Chances are if you’re familiar with the Ukranian club Mantra, that Serge Proshe is someone you’ve encountered in some shape or form. As the main man behind the club, Serge is a musical obsessive who spends much of his time digging for new and old records alike, as well as searching for interesting and unusual samples. All things told, he’s something of a musical alchemist and a man who’s done more than most to put the Ukrainian scene on the man. Now looking further afield, he’s recently opened an all-new Mantra Club in Bali, where he and his family decamped to before the pandemic hit. A man who’s at the peak of his powers right now, his latest record is out now via Go Deeva — a label that shares a similarly great musical ethos. We put some questions to Serge recently, as we talked about everything from Mantra to musical philosophies to the scene in Ukraine…  

 

How are you, what’s good and bad in your world right now?
Thanks to the Universe! In my life everything is fine. For a year and a half we have been living in Bali with our family. This is a fantastic place to be now.  
How have you survived the last year? What got you through it?
It was difficult to decide to close one of our projects – the Eden Rooftop, which was just launched in Kiev. But this was necessary, since during the period of restrictions, we would not have been able to continue holding large events there. Therefore, the project had to be stopped. But we do not regret it, because thanks to this we stayed in Bali and were able to easily survive the lockdown. And then I had more time for self-development and music. Anyway our Mantra Beach Club in Odessa is still working so I’m happy! 
Can you tell us a bit about Mantra Odessa – what motivated you to start the club? And what does the future hold for you guys? Have you been able to run any events recently?  
Mantra in Odessa became a continuation of Mantra in Kiev, which I opened back in 2010. I always dreamed of a beautiful nightclub against the background of the sea, and in 2016 it happened. The project turned out to be quite successful, although it had to go through a bunch of tests, and Covid became another one. For the second season in a row, we refused massive night events, but we regularly do day parties, and the beach is packed with guests almost every day. As soon as this whole pandemic settles down, we will return to large formats, and we plan to hold a number of high-profile events over the next while. 
What is the scene in Ukraine like, healthy? Good club scene, record shops and things like that?
The Ukrainian club culture is developing thanks to talented artists who put this country on the international map. They create a quality sound product that is competitive in the global market. As for the clubs and the organisation of events, in general, the situation is not easy now, everyone is facing an objective test of COVID times. But I really like the generation that is now driving this industry in Ukraine. They are creative, bold, and they have a good aesthetic taste, so everything will work out ok.  
If we’d 24 hours to spend on a music trip to Ukraine, what would you recommend we get up to? 
24 hours is too short, but if you find yourself in Kiev, be sure to visit the old city, walk along the Landscape Alley, and then along the Andreevsky Descent, where you will hear many street musicians, and at the same time enjoy the passage, architecture and atmosphere. Then dance at the Kureni party until nightfall. And the next day, go to Odessa where Mantra awaits you, and a bunch of wonderful bars such as 12 Monkeys, The FITZ, DVOR 12 and lots more. Also there are a large number of cool raves like Atlas Weeknd, Ostov, Strichka, and others 
Is there something unique about the sounds in Ukraine? Something about the style that makes it different from other cities and countries? It seems to be quite focused to melodic sounds, right? 
Yes, all Ukrainian music is especially melodic, like the Ukrainian songs. It so happened historically that over the centuries it has combined a large number of different characterists from the Slavs, Sumerians, Asian, to the classical Viennese, and post-modern schools. Ukrainian music is a unique cocktail of European and Eastern melodies.  
What inspired your new Workit EP? And how did it end up being signed to Go Deeva Records?
I am a big fan of Ukrainian folk songs, but lullabies take a special place for me. Two years ago I decided to present these traditional songs in a new way with electronic sound, to give them a new life. For these I invite different great personalities – musicians, vocalists, and a professional culturologist and teacher of Ukrainian vocal and I am very grateful to all of them. Together we created 8 compositions so far, and ‘’Workit’’ was the first of them. I sent it to my friend Simone Vitullo, with whom we had previously worked on the release in 2016, he liked the track and offered to release it on his label. 
What is it about Go Deeva that made the label a natural fit for this release do you think?
Go Deeva Records is one of the best labels who produce this kind of sound, and it will be great that this EP will be released there.
Tell us about about the Ukrainian tradition for folk and some of the instruments you used…
My vision was to present old songs in a new way so for this deconstruct the sound of some Ukrainian instrument such as the bandura, and bring a new vision to this classic vocal. I combined it with electronic bass and deep pads with the voice of a mother who sings a lullaby to her little child. New emotion was born and that’s what I was looking for… 
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
With our Mantra Production now we are working on new season of video Love Streams from Bali, and also making MANTRAPEOPLE events, and developing a community of art & music lovers on the Island. Also I am planning to release the next EP’s this and next year.  Thank you for your attention and Namaste!

 

Serge Proshe’s Workit EP is out now via Go Deeva. Buy/listen to the release here and keep up with Serge on Facebook and Instagram