The Russian electronic music scene is exploding with talent, and we’ve been fortunate to introduce a few of the country’s dynamic new producers and DJs to our audience.

This issue we’re back off to Moscow for our next 5 Mag Mix with Xio of the Wax Ninja record store. I first heard about Wax Ninja from some choice vinyl-only EPs they’ve seeded around the Deep House world, on Xio’s 3 AM EP on their in-house & eponymous Wax Ninja label and the V/A Jam EP from SubUrbz.

Xio: A 5 Mag Mix

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Xio: The 5 Mag Interview

Hello, Xio, thanks for sitting down with us! What should I call you? Xio or Artem or something else?

Hello Terry, thank you for the opportunity! Please call me Artem (that’s my real name).

How is Moscow at this time of year?

Weather is cold, about 0 degrees, but we’re going to party tonight!

I originally got your 3 AM EP sent as a promo about two years ago, I think it was? Up until then I hadn’t heard of Wax Ninja. You’re the owner of the store, correct? How long have you been open?

Yeah, the first promo I’ve sent you was 3 AM EP which was my first vinyl release, it was in the beginning of 2016. Wax Ninja originally is a record store in Moscow. It was opened in 2015 by me, my wife Nastya aka Foxxylove and my old friend Andrew aka MB4. We dreamed about vinyl releases and a label for many years (from 2003-2004 we’ve collecting vinyl) and finally got the opportunity to make it happen.

Russian underground artists always had something to say, but in the last 10 years they learned how to say it in their own special way.

So, we started the Wax Ninja record label and put to debut release four of my tracks. A few months later we tried to change distributor, but because of the contract we have to wait a year. We had a few fresh tracks from our friends on our hands that we wanted to release as soon as possible, so that’s why we opened a sub-label called “SubUrbz.” As you know, Jam EP Vol.1 with tracks from Babak, KSKY, Pak0 and myself was released in February of 2017.

About the store: are you a record collector and your collection outgrew your home? Were you hooked up in the local scene and realized Moscow needed an outlet like this?

All our team have been collecting vinyl for many years, it’s a passion for us. But the vinyl community in Moscow was not so big and we would like to change it.

When you love something, you want to share this love & involve other people. DJing works the same way.

I think this was the first reason. When you love something, you want to share this love and involve other people. For me DJing works in the same way – the real DJ is the one who can’t wait to share the music he loves.

The second thing is that in Moscow, when we started, we had no record stores with new and used releases for DJs. We started as an online record store to help customers not only in Moscow but in all of Russia. We are still searching for offline place but rent in Moscow is very expensive. In the last three years of our work, we saw a few offline record stores open and close in just a few months. So we have to be careful.

You might be interested to know what the difference is between our small online store and the big UK/US/Germany stores. For me, it’s a local story – our customers become our friends, it’s a community. Our customers know who we are, we participate in vinyl markets and meet them. That’s why even online, Wax Ninja record store has got soul. I’m sure in the near future we will find a good offline spot.


How do the records you stock in the store compare to the sounds on the records you’ve released? Just underground dance records? Variety? Some pop, etc?

We started with classic house records from our own collection. I think it was early Chicago and New York records like Farley Jackmaster Funk, Masters At Work, Kerri Chandler etc.

Then we started importing the newly released – mostly it’s underground house and techno, but we can’t skip hip-hop, drum&bass, funk, disco and other good music. We’re always trying to expand our catalog in different genres. The main thing for us is its groove. If we feel the groove, we’ll grab the record for our stock, whatever genre it is.

Who else works there? Is there a Wax Ninja family & who is a part of it?

The biggest role in the work of the store fell to my wife Nastya, she works with customers, the website, distributors. Andrew is about customers issues and logistics, and I do marketing things and product development. Also our friend Semyon V from thevoidrad.io helped us with a new web site which will be released very soon.

There are so many producers from Russia on the radar internationally right now. I think a lot of them are best known by their records and are just now increasing their profile. Do you agree? And do you think people are only now noticing, or is the quality of underground house & techno out of Russia much better than it was 10 years ago?

Both factors are important. Our underground community is getting more into quality. I think for the last 10-15 years, we’ve been able to get more information about production.

Russian underground artists always had something to say, but in the last 10 years they learned how to say it in their own special way.

And many producers understand that they have to be online, they have to talk about themselves, collaborate with artists from other countries.

Any recommendations on producers and records from Russian producers/labels/etc for people to check out?

If you would like get into the Russian underground dance scene, we would recommend you to start from Lay-Far and his In-Beat-Ween Music label, Boorane, OL, GOST ZVUK label run by LOW808, Capital Bass label run by FStep, Private Persons label. All these guys are into the vinyl culture of course.

I was going through your records before this interview. It was kind of interesting to hear all kinds of things that I missed the first time around, like that outta-nowhere breakbeat in “Burning In My Soul” on 3 AM EP. Totally made me re-think what I heard the first time around as far as influences and the like! What ARE your formative influences? I would have pegged it as Ron Trent, maybe a bit of MK’s dubs, etc.

I was involved in electronic music from the end of the ’90s and my first love for many years was jungle music. But when you discover one genre, for me anyway, there is no way to avoid the others. For example: you listen to Marcus Intalex release and came across a track called “TB or not TB.” What’s “TB”? You start to research and find out that the TB-303 is a cult synth which brings you to the whole genre called acid house. And on and on – I’m going through garage house, acid house, techno, deep, etc. So it’s hard to say what artists influenced me, I’m looking at my last.fm profile and there are a few thousand different artists: from Kraftwerk, Beatles and Funkadelic to Rob Playford, Omni Trio, Kerri Chandler, Len Faki, Theo Parrish, Merzbow, Mu-ziq and FSOL. And I’m just trying learn something from each of them, to compile all this listening experience into my own music.

Now I’m really into the history of dance music. I have a YouTube channel where you can find my videos about labels and vinyl culture (Russian language only, sorry!)

What’s the word on your labels? Wax Ninja is one, and you have a sublabel now that we also wrote about with the JAM EP.

Wax Ninja is the main label and SubUrbz is the sub-label which was made for the compilation EP. Also you can search for Still X Records – it’s a digital only label for my own music where I released Introduction EP and Heart EP.

Is it as hard to get a record pressed in Russia as it can be in America? (It can be really fucking hard in America!)

Wax Ninja and SubUrbz are strictly vinyl only. We have one record pressing plant in Russia but it’s very expensive. Another issue is export – for small label this is adding additional cost.

So many Russian labels works with European pressing plants (as we do). One of our friends, Andrey Algorythmik recently opened pressing plant in Riga (Latvia), I think we will try their plant soon. But it’s still not Russia. 🙂

We haven’t gone far into DJing here, so let me ask you about how you got started. Do you remember the first gig you got paid to play at?

DJing is where it all started from. When started to discover dance music I always saw DJs playing vinyl. And it was like magic, I can’t explain it, but I want to learn this art.

I think about four years passed between my first record and first gig in 2004. I remember it – it was a party dedicated to old school UK breakbeat music. It was very fun! I had only 20 records in my bag, but it was memorable set for me. And yes, I got paid about $50!

I’m trying to DJ for fun, not for money. I have a regular job and music allows me to feel freedom and independence.

I assume you play vinyl, and on 1200s. What’s your ideal DJ gear? Like you are playing a month-long residency at some superclub and they’ll pay to have the DJ booth outfitted with any gear you like. What’s in it?

All I need is pair of 1200s and good mixer and soundsystem. Just give me an idea how to bring all my records to the club! But if we talking about ideal DJ gear, let’s say the mixer will be Rane MP2015 for smooth mixing and soundsystem will be Killasan.

What can you tell us about this mix of yours?

This is a special mixtape which contains new tracks released recently and unreleased dubs (coming 2017-2018) by Xio. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Tracklisting

Xio – SD (Raw Demo) /Unreleased/
Xio – The Love Frequency /Still X Records/
Xio – Lush /Wax Ninja Recordings/
Xio – People Get Ready (Raw Demo) /Unreleased/
Xio – Lost In The Feelings /Still X Records/
Xio – Check This /Unreleased/
Xio – House Mania /Still X Records/
Xio – Still X /Still X Records/
Xio – 3 AM /Wax Ninja Recordings/
Xio feat. Margolit – Memories Of Love (Raw Demo) /Unreleased/
Xio – Get On Up /Still X Records/
Xio – I Can Feel It /Nerd Records/
Xio – Rise and Fall (Raw Dub) /Unreleased/
Xio – Shibuya-ku (Raw Dub) /Unreleased/

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wax.ninja
soundcloud.com/xio
facebook.com/xio.ru
instagram.com/xioartem

 

5 Magazine Issue 156First published in 5 Magazine #156 featuring House Music around the world with Virginia, Xio, Nordic Trax, Mad Recordings & more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $1 per issue!