"All we are a recollection of memories, moments, little things in childhood, which made us who we are today"
Fractions is a collaborative project from Russian producers Nikki Korobeynik and Artem Frolov. Together they deliver hi-energy, genre bending productions with elements of 90s rave, acid and as they say ‘unapologetic rawness’. A sound which no doubt is a derivative from their childhood surroundings in the sparse and remote regions of the Soviet Union.
They took it upon themselves to learn music production and were soon picked up by Fleisch Records from Berlin in 2018. The outcome of this collaboration was their ‘Control’ and ‘Scars Of Love’ EP’s. Touring started to pick up, but it was when they were asked to debut for Klubnacht at Berghain in 2019, which was only their 3rd gig of their career, things naturally took off for them. This was a show curated by The Vatican, playing alongside Phase, Fatale, Silent Servant and Barker.
2019 bought a new electro and breakbeat inspired release ‘Constellations’ on Rotterdam Electronix, and then an appearance with the opening track ‘Zero Ground’ on Dax J’s Monnom Black VA, sitting alongside some heavyweights including VTSS, Hadone and UVB.
Whilst they hold down a residency at Prague’s ONYX, where they invite artists like Shlømo, DJ IBON and D.Dan, the guys have been busy in the studio, and have locked in their next release – news to come soon.
We had the opportunity to speak with the producer duo, so enjoy your reading and check out their latest projects.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
Artem: The Prodigy "The Fat of the Land". I found this in my older cousin’s CD collection. I became a massive fan of the ‘Big Beat’ genre which was really popular in the mid to late 90s. I constantly played all LPs from Crystal Method, The Chemical Brother and Fatboy Slim. Even now, I can’t resist putting some breaks into the song when we create something new.
Nikki: The 1st electronic music I can recall from my childhood was Enigma in the mid 90s. New-age was huge at that time. It was then Depeche Mode’s Violator and it made an everlasting impact.
Could you give us an insight into your collaborative process? Who does what when it comes to composing tracks. And do you ever have any conflicting opinions or do you both tend to share a singular vision for your sets/lives? Nikki: Yeah, we have worked out a method – kind of. We usually go through demo ideas which we have created individually in our home studios, then pick one which we mutually feel excited about to work on and finish. Of course, there are times when we simply get together and jam, which are the most fun and often provide unexpected results. That's how ‘Excess’ came about, where we played homage to the Mortal Kombat theme and early 90s Techno/New Beat like the Metropolis classic ‘Time Of War’.
I usually take care of songwriting, arrangement and mixing. Artem creates the initial ideas and commits to post-producing the tracks to make them ‘spicy’ with textures, FXs and atmospheric layers.
We have been writing music together for nearly 10 years, and we have an open-minded chemistry where we understand each other without words. We are single minded, but twin like in the way we see music. I believe that's our core strength – a ‘double impact’ kind of thing. We sometimes do not agree, but we always find a middle ground, and it’s important to listen carefully to each other, so your opinions are voiced and acknowledged. As you get older, and more mature, it gets easier.
Were Fractions born out of a certain nostalgia for this 90s sound, period, overall aesthetic?
Artem: Definitely. Its most likely related to where we are from as it was a particularly hard time for Russia. Life wasn't easy during those times, the taste of freedom was close, and it provided a lot of exciting and unique experiences. Maybe its only partly true, as I genuinely believe that the 90s was the best time for electronic music overall. Nikki: I don't think we have ever spoken about being a 90s inspired project. It came to be very organic as this time is truly in our DNA. The aesthetics, the fashion models, MTV, and the TV shows of that era left an everlasting mark on me.
How can you explain the existence of this increasingly present parallel between antiquity and novelty?
Nikki: In a macro sense, "new" is always just refurbished and recycled "old". The early 2000s is the macro trend in both Techno music (faster tempos, harsher sounds, tribal influences) and fashion. If we are talking about the way we exploit antiquity, then it is an absolute truth as we were shaped like individuals in the 90s/00s. It's natural for us to bring those memories and nostalgia and wrap them in our modern vision, which leaves them in a way we see fitting in today's world.
What about this name, Fractions? What does it mean to you? Nikki: To us, it means all the small particles our individualities and vision consist of. All we are a recollection of memories, moments, little things in childhood, which made us who we are today.
Artem: We also love math 😊
It’s safe to say you’re in a position of authority to comment on the evolution of “raving”. Don’t you sometimes feel that ‘rave’ has become some sort of generic, catch-all term for parties that are in reality not rave-y at all? Nikki: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. This word gets abused a lot nowadays. I believe that comes from the public's demand for highly energetic, flashy nights with peak-time music. And it’s no wonder there are people that want to capitalize on that, promoters and DJs alike. Well, that’s just another impulse of the time. But I have to honestly admit: rave>party ☺.
Which artists have your interest these days?
Nikki: Dax J is a really inspiring figure to us as he has been building his own name in the scene persistently for so many years now, and he truly deserves the top spot he is in now. He has his signature sound in both productions and DJ sets, and it always sounds fresh and up-to-date. Maelstrom is a producer I’ve been looking up to since I first heard him on Gesaffeslstein’s ‘I Love Techno’ mix CD. His productions are as close to perfection as humanely possible – the amount of detail and precision of his sound is something that mesmerized me for years.
Artem: I like Somewhen's production a lot. It is a really good example of a high-class producer, very overlooked in the public eyes, in my opinion.
Do you remember when music was first presented to you when you were a child?
Nikki: I think I am no different from all the other people who were introduced to music thanks to their parents. It's the same in my case, plus my aunt, who is a professional piano player. Most vividly I remember the CDs that were played at our home are Sacred Spirit's "Chants And Dances Of The Native Americans", Joe Cocker's "Greatest Hits", Sade's "Lovers Rock", a-ha's "Minor Earth Major Sky”, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s eponymous album – I listen to these classic regularly still to this day.
Artem: My parents used to have a big stereo system with quite a big collection of CDs, so I started to listen to music quite early, so I can say that I listen to the music ever since I can remember. I used to have a toy guitar, and my favorite thing to do was play and sing "Give In To Me" from Michael Jackson even if I didn't know words and didn't know how to play. 😊
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you? Artem: For me, it is not easy to give a simple answer to that question. I get my inspiration from certain behavior rather than from certain people. Every day I see people that fight against serious diseases, against some external circumstances or just against themselves. There are thousands of heroes around us. We don't even know about it.
Nikki: Quentin Tarantino, Christian Nolan, and Denis Villeneuve are quintessential movie directors to me, and I absolutely can't wait to see "Dune" and "Tenet"! David Beckham is a style icon and an all-around handsome and inspiring personality, who I always looked up to.
How much and in what way did Prague have an impact on your music?
Nikki: I think the fact that I have emigrated from Russia, gave me the sort of a "spectator mode" as in Counter-Strike ☺. I could evaluate myself retrospectively outside of my natural environments to dig deep and find out who I really am without any external factors that would normally affect you in my native country. I could see what really formed my musical taste and what unique I can give to the world musically. Basically, that self-identification process and the ability to reflect on what I am in this world is the biggest thing that Prague gave me and consequently impacted the music I write.
Artem: Moving from Russia to Prague changed my whole life, my philosophy. Music was not an exception. I can not imagine how my music would sound like if I stayed or went somewhere else. My head is spinning 😊
Do you think electronic music should be taken out of context (out of the club)? Should we reassess dance music? Artem: Well, I think all people have their own context. Of course, I can barely imagine techno music out of club context, but in the end, only your personal feelings matter.
What was the last record store you visited, and what did you keep there?
Nikki: I don’t shop for music in physical stores. But the last digital record store I’ve visited was Toolbox Digital Shop, and I bought Devilfish - Mangletramp (Alex Calver Remix) ☺.
What inspires you to produce your tracks?
Nikki: I believe there is no single source of inspiration for me. If I had to pick one, it would be samples, as they represent the bits and pieces of sounds I like and can re-use to create something completely new. They also keep me in the box and pushes me to be as creative with sound design and effects processing as possible.
What makes a good mix for you?
Nikki: For me, is the track selection. If you have great tracks in your bag or USB, it doesn't really matter in which order you mix them or if you have little flaws in the mixing. Also, the more tracks in the mix that you don't know, the better the overall experience is. Good melodies and dusty grooves are what get my juices flowing.
How did you come to experiment with your own music?
Artem: I think it is an endless process; you always try to find something new or spread your limits. This, for instance, I have never understood, when I was a child, and if the new release of an artist I like was different from what it used to be, I was thinking something like Why is he/she/they doing that? All the fans expect more or less the same. Now I respect artists who are not afraid of doing what they want to do, even if there is a threat of losing the audience.
How would you define your sound?
Nikki: The soundtrack for energetic nights.
What is/are your most favorite acid/techno record(s) of all time, and why?
Nikki: DJ Misjah & DJ Tim – Access
New Order - Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix)
Traci Lords - Control (Juno Reactor Instrumental).
These are the 90s at its best! ☺
Who are your favorite electro/acid manipulators these days?
Nikki: Umwelt for Electro, JKS for Acid.
Now let’s talk about the technical aspect of your craft; what’s your studio comprised of at the minute?
Nikki: same as it has been for the last eight years: iMac with tons of custom-made samples and virtual synths, Apogee Duet soundcard, and a pair of Yamaha HS-80s ☺.
What are your favorite places to hang out in the city?
Nikki: Home, which happens to be my studio at the same time ☺. And flats of my friends. There is no better party than a home party!
How do you deal with CV19 confinement with your work?
Nikki: Well, it gave us a lot of time to finalize all the half-finished tracks we had laying around and dedicate our time to things beyond production as we have been overlooking those things for a while.
Artem: For me, it was time to take a break from everything. I think we finally got what we were begging for – to be alone with only ourselves.
Is it possible to find another way to monetize magazines other than advertising, events, clubs ...? Should we think of other sources of income?
Nikki: I think the way to monetize digital media nowadays besides usually paid advertising is to go for a subscription model with exclusive content (articles, premiers, original feature videos) for the subscribers.
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
Nikki: It has certainly affected the level of inspiration you have on an everyday basis. Just because you are locked in your studio and have all the time in the world doesn't mean you can make good tracks. I believe you need that everyday routine of meeting people and going out to clubs to constantly keep your mind elastic for new things to be absorbed. The amount of everyday stress and anxiety for the future doesn't allow your subconsciousness to fully open up creatively. That's why we have decided to give ourselves a long-deserved break from the ever-ongoing writing process.
Artem: Regarding the implications, it is difficult to say. I think people would start paying bigger attention to scientists and doctors. 😊
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
Nikki: I would definitely recommend Gigi D'Agostino - L'Amour Toujours to brighten up your mood ☺.
Artem: I would recommend “When I Rock” by Thomas Schumacher, I think it would not hurt!
What makes you happy?
Artem: Nothing makes me happier than see the result of my work. I really love challenges. I think the day wasn’t a loss if you become a bit better. Just be better than yesterday, it is all about that!
Nikki: Totally. Also, hearing your song played out loud in a club (even if heard simply on Instagram) gives me that supernatural feeling of awesomeness! ☺
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Fractions?
Nikki: Our main focus is on our Monnom Black EP 'NITE NRG', which is out on Vinyl on the June 26th and digitally on the 17th July. But we also have a remix for Otto Titto’s track ‘Escape Artist’ on Coup Projeckt which came out on the 8th June.
We have more surprises that we would be announced later!