Following the release of “I Can See Everything From Here” in the guise of VARIÁT, we forwarded some questions to Ukrainian multimedia artist Dmytro Fedorenko, whose creations and productions with the imprint of Kvitnu, the label he quitted just recently, fed many reviews on this zine. This project sees the imprint of his newly founded label Prostir and blends dissonances, corroded and corrosive sounds forged by hammered toms, drilled cymbals, metallic objects hit like percussion, and over-amplified combined with sparkles of synth-driven pierced modulations and even hooks to folk songs. Let’s give the word to its author.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Dmytro! How are you doing?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: All great!
Chain D.L.K.: On your website, you got introduced as an experimental music activist, sound artist, abstract painter and photographer, producer, and curator. Most of our readers could already have met releases, where you played some of the mentioned roles on our pages, but would you introduce yourself and what you do in your own words?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: Some parts of those are in the past for me. I don’t curate anything anymore, nor produce any other artists’ works.
Now I introduce myself as an artist, and basically, this is the only thing I do.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the meeting point of the above-mentioned roles, if there’s any?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: At some point in life, I was some sort of all-in-one culture multitool machine: I would run International music festivals in Ukraine (Kvitnu Fest & Detali Zvuku), promote regular series of concerts, produce label Kvitnu, curate and produce music projects in collaboration with big European art institutions. And make my own music.
The meeting point was that all of that was about experimental music, I really liked to do all of it. Events, label, concerts, projects, releases… But then it became “too much”. So much art management left less time for my own music, which was the original interest for me. And when I realized that I have to choose between my own music and all that curatorial stuff, I chose music and started a reverse movement, back to myself.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s your definition of art?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: The best way to practice Freedom.
Chain D.L.K.: …and what’s the one of an element, that seems prominent in many of your outputs, that is noise?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: Yes, extreme sound forms are my tools. From the beginning I learned how to unleash it, later I learned how to control it.
Noise is very similar to fire.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re Ukrainian, but you reside in Austria at the moment, right? Do you keep a connection with your native country by your art as well?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: I am not in Austria anymore. I moved from Vienna to Berlin in 2019. Overall, I live outside of Ukraine since 2015, but the connection is never cut. We continued to release and promote Ukrainian artists on Kvitnu, support political activists, take part in different projects and perform at festivals in Ukraine.
SOME OF RELEASES OF UKRAINIAN ARTISTS ON KVITNU AFTER WE LEFT UKRAINE
Stasik “Lullaby For The Enemy”
Kotra vs Edward Sol “Sokyra”
Voin Oruwu “Etudes From A Starship”
Chain D.L.K.: Are you concerned by pieces of news from Ukraine? What’s the aspect that an averagely informed non-Ukrainian person can not easily understand of that situation?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: I am concerned since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014. I am very well-informed about the situation.
If to simplify the story, the main aspect you should keep in mind is that Russia is an empire by its structure and behavior. The last real existing empire. Empires don’t like to lose their colonies, and Ukraine was one of their colonies. Ukraine wants to be free.
All empires die at some point, and unfortunately, these ugly structures never die quietly, but by leaving a long trail of blood. The Russian Empire will die, too, sooner or later. Without Ukraine, it will die much faster.
Chain D.L.K.: We reviewed many records imprinted under Kvitnu, the label you founded in 2006. Many fans of the excellent sounds you pushed by that label are asking why it got recently closed…
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: World of music in 2006, when Kvitnu was founded, and in 2022 are two very different worlds. Many old parts and concepts of it don’t exist or don’t make sense anymore, a new shape of the Music World is still to be formed. And it’s ok. Changes are a sign of life and transformation.
At some point, I didn’t see a possible way to continue running Kvitnu on the same quality and conceptual level as it was for almost 15 years. All possible future steps looked like a downgrade or a compromise. To compromise would seem disrespectful towards our artists and listeners.
Besides, any art project must have a beginning and must have an end. Both parts are equally important. I still perfectly remember every early concept behind Kvitnu. I love the way the label developed together with our artists. And Kvitnu was closed with a clean-cut, positively, with respect and in its finest shape, and will remain like it.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you say that Prostir can be considered a sort of phoenix of Kvitnu or as a completely different entity?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: Prostir is a completely different entity. Kvitnu was a real International label with a big family of artists, with a schedule of releases, constant flow of demos, promotion, and all other attributes of an independent label.
And Prostir (the word means “space” in Ukrainian) is a space made for two artists only, our personal atelier or laboratory where we spend 100% of our time on our own work.
Chain D.L.K.: You recently deployed “I Can See Everything From Here” in the guise of Variat. First, any word about Variat project? What are the distinguishing elements of this project?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: Compared to all of my previous works, “I Can See Everything From Here” is basically a live music album. Guitar, bass, microphones, pedals… All played live and recorded with all corresponding artifacts. This is a territory where I didn’t put my step for more than 25 years. Artistically for me, writing this album was like entering the same river once again, becoming a naked beginner, and getting newly scared.
Chain D.L.K.: Going back to the definition of noise in question 5, on this project… I have the impression that noise is the way to rip an illusory veil detaching listeners from the harshest reality of things in this last record. I also perceive the echo of a kind of energy under aware sedation claiming to get awaken, but it’s just first listening feedback. Am I missing anything?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: I didn’t program any particular expectations of how this album can work on listeners. As long as my music generates some strong impulse and shifts the listener away from the comfort zone, it usually can work as veil ripping, but then it depends on who has what under this veil. Your version I like.
Chain D.L.K.: In spite of its relatively plain structure, “There’s Lots of Light Leaking All Over” is one of my favorite moments of the album. How does it refer to?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: The most romantic song on the album, maybe?
Chain D.L.K.: Reading a title like “I Can See Everything From Here”, someone would automatically ask you ‘from where’. Your reply?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: From within, of course.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides recording techniques or the use of distortion, are there any references or links to your previous works on this album?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: It is still me, and I am still moving in the same direction. With new music, I am just making my perception wider.
But conceptually, the closest previous album before “I Can See Everything From Here” is probably “Namir” by Kotra.
Chain D.L.K.: Your path runs almost in parallel or crossed the one by Zavoloka, another interesting sound/visual experimental artist. How’s evolving? Can you introduce the idea behind Cluster Lizard?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: Evolving intensely for almost 20 years already. We both are attitude maniacs with a very similar vision on art and life, absolute hardliners when it comes to our artistic decisions. Helping each other to stay awake and honest.
Before Cluster Lizard, we had numerous collaborations as Kotra & Zavoloka,
And somewhere in 2015, we were invited by the Presences Electronique festival, and obviously, we decided to write completely new music, especially for this occasion.
The sound happened to be neither Kotra nor Zavoloka, but something new for both of us, and when we were offered to make a release of this material at Le Cabanon label, we decided to make a new step in the evolution of our collaborations and create a “band” for this first album
The name and the concept came naturally from our love of sci-fi movies and literature. At the moment we have already three full-length albums released, and there will be more.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s put aside music for a moment. I browsed your personal website, and I also found a part focused on an interesting exhibition you held in Wien where you combined BDSM with religious self-torturing tools. Intriguing combo… what was the intent of it?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: It was a political art project I made for my diploma in Vienna Art Academy. The idea was to reflect on a political victimhood complex by making an ironic and provocative installation.
I’ve built an isolated room in the cellar of the academy, a dystopian future BDSM torture chamber.
For this room, I made a dozen of cyberpunk torture tools: a giant dildo from empty printer cartridges, a wipe from USB and FireWire cables, a crown from scalpel blades, handcuffs from pipe clamps, and so on. Wrote a six-channel soundtrack which was playing on the loop, made a dozen of silk-prints with quasi-esoteric symbols, and a video loop.
A text for the concept was written around the tradition of self-victimization, a practice actively used in religion and politics since ancient times and until today to gain one’s higher moral status inside the group (church, party, or movement), as well as to justify one’s moral right to eliminate the enemy.
This room was my offer to the future human, constantly searching for new ways to victimize oneself. My offer to enter this chamber, close the door and by using all tools finally meet the one and only real oppressor.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Dmytro Fedorenko aka VARIÁT: A new album as Kotra “Radness Methods” will be out on the 7th of April! It’s already in production.
A new Variat album is next to be written and at least partly performed in May at CTM festival in Berghain. And I have to finally organize all my paintings and drawings archive, which is quite big already.