Few artists in the techno genre are as outspoken as Zak Khutoretsky aka. DVS1. In recent years, the Russian-American DJ/producer has been the instigator of many a fierce discussion on electronic music’s most sensitive topics. His essay on dancefloor photography (2014) kickstarted a worldwide movement banning photography in clubs. Now Zak is questioning the festival culture, saying it is jeopardizing some of electronic music’s core values. The School of House sat down with him during one of his recent visits to Amsterdam to talk — amongst other things — about the devastating effect of big festivals on our culture.
Written by Aron Friedman
“These big, commercial style, ten, fifteen, twenty thousand person festivals, that’s what I think is destroying the culture. (…) The DJs are becoming used to playing 90 minute sets on these big stages to short attention audiences, which is then taking them out of the environment of being artists. Because when you have 90 minutes to play on a big stage to a bunch of kids who are not willing to sit through your left and right turns, you play in the middle, the bangers, and that’s all you do. Otherwise you’re going to lose everyone. When you play in a club for three, four, five hours, it tests your ability to move through time and space, and go up and down, and play with the vibe and the tensions in the room. And if everyone’s is focused on that one room on the one sound, they’re with you. They chose to come there and be a part of your experience for the night. So it challenges you as an artist.”
Watch the entire interview here.
“From the crowd’s perspective, you can imagine, you’re using the value. Let’s say a club wants to charge ten, fifteen, twenty euros for one DJ to play all night. But some young kid says: ‘Why would I pay twenty euros for one DJ, when I can pay forty and go see a hundred DJs.’ When the reality is, they’re not going to see a hundred DJs, they’re not going to hear a hundred DJs. They’re going to hear five to thirty minutes of ten DJs throughout the day. Because the moment one DJ bores them, they’re like: ‘In five minutes, so and so starts on that stage,’ and then them and their friends run over there. And then after twenty minutes: ‘Oh, we’ve got to go hear this guy, ’cause he’s starting in twenty minutes.’
“So it’s affecting so many mutiple ways, from the audience, I think the audience is their perception of value and attention, and respect for the experience. I think from the DJ again, they’re losing the being an artist and being creative. I think for the culture, it’s affecting the clubs and the independent promoters, who work on a monthly or weekly basis, and are taking a lot more risk for smaller audiences. For four to six hundred people. I just think it’s destroying this whole concept that I keep talking about of having a shared experience with a group of people in a room to one heart beat, to one pulse, to kind of one thing.”
“It’s getting out of hand. And I don’t think we’re part of the same scene anymore. We used to all be a scene, and a culture. Then it became an industry, and now even that industry is becoming split in two, where you have the club part of it, and the rave part of it. And then you have the festival side of it. And part of me doesn’t think they’re part of the same thing anymore. Even though they share the same music, and the same DJs, they’re becoming total seperate entities. And I’m okay with that. I just wish one didn’t affect the other so much.”