in modern music). I remember we have made several attempts but none that serious at all.
Chain D.L.K.: Was there a scene of people who shared your tastes?
Oleg Galay: You know… There were people who were making fanzines, distributing stuff… There was a punk / wave scene, but I’m not sure we had a serious electronic scene like there was in Sheffield in the late ’70es. And as I said before, I was really into European music, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything of interest about that, sorry. Yes, I remember many DIY zines, and again mostly from the punk scene. And even some good ones. I don’t know people behind it personally though. And we had no music distribution at all. Some people used to buy records in Europe and the US and then bring them into the USSR (still don’t know how) and sell them on the black market. We had some meetings, usually on Saturday mornings, deep in the park or in the country side near the city, where we could purchase and trade some records. The police followed us and dispersed us from time to time. It was fun.
Chain D.L.K.: Wow… Criminals because of music!?
Oleg Galay: Yes, something like that. Back in 1984 the authorities thought rock music could damage our minds, and they were absolutely right! I remember a documentary movie about youth culture in the West and the movie sent a clear message to our parents: be careful, your kids are in great danger! Well, the next day we were punks.
Chain D.L.K.: What convinced you to start releasing records with your first label Tantric Harmonies?
Oleg Galay: Since I was about 15 or so I liked the idea of running a record label. It was impossible in 1985, but I kept this idea and finally the dream came true. I just wanted to see if I’d dare to start one and see if it was possible in Russia at all.
Chain D.L.K.: What was your initial idea of a label and how did it change throughout the years?
Oleg Galay: Well, by the time I started Tantric Harmonies I was really into the experimental / industrial / ambient scene. And I was mad (well, I still do love Bryn’s music) about Muslimgauze. So I wrote a message to Staalplaat about re-issuing an mp3 release as a proper CD. The idea of my first label was: music for ritual, meditation and concentration. I liked ritual stuff like drones etc. But my real flame was always the post-punk/new wave music I grew up with, so when one day I felt so tired of drones and noises I decided to continue in this direction.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the things you’re most proud of with Tantric Harmonies?
Oleg Galay: It was my first experience and it was real fun. And I released some really good stuff such as Muslimgauze, Bad Sector, Maeror Tri, Merzbow, just to name a few.
Oleg Galay: Yes. But a few years later I changed the label’s name to Other Voices, ’cause I realized there already were some bigger labels called Intuition.
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed that the first releases was mostly focused on new wave bands. Was that intentional?
Oleg Galay: Yes and I am still looking for forgotten new wave bands from the ’80s.
Chain D.L.K.: A thing that I was curious about is Neon. Since they are Italian, how did you find out about them?
Oleg Galay: Good question. I had a bootleg compilation entitled Tribute to Flexi-Pop (or so) and Neon were on it. I liked their track “Dark Age” and started to search for contacts.
Chain D.L.K.: What was your first impression when you check out all their stuff? Did you also like their Sister Of Mercy guitar-like period?
Oleg Galay: Actually not much, I do really love their early ’80es songs. I still think “Isolation” is one of the best post-punk songs of the ’80es.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever organized gigs for any of your bands in Russia?
Oleg Galay: No. But maybe in the future. I am thinking about it.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell me something about your collaborations with the other labels: Anna Logue Records, Avant!, Minimal Wave? Did you check their releases and decided to print the CDs of their vinyl only releases or did you deal directly with the bands and there’s no real collaboration going on?
Oleg Galay: I checked their releases first and then asked the labels if I can do a CD version, after that I dealt with the bands directly. As for the Anna Logue cooperation, we split the costs and the editions 50/50. So this is the real co-release.
Chain D.L.K.: Which is the release you had the most problems with and why?
Oleg Galay: The main problem is the distribution. It’s not a problem at all to issue CD or vinyl but when it comes to distributing it, I think Individual Industry deserved much more attention from audience. It’s really beautiful music. And so is Sensor, we got many very good reviews around the globe, but sales were extremely low.
Chain D.L.K.: With the Tobias Bernstrup release you started to issue tapes. Why did you make this decision? In the ’70es/’80es they were chosen only because they were cheap and handy but now we have CDs…
Oleg Galay: I always loved tape culture. There’s a magic in small plastic boxes. Originally it was released just for fun and for hard core fans, and we were surprised it had such a great success. And it was so ’80-ish to release a cassette also, which fit Tobias’ album perfectly. I personally still have a cassette deck at home and in my car.
Chain D.L.K.: Which of your releases do you think deserved more exposure or success compared with what they had and why?
Oleg Galay: ALL!!! Really, I think all my releases are great. If I don’t like it I don’t releases it.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes, but some of them are almost out of print and others aren’t, right? Which deserved more sales?
Oleg Galay: Right, some sell well, some not so much. All labels take risks and this is normal. Bestsellers give a chance to lesser known artists to release their stuff. Which deserves more sales? I think it’s Aerial FX (many people just don’t know this band from the early ’80es). All my recent titles sell more or less well, fortunately. But still not well enough to buy Chelsea club.
Chain D.L.K.: Hahaha… would you like to buy a soccer team?
Oleg Galay: No, Actually not. I hate sport.
Chain D.L.K.: Of your latest releases, besides Tobias Bernstrup, Lust For Youth is the only one which isn’t a reissue. Do you think you’ll release any other current bands? Are there any you’d like to release anytime soon?
Oleg Galay: The answer is Yes! I’m working on a debut CD by Cinemascope from Greece. And I will work with a new fantastic electronic act from the UK called Soft Riot later this Autumn.
Chain D.L.K.: What do they sound like?
Oleg Galay: Cinemascope is darkwave/post-punk, think some early Clan Of Xymox. And Ronny (Moorings) contributed his vocals on one song. Soft Riot is a vintage synth project, with the sound which brings us back to the early days of synth-pop. But quite strange pop, think Throbbing Gristle on Top Of The Pop or Duran Duran in a coma.
Chain D.L.K.: ADN’ Ckrystall “Jazz Mad” had some delay, what happened? Are you going to stick it in the September schedule?
Oleg Galay: No delay actually, it’s still planned for this Autumn.
Chain D.L.K.: I read of its release on June 2011 on your website, so I thought that it had been delayed…
Oleg Galay: No, it was just a piece of information with no fixed date. Anyway, some delays are possible as all releases depend on sales.
Chain D.L.K.: Is it going to have extra tracks compared to the Minimal Wave release?
Oleg Galay: Well, the ones that were in the Minimal Wave store were actually the rest from the original edition Erick released on his own in 1982. Yes, we added some tracks from singles and rarities.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you be interested in releasing ADN’ Ckrystal releases that he did on vinyl only?
Oleg Galay: Yes, definitely. I like his music.
Chain D.L.K.: Cool… What is the thing you like the most about his music?
Oleg Galay: I like its surrealistic touch. To me it sounds like Gainsbourg if he hung out with The Human League and Cabaret Voltaire in late ’70es! ;-)))
Chain D.L.K.: In your artist page I also read the names Venus In Furs and Nagamatzu, as well as other bands I don’t think had a release yet. What is the schedule for those ones?
Oleg Galay: No fixed date so far, sorry.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to release other stuff on tape only like you did with Parade Ground?
Oleg Galay: Yes. To this day I’ve released three tapes and I will release more in the future.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there other tape-only releases right now? Which ones? I missed them…
Oleg Galay: Not 100% only tape releases, but all my cassettes have slightly different track listings and exclusive tracks, which makes tape releases something special.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell me something about the Attrition live release? How did they find those recordings?
Oleg Galay: I was in contact with Martin for some years and I asked him for some early ’80es stuff. I do really love his “Smiling at The Hypogonder Club” release. So when one day Martin wrote to me about some old live tapes with some unreleased songs I was very excited about it.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes, it’s a good release. The tracks are intense…
Oleg Galay: Yeah!
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s talk about the graphics, you told me that you do them yourselves…
Oleg Galay: Yes, not everything, but most of them.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes, also because you’re keeping the ones of releases that have already been released in other formats… am I right?
Oleg Galay: Yes, but sometimes there’s a reason to give new design even to a reissue.
Visit Other Voices Records on the web at: www.othervoicesrecords.com