Valique [Vehicle] Interview

Valique from Vehicle/V’s Edits has had an unparalleled voyage as an artists, editor and entrepreneur. He has singlehandedly put Russia on the very pinnacle of cutting edge quality and innovation, when it comes to the golden art of re-edits. 
His struggle with the distribution system sparked it all, and he took charge and help transform and shape how the scene looks today. I talked to him about ambitions, favorite studio trinkets and how on earth he keeps on topping himself. 

Hello Valique! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.
V’s edits have been a true staple of quality edits for years. There are no genres that V has left untouched. From African 80ies music to The Beatles. Always managing to add another dimension to what he edits, V’s edits always maintain a surreal high level of quality. The output has been and continues to be enormous.
Vehicle is your label where you release both your edits and your own tracks, and tracks by artists like P-Sol, Arcadion, and DJ Funky Junkie. V’s edits have been a true staple of quality edits for years. There are no genres that the V-series has left untouched, from African 80ies music to The Beatles. Always managing to add another dimension to what he edits, V’s edits always maintain a surreal high level of quality. The output has been, and continues to be enormous.

Juno re-extended itself into JUNODOWNLOAD , and we should say that this move started the era of digital edits.

– Valique on what sparked the edits scene

Well, yes, the tendency to edit classic disco now seems to be covering an overwhelming majority of actual “editing” scene, and one can hardly find a good old record that hasn’t been chopped all the way down to the roots, and even branches may suit. When I started DJ’ing in the beginning of the century, gradually shifting the accent from being a band-leader and musician into being a “one-man-show”, edits on vinyl were precious because they gave you chance to play extended and clarified versions of disco tradition, vary your performance compared to all the other guys with classic record collections. They were so fresh and sounding more challenging. They weren’t clichés, like most edits of today that just repeat an intro/hook/suspension/hook/outro pattern, which is historically a simplest song form. The true editors of the first decade (I don’t think naming them makes sense, they are history) were looking to the ways of making an expected twist of the song, bringing often insignificant detail into the light of the scene. I think I belong to that school as an editor.

Then Juno re-extended itself into JUNODOWNLOAD , and we should say that this move started the era of digital edits. Their friendly attitude and simple label policy opened wide the door through which came a majority of new edit stars. Vehicle got signed with Junodownload in 2006, that is actually the foundation of the label. The first releases were the original tracks and re-releases, that made sense at that time, but they didn’t sky-rocket the ceiling, so for some time I was looking for the right way to handle the label and founding a parallel venture IskraDisco! – one that focused more on disco-punk and alternative dance, that now most of the internet shops call “indie-dance.” We were distributed by Oseao, no one seems to know that name, but in the end they turned into Beatport, but through a series of very disappointing moves, leaving everyone they distributed with an empty release list and no pay-offs. That was a disappointing experience, so gradually I returned to Vehicle and thought I should try and do something with all those tracks that were pinned in my head for better versions. This how V’s edits Vol 1 appeared, and it is still the #1 of all-styles/all-time on JUNODOWNLOAD.

The very first V’s Edits peaking at number 1

You are something of a workhorse when it comes to keeping a steady output, and yet you’ve kept an incredible quality to your work. You must get up VERY early in the morning! How do you find the inspiration to edit old tracks? Tell us about the process.

Yes, in a way you can say I am a workhorse, I spend hours and hours in the studio. But workhorse also applies to building my own house with my own hands, raising a daughter and handling two labels and professionally DJ’ing through weekends. So, I am rather a Russian Troika!
Even so, despite a lot of walked paths and many full-sized releases, I start every new composition from scratch: 
Sorting out a new drum-kit, scouting through scattered sound libraries in search of the unexpected combinations of drums. Sometimes, it’s a new bass line, I grab a bass or a synth and replay a line of the song or create a modified version of it. 
If I have a multi-track at hand, I thoroughly study everything in it, sometimes even the back noises and accidental phrases that were recorded in session. That allows to get the spirit and read between the lines, before you actually start reading the musical text. So, when the bone structure is done – here comes the most interesting part of making it “V’s edit”. 

I’ve been writing music for kids and staging big shows for 11 years, so Russian classical and folk tradition is deeply rooted in me.

– Valique

It includes everything from reshaping the composition, adding harmonies, replaying or improvising melodies, searching for the synths sounds characteristic to the period, recording numerous layers of percussion (of which I have a massive collection), much of tonal work – when some parts has a great musical idea, but lacks pressure or quality in phrasing – things can be played around to highlight that one, not only by eq’ing and compressing, but also at creating the identical sounds that simply thicken the original piece. So it’s a multi-directional work, and I still enjoy it a lot, it keeps me experimenting. Also creating edits much liberated my spirit and self-assurance – the play of words and meanings in titles is very much a continuation of the mad studio process. Still, I believe that as an artist who walks in the foot steps of the giants, I shouldn’t be placing my name before them, rather in brackets.

At this point, it must be incredibly difficult to come up with new tracks to edit.

Well, not that difficult. Apart from a massive vinyl and digital collection,  I keep my ears open everywhere – in the car, in the bar or restaurant, in the venues – the world keeps reminding me of the music I loved when I was a teenager, when I played hard-core and industrial music with the band, all the jazz/fusion and Indian music that is with me since decades, rock in every aspect, except for the pop side of it. I’ve been writing music for kids and staging big shows for 11 years, so Russian classical and folk tradition is deeply rooted in me. Some artists that I considered too pop I rediscovered through editing, by adding them what they needed to be more up to my personal taste demands. A lot of people wrote and sent me files on Soundcloud, saying “you should make this one sound V’s edit” – but so very few of them made me even start. Sometimes a friend tells me – no that I heard this one, it’s worth it – and it can be sometimes: like the Marcus Took – “Power To Change” (V’s Occupy edit)

What matters is the spirit of the dance-culture, and it doesn’t have to be a narration by Detroit fathers to get the good people dance – the right mood and the soul can do so much on the floor.

Your own productions as an artist tend to go a bit deeper, ranging from Acid to Deep House, a completely different take than how you approach your edits. What do you dream of doing next as an artist? 

Yes, the things I do for the dancefloor as Valique are more on the experimental side but let me bring back to light the dusty first internationally acclaimed album and two singles on UK’s Freestyle Records – those we funk breaks and modern soul. The following INFRACOM! album was even more into soul music. The single that I released on Compost a few years ago was all about jazz-soul and with techno remix.

So here I keep diversity too. In a way it dissolves a little my career plans, for what can a man achieve by digging one narrow but hole – yes, find oil 😀

I still dig wide, just can’t help it. And a part of it is my dream of recording a conceptual jazz album with no 4/4, but rather 3/8, 6/4 or 11/4 measures, let’s says completely out of this world. But let’s keep this for the old age, even though I have several draft of it.

Of your whole studio set up, what are you happiest with having purchased? 

Oh, this is my favorite part! While nerds keep praising their modular setups, my best investments of all instruments I own was a pair TOCA congas. God knows how many gigs and touring it endured, and of 500$ I made thousands. In difficult times I sold the synths, even the beloved ones, but I never even thought about selling my Music Man 5 String bass. Some instruments are for the lifetime. I still have a collection of gongs and bells I bought in Ladakh (and a collection of stories that come along), or a set of tabla that I studied in India and use sometimes even in edits. Now is the era of sound libraries and emulation, but some things aren’t or will never be covered. 

Which five songs are most important in having influenced your musical career and your sense of style?

This is the question I hate to answer – partially because my mind refuses to single out just 5 or 10 or 20 songs that influenced me, or rather the musical pieces that influenced me the most were not songs at all! Yes, there were tracks like Underworld’s epic “Born Slippy” that was kind of turning point, but the music that influenced me on much deeper level belongs to ones like Keith Jarrett or Hariprasad Chaurasia. Sure, this is a personal level, hardly to be in touch with dance-oriented music, but those influences are more important to me than any of the charted DJ anthems.

Roughly you can divide your edits into three categories:
Deep groovers like “Right Size” and “Like It Is”
Melodic and uplifting: “Always Wanted To Sing” and “Disco Dancer”
Slow and gentle: “Slave To Love”, “Dawn”
And then there are the curve balls like “Not Unusual”. You really reach wide with genres and different takes. Yet there is almost always a distinct sound, often ascending bleeps and bloops. How would you define your own sound and approach? 

Roughly indeed. See, we are living in the world of unstable mind. People can hardly live a day and stay focused on one thing, everyone is constantly distracted and actually wants to stay distracted – imagine you’d be limited to one or two images on your Instagram per day: the whole thing is based on a flow, everything is shaped to keep you going. So current musical situation is much a reflection of this phenomena – there are DJ’s who never replay a track that they had played once, and I bet they wouldn’t run out of material in the observable future. So, to resolve this for myself – I keep the form which like a timeline in Facebook, quite recognizable, with certain rules and I keep filing it with the types of messages, as wide as the world can get. Sort of.

What are you steering towards for V’s edits currently? We’ve been rocking, dancing, a trip to Africa. What can your fans expect as your next move?

Oh, there’s a brand-new Funk We Dance in the series, right on the top line, with some of the tracks that I was looking for an option to put out. See, if you aren’t a true funk band, releasing a funk record hardly makes sense – it all becomes rather acid-jazz, but not funk. But in this one I managed to balance some label’s classics with the new cuts, different in sound, much under the idea of mid-tempo, relaxed, psychedelic and ultimately grooving collection of tracks. As per usual – many variations on the father-style of the real dance music. 

Vehicle recently released the next excursion in the Boogie Box series and The Brits, paying homage to the British music scene. Both have topped the charts on Junodownload.

Valique has recorded a set that is exclusively available here on Discoholics Anonymous:

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