Dronarivm is a Moscow-based independent label founded in 2012. Managed by Dmitry Taldykin and curated by Bartosz Dziadosz aka Pleq, the label focuses on contemporary ambient and modern classical music. Considering the label’s young age the roster features numerous illustrious ambient artists such as Celer, Machinefabriek, Pillowdiver, Aaron Martin, Christoph Berg, Offthesky, Strom Noir etc. Last year was an exceptionally fruitful one for Dronarivm as they surprised us with releases such as Porya Hatami ‘The Garden‘, Pjusk / Sleep Orchestra ‘Drowning In The Sky‘, Giulio Aldinucci ‘Aer‘, Marcus Fjellström‘s long-awaited ‘Lichtspiel Mutation 2 : Alechsis‘ and Marsen Jules‘ epic ‘Sinfonietta‘. This year is not going to be any worse either as it started with Offthesky’s new album ‘Light Loss‘. As you might have noticed Dronarivm never sleeps, so we spoke to Dmitry Taldykin to find out a bit more about the history and current activities of this dynamic Russian label. While Dmitry took care of the words, Bartosz was taking care of the sounds and prepared a guest mix featuring some of their favourite tracks from the Dronarivm discography.
How did you first get involved with music?
I was first fascinated by music in my last years at school, when my parents bought me a tape recorder. Before that I have certainly listened to some records on a turnable. But it was hardly a passion. I would rather say, it was an entertainment for me… I have to explain here that I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union. So my choice was greatly limited and it was a peculiar one. When tape recorders appeared, the situation started to change a little. Some records appeared that the only recording company in the USSR – ‘Melodia’ – just could not publish. Of course, it was music from Europe and the United States. But not only that, there were also records of domestic half-underground rock groups. That is why I absorbed then everything readily. I could listen to Iron Maiden, Queen, Modern Talking, Russian rock music and Italian pop at the same time. My thoughts were in a complete muddle. After that, when perestroika began and the communism weakened, even more options for listening were discovered. As I was in the midst of my rebellious youth, I finally chose heavy metal. And I guess, from this very moment I became keen on music in the literal sense of the word… I grew my hair long and started to learn playing the guitar. It was the end of the 80s, the early 90s.
When and how did you get the idea to give birth to Dronarivm?
It happened of course much later than the events I talked about earlier. By that time I rose from being a grindcore fan (the last stage of my passion for heavy music), through post-punk, trip-hop and IDM to first dark ambient/industrial, and then to ambient/modern classical. I had a web magazine dedicated to this kind of music. I wrote reviews of CDs, announced gigs and so on. Gradually I became close with some of the representatives of the Russian underground stage. This was when I started thinking of creating a record label on the basis of my webzine, which could publish topical experimental Russian music, mainly ambient and drone, of course. I issued several CDr and CDs, some of them could be bought even from Cold Spring and Drone Records. But on the whole, this idea turned out to be a failure. I found that my expectations concerning production distribution were extremely exaggerated. As you surely understand, I have not carried out any marketing researches beforehand 🙂 Broadly speaking, I couldn’t sell a darned thing of all this stuff. But I did not want to give up like that. I liked to publish music. In short, it was not the idea, but the implementation that left much to be desired. So I decided to expand ‘the struggle space’ and bring the label to the international level. And at this very point Dronarivm was born, it was the summer of 2012.
I remember that I sent some emails to individual well-known artists, I offered them to publish their music. It sounds incredible nowadays: some completely unknown label without any release, from Russia… But to my utter amazement, Will Long aka Celer answered me. He suggested that I could republish his cassette album as a CD. It goes without saying that I agreed. This is where everything started. I’m still truly thankful to Will, as ‘Rags of Contentment‘ gave me and my newly-fledged label a powerful initial impetus, as well as self-confidence. I started to keep up a correspondence with different musicians, Jeff Stonehouse (who was Listening Mirror at that time), Darren Harper, David S. (Fescal) and others. Their releases became next in the Dronarivm roster. Among other things, I sent a message to Bartosz: Hey, I have a label like this. Would you like to publish something as a cassette? I worked then on a cassette mini series… And he said yes, it would be cool to do it. And then we started talking in broken English, discussed music and musicians and finally thought why would not we join our efforts. Bartosz suggested he could watch over Dronarivm, and I did not refuse, you know. So in this way it turned out to be two of us. I think that there is a certain bit of luck, my good luck that the label started to actively develop…
How would you describe the sound of Dronarivm in 5 words?
The voice of your solitude.
What is the concept of the label?
Dronarivm has no special concept, we just publish music we like. In a sense, such an approach is implied by the label name. Dronarivm is a type of miniature ecosystem, where different forms of ambient music co-exist.
How do you usually find and select the artists/music you’re going to sign to your label?
Mostly that is what Bartosz does. We decide together which artists would be interesting for us to publish, and circulate corresponding requests. Sometimes musicians write to us themselves, send us demos. If their music seems noteworthy to us, we will most likely publish it.
What do you find the most stimulating and disappointing thing about running a label?
The most stimulating thing is participation in a global process. I am happy that by our efforts musicians find their listeners and vice versa. The most disappointing thing is the technical aspect of shipping. Parcels from Russia sometimes are very slow ones.
Is there something you would like to improve in the future?
Yes, the delivery speed. Unfortunately, not everything depends only on us.
Do you think that in our digital era the non-musical elements – eg. album artwork – are overlooked and not appreciated enough? How important are these kind of aesthetics for Dronarivm?
No, I do not think so. Design is a very important element and can tell a good deal about a release before you actually listen to it. According to my observations, especially successful covers increase sales. So we pay a particular attention to this aspect. I often work on a special package design. For example, for the 3” CDr from the boxing ambient series, all of them are designed in a special way and put in agreeable little boxes.
How does a ‘regular day’ look like at the Dronarivm office?
Dronarivm has no office. I live in Moscow, Bartosz in Warsaw. Every day I go out to work, as every other ordinary person. As for the label, I do everything connected to it in my spare time – in the morning, before work – when I need to send orders, in the evening – when I need to collect the orders, and in the weekend, if the release is hand-made and requires manual assembly. But all these things surely don’t happen every day.
Are there any artists you would secretly love to sign to Dronarivm?
I would not speak for Bartosz, but as for me, I have no such artists. And what is more, I reckon interest to publishing should be mutual.
Do you have a personal favourite among your releases? Which one are you the most proud of?
For me every new release is the best one, as for the poet his last written poem is.
Do you remember a particularly wonderful moment in the history of the label?
Perhaps such a moment was the ambient music festival that took place in Moscow in March of 2013. I was one of its organizers. Celer, Christoph Heemann, Fabio Orsi and Pleq performed there. That was the time when I had a chance to talk to Bartosz and Will Long in person. I do not know when it will happen next time…
What kind of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own label?
Everything starts with a good name for the label!
Could you name three other labels that you are really fond of, that for some reason you consider as a ‘role model’?
I have no favorites of my own. Of course, I monitor what enters the market, but I pay more attention to individual releases than to labels as such.
What is the latest news at Dronarivm? What should we keep our eyes and ears on?
In the end of 2014 we prepared a free download x-mas compilation ‘Past Disappears‘ featuring many label’s artist such a Aaron Martin, Porya Hatami, Maps and Diagrams and others. And early February we presented a new release by Offthesky ‘Light Loss‘ and are very delighted with this fact. We have lots of ideas for 2015. I prefer not to make long term and detailed plans, as circumstances may change. In the future works of different kinds from Aidan Baker, Caught In The Wake Forever, Christopher Bissonnette, The Frozen Vaults, Wil Bolton, Zvuku and many other artists await us. Perhaps we will try to issue something as vinyl records. It is impossible to publish everything we like, but we will do our best!
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