Captivating techno with a nod to both the future and the past has long been the modus operandi of Barcelona-based DJ/producer Spartaque. A native of Ukraine, Spartaque has been dizzying crowds with his blend of fierce and relentless but equally, often restrained and stripped back techno. Whatever the combination, it’s most certainly effective, as over the past few years Spartaque’s reputation has grown to the point that he’s now renowned as one of his country’s finest exports when it comes to techno. His latest release sees him tackle a tech house track – namely Goncalo & Anna Tur’s awesome Caught in the Club – and although it’s something of an unlikely marriage on paper, it’s one that pays great dividends. With the release on the horizon, we caught up with the man himself to ask him some pertinent questions…
Deep House Amsterdam – Spartaque
How are you all, what has the last year been like? From a purely music perspective, what have been the highs and the lows?
Last year was really unusual and it was full of both highs and lows. If we talk about music, it is obvious that this year I lacked, as a musician and label owner, my own performances and performances by other artists who could support our music and the tracks that I produce. Of course, this was a significant problem. It was also quite difficult to compete with various other services, gaming and entertainment, such as Netflix for example, because the musicians stopped advertising themselves and their gigs and, accordingly, this reduced the flow of people coming to streaming services. But this year also had a lot of benefits. First of all, there was an amazing opportunity to work on my own material. In October I released my first album and wrote a lot of tracks. I continued to release all this time and I do not want to slow down. There were both highs and lows, but generally, the year turned out to be very interesting.
How did you first connect with Goncalo and Anna? Whose idea was it for you to do the remix?
I knew a lot about Goncalo and Anna. We are in the same agency – Analog. We have common managers, therefore we knew each other well. Both Goncalo and Anna are two great artists. They are very strong in Spain and do a lot for the culture in this region and of course I have heard a lot about them. Therefore, when my manager Javier offered me such cooperation and said that it would be interesting for the guys to invite me as a remixer for the first release on their label, I gladly agreed, because this is a great opportunity to improve the connection and get to know each other better.
Their remix is quite tech house focused while you’re better known for a techno sound. Does that represent a challenge for you?
Indeed, the original track is focused on tech house sound, but I really liked the vocals and I decided to experiment with the sound, and if you listen to it, the track consists of three quite different parts and the synth and drop itself are not quite standard for the techno sound which I am associated with for the listeners. I wanted to do something unusual and I think that remixing in this regard is a great opportunity to take a part of the original track and produce something interesting. I can’t say that it represented a challenge, but it was definitely cool to work on this remix.
Why do you think you have such a good musical understanding with Anna and Goncalo?
I’m sure we have quite similar musical tastes with Goncalo and Anna. The guys have proven their musical taste with great success and a huge number of performances and fanbase. And it was not difficult for us to find mutual understanding. I sent a remix and the guys approved it and I was very happy about it because as I had worried, as I said earlier, the sound is not quite standard for techno. I tried to mix several styles, but the remix was well received by the guys and I got very good feedback.
How do you generally approach a remix? Do you ‘go with the flow’ or generally have a good idea of what you want to achieve from the off?
Great question. I usually try to go with the flow when I work. But sometimes it happens that some idea is born spontaneously and I jump off the couch and run to the program to produce exactly what I’ve imagined. But in terms of techno, some kind of search dominates here, a synthesis of something unusual. And as far as this remix is concerned, I really went with the flow and let it lead me further along.
With this one, were you given free rein to produce as you like? Or did you consult with the guys first?
The guys gave me the full artistic freedom for me to create this remix. I finished it and sent it to them totally ready for the release. We didn’t have any kind of creative control. They went their own way with the original track, and I tried to make the sound that would better reflect my audience taste and the expectations of Goncalo and Anna.
Do you find the process of remixing music as much fun as producing your own sounds? Are they very different disciplines do you think?
I think that remix production is as interesting as writing original tracks. But it can be difficult when I write a remix of a track that I really like and I often play. Recently, I ran into such a problem. I will tell you the name, but I was asked to remix a track that I really liked and I played it very many times. And I ran into a problem, because I loved it so much and it seemed so cool to me that it was morally very difficult for me to surpass the original. I’ve already done this remix, but to be honest, I’ve not been satisfied with this work yet and asked to give me more time so that I could work on it. There is a lot of creativity in producing remixes and sometimes even more than when writing your own tracks. It’s an interesting challenge – remixes give me great pleasure to produce.
What did you learn about yourself over the last year without gigs and touring?
Over the past year without tours and concerts, I discovered many personal talents that I had not known about before. I realized that I am good at building a business and together with my partner we evolve well as the company we manage. This is IAMT Music Group. In fact, this is one large label that includes many other sub-labels. We also provide label management services and it seems to me that the previous year was a godsend for me to understand the business processes and understand that gigs and djing are great, but there are still many opportunities that I can realize as a person. Therefore, I believe that everything that happened, happened for the best and this time of the pandemic adjusted my perspective on life.
Mentally, how did you find ways to cope over the last year? Was music therapeutic in a way?
I can’t say that the previous year was so difficult. Moreover, I coped with new processes of company development, strategic planning, and training. Music was a therapy, not because I listened to it, but because we continued to make music, continued to release artists, continued to look for opportunities to promote their music and help other artists to realize their creative potential, to establish contacts with stores and industry. All I’ve done over the past year has been music-related work just in a slightly different way. I spent a lot of my time writing music and in this case it is also a therapy. I call this the state of flow, when you can write music absolutely without getting tired, being in the studio for hours without even realizing how quickly the time flies. This is some sort of meditation that helps you to disconnect from everything. Music is my working instrument, and my work brings me a lot of pleasure, so all of this is therapy.
Can you tell us a bit about where’ you’re at gig wise right now — are you optimistic for the next few months again?
Now we are preparing a series of CODEX events in Ukraine, my native country, where even though I live in Spain, I still have strong contacts and a lot of good friends who have also succeeded during this time and we are happy to cooperate and make new events with them. These will be events in Kyiv, in Odesa, and I will also perform at festivals in other cities of Ukraine. Also a very cool festival called Saga in Bucharest is already confirmed in September. I will share the stage with Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, ArtBat, Joyhauser, Monika Kruse, a lot of huge names and I’m really proud to be among them. We are also working on confirming other venues and other events. Therefore, in general, I can say that the situation is improving and I am sure that there are a lot of great performances, events ahead.
What’s next for you, what are you working on and looking forward to?
The plans are huge. Firstly, because we continue to rapidly expand our business, we have many new projects and a very cool team, with which I am not afraid to look into the future. I really love to dream and make plans. We are currently working on a Codex event. And we are doing our best to establish ourselves not only as a label but also as promoters. And I’m thinking about CODEX festivals. I hope we will have an opportunity to bring these plans to life. I had to reconsider my values during the last year and I realized that I not only want, but can spend a lot of time with my family, because I make money not only by DJing and I am very glad that now I can choose only the high quality events for my gigs . Therefore, I see the future as very interesting and bright, so stay tuned, we are preparing a lot of exciting news for you!
Goncalo & Anna Tur’s Caught in the Club is out now to pre-order on Beatport. Buy/listen to the release on all platforms here