Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting a rising artist who is bringing something new to the world of music and is capturing our hearts and minds (and ears). This week we’re featuring DIGIDON, a collective of DJs based in Moscow whose sharp brand of intelligence and musical acumen have caught the attention of Prada and are changing the face of the Russian capital’s club culture.
In an era where information overwhelming, it’s not easy to be selective, but some people are able to turn chaos into a cohesive, unique style. Young Moscow DJ trio DIGIDON is a prime example – their mash-up approach is a reflection of the times. Three friends – Kutyma, Sippin’Silk and OG San – who used to play separately on a very local level now form a group with an eclectic yet balanced sound. Hit with the feeling that Moscow was missing something, their DIY attitude and aspiration of creating an alternative led them to create a loyal community.
From starting off at small, underground parties to becoming some of the most in-demand DJs at Moscow’s best clubs, DIGIDON haven’t relied on hype to find success. The part of their name “DIG” is well deserved – the collective’s compulsion to extensively research is one of the key tenets of their originality, and has allowed them to cultivate a vibe that’s old school but still entirely contemporary. To look toward the past without being stuck in it is a very delicate approach, but the collective pulls it off, creating a zeitgeist with their own twist.
Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of a community, but few can push the boundaries necessary to create their own. In stepping outside of their comfort zone, DIGIDON has been able to demonstrate the versatility of music from different angles to youth in Moscow and beyond. While the collective’s three members have distinct musical preferences, their tastes manage to form a holistic style. Unlike other DJ sets you’ll catch in Moscow that sound like playlists, you can feel real personality when DIGIDON play – their knowledge is deep and diverse, passing through eras from late ’70s disco and ’80s hip-hop to breakbeat and gangsta rap. We caught up with Kutyma, Sippin’Silk, and OG San to discuss the story of DIGIDON, their inspirations, Moscow clubs, and more.
Tell us about how DIGIDON was formed? And what’s behind the name?
Kutyma: The word “DIGIDON” is not our idea. I heard it from one of the Russian comedians. He used it as a fictional corporation in his shows. Initially we didn’t think about it seriously, we used it as a joke.
Sippin’ Silk: We used it in our pranks. We called some Russian celebrities and asked them if they wanted to participate in our show at Krasniy Oktyabr (area in Moscow where several popular clubs are situated) at DIGIDON club. We also called some kids and offered them to participate in Gosha Rubchinskiy’s runway show in outfits made of meat. As payment we usually offered AK-47 weed or an Asus pad for 7000 rubles.
K: But then we realized that the word can have a meaning and reflect our concept. We always try to “dig” and explore music, so DIGIDON became our name. We used to play separately, but then we just decided to form some kind of DJ collective. We made the first show and it worked.
OG San: We became closer after performing as a collective for one year. We realized that it is a great experience; it is an art project that forms a holistic style from our personalities. We educate and influence each other.
When you started DIGIDON, did you feel that Moscow had been missing something? What were you hoping to achieve?
SS: We always wanted to make our own parties. Some time ago we played at friend’s events, and it was just natural to make that the next step. Our styles are different, they rarely match. However, you can feel the contrast. It is great that we have such mix – during our sets it allows us to keep a chaotic combination of different music types. It keeps us and our audience on their toes. It is not easy to predict the next track.
OS: We felt that Moscow parties were not as impressive as we wanted. It was a matter of time before we could create something of our own. Also many artists – especially in Moscow – feel so so deep minded about the music they play, they want to make a cult of it. Sometimes it seems so pretentious that you can’t feel the overall vibe of the party. We try to play different sorts of music – not to show off our digging skills, but to try to reflect how many styles can merge together in a fun way without some sort of ignorant attitude.
Why it is important for you to DJ as a team? How do your styles influence each other?
K: The fact that we influence each other is very important. We can feel how we evolve and how our personal styles change. When we started, DIGIDON had a kind of chill house and disco vibe. Now it’s become more diverse. For example, Sippin’Silk recently became obsessed with such genres as synthwave and post-punk. A year ago he thought that those were bull shit.
SS: That’s the point – you can mix synthwave, Memphis, breakbeat, gangsta rap. It is about the relevance of the mash up approach. In 30 minutes you can pass through a certain amount of music genres and eras. We deliberately make this collage type of mix, but we try to create an organic feeling out of it. We don’t like when DJs play only one type of music – it seems boring. It is 2018 – people have total “mash up” in their heads. Look at the internet for example! There is an overall mix of everything. We try to reflect this voice of our generation and make this “mash up” even more messy. Of course, it is not always bad to play only one type of music at the party, everything depends on the DJ.
OS: We educate each other. I can hear something for the first time during the guys’ sets and it will make me really excited.
Where do you get inspiration from, aside from music? I know that Sippin’Silk is a big fan of David Hockney and he influenced your style in clothing.
SS: Yes! However he also influenced DIGIDON’s aesthetic. I usually make the decorations for the party and design graffiti posters. DIGIDON in some way is about relevant kitsch. Hockney is a great example how to balance some pretentious stuff with thoughtful pop art that has soul. The common style influence we have in our music, for example, would be Garage Paradise, Larry Levan, Studio 54, New York vibe, tons of cocaine. Disco wasn’t only about music – it was also about community, culture and its fans.
K: We perceive it as a fantasy and try to use it at our parties. Me and OG San are heavily inspired by old school technologies. I’m more interested in digital and he pays more attention to analog types. Recently I started saving money to buy a Silicon Graphics computer from the ’90s. You can use it during live sets.
OS: I’m really passionate about old school technologies. I get most of my inspiration from any underground or underdog movement in music, politics, art, cinema, etc. Basically real-life realities and the honesty of independent movements.
Do you feel influence from today’s music trends on DIGIDON’s style?
K: DIGIDON is mostly about “back in the day” vibes. But sometimes we can include, for example, trap and hip-hop in our sets. We don’t have any particular concept to integrate contemporary music.
SS: For example, I like some relevant artists that have backgrounds similar to mine. They can be inspired by the same old school analog sound. One of my latest favorites is a San Francisco collective called Beat Detectives.
OS: Anyway, everything new is a reinterpreted past.
You started to perform in a “friends and family” format. Why do you think it received such a good response beyond your local community?
K: True. People after my sets started to come up to me and say how they like my music. At one party, a guy told me that he saw documentary about us and he loved everything there – the energy, music, people. He wanted to be a part of it. It was not the first time. Kids want to be a part of something, to feel the same vibe.
Does the initial idea of community still influence DIGIDON?
SS: Every club has its own residents. If you don’t have a club, you can rely on your mates. Some time later you can see new people. DIGIDON is still a very Moscow and “friends and family” thing. Anyway, our city has a huge web that helps us to grow. However, we had a party in Paris last summer and there were only five of our friends. Eventually, the club was filled with people, there even was a queue. It wasn’t some popular place – just a kinda jazz club. People came up to us and told how wicked it was. Kids don’t have such parties in Paris.
OS: DIGIDON has the ’80s at its core. It was the time when so many genres appeared and were rethought. I guess people feel it.
Does DIGIDON’s sound have balance between mainstream and niche music? Do you try to predict what people will like?
SS: We don’t give a fuck about it. It just has to sound good. For example, we include Bomfunk MC’s in our sets not to impress the audience or create a one minute hype – it is organic for us. For me, the opinions of OG San and Kutyma are more important than the public’s.
Does DIGIDON have a message? Have you ever thought about the power of music and how it can make a positive impact on people?
SS: We are more about the zeitgeist. You can be in different eras during our set. We want to reflect the supersaturation of everything nowadays. For example, some people that play only trap hip-hop lie to themselves, that there is nothing beyond. DIGIDON tries to be honest and show the diversity of music genres with our own twist. Speaking about an overall emotional vibe, we are about love.
Could you tell about your recent collaboration with Prada? What kind of project was it?
K: Prada was searching for young fresh blood from Russia for the Instagram use. Our friend photographer Alexey Kiselev asked us take part in shooting. Prada story is too commercial. For me DIGIDON’s shooting for DC Shoes seems more natural
OS: I also feel more the DC editorial.
What do you hate about Moscow club culture?
K: I can rarely feel a good vibe at the parties.
OS: Expensive beer.
SS: We don’t have a middle class parties. You have pretentious clubs from one side and events that are attended by drunk school kids. There are only two or three good clubs – NII (Nauka I Iskusstvo” (“Science and Arts”)) club and Denis Simachev Shop & Bar.
Keep up with DIGIDON via their SoundCloud.
Be sure to check out the previous edition of our Under the Radar series with MorMor right here.