Andrei ‘Tripmastaz’ has been a busy man over the past few years. Aside from relocating to Berlin, he’s also been busy in the studio with Ricardo Villalobos, launching his own Respect the Craft label and even his own mastering service. So we were pleasantly surprised that he managed to found time in his busy schedule to serve up an incredible mix for us. Listen to that one here, and read our interview with one of Russia’s most renowned and respected electronic acts below…
Hi Andrei, how are you today? Where are you answering these questions from? And how was your year? What was the highlight?
I’m well thank you and hope you are too. I’m answering from my Berlin studio. It was one of the emotionally heaviest years, although very fruitful musically.
I’ve finally released my trip-hop album under my Duct Tape Project alias. I was working on it for the past 5 years. It’s a double vinyl album. I also launched my Respect the Craft label and had some interesting gigs.
You moved to Berlin just before the pandemic, right?
I moved in more than a year prior to the pandemic. Four years later and many events later I’m still here!
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of the move? What’s been the most challenging?
Despite its reputation as a club capital, it’s actually pretty quiet, green and easy to get around, especially compared to the huge cities I used to live it. To me, Berlin still feels like a big village or pretty small city. The amount of fellow musicians and DJs here is rewarding as well, not to mention record stores, which can be a problem for your wallet too!
The most challenging aspect, I’d say, has been finding an apartment, since the market went up exponentially and the overall bureaucratic “anmeldung” part doesn’t help either. But I managed it luckily pretty fast. Thanks to my good Berliner friends.
As someone who obviously opposes the war in Ukraine have you had to deal with any issues with your nationality while in Berlin? Do you think this is a problem for other Russian artists right now?
I’ll tell you this. In 40 years of my life and many years of travelling the world and meeting so many different ethnicities, the first time I heard something openly against Russians was from a small group of people whom I’ve never met in my life.
Not from Ukranians, whom I’m friends with (my father is Ukrainian and so is my surname), but from a group of people supposed to be sharing views regarding our scene.
I’ve heard about some cancellations and had a few myself, but again, I want to emphasise these initiatives were coming only from one team, not from international bookers and so forth, although I have a certain feeling some of the bookers or “fellow artists” were avoiding necessary contact with Russians for the sake of their own “social media safety” last year.
I have DJd for more than 20 years now and making music a bit longer than that. This culture was always been about escapism and an alternative way of thinking. Obviously less and less as of lately but yet it’s at its core. I can say for a fact – It saved my life and many others around the globe too. My music has been played and is playing all over the world for years and years and transcends nations, continents, genres etc.
Even the idea of explaining myself or being avoided or limited by nationality to what I devoted my whole life to and what I do honestly and well is bizarre and completely foreign to me.
The political situation is awful and very deeply rooted, and as I see it won’t get much better soon, though we all have hopes. However, it doesn’t have to impact our small alternative world in a negative way.
Tell us a bit about your Respect the Craft label. Is the title a sort of critique of the modern-day electronic music scene?
Should I make meaningful facial expressions here (à la Prince) and leave it to your imagination..? But yes, it is 🙂
Although the main emphasis here is on what I value and what I think should be valued in this “scene” which becomes less and less “scene” and more of “just business” even in what we used to indicate as underground.
The label’s been pretty prolific this year, and has already put out both a number of your tracks as well as ones you produced alongside Ricardo Villalobos under your collaborative tRicMast alias. Can you tell us a bit about how the collaborations came to be in the first place?
This double vinyl EP is a result of different studio sessions of the last four years or so which we did in Ricardo’s studio.
How does it work when working with Ricardo? Who works on what? Do you have to compromise on some things?
It’s fun; I’d say these tracks are more like gap bridges between conversations and laughs. And zero compromising, since they all are really just long and sometimes very long live jam sessions. You go where the music takes you.
What’s cool with these particular tracks is the Rise track we built around my New York MC friend’s acapella which is like 7-8 years old and I l used it back then for an unreleased track which I played in my DJ sets. And the track ‘Svoboda’ is based on another unreleased track’s elements. My keyboard solo I played around 10 years ago and jazz samples I’ve recorded at the live concert in St.Petersburg, Russia.
Do you feel a pressure attached when working with artists like that? How does it compare to working with other artists, for example?
Pressure in a sense to what can I bring to an already fruitful table and manage the way to add my style to it. Otherwise it’s exciting and adventurous and fun.
Talk to us a bit about the label’s distribution arm, Black Round Twelve. How important is it to work with a great distributor these days? And what made you settle for them?
Business relationships came out of personal relationships with Joe aka The Dawg aka Self proclaimed Loan Shark 🙂
It works well as we constantly see each other and it’s built on trust and friendship. And it’s a small boutique style distribution and very hands on at each step of the process.
I also wanted to ask about your analog mixing and mastering service, Tripmastering. Is this something you started in the pandemic or something you’ve been working on for a while?
I started it during pandemic; it just all came together, when I had more time on my hands to study both analog mixing and mastering processes and dig deeper into them. I’ve really put my focus on the science here.
It also expands your artistry and your output quality. In the past three years I’ve mastered a bunch of vinyl releases and mixed music from jazz, acoustic and soundtracks, to instrumental hip-hop and songs of different genres and of course our beloved dance music.
All my latest releases, including our EP with Ricardo and a handful of my different label’s releases I mixed and mastered myself.
You’ve also done a mix for us: can you talk us through the vibe with that one a bit?
Sure, all the records I played here are coming from my recent digs in Detroit, New York and Berlin. Most of them are hidden oldies, some of them are pretty rare records. I wanted to capture the way I play live, mixing different styles and eras, spontaneously, often longer mixes where tracks add to each other. Really, it’s more about blends, rather than each track’s idea individually. It’s a pretty eclectic mix that flows, won’t make much sense in scrolling through it.
Talk to us a bit about your thoughts on the likes of Landr. Will they ever beat the human touch?
When humans use AI as a tool is one thing, as it is designed as such. But when AI uses humans as a tool… I can tell as much about it as Bowie on the Internet 20+ years ago. Landr might be an option if you are on the road and want to test out a new track in a club. But can it replace real studio mastering, all the nuances of a real human ear and brain’s perception, does it have any weight or meaning ? As much as good restaurant food vs AI cooked food. And as much as real paintings vs. AI created jpeg.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest record and the vibes you were going for with this one?
The latest one is Tripmastaz 08. Three different trax and that’s the reason why they ended up on one record. One is a very long and very trippy and a bit funny big room thing. The second is a classic house groover and the third is very psychedelic tool. One of my favourite releases of late.
What’s next for you – musically and personally – that you’re really excited about?
More studio experiments, more records both made and found, more interesting gigs and hopefully less stress politicians bring to our lives.
Finally, if you were to introduce your sound in one track, what one would it be and why?
Thats a very very hard one… but let’s say ‘Fuqwitmeuknoigotit’:
Keep up with Tripmastaz at https://linktr.ee/tripmastaz
Listen to Nightclubber 193 by Tripmastaz here