This week our Prima Lux mix comes direct from Romania, courtesy of dj and producer Andrew Red Hand. Having releases stretching back 8 years now Andrew has a wealth of experience which is really evident in the mix. We recently had the pleasure of premiering one of the tracks from his most recent record. We recently had the opportunity to pick his brain and see what makes this man tick. So sit back, relax and enjoy over an hour of techno that’s out of this world.
- So Romania isn’t exactly a known hotspot for techno, how was it that you got into this music?
Well since childhood I had the chance to listen to some great varied genres over the years, though in the communism, before 1989, it was very hard to get some international music. In the beginning on reel to reels, then after ’89 on few vinyls, then pirated cassettes. I used to record music from Viva’s Hosefrau and Berlin House through my mono VCR and then to cassette haha. You couldn’t find such good music anywhere back in 90’s in Romania. I discovered a lot of high quality music from Detroit and the world through those TV shows, MCM’s Techno and others. Then in 1997 I got into club Vip in my city and all the guys who were into techno were exchanging music. Lots! Later a bit I had internet at home and it became easier to find.
- Is there a good community in the electronic music scene there?
In my city, Iasi? It’s dead. And not even a trendy minimal club, not anymore. Only electro-house and commercial clubs and some with other music, there’s not a high quality electronic music club.
To put it bluntly, here’s how’re things in Romania: club owners want to make cash, they don’t care about the variety of the scene, or its evolution. They play it safe, book the same djs for years (as lots of promoters do too). Most of our djs are trend followers or play what they are asked, Hawtin / Villalobos wannabe clones everywhere. People are not so open minded sadly, too many are paying attention to ridiculous trends like this minimal / tech house. Before that it was the progressive house, now it got worse. Basically, you can say all you have in Romania is this minimal! But there are few exceptions … but on a major scale that’s it!
I am involved in the scene since its birth here in my city Iasi, I’ve seen better days. In 1997 our club Vip was one of the 3 clubs in Romania who had the courage of playing some electronic music. Then we have other clubs like 39 which was the greatest club I’ve seen here, I guess it was the first one with 2 rooms, back in 2000 or so. Up to a point only high quality house and techno. Then progressive house and minimal hit the country, most of the guys jumped on the bandwagon and here we are, suffocated by the low end music, while the high end struggles.
- You have been releasing music since 2009, have you seen much change in the scene there in the last 8 years?
Things went worse over the years, at least here in my city and I did not hear any major, positive changes in the country.
- If someone was going to Romania what would be some of the parties or clubs they should check out?
I would advise someone to come to Romania for other reasons than clubbing, like exploring the country, traditions and all related. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of minimal/ tech house or electro-house … parties like that are everywhere. Sometimes you can catch a party with some great international djs, but they are very rare, now and then. There is also a forward-thinking festival one could check out, Rokolectiv.
I have been to a nice club in Bucharest named Kran, in fact they were the first to book me there, and I was quite surprised talking to them about the local scene, how small it is! (I am talking about the non-minimal, the ”true” techno scene).
- Growing up in Romania were there many people doing what you are doing now that you looked up to and could learn from?
I pretty much learned all by myself. I mean there were some older djs who showed me the gear and stuff back in ’97, but that was all. And making music as well, I studied alone, most of the time experimenting and seeing what I can come up with. I think that not being influenced by others and discovering things by yourself is the best way of creating an identity. I can’t stand watching tutorials and I preferred to bang my head and do things my way than watching others doing their way.
- Have you ever felt the push to move to a city with a bigger electronic music community like Berlin for example?
One day I will move, though I am really connected deep inside to my city Iasi. I love it! But from the music point of view I’m kind of wasting my life here, there’s nothing to do, no hopes for better days. I can’t express myself in my country.
Berlin, oh yes! I would love to live straight in Tresor, somewhere between the rooms to hear them both, haha.
- You have a long list of release on a wide variety of labels, what is your production set up like? Are you analogue or digital?
We have a saying here in Romania, in English it would be like: to make a whip out of sh!t – doing big things with little, or close to nothing. And if you made a whip, now make it whip! haha I guess that’s what I’m doing in a way. So, I do music with what I can, no matter if it’s analogue or digital. Most of the times people say my music sounds analogue even if it’s digital, in the end I think it’s a matter of how you polish it. Making music to me it’s a way of expressing myself and my mood always reflects in it, so if I am working on a track I don’t care if the sound is from an analogue or digital source, if it fits my mood I will use it.
Words by G. Lewis