Ed Vertov: “It all started when I purchased Plastikman “Sheet One” album on tape back in the mid 90s in Moscow in the post Soviet era. When I heard it, I knew I wanted to get involved in the whole movement. However, I didn’t really act on it until I moved to Los Angeles and got a job at a record shop. While there, I educated myself about all sorts of genres of music that I continue to enjoy, and to this day I still work at that record shop. Los Angeles is my home now and it has influenced me immensely as I was exposed to all new ways of life, culture, and of course, music. I would say immigrating here at the end of the 90s was probably the best thing I have done for myself, though it wasn’t until 2005 that I really started to get into manufacturing records, DJing, and making music. That same year, I talked Anton Kubikov into starting the “Pro-Tez” Records as a platform for Russian and ex-Soviet region musicians. We were essentially the first proper Vinyl electronic music record label with proper distribution in the west by our good friends, “Kompakt”. A funny story about “Pro-Tez” Reсords is that Anton and I wanted to call it “Put In” Records, but it sounded awfully like “Putin” Records so we decided not to go with that:) “Pro-Tez” Records reflects my love for house music and we are going strong now. We are on a Vinyl Only streak and very excited about the rise of vinyl demand and sales around the globe. That’s why we got into this whole thing, to make Records. Vinyl is something that Anton and I love and cannot live without. We were scared for a while, that the digital revolution would destroy the vinyl market. Fortunately, vinyl sales are up 37% for the last year or so, which is the highest jump since the 2000s.
Club culture in US is very different compared to Russia or Europe. Techno/House clubs are rarely good over here. It is still an underground setting over here, illegal warehouse parties are the ones I enjoy the most. Be it Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, or New York, I don’t think there is a club like “Berghain”, “Fabric”, “Arma” or “Monatsreio” in the United States that people would stay at all weekend without stopping. To be honest, I have become very selective about only going out when it’s really worth it musically for me. The music is the only reason I go, not the drugs or women or anything else. I think electronic music is going through some hybridization now, and working as a buyer at the record shop I go through thousands of records. I hear a lot of music: acid revival, techno/industrial hybrids, UK house/bass hybrids, etc. There are a lot of really exciting experimental/noise and visual artists now that incorporate all of that. Again like said, I think it’s hybridization time. Cassettes are also making a comeback which is pretty cool and strange at the same time. We sell a lot of tapes, and even manufactured several from “Mount Analog”. Silent Servant tape and Regis and some other cool stuff too. The era of reissues is here too, all these labels are cashing in on reissuing vinyl that was hard to get or super expensive collector items that were lost in time. It’s pretty exciting. I have a lot of stuff going on right now. To be brief, I am of course working on “Pro-Tez” Records and “Mount Analog” but we are also planning to start our own label/distibution company/record shop with Lena Deen of “Prologue”. It will be limited Vinyl Only releases and will reflect our passion for experimental/techno/noise music, very different from “Pro-Tez” Records. We will launch it in may/june. It will be “Stellar Remnant”.
The mix I have recorded for you is a collection of records that are playing in my house and a representation of stuff that I am into right now.
I hope you enjoy it. Cheers and hugs everyone! 🙂 © Ed Vertov (exclusive for YooDJ’s)
Annette: Why did you move to US? You could’ve not done it.
Ed: I moved to US in the mid 90’s, 1996 to be precise and Russia was going through a transitional period in history – collapse of Soviet . Right before that, being 14-15 years old we were hustling on the streets, mainly on Arbat street where we sold Russian traditional souvenirs to foreigners, like russian dolls, laker boxes, russian army watches, military hats and so on. I was actually making descent money about 50 dollars a day which allowed me to go to the clubs like “Ptuch”, “Ermitage”, “LSDance”, “The Ship”. In these clubs i had a taste of my first experience with techno music and the whole electronic music mainstream. I was buying pirate tapes of Jeff Mills, Plastikman and a lot of american techno artists and was absolutely fascinated with this “strange music from The future”. Especially club “Ptuch” left the unforgettable memories. I think its there I’ve met with Anton Kubikov in one of the notorious “Ptuch” bathrooms. But kinda didn’t end up being friends for whatever reasons. With that said after high school i went to Law school in Moscow for about one semester. I realized there is no point in going to Law school in such a transitional period in the country, old laws were finished and new books and new law practices have been only developing. So actually with the help of my parents there was an opportunity to go to study English in LA and i did just that. Thinking i was going to comeback in 6 months, i was 18 years old by then. I came back in 2009. I was absent for 13 years.
Annette: Where did it come from – to become a film maker? I heard you had a dream and even started your education.
Ed: Ok, so my fascination with films started probably when I was 5. My dad worked at the Pawn Shop and always brought home different equipment like tape decks, amplifiers record players, VHS players. I remember watching Steven Spielberg movie “Duel” when I was 6 I think and thats when I kinda thought I wanna do that! We were lucky enough to have VHS player and all these movies like “Rocky”, “Rambo”, “Mad Max”. For me it was a dream, far away dream that was kinda lost along the way of teenage years but fascination with cinema has never left me. So when I found myself somehow on Hollywood Blvd I thought that its a sign and I should follow my instinct. I went to Los Angeles College to become a filmmaker and actually shot couple of student films on 16 mm camera. One of them was a short adaptation of “Chelovek Amphibiya” (Manfish) :))) This was before digital world. But after finishing it I actually opened my own restaurant with my girlfriend at the time of healthy vegetarian cuisine called “A Votre Sante”. Did that for about 4 years after successfully selling it, we started “Pro-Tez” Records with Anton Kubikov. I reached out to him and talked him into it . I was very persistent. Thats how “Pro-Tez” was born. Actually even my dad was one of my first investors, he was very supportive of doing stuff that one loves and feels its right. Big thanx to him!
Annette: In case your dream came true and you’ve got a degree in film-making, what would be your first movie about?
Annette: Do you often come to Russia? What are your favorite things to do there?
Ed: I used to come to Russia much often from 2009-2011. I would travel back and forth all the time. Not much anymore, i actually haven’t been back since 2011. I love Moscow city, but its a strange microcosmos in the Vast country thats called Russia. Its definitely love/hate relationship. I like to spend time with my friends and family in Moscow, thats the whole point of me going there. I enjoyed a lot all the parties we did with “Pro-Tez” Records in Moscow and just club life in general was pretty intense.
Annette: I wonder how you met Anton Kubikov. What your meeting was like?
Ed: First time we met in bathroom in the сlub “Ptuch”. It has to stay confidential what was going on in the bathrooms :))) Lost touch with him. Then in 2004-2005 i reached out to him on ICQ :))) ICQ:)))
Annette: Did you have any difficulties in the first place when you started “Pro-Tez” Records label? How did the music scene take your performance, if there was a demand and interest from the very beginning? What is your best remembered comment on “Pro-Tez” performance by an artist or another label owner?
Ed: Yes we had a lot of difficulties when we first started. The main difficulty was to actually to ship masters to LA. There were no websites like Sendspace or Wetransfer. The music had to be physically brought to Los Angeles. The post didn’t and still doesn’t work properly in Russia. We had to find someone who will be traveling to LA. It happened to be my dear friend John Tejada, quite famous producer from LA. He was going to play at “Propaganda”, i think thats where Anton had a meeting with him and passed the CDs with music on it. Those were first 4 releases at “Pro-Tez”. Also distribution was a big issue. It happened so that Michael Mayer was playing in LA and our first record was just hot off the press here in LA – Lazzich “Birds in my home”. I gave him a copy and asked him to consider distributing us through “Kompakt”. At that time SCSI-9 had already several records out on “Kompakt” so i think Michael was very interested. Thats how we joined “Kompakt” family . We had a great response from Mike Ink who was kinda like a cult figure to me with his Studio 1 and Gas releases thats I was absolutely mesmerized by. Its when I realized we are on the right track and I was very humbled “Pro-Tez” Records was kind of the first proper electronic Vinyl label out of Russia/US distributed worldwide by a big distributor in the Europe and the West.
Annette: You told you used to work in the record store. I wonder if you ever saw clients would queue up to buy some artist’s or group’s record.
Ed: I have been working in record shops since 2005. Starting at “Virgin Megastore” which was a big worldwide chain and was very corporate. I have also worked at “Amoeba Hollywood”, the largest independent record store in the world for about 3 years. Also for the past 3 years at “Mount Analog” that I just left to start my own online record shop/small distribution/record company “Stellar Remnant”. I have seen a lot of line in my experience, for example when David Lynch was at “Amoeba” with his record debut and signing for “Crazy Clown Times” where i had a chance to meet him. I have seen things :))) Thats just one instance that came to mind.
Annette: Tell us a story about any vinyl in your home collection.
Ed: I love collecting vinyl, it is who I am and I buy records all the time, my collection is always growing .There are some interesting stories of acquiring records I guess but this one comes to mind. Going back to listening tapes I had this tape from Richie Hawtin called “Mixmag Live Volume 20” from 1995 with music from such acts as G-man, Teste, Plastikman, DBX, Fuse etc… But I didn’t know it at that time there was no track listing. So when I moved to LA in 1996, I started going to the record shops. My english wasn’t great so I was very shy, never asked for help… So I was searching and searching for tracks from that mix, and particular one was DBX “Live Wire”. I needed to have it! 6 months later i found it… One day going through records at DMC Records in LA I saw this record and it said big letters on it “Accelerate”, i was like “ok, let me check it out…” To my amusement that was it, “Losing Control” classic record, that I think every person who is into techno/house must know… When I put the needle on the B side and heard “Live Wire” I think I even screamed something out loud that all the people in the record shop looked at me… I think its there and when I realized I love vinyl and iI want to collect it. I lost that record at Burning Man in 1999. My dear friend John Tejada gave me another copy in 2006. It was very expensive and still is. About 75 euros.
Annette: Do you think the vinyl sales would go up further on, and what is the reason of such growth during the last years?
Ed: The Vinyl Sales have been climbing up for the past 4 years and its due to people getting tired of digital/itunes world. Its kinda “f### you to digital market”. All these Vinyl Only labels that emerged drove people to buy records again and of course big name artists like “Radiohead”, “White Stripes” etc that never stopped making records. I know people including me that during all these years never stopped buying records. And yes, it will continue to grow. The only one problem is: the plants are old now and equipment is getting older and older. The plants are working overtime now because some closed during fall and no one makes new equipment, so lets just hope they will start making new machines to press vinyl which i think they will.
Annette: In summer 2014 Roman Litvinov (Mujuice) and you started “Acid Pop” Recordings label. It’s been a while since its start, can we ask about first results of this performance? Do you have many requests from the artist to release their records on your label?
Ed: In 2014, me and Roman started a label called “Acid Pop” after him coming here to LA to play at some festival. He stayed with me and we spend a lot of time talking and listening to different music and just connecting. Roman is an extremely productive and talented artist, so he had all these ideas that wanted to combine in a Music Multi Media Label with videos and art record covers and so on. So we kinda just worked together on manifesting it. We released so far 2 Limited edition records, one digital album and we have another record coming soon by Koett. There are two music videos that have been published and music from “Acid Pop” is featured in the game “Jellies” (smartphones/tabs). We are very busy human beings:))) Me and Roman, so sometimes it takes a bit longer to accomplish something but its worth it to wait!! Yes, we’d do get demos but we cant say many.
Annette: What is your advantage for promotion of their records as compared to other similar labels?
Ed: The advantage is that Roman is quite established artist and I have experience in running a label.
Annette: By the way, how did you find such a young talent Quok? For the record he made very interesting and decent album called “Imaginary Places”.
Ed: Roman found Quok. Really talented guy we think, he is going to be huge so we diced to put this out before he becomes super popular and releasing his music on big labels.
Annette: We’ll be looking forward to the opening of one more label together with Lena Deen which is called “Stellar Remnant”. Will the records be from the Post-Soviet artists only or young artists from the West as well?
Ed: Me and Lena were planning to open a record label since 2012 but never had a chance to do it, but now I left “Mount Analog” and we can concentrate on our own label/record store. “Stellar Remnant” Record label is not limited to Post-Soviet artists, it will be just music from our friends and minds alike. First record will be from Lena Deen herself. It will be tree tracks of just absolute euphoric epic electronica/ambient that was going to come out on “Prologue” Records but we decided to do it ourselves. Second Record will be from Alexey Volkov, very talented russian musician that has releases on “Planete Rouge” and has a record coming out on “Jealous God”. It will be dark post-techno/ebm record. Also a couple of other artists that we are planning to work with, we just cant announce until its confirmed. So you can expect the unexpected records on our label from ambient to dark experimental stuff.
Annette: What projects is Lena Deen involved in right now? How did she settle down in LA? Do you compete?
Ed: Lena is working on our record store website and has finished a record for us that will go in to mastering next week. We are super busy on making “Stellar Remnant” a project from us that will define who we are and what we like. It will be a glance into our minds, so we wanted to be adventurous and interesting for people. Also Lena will start working on a new record as soon as we Launch “Stellar Remnant”. I met Lena in Moscow she was actually a roommate of my friend Katya Ryba and thats how we’ve met. We came to LA together in 2011 to start our life together here. We got married in 2012.
And no, we don’t compete at all, we DJ together and make podcasts as EVLD and we love to play warm up sets. For The past two years we opened sets for such musicians in LA as Function, Cio ‘DOR, Voices From The Lake, Rrose, Mike Parker etc.
Annette: What is your artistic career like at present? What’s on your mind, what are your goals?
Ed: Right now all my energy is dedicated to “Stellar Remnant” and the launch of store website and a record label. The goal eventually to move in to actual store front by the end of the year. Also we have a new record from Mikhail Bogomolov coming out so as a new record from Anton Kubikov on “Pro-Tez”. Also we have Koett in the works on “Acid Pop”. My plate is full right now :)))
Annette: What can you advise to the young artists?
Ed: Advice to young artists is to stay away from trends and make authentic and personal music. Find your own voice. Do what you love.