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INTERVIEW: Philipp Gorbachev
Kathryn de la Rosa , June 2nd, 2017 13:40

Philipp Gorbachev speaks to tQ about his new album I Don't Give A Snare (streaming below), working with The Butthole Surfers' Paul Leary, and Arma17's clashes with the Russian authorities.

Photo by Camille Blake

The last we heard of Russian DJ Philipp Gorbachev was when Moscow police shut down 2016's Outline Festival, cancelling the live premiere of his most recent album, Unlock the Box.

Less than a year later, he's back with I Don't Give a Snare, his third LP to date. As Philipp Gorbachev & the Naked Man, he and his band are produced by Butthole Surfers' Paul Leary. The record includes lead single 'Ready for the Rifle' and can be streamed below.

To mark the LPs release today, tQ caught up with the producer to discuss the Russian dance community Arma17's ongoing battle with the authorities, recruiting his band via Craigslist, and how music scenes around the world compare.

What motivated you to follow up 2016's Unlock the Box so quickly?

Philipp Gorbachev: I really like the fact that Yellowman was producing five albums a year, that Omar Souleyman has over 100 LPs. In every church every day there is enough material for a new 5xLP, so I already can't wait to share something new in 2018. Most of my music is recorded instantly while performing on stage or shortly after the tour, rather than being a result of long studio re-shaping.

You used Craigslist to gather the personnel for I Don't Give a Snare. Can you tell us more about the recruiting process?

Often great talent is not to be found backstage. I find that so many talented music players are not really involved in the electronic dance music scene. I’m sorry to say it but there’s no extreme hype around live shows in dance music nowadays, and that’s sad, it keeps a lot of performers out of the game. But this lucky Craiglist ad really worked! There were some auditions, but Marco Rivagli and Kevin Bucquet seemed to be the best and we soon formed a band. Look at this video where Marco plays a drum solo. It made my jaw drop.

What would you say Paul Leary provides as a producer? Why work with him again?

With Paul Leary we first worked together for the Silver Album and it was brilliant, not even a second of confusion. Paul's ears save emotions that I find essential in music, he amplifies the spirit. His sound is technically very progressive and started out in the early days of The Butthole Surfers as experiments with very basic equipment. It means the universe of sound Paul operates in is really rich, from guitars and drums, vocals and feedbacks, to samples, weird effects and their combinations. It's enough to call him a true originator.

You're based in Berlin and regularly play in Moscow. How do the two cities' music scenes compare?

It is a blessing to be understood via music in different countries and cultures. I love it. Once in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico I was blown away by the fact that the audience chanted some of the Russian lyrics to 'Verish'. When we recorded [...Snare track] 'Public Joe', we imagined ourselves playing in a remote village in Africa, not knowing any language except the language of drums. On the one hand, for me performing in Moscow is something special because of the Russian language, which is an extra musical instrument. On the other, our core audience here at places like Rabitsa, NII or Arma17 is pretty informed about the artists that play at the party. It is very cool to feel a high energy demand from the people, as it leads to a more intense experience, a real energy exchange with its own codes. St. Petersburg is also a very music friendly city with new festivals like PPF and GAMMA.

A music scene for me is a healthy friendship between artists, infrastructure teams, music and good, fun fans. I really feel good in both places, and others places around the world. Mexico City, Paris, Cologne, Kiev… In Berlin I have more a ‘production’ relationship with the city, it is where [Gorbachev's label] PG TUNE releases and projects are prepared. I rarely play here.

Can you tell us more about the Arma17 community in Moscow? How did you become involved?

I was a fan in my teen years, fearing to get through the door, and later I became a club resident after Natasha Abelle and Jennie Sobol invited me to several events. It is a big honour. We started to collaborate and one of the results is the I Don’t Give A Snare LP. For me Arma17 stands for proper style and music taste, fun, a complex approach to art, and diversity. It’s a group of artists who share a similar aesthetic vector in music, looks, construction, art, light and sound. Since the club lost its permanent space, every event is an exclusive DIY project, utilizing the industrial heritage which becoming less and less available nowadays.

What do you think Moscow stands to lose as Arma17 continues its fight with authorities?

Arma17 has not gone forever from Russia while it’s touring Europe and the UK. For me it’s a good time to concentrate on new music and performance techniques for future shows. The movement of people who prefer to be close with each other and choose love over death in Moscow will always be busy like everywhere in the world, driven by creative energy and forgiving each others’ mistakes. Through Arma17 this kind of Russia had a powerful international exchange channel with the international community. Still, the quality of new Russian labels, like ГОСТ ЗВУК, and live artists like Obgon, ГШ and Interchain is inspiring, and we are preparing some cool new collaborative projects with PG TUNE to share this spirit with the world!

Philipp Gorbachev is playing a number of live dates across the coming weeks, listed below. You can order I Don't Give A Snare on Bandcamp here

Philipp Gorbachev dates


03 - Moscow, Russia, Beat Film Festival
08 - Berlin, Germany,Chalet (I Don't Give A Snare LP premiere)
09 - Paris, France, La Gaîté Lyrique
10 - Milan, Italy, Open Air by DO.G.S.
17 - Gothenburg, Sweden, Underground Club


15 - Moscow, Russia, FORMA Festival
21 - Gelendzhik, Russia, Open Air by XOXO