let the music play
In 2010, I had to come up with an alias and name my first few tracks. Brainstorming did not bring anything interesting and I had to rely on a random idea. I didn't have to wait long and the phrase was born - new day new life.
The decision to start making music was made quite late by me, only at the age of 18. All the time before that, I had been very busy with my football career. I started from absolute nothing and with no idea what music is and how to make it. For a long time, I did not even share this with anyone. The starting point for my first steps was the overwhelming passion for electronic music, at that time the trance scene was especially bright for me. Since the end of 2008, I started listening to Armin van Buuren's radio show “A State of Trance” on the radio more or less regularly. The broadcasts were every Sunday at 20:00. Since the beginning of 2009, I began to listen even more, without missing a single episode. On Tuesday at 21:00, I was connected on the same radio to “Trance Around the World” with Above & Beyond. And on Saturdays, sometimes I listened to Tiesto's “Club Life”.
If on the radio there were 12-15-18 hour broadcasts of big festivals, such as anniversaries of ASOT or TATW, Armin Only shows, of course, I listened to everything, without missing a single minute, whatever the time of day. It came to curiosities. Listening to another ASOT anniversary broadcast during John O'Callaghan's set around 3:30 AM, I wanted to go to the toilet. At that time I had a cold and was lying with a high temperature. Having reached the toilet and done the job quickly, while the uplift drop of 139-140 beats per minute was still playing in my head, I felt unwell and lost consciousness. I woke up already lying in the shower stall upside down, falling I hit my head on the faucet, bending it. If there was a brain in my head, there would be a concussion. Everything worked out. This is just one of many cases. Lack of sleep layered on overexcitation of consciousness brings troubles with delayed action. I remember the lyrics from Sander van Doorn’s track “Love is darkness” for a long time. He played in my headphones when I vomited during poisoning. I chose not to interrupt my listening, as I can always get poisoned, and that ASOT anniversary line-up in Miami on the UMF stage will be quite difficult to listen live ever again. Once I was even able to attend one of the celebrations of the ASOT 550 festival. There was a great line-up and I planned to see and hear everything from the first minute to the last. But out of 10 hours of continuous performances, I could physically endure only 7. Listening to the trance on the radio is much easier than on a 15,000 crowd dance floor with a powerful sound, where it was almost impossible to hear at least something other than the low frequencies of the drum and bass. After the festival, I heard a squeak in my left ear for another two weeks, but I was infinitely glad and happy that I could see everything alive. It was desperate bigotry.
Progressive trance by Cosmic Gate, Smith & Pledger, Kyau & Albert, Stoneface & Terminal, Andy Moor, Lange, Gareth Emery, Myon & Shane 54, Ronski Speed, The Blizzard, ATB, Boom Jinx, Jaytech, Andrew Bayer, Roger Shah… Uplifting trance by Aly & Fila, John O’Callaghan, Filo & Peri, Guiseppe Ottaviani, Simon Patterson, John Askew, RAM, Sebastian Brandt… Especially lovely and remarkable atmospheric Proglifting trance (sub-genre in trance music forgotten by the scene in a year literally) by Above & Beyond, Super8 & Tab, Daniel Kandi, Nitrous Oxide, Mike Koglin… It’s hard to remember all. This list can be much longer. All these people influenced me a lot. Let me highlight my favorites separately: Eco and Breakfast. My main tune from that time perhaps is Eco – Tonight is Forever (Martin Roth Edit). Favorite albums are Above & Beyond “Tri-State”; Armin van Buuren “76”, “Shivers”; Tiesto “Elements Of Life” (including the remixed album).
All names are mentioned above rather fluently, although my listening process was delicate. I had a notebook, and later I took notes on my smartphone. It looked something like this: 1 - intro. Not interesting. There is not enough atmosphere. 2 - minus. 3 - minus. 4 - cool male vocals +. 5 - Above & beyond? +. 6 - tune of the week + and so on. The + mark indicated that the track must be found and downloaded. Besides hunting for tracks through these recordings, I analyzed the entire set. In which places it is not interested, and in which I mark the tracks one by one with pluses. An understanding of building a musical arrangement as well as something longer began to form.
All these tracks are still with me on my external hard drive and I try to get back to them even once a year to live all those moments again. Listening to the track I remember the exact moment in every detail, what I was feeling and what was surrounding me, what my attitude, emotions, and thoughts were. Sometimes I can even feel the smell of that moment which is associated in my head with the exact track. Like many others, such a hobby sooner or later leads to the question, shouldn't I try to do something myself? In my case, the answer was "yes, definitely worth it!" After all, I had to put myself somewhere... So unpretentious and casual, I decided to try it, having no idea what music is.
The first attempts to find some information were not successful. Very limited access to the Internet (an hour session in an Internet club or an attempt to use a 3G modem with an average speed of 8-12 kb/s) did not allow me to count on success. After a few days of searching, I came across FL Studio. It was version 7 or 8, I don't remember exactly. Here the technical and artisan part of the training began, which took several months from complete 0 to 0.1 in understanding how it works. After a few more weeks, I was able to put together something like an arrangement. My technical specs on that time: Intel Pentium processor from the ancients, 500 megabytes of RAM, headphones bought in a grocery hypermarket, and the cheapest speakers costing no more than $ 10. The first step to nowhere was taken. About a year later, since the first launch of the program, I learned what an equalizer is and it would be nice to use it. After about half a year, I found out that it would be nice to study compression more thoroughly. The progress can seem very slow. And so it was. Only 2.5 years later from the starting point, I recorded a track that maybe can be called music and sounds more or less acceptable. It was mixed somehow, but it was already a progressive trance track. The most important thing was to always follow the rule: every next track should be of better quality than the previous one. In total, during that time I collected about 50 arrangements, this number of steps was enough for me (there are cases of good results almost from the first time, but this is not about me) to reach a more or less acceptable level.
The process of overcoming these steps was not easy. I would not say so. Thanks to my ambition, I pushed myself into a dead-end over and over again, trying to build the most productive schedule. These dead-ends were at best just physical fatigue or a creative block (although at that point in time the word creativity should not be taken seriously), at worst, they led to more serious mental or health problems. Health problems were the result of a tight schedule and overwork. Combining many hours of work "in the studio" with study (and then daily job), I left about 4-5 hours a day to sleep. My body withstood this schedule for about a year. After that my activity was limited. In response to my complaints about the feeling of squeezing in my chest, which makes it difficult to breathe, my doctor strongly recommended me give up my computer, and spend no more than 30 minutes a day with it. Sleep at least 10 hours. Walk a lot, eat regularly, and live a calm, measured life (which was the exact opposite of my most productive schedule). I managed to develop bradycardia and several other chronic diseases, which can be both a threat and an insignificant fact. In my condition then it was a threat. I took a break. It was the fall of 2013.
Moving away from the musical craft, I tried to return to the society of "normal people". Make old friends again. Try to re-arrange my personal life. Go in for sports again as much as my health allows. I will say that by the time of my limit, I was already a fairly self-confident producer and fluent in the instrumentation of the program, the theoretical knowledge base was systematized and I still like several tracks written in those days. These were no longer attempts, but purposeful and specific decisions during creation. I stuck to the sound design and experimented a lot, which often brought interesting results. This experimentation put the process of discoveries on the stream. I began to put my thoughts into the tracks, inspired by impressions from life, especially from my childhood in Norilsk in the polar night with the northern lights. The internet situation improved and I got access to tutorials. Starting in 2012, I began to absorb them in large portions and my progress has noticeably accelerated. Some of the tracks from those days I even dared to send to labels as a demo. In the same year, I made a warm friendship with a good man who was then and remains today my companion. We worked together in the same locksmith brigade at the factory. Apart from us, 20-year-old trancers, there were mostly retirees.
We began to compete with each other and got the opportunity to grow faster. We spent all day at work just discussing the theoretical issues of creating music, discussing our favorite tracks, singing from memory each of the vocal tracks from the “Shivers” or “Oceanlab” albums. We saved on lunch and took one for two to quickly raise money for upgrading our computers. We had to do that. My process at that time was quite tough since I did not have enough resources to play more than 3-5 channels with virtual synthesizers at the same time. I had to program, render to audio, listen, and then practically blindly make edits and render again, listen and edit again. Those tracks contained an average of 40 to 70 channels and I'm afraid to even imagine how many renders each of the tracks required and how long it took. Getting up for work every day at 5:00 in the morning and going to bed after midnight, I encountered an interesting feature of the body. When sleep knocks down, my perceptual systems are not shut off at the same time. A couple of seconds before my eyes closed and my neck relaxed, my hearing aid turned off. Over time, I learned to pick up on hearing loss as a signal that in a couple of seconds I would be completely discharged. If at the moment when you no longer hear anything, but still see, have time to move some part of the body or flinch, then the hearing returned and the sleep was released for a few more minutes. A little later, I developed an additional skill, knowing that one render on average takes about 5 minutes, I could fall asleep and wake up in the 5 minutes I needed, listen and make edits and fall asleep again. I could do this trick up to ten times during the night. I compensated for the lack of sleep using any available moment of free time. I spent another 30-40 minutes sleeping on a work bus that took me to the factory. I took another 15-20 minutes to sleep on my lunch break. Then another 30 minutes on the way back from the factory. I came home, had dinner, and went to bed for another 1-1.5 hours so that later I would have the opportunity to work continuously and more or less focused for several hours. This schedule also led to curiosities. On a day off from my main job, every few months I could sleep for 20-30 hours in a row. Getting up early for work, I was so used to brushing my teeth with eyes closed in a dimly lit room that a reflex developed. I still need extra effort to open my eyes while brushing my teeth.
In a year and a half, from the spring of 2012 to the fall of 2013, a huge jump forward was made. In addition to music, I started to take an interest in art, in particular, cinema, creative approaches began to go beyond music software, screwing deeper into me. In the dark, I seemed to be able to come across an “Exit” sign. My enlightenment began. Things were going uphill and I always had great motivation, which influenced my decisions and reassessment of my efforts, which ultimately led me to health problems at the turning point described above. The most productive schedule led me to the collapse.
When I stopped spending a few hours a day on something (my longest session since then to this day is 18 hours of continuous work), I got new opportunities that became much easier to use. I uninstalled FL Studio from my computer, but I remained myself and the self-development virus felt at home in my head. I managed to continue the path of enlightenment I had begun and dived into the art of cinema, which was the only one available. I got the opportunity to rest more and I began to feel really better physically. I took up fitness and got myself into the best shape I have ever had (considering over 10 years of sports career). I began to live the way "normal guys" do at 21. Go clubbing with friends, having parties and a lot of fun. It may seem that my life has improved.
But not really. An inner voice, breaking through the noise of youth, tearing the veil from my eyes, insisted that I was only trying on other people's masks. He became more convincing. I found myself at a crossroads again. These were hard times for me. The reason for this, just like after the early end of my football career, was again the failure to realize my ambitions and energy. Listening to music was no longer invigorating. By the end of 2013, I had been rebelling for a long time, I liked fewer and fewer tracks from those radio shows I loved. I had enough free time and my internal crisis dialogue continued. That period of "normal life" did not last long, just a few months.
In the middle of 2014, I joined the ranks of emigrants, and life after that cannot be called ordinary. Much has changed rapidly under serious external circumstances. The recently begun time of my youth quickly ended and I was forced to grow up (according to my feelings, the internal jump took place for 15 years). You are still 21-22 years old, but you are not young at all. You are no longer up to youth. The time has come not only to live and think about where to put me but to fight for survival. A new life began, this time cutting off a lot of all the years lived before. It began with a cold shower.
Such conditions are not favorable for creative thinking, it may seem so. But in my case it backfired and interesting things were started happening. Living conditions have become more complicated. I have witnessed many destructions of lives around. I saw many abandonment of dreams in favor of the opportunity to live. On a personal level, I managed to get ahead of the war, independently going through both renunciations of dreams and self-destruction. I already had experience working with a surgical scalpel, and sometimes with a hacksaw for metal, hacking myself from the inside. It helped me keep my mind clear even after such a significant change. And instead of the popular knockout in those circumstances, on the contrary, I got a powerful push forward and a few months later concluded that it was time to download FL Studio again and continue. I still have no other way. After analyzing everything that could only get into my horizons, I came to the conclusion that music (creative activity and education, to put it more generally) is the only kind of activity that is really worth living for. I cannot accept otherwise.
A few months after the forced getting of the proud title of an emigrant, I found myself in the city of my childhood, in the polar Norilsk. To be more precise, in the city of Talnakh, which is 30 kilometers from Norilsk. Before that, I lived with the confidence that I would never be there again. This place was left in my childhood memory with the most vivid images and I can always imagine some locations in small details. One of these places is a steep hillock on which small trees and shrubs are grown. Along with it, like a staircase, you can climb to the roof level of 9-storey buildings (all buildings there were and remain no higher than 9 floors) and watch the city. This is my favorite observation deck, which overlooks the city at night, the distant horizon and a small mountain in the distance, a great view of the sky. Everything is in full view and favorable conditions, you can see the radiance of the sky and the horizon tens of kilometers ahead. This is a very cold city and people prefer to stay at home in the evenings, which is why almost all the windows in the houses are on fire. This is a place that I was inspired by and tried to translate its atmosphere into sound. I often visited this place as a child and I ended up there again. And I kept going there and looking out of city several times a week. Sitting in the snow, I listened to the deepest track for me, especially the atmospheres in the break, Boom Jinx & Soundprank - Pieces of The Puzzle, which I have been associating with this place for a couple of years already. I sat and looked into the distance, trying to see and remember every detail. This is the place of my power, where I made a promise to myself to continue to be creative and to do everything in my power to come to my dream. I shouted this promise at the top of my voice. But I shouted into my scarf, covering my face to eye level (and without it, being on the street is an extremely bad idea). This scream was barely heard a few steps away from me, but it doesn't matter, because in that place I was completely alone. The whole body was covered with goosebumps, every time I was being there. Then I came back, opened FL Studio, and tried to start doing something again. The neural connections were restored after a few weeks, and with a full tank of impressions from everything I had experienced and seen, I crossed the night and enter another day where another new life began for me.
Since that moment, from the beginning of 2015, after more than 6 years, I have been continuously working and trying to develop creatively, to continue my path of enlightenment. During this time, I switched from FL Studio to Ableton Live. My taste preferences have changed a lot. The course taken by the trance scene towards popularity and aggressive monetization, to my regret, has not been adjusted. At some point, I lost interest in those radio shows that I had lived on for several years. But it was not bad, because I was forced to look for those emotions elsewhere. I rediscovered music from artists such as Apparat, Moderat, Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm, Floating Points, Bonobo, Telefon Tel Aviv, and others. Further, I began to expand my horizons and began to consistently study the music of other genres: Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Michael Jackson... I rediscovered electronic music, having entered it from a different side. Sasha, Rival Consoles, Paul Kalkbrenner, Noisia, Clark, Max Cooper. And many, many others. Equally important, I discovered literature for myself, and for a long time, I cannot imagine myself without a book. Remarque's works helped me survive the grave state of trying to understand the war at home. This separate world is as infinite as music (as well as culture and creativity in its very definition). And it helps a lot in the process. Several other authors whose works also left a deep impression: Kafka, Murakami, Hemingway, Mann, Dostoevsky, Fitzgerald, Hesse, Goethe, Eco, Orwell... And of course people. Interacting with people, especially those who continue to dream and work in this direction, is inspiring. I am very lucky to make friends with such rare people, they help and motivate me a lot. I am extremely grateful to them.
Inspired by something from the outside, it is always interesting to capture your emotions on canvas. Most of my tracks have references to works, whether it a book or a movie, a masterpiece, or an event. Today everyone has open access to an almost endless number of world classics, which can be passed through, matched with reality, and analyzed what the author saw when he wrote his work? How deeply did he reflect? How and in what way do I see these things and why exactly so with him and me? Great questions and a perfect base for creation. I especially like to study the life of the author and his views on things to understand the motivation for making certain decisions.
Having absorbed all the eclecticism of some of the above names, intertwining it with my thoughts and life experience, I started working on my first meaningful album. But in a small format, just to begin with. Formally, it turned out to be an EP. At its core, this is one long track, divided into 6 parts. “Your Own Borders” became a new challenge for me, I had never created an author's work of this scale before. Although I already had a little experience. A year earlier, in the beautiful spring weather of April, I managed to write an album of remixes on the album (a strange format, I have never seen this again). It was a mini-album by Jon Hopkins with his ambient reworks "Asleep Versions", consisting of four tracks. I created my mini-album, having made a remix for each of the tracks, which, like the original, are woven into a single canvas.
The album title "Your Own Borders" was born in the middle of the process. During the recording, I was regularly facing creative barriers trying to find something new for myself. Leaving my zone of creative comfort and making decisions that were not typical for me under normal conditions, I managed to overcome the limits. I managed to make many discoveries. Record the leading part in 1 take with no having a playing experience, just playing it on the midi keyboard at the right time. Create live rhythm patterns using artifacts from pitch-shifting algorithms. Apply audio processing plugins as musical instruments using random multi-effects on the master channel. Make records of rooms and spaces, noises of nature and use them in tracks. Create an entire arrangement from only one sample source. Use flaws and defects as advantages and more. These techniques may seem usual to an experienced producer, but they were all beyond the barrier. Overcoming these limitations I got the title.
The work was completed, all master versions were prepared and tested. Submitting the result to the Black Sunset Music label, whereby that time I had already released 2 singles, I could not be sure of success. The stuff was pretty experimental for a trance label. They responded within a few days and the result surprised me. They were ready to release an album and even gladly. After listening to the materials, they created the album cover, which, like nothing else, visualizes my idea. My music spoke and the author of the album cover recognized its voice. With the release of the album, my dream came true. A giant leap for someone who recently stood on a hillock at night at a temperature below 30 degrees Celsius and dreamed of releasing at least something sometime. Now, already having several releases, I signed a contract for the release of the album. A contract with a trance label for an album in which only one and a half of tracks are slightly related to trance!
It was the moment of my inner victory. At the time, I thought that if I could get to the commercial release level, I would be the happiest person on the planet. Now I am already here and my joy of signing a contract for the release of an experimental album did not last long. Probably, the perfect mood lasted no more than a day.
Faced with local success and achieving goals, I was naturally happy about it. The signing of my first contract caused a huge storm of emotions. Having received a positive response to my work, I could no longer sleep. Signing a second contract after a while, the effect was repeated. A very strong injection of endorphins. By signing the fifth contract, the effect was already reduced to several hours. Signing a contract today for the next release of tracks, the injection of endorphins and a state of euphoria overtakes only a couple of minutes.
A place that is a dream loses its magic when it is reached. In my case, a dream has ceased to be a dream; it has become only one of the preliminary steps for something more. When this “something bigger” is reached, the scale changes, and the next target appears on the horizon. This can and will continue indefinitely. Moving towards the dream we climb the Penrose stairs. I realized this in practice and it helped me to reconsider my attitude and approach to work. I have come to the conclusion that setting a goal as the endpoint is a fallacy. In the creative process, it simply cannot exist. As well as there cannot be that state of peace "which I will definitely find, having achieved the goal." This idea is very simple. But this is one of the main practical discoveries that I have ever made. For some, this thing is obvious and beyond doubt. But in my case, it was something that turned the worldview upside down. It was the conclusion that helped me revise my schedule. I realized that my intention to work extremely hard is great, but not so effective. I stopped running short-distance sprints and switched to a marathon. A long-distance that needs to be covered consciously. Where the point is not in the finish, but the process. Of course, the result is important, but the approach to the process has become completely different and it continue modifying.
Now I no longer imagine myself writing tracks just for fun to have something comes out. Each track is a separate preparation and research work. As a writer who studies all available materials before starting my work, I try to absorb more information and impressions, create an appropriate atmosphere and conditions favorable for creativity. But here it is important not to confuse favorable conditions with comfortable ones. Favorable conditions for creativity are difficult conditions, conditions for standing or disagreeing with something, compressing the innerspring, and maintaining a state of resistance. This is the strong need to speak out. These surrounding conditions for creativity saturate the process with emotions, stimulate more conscious decision-making, which ultimately allows you to achieve a more mature result. In my value system, this is the main creative task.
Such an approach, analysis, and internal reflection generate creative energy, which, in turn, gives rise to development in other directions. Expanding the horizons, the palette of colors increases, from which you can create absolutely everything and put in a thought that cannot be formed in writing. This can only be done through creativity. One of these thoughts has already been transferred to the canvas in my second album "Cosmologic".
“Cosmologic” continues the story of the first album “Your Own Borders”. A third album should follow, at least I hope so, which will summarize this big story. This will be the end of a full cycle where NDNL’s music will probably complete its journey.
The idea behind Cosmologic is to describe a universal path of the evolving and life. This is done using the example of the soul as a universal concept which can reveal both the micro path of the individual and the macro progress of civilization. The soul goes the way started in the previous album - Your Own Borders. The soul breaks out of the boundaries of its comfortable perception of the world to new discoveries.
The first track, Limbo, describes the place and state into which the soul (or art, civilization, science, anything else) falls at the moment of completion it anticipates. The peak of the evolving of its life was barely passed when a change of state came and the feeling of a significant shift does not let go. Everything changed with no way to go back. But there is also no understanding of what lies ahead. All that remains is to stand still and watch. No matter how long it takes.
Having switched to the observer mode, this soul falls into a stream that carries it deeper and deeper. At the moment, this is the starting point of movement into the void. The next track Flow tells about it.
Once in the stream, the soul is carried away in a direction unknown to it, all control over what is happening is lost and everything seems to be transferred to the hands of higher powers. This stream takes to the deepest and darkest points of the universe, where there comes a moment of complete silence and peace. This is Silentium. Silence and a moment of calm and inspiration. There are no more external stimuli, they all remained in another world for millions of light years.
But very soon the understanding comes that the point of harmony was only an internal state. Outwardly, the path continues. The soul feels a significant acceleration of its flight. This unprecedented and inconceivable speed leads to the idea that it has fallen into infinite space. Otherwise, being in such a strong and impetuous stream, it would be possible to determine some phases, points of the beginning, middle or end. Fit the visible picture into human limited perception. Is it infinity? This is Endless.
The previous thoughts and the ever increasing speed of the flow lead to the conclusion that on the scale of space, whatever the speed of this soul, it will remain motionless. This is so only in infinite space, but what is being described has an end. And this is not the end of space itself as such. The Space will still be reborn and will grow and develop again, but without us. The feeling of peace in a stream of great speed, carrying into emptiness, is described in the next track of the album - Stillness.
And now the crept in thoughts that this is not infinity, the resource has a limitation and the denouement must come, begin to be confirmed. These are small sparks that turn into more and more flames. The stream carries directly into it and there is nothing left but to collect all the forces and enter it. Flame as a symbol of the beginning of the inevitable end.
This thought has already been accepted by the soul, it can only look back. Passing through the flame, the view of the end unfolds before it. This is the Edge. The soul has long been uncontrollable and floats in the general stream. The passed stages gave ground for thinking and reflection, but even making an endless amount of effort, it is no longer possible to turn off the path. It only remains to pass it and look beyond the horizon.
Beyond the horizon is that seemingly unattainable end point. The point of Collapse. All space and the general flow are compressed into one, absolutely everything is distorted and ground. Such an end is inevitable for this soul. A second before its completion, the soul left its thought and its hope that this collapse should be followed by an even more beautiful Big Bang and more and more new and perfect live and evolution. Sometime later, and maybe in some magical way, this soul will still be able to be there already in a reborn form.