EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Five Minutes With… PTU
Russian duo PTU – consisting of Kamil Ea and Alina Izolenta – are destined for a big 2017, with debut EP A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day out now via Nina Kraviz’s Trip Records.
The duo, whose name comes from the old Soviet institution of “Professional Engineering Specialised Schools”, have a dark and edgy sound, where high-velocity techno takes on a heavy, industrial edge. We caught up with them to chat about getting signed to Trip records, their debut EP and their influences.
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
Our sound consists of techno, bass, acid and ambient elements. We play the synths and record sounds which seem eerie to our ears, some shorts parts too, and then simply connect them in such a way that these elements are in dialogue. There must be tension between them. We’re creating a new dimension where these combinations create their own rules, and then we add the rhythm and the storyline. You know, a correct, well- made, well-defined stylistically safe track does not promise the listener any new emotions. It’s like muzak in an elevator or a supermarket. Working together as a duo we try to save each other from such decisions, we track cliches in each other’s work, argue whether particular stylistic manoeuvres are reasonable.
What are the 5 albums that have influenced you the most?
Our biggest impression from listening to music is from the late 90s and beginning of 00s when all we had was tape copies and pirate CDs with badly printed covers.
Suicide – Suicide
FSOL – Dead cities
Кино – Black Album
Beastie boys – Hello Nasty
Brian Eno – Music for airports
Tricky – Pre-Milennium tension
Lee Scratch Perry – Revolution Dub
Zvuki Mu – Shokoladniy Pushkin
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Are there any key pieces of equipment that you are using to define your sound?
We are using two Octatracks and two synths for live sets. We usually sample a lot at home, borrowing synths from friends, or looking for some sounds, voices. This approach kind of defines our sound. We use the computer merely to record the output.
Where do you gather songwriting inspiration?
Alina: I am really inspired by the functional, operational principles of music, also by totally immersing myself in a place where this music has to work 100%. And of course the sound itself fascinates me. The kind of sound that makes my brain work, but also this kind that has another origin apart from intellectual one – it’s naked nature and the ability to become information when it touches a human’s ear. Sometimes I imagine myself onstage and there’s this dancefloor in front of me. Depending on the mood it’s either packed or empty. It’s dark, only a tiny spot of light, there’s just sound. This image really works for me. I am also inspired by people, in particular, by that part of younger audiences that’s ignored and put aside. These people always attract me. These kids are our future. They have already come up with something new. Now. It’s so interesting to watch this happen. But I never think of it when I’m playing my synths.
Kamil: I am mostly inspired by the musical process itself, and the lack of rules, this freedom. There are no rules in music, only habits and traditions.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
The best gigs are the ones where people applause. We only have such warm welcome in Moscow.
And the worst?
Sometimes it happens that good atmosphere and warm vibe are met with terrible-sounding PA. Can we call any of these occasions the worst?
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
Alina: If I’m being totally free I would say I’d go into quantum physics and everything space-related. It’s the kind of profession of the future: the future that’s always been present, always been with us. But I’m not talented in mathematics.
Kamil: I have a Law diploma so that’d probably where I ended up. But I’ve always dreamt of bigger things. Probably, I’d go into literature, opened a financially disastrous publishing house.
How do you end up being signed to Trip Records?
Once we received an email from Nina asking us to send her some material. We did, and in a while she suggested we join трип. Of course, we agreed.
You guys have known each other a very long time… How do you think your personal history affects your working relationship, if at all?
This is a very popular question. This affects you the same way a personal story does when you are doing a solo project. In general, everything is perceived as a whole. And when something is whole, there is nothing to unite.
Can you give us any insight into the title of your EP? What themes do you hope listeners find in your music?
When clocks hurry or lag behind, they never show the exact time, and those that have stopped – show the right time twice a day. Themes a listener finds in our works will reflect their internal state. We’ve been trying to make more abstract music lately. We seek to create sound combinations without references to “culture of consumption” of this or that genre, avoiding habitual reactions to them. When you are in a new place, you are deprived of an opportunity to make habitual actions, you have to improvise.
Your beats and rhythms are orientated to the dance-floor, but there is a very interesting mixture of tones to your music, most of them quite harsh: dark, industrial, on the verge of dissonance even when the sampled instruments are quite sweet-sounding… Any thoughts on this comment?
This is an interesting comment, thank you. The matter is that the reality in itself is very volumetric, and it is easier and safer to reflect on some things in creativity, and it’s absolutely pointless in a dialogue with someone.
How are you feeling about 2017? How do you think musicians will be affected by the uncertainty and upheaval the world is experiencing right now?
We believe there’s always something happening in the world. And art has always been a mirror for audience and for authors. Even if the person seeks to express nothing in creativity, it still reflects reality, regardless of the methods used. Everything will continue to happen like this.
Finally… In a perfect world, what are you guys up to at this time next year?
Alina: I would like to develop within a year and to be more independent. That’d improve everything else I do. And we should have more musical instruments.
Kamil: I would like to try to work with pop music. Minimalistic pop with live instruments. Perhaps this is a temporary interest. Maybe, It would be interesting to work in film industry or with computer games.
PTU’s EP A Broken Clock is Right Twice A Day is out now via трип. You can buy it here.