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80
DRUM & BASS
IN KAZAKHSTAN
Photography Anna Bukhtiyarova
& Chris Gourlay
Pushing my way across a packed and sweaty Russian house music fills the clubs where the Soviet industrial machine, half of Temirtau is
dancefloor under the shadow of the super-rich gather to drink over-priced vodka. taken up by one enormous filthy factory. The
soundsystem, I eventually reach the bar. I For this crowd cheap bling, blacked-out jeeps other half is made up of crumbling concrete
manage to shout loud enough for the barman to and bodyguards are the order of the day. But in apartment blocks. Life here is so depressing
understand that I want a beer, and turn around Kazakhstan, as in Russia, tastes are beginning to that one in ten young people become heroin
to survey the scene. From here the crowd looks move on. addicts. “It’s bad in Temirtau,” says Alexey
like a single gyrating organism. Occasionally Fuifanov, “there are no nightclubs.” But despite
the green lasers cutting across the crowd catch “In the beginning there was just a few guys living literally in the middle of nowhere, Alexey,
an arm raised in the air, or a strobe lights up who were interested in pushing d&b culture a.k.a. Command Strange, produces beautifully
a sweaty, smiling face. The DJ, bouncing away forward,” says Nitex. “We were the only d&b soulful liquid-funk. He’s had tracks released on
to his beats up on the stage, has them in the promoters back then. It seemed like if there European imprints, as well as Liquid Brilliants,
palm of his hand as he serves up plate after plate was d&b playing, one of us was involved. We a label belonging to Siberia’s DJ Jebar. His
of the summer’s big anthems. This could be played in a lot of small crappy clubs and slowly debut EP ‘Sun is Shining’ is available as a
anywhere in England, at any given drum & bass other people got interested.” A major marker download on juno.co.uk.
night, at any time this summer. But it’s not. It’s in the scene’s development was a visit from the
in Kazakhstan. first foreign DJ to wreak havoc on Kazakhstan’s Kazakh ravers are certainly influenced by
dancefloors, London’s own Logan D. “People Russian tastes and the nights have a flavour that
Ask people what they know about Kazakhstan were waiting for a d&b event like that,” says owes something to the heavy Russian scene.
they’ll probably tell you it’s where Borat comes Nitex. “The main dancefloor of probably the But musically the scene seems to be striking
from. If people think about music from best club in Kazakhstan and it was unbelievably out in a different direction. As Nitex explains
Kazakhstan at all they might imagine something packed.” Along with his friend DJ Wanted, “In Astana [the Capital, and Kazakhstan’s
like the tinny sitar-sampling theme tune from Nitex now has a weekly slot on a mainstream second biggest city] they’ve got quite a Russian
the film. But a flourishing drum & bass scene? I local radio station. Their ‘Jump-Up Sessions’ sound to be fair. Darkside and Neurofunk is
certainly hadn’t been expecting it. show recently sold out the same venue when it what people like up there but we’ve always been
celebrated its first birthday. about pushing the proper British sound.” The
Drum & bass has blossomed here in recent influence shows. “I was shocked to find that
years, but it hasn’t always been like that. Max Nitex’s E-Bass collective are no longer the only most of the ravers were right up to date with
Meltser, a.k.a. DJ Nitex, has been there since people organising big nights. Russ Fischer, their tunes,” Logan D told a local TV station.
day one: “I started mixing around 2005 on another key promoter, runs weekly events and “Wicked vibes and good people!”
a shitty setup, a pair of Stanton T.60s and has big plans for the future: “If you look at the
some Behringer mixer. The first night I played pace at which d&b is developing here, it’s safe Against all the odds d&b is flourishing in
was actually the first proper d&b party in to say it’s progressing faster than other styles of Kazakhstan. Thanks to the commitment and
Kazakhstan ever. It went alright, but the club music. I’m planning to run the first real festival drive of a few individuals, a dedicated scene
was less than half full.” of electronic music in Kazakhstan in spring is growing, in size and in confidence. Roni
2009. It’s going to be a two-day outdoor party Size said in a recent interview on BBC 6Music
Cheesy Russian pop dominates the mainstream with the second day given over entirely to drum that the ex-Eastern bloc countries were where
radio stations in Kazakhstan, where most people & bass.” Almaty’s own ragga/jungle collective d&b was really picking up these days. “I think
speak Russian as a first language. Even now, Jahra Corporation also run regular club nights. that’s where it’s going off,” he said. “Places like
17 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia, Serbia, Slovakia... It’s just absolutely
Kazakhstan still imports a lot of its culture Solid gold talent is also blooming in the incredible.” Give Kazakhstan a few more years
wholesale from its Northern neighbour. The strangest places. In the middle of the desolate and perhaps he’ll be starting looking even
people who made fortunes from the post-Soviet Kazakh semi-desert, thousands of miles even further East. Watch… This… Space.
boom of petrodollar driven capitalism imported from Almaty, sits the city of Temirtau. Built
their sense of cool directly from Moscow. Naff for the sole purpose of processing steel for the
www.kmag.co.uk
K80_Kazahkstan.indd 80 19/3/09 14:33:40
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