Our editor Blaise Radley takes over the editor's pick chalice this week! Since its inception, Zuzu's label feature has consistently been one of the most leftfield and interesting series we run here at Loose Lips, so picking just one entry was a task in and of itself. However, the manner in which she weaves together context, interview elements and a deep engagement with Hyperboloid's release history here is borderline masterful.
Hyperboloid started as an internet project initiated by a few Russian music geeks who met online. After a number of years, the group have evolved into a record label, a sub-label and a booking and artist management agency. Additionally hosting a range of events and tours in Russia and around the world, the multi-functional group are influencing the next generation of producers not only within Russia but also producers of electronic music who are based much further afield. Although Hyperboloid has gained exposure from a number of media channels, such as XLR8R, Thump, Pitchfork, FACTand Fader, their events in Russia are broadening the horizon of the local crowd, which is a rather niche and dedicated fanbase.
To understand Hyperboloid’s origins, we have to go back in time to the early ages of the internet to a time long before social media--even before Myspace. Specifically, we need to transport ourselves to 1999, when the initial release of the peer-to-peer file-sharing network Soulseek was launched. Surprisingly enough, it still exists, which in the world of streaming services is indeed impressive. But in 1999, Soulseek was the hub of music nerds who would enthusiastically share and explore their favourite music with like-minded people from all around the world. Also, SLSK was also the virtual space where the founder of Hyperboloid Dmitry Garin (Acid Mafia) first met Alexey Devyanin (Pixelord) and Sergey Saburov (Saburov/SΛB). “It was a really small community back then,” admits Sergey. “Everyone was there, including people like Machinedrum.” Finding out that the trio had a mutual taste in music, they eventually formed Hyperboloid in 2004.
At first, Hyperboloid was more of a support platform for music festivals. Then, the guys started releasing music they really liked, but there wasn’t any release schedule at the beginning. In describing the difficulties in their early beginnings, Sergey states, “Back then, nobody really knew how it worked, because we had never been involved with the music industry before. We were just music geeks. So everything was pretty hard for us. Also, at that time, there weren’t enough venues for our friends in Russia”. Sergey comes from Siberia, where he used to throw parties back in his hometown. “I would invite friends from Moscow to test their new projects, because there were nice venues and decent crowds who could appreciate music like that; which wasn’t even happening in Moscow back then.”
When I ask Sergey about how Hyperboloid became a platform and record label contributing to shaping club music in Russia, he responds in a very modest way: “We just wanted to do something. There weren’t labels like that back then, and we had many friends – producers we wanted to release. But it took us years to meet in person. At first, we did everything solely online! And eventually, in 2010, we noticed that we actually had some kind of release schedule and parties going on. But I don’t know, we’re still pretty small.” Nevertheless, Hyperboloid has put out 49 releases up to date, founded a sub-label called #INTERNETGHETTO for promoting young talents and in 2015 at the Jägermeister Indie Awards in Russia, Hyperboloid was declared the label of the year. In addition to that, they also manage their artists, run events in Moscow and all around Russia, they book their own artists at their own events and they even book tours outside their native Russia, such as in China or in various European countries. As Sergey summarises, “It’s more than just a label; it’s a community”.
So, how does the trio select artists for the Hyperboloid label and how does the current roster look like? “Hyperboloid used to be 50/50 Russian and international artists, now it’s more Russian artists,” explain Sergey, adding that their Russian artists also release on other labels in USA and Japan. In addition, when it comes to making decisions about music, the group need to agree on something collectively, otherwise it will not happen. “It’s that simple - but also hard sometimes,” admits Sergey and continues to describe their responsibilities: “Throughout the years, we have divided our tasks. Me and Pixelord mostly pick up and plan the release schedule on Hyperboloid. #INTERNETGHETTO, physical releases and parties are my responsibility. The reports and the whole financial part are on Dimitry. And about a half of all artworks are done by Pixelord. Apart from that, we collaborate with a number of designers, but mainly Elroy Klee.”
Speaking of designs, I’m quite surprised that Hyperboloid, a record label born in the ethereal, immaterial space of the virtual online reality, also prints them together with vinyl or tape releases. Sergey offers a simple explanation: “People who listen to our music are like every other person – some of them like to have a record of their favourite producer, electronic or not. Plus, it gives us an opportunity to do more, including the artwork and the colour of the vinyl – the whole aesthetic”. The visual side of Hyperboloid is strongly rooted in the post-internet era of pastel colours, smooth shade transitions, grids and technology. The sonic aspect, on the other hand, is harder to define, and the label doesn’t make it any easier, because it doesn’t really provide too much of a description. Hyperboloid’s sound palette bounces from dark trap, frenetic juke productions and splashes of vivid synths over broken or IDM beats, stretching to daring club mutations and electronic patchwork experiments. In any case, the music often goes beyond the ‘dance experience’ and also requires active listening, while still keeping the torch containing the club vibe firmly lit. Apart from the workaholic electro-magician Pixelord and the founder’s project Acid Mafia, the label has been home to blossoming producers such as Koloah from Ukraine and the Russian gems Summer of Haze & Gillepsy. Mastering is done by Anna Fruit aka A.Fruit, who is a mastering engineer and a producer recently signed to Chicago label Teklife.
Hyperboloid’s sub-label #INTERNETGHETTO goes even further with its diversity of musical styles. Initially acting as a social feed to promote the demos received by Hyperboloid that didn’t exactly fit the imprint, “We always wanted to stay open to different scenes and especially to up-and-coming producers, so we created #INTERNETGHETTO as a platform for them. Producers can send demos or single tracks, and if we like them, we just publish them on Soundcloud. We don’t really promote the releases, so it’s self sustainable. We publish new music there almost every day,” describes Sergey, who is in charge of the whole operation. Also, the Soundcloud page of the sub-label is indeed a bottomless source of fresh club tracks and EPs, the most recent one being KLLKLLKLL by Moscow based producer BAD ZU, which interweaves a set of percussive tracks with African vocal samples into dark, minimalist compositions. Other new releases include Low Pulse, which is due to be released on May 1st and LA-based Xia Xia Technique x 813 feat. Psycho Flower MC - More Like Dat, which is scheduled to come out on May 26th.
A host of new releases are planned for this year, starting with the full-length LP Supermassive by Raumskaya, a producer from St. Petersburg, which will be released on May 15th. “We will also tour with him in Russia”, reveals Sergey when discussing their booking plans for 2017. Other releases on Hyperboloid will include artists such as Summer of Haze, SP4K from St. Petersburg and the dreamy electronica of Jan Amit. If you are in Moscow sometimes soon, you can also check out some of the artists at one of Hyperboloid’s events – apart from their monthly event in Moscow, the trio also has plans for a world tour that is certain to include Russian and Asian dates, and Summer of Haze will be touring Europe for the first time in his life. Keep an eye out for new Hyperboloid updates so as not to miss out on anything!
By Zuzana Friday | Loose Lips