Danil Avramov, AKA Vtgnike, was born three hours outside of Moscow in the city of Vladimir. The close distance made the move to the capital a little easier; relocating had him producing again, and he eventually became a resident of NII (Science and Art) club. During this time, he became a drug decriminalisation activist with the goal of promoting a healthy society. Unfortunately, he was jailed for a short time due to drug charges. He was freed in 2016.
He’s come a long way since the footwork days before his first album. The Chicago scene engrossed him but he’s always experimented with different genres. By his first album, Dubna, which was released under Nicholas Jaar’s label, Other People, in 2014, it began to sound like a contemporary Russian reflection. The introduction of ambient synths created that feeling, and with his latest LP, Steals, the sound dominates; it’s as abstract and murky as the country he’s from.
To celebrate his second release on Other People, we’ve asked him a few questions and he lets us know about his influences, his small stint in prison, and his take on drugs.
I was 11 or 12. It was a mixture of consequences such as computer games with interesting music (unreal tournament) and older friends that gave me lots of classic electronic music on CDR’s mp3, back in the day when dial-up was so expensive that my family couldn’t afford me more than a few hours a week. A couple of years later I switched from producing to a patient weed-smoking listener. I got back into music making in 2009-2010…
Does the government/police accept the electronic music scene in Russia?
99% of stuff that gets accepted here is fake. We have fake rappers, fake DJs, fake human rights. A way to survive and do your thing – is to be invisible.
With such a wide variety of sounds under your belt, it would be interesting to know what your single biggest influence is?
First 3 artists from Watmm 🙂 they’ve been with me since the earliest days I remember myself. Bless these people whose golden hands gave me this.
What has made you want to continually switch genres?
I love listening to all kinds of music, all kinds of different genres… I guess one of the reasons is to make something that would surprise myself. I can end up being in a dub band playing scissors with a delay because I find it exciting. It’s a life and you should learn new things/skills every day or you’ll be stuck in illiteracy.
Did going to prison have an impact on the music you make?
It’s a human experience, social thing… I am just getting older and discovering new (and old) music I find exciting and then my output transforms.
You currently hold a residency at Moscow’s NII Club. The space is a platform for art, music, communication, and mental and physical practices. How has your time there helped you develop as an artist?
That’s the most open-minded venue I’ve ever been to, its a perfect place. Each memory I have now I’m sure it’s going to be forever with me.
You told us you’re an advocate for drug legalisation, how did that come about and why?
I know that alcohol is a shadow of 70% of crimes that are committed in this Country. Everything bad comes from a substance that is legal, and we have weed or psychedelics that are making people more positive and at the same time tremulant. I think in a quality balanced world every human should have the opportunity how to enjoy their life or how to hide from reality. I don’t think there will ever be a moment when reality will be absolutely adequate, so it’s a question of fair choice.
Steals is out now on Other People.
Buy it here.