Raketka, KOOB, Funkyjaws and others in the first Newsroom episode

New Belarusian music


Newsroom is a new project from the Radio Plato team, in which we talk about the news of the Belarusian music scene. Each episode covers a series of fresh releases + artists comments. We see that a lot of cool things are happening in the Belarusian music scene now, and we, for our part, want to talk about it, as well as collect information in one place and record it for posterity. Therefore, we invite you to our newsroom.

In the pilot episode, we will talk about:

  • the first Boiler Room in Goa to feature a Belarusian DJ Raketka;
  • Lera KOOB (of Dee Tree) new single and upcoming album;
  • new vinyl-only release on Siarhei Funkyjaws' label;
  • new tracks by Sigray, Variat, Łajtovy and Kolasau.

Raketka performs at Boiler Room in Goa

To start the first episode we add another name to the list of Belarusians, who have graced the stages of Boiler Room. A Boiler Room party took place in Indian Goa for the first time in late 2022. The live-streaming session party was dedicated to the local psychedelic goa trance scene famous since the 90's and featured DJ Raketka from Belarus. Here's what she had to say:

– Yep, that was the first Boiler Room in Goa. It was put together by the local promoters from the great ancient city of Calcutta. The main idea was to showcase the original 90's Goa vibe, which is the time when Goa reigned supreme. That means first and foremost goa trance and acid house artists from all over the world (took part in the event). Both old school and new school artists were invited. Whrikk from the Netherlands, Braindrop from India, as well as acid house artists from India and Italy, and myself – an acid techno scene player, recently enamored with old school trance. I was lucky that my set was one of the three DJ sets streamed on Boiler Room out of six total DJ performances that night.

– So how did you end up taking part in a Boiler Room event?

– I was invited to take part in the DGTL festival in Mumbai together with DJ Stingray 313 and KI/KI late last year. Organizers of the Goa Boiler Room were also working on that event. And after seeing my performance there, they thought my brand of trance-y acid techno is a perfect fit for their Boiler Room sound concept. Also, how would an authentic Goa (party) be without a post-soviet DJ? So they decided to invite me to the Boiler Room.

– Congrats! What's your impression of Boiler Room and your set at it?

– I was planning on a vinyl-only set, but that's challenging at a classic Boiler Room setup with the stage in the middle of the dancefloor. Also, it turned out during the soundcheck that one of the turntables was out of order so I suddenly had to improvise a set using CDJs, which was very stressful for me. But the crowd that was dancing through the whole sunny day since 4 pm was very supportive. In these difficult conditions, we had to do all we could to make it happen, and in the end, the party turned out great.

– Awesome! Where do you live now and what does the future hold for Raketka?

– I have been living in Tbilisi, Georgia for almost a year, but I do travel a lot for gigs, mainly in Europe, but also in countries like Israel and India. My next planned releases are a track on a compilation by MixWorks, a label out of Detroit, and a few collaborative projects which I will share more info about in a few months.

Funkyjaws' new vinyl Funkyjaws & Friends

Although there are no vinyl plants in Belarus, many local artists have vinyl releases under their belts. Siarhei Funkyjaws is one such artist. He is the label runner of a vinyl-only imprint Funkyjaws Music. May 15 is the date of the next release on his label. The title is "Funkyjaws & Friends". Let's hand it over to Siarhei:

– It's the third release of the label and the first VA. It's featuring tracks by a Canadian Eddie C, an Israeli Elado, a couple of Slavs Scruscru and S. Timoshenko, and myself. House and disco sound at 115-125 bpm. Fun fact, every track has an acid element that gives it that unusual authentic sound.

We have been working on this record for about six months. I communicated with each of the artists, put together the tracks, waited for them to finish them, and waited for the mastering. The cover art is made with the help of a very cool artist from Saint Petersburg. The promo campaign went very well, many great well-known DJs gave positive feedback, and the tracks were sent to the radio stations. We have about 450 pre-orders by now, as my distributor Juno says. So I think the pressing run will be a bit bigger than I planned. 500 copies would be good, probably. This one is a limited run, no repress. And vinyl only, no digital.

KOOB has released a new single, new album is coming

The highlight of the episode - is Lera KOOB. An amazing singer, and member of Vibeclub and Dee Tree. During the last few years, she has been doing solo work and releasing insanely cool tracks with an African-Belarusian flavor. She put out a new single called "Greed" in early April. And while we were discussing that we learned that the album is coming next. Here's Lera about the single and the work on the album:

– The track is called "Greed". It's about obsessive thoughts, when you can't get them out of your head, you can't think about anything else. It's more about the greed of the mind, but not necessarily greed for money. This could be something that upset you, or quite the opposite – brought you great joy. You feel like getting them out of your head but you just can't. That's the mood of the song.

The track has been long in the making. I basically wrote it back in the Dee Tree days. After I moved to Berlin, I decided to record a few of the Dee Tree tracks that I liked but were unreleased with the help of new musicians I met here and with new arrangements.

We are planning to put out the album on 2 June. It's called "That Tree" because, on the one hand, it's a collection of Dee Tree material reworks. On the other hand, I finally see which direction I want to take as a mature solo artist, what really interests me, and where I really want to be. The metaphor is that it's like consuming the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which brings us back to "That Tree".

Sigray mixed the classic house track with the a cappella "Everybody Loves The Sunshine"

The next feature of our pilot episode is Sigray. He is a Belarusian house/hip hop producer currently residing in Poland. He recently released a track on "Tape 01: Ultramarine" compilation by Ain Souf and Julia Koffie. Today he tells us about his new edit called "Hot Sunshine" combining elements of a classic house hit with an acapella from an evergreen classic "Everybody Loves The Sunshine".

– It was one of those things when a tune is stuck in your head but you just can't remember the name of it. I had that for a week. Finally, I dug it up. It's "Hot Music" by Soho. I immediately dropped it into a DAW, chopped it up, added a house beat and it started to get interesting. But I was missing some vocal chops, so I sampled a Roy Ayers classic "Everybody Loves The Sunshine". That's basically it.

Cinematic debut of Variat duo

– I think the first release is rather cinematic. It does evoke visual imagery. We have an inside joke that it sounds like a graffiti video soundtrack.

That's Ulad Samahulau, who together with Ilya Semashkevich recently started the duo Variat. Each of them has their own solo music projects, and the Retrospective EP is the result of their idea to collaborate. Says Ulad:

– Every time we sit down together to make a track, we try to recreate a certain situation and the way we hear it. That's usually a serene vibe but it can get aggressive. Sometimes we just sit down to lay down a beat and melodies and bass lines grow out of that. Ilya is very knowledgeable in music production so he basically never deletes any parts we come up with. It sometimes results in very interesting things, sometimes very unexpected.

Dreamy, spacey minimal tech from Kolasau

"Ethereal Shadows" EP by Maksim Kolasau was released by a young Belarusian label Meta Minsk. The result is a dreamy cosmic minimal-tech tune fit for outer space trips, even if only imaginary. Here is Maksim about creating the EP:

– I had the tracks written by the end of last year, but I did not like the sound of them. I kept going back to change and fix a thing or two here and there. In early February Kristina Lady Lanter of Meta Minsk contacted me about releasing something with them. I said yes. We discussed the deadlines, which kept getting pushed back a little due to the lack of time. But in the end, the release took place, and I am very grateful to Kristina and the label for that. We worked with Morph on the mastering, for which I am grateful as well. I do not have any particular concepts behind the release, other than the desire to make something I like and would like to play live myself.

Łajtovy makes Belarusian-language experimental hip hop

For dessert, we have a single from a Belarusian-speaking rapper and hip hop producer Łajtovy. A very prolific artist with many releases under his belt. We caught wind of his track "Error 404" and here's the man himself about this number:

– It's my second studio single. I started making it right as I was releasing my first single "Mic Check", actually the same night it was dropped. But "Error 404" had to wait for its moment until I recently found it in Ableton accidentally and it had just the sound I was looking for. The stars aligned. I went to Lil Napitok's studio to finish mixing the beat, as my Ableton knowledge was a bit lacking to make a true banger out of it. And this track required two or three studio sessions, one of which was wholly devoted to the instrumental.

I am into rap for a while now, but somehow, it was just this year that everything came together for me, so now I sincerely and bravely march forward. Łajtovy raps in Belarusian, and the instrumentals are inspired by classic hip hop, while the next release promises forays into a more contemporary sound intermixed with some experiments. I'm more into boom bap, the classic hip hop. I wanted to get that very sound but also use all the modern tools to make it.

That's it for our pilot episode. This was Newsroom – our new music news show where we showcase recent releases of the Belarusian electronic music scene. Check out the text version of this episode on our website. If you're a Belarusian making music, share it with us on social networks and we'll share it with the world in our next episodes. Subscribe to the podcast on streaming platforms, support us on Patreon, or simply Paypal us a donation – this helps us do more cool stuff. Keep on rocking in the free world and see you soon!