Lokiboi (above) is known to family members as Vladimir Strabykin, although he may have other nicknames among his English friends. Strabykin is currently studying at London's South Bank University. He has just published a maxi-single in his hometown, thanks to the support of perennial jesters, Guerilla.Ru. Those Moscow colleagues refer to Strabykin as the Berezovsky of dubstep and the Abramovich of UK Funky. Playing, perhaps, into those same tongue-in-cheek stereotypes, Strabykin is an open supporter of Chelsea.
The new Guerilla single includes remixes from St Petersburg's Cosmic Honey and Novosibirsk's LeOnid_US, so the connections to Russia remain strong. Some British webzines, appreciative of this Slavic aura, have written encouragingly of Lokiboi's work thus far.
...the punchiest kicks and cleverly measured rim clicks
They approve of his "devastatingly catchy vocal hooks... Not content in simple repetition, his melodies twist and contort, all the while underpinned by the punchiest kicks and cleverly measured rim clicks."
As these reviews turn into interviews, Strabykin maintains his connections to Russia - and proudly so. "Moscow for me is still something more then home... It's different to any other capital city. The atmosphere there leaves me with a whole range of varied feelings. Maybe that's why Moscow produces so many weird and experimental sounds: Dza, Pixelord, Subwave, Lapti..."
Moscow produces so many weird and experimental sounds
By cultivating these Slavic bonds, Lokiboi continues his position as an outsider - as a figure more exotic than familiar. Although a student in London - working hard to find his place inside UK society - this young performer is just as keen to avoid the potential dangers of anonymity within grey, urban expanses.
And so, ironically, a nuanced sense of difference - almost to the point of anonymity - helps to counterbalance facelessness. An "unknown individual" is also a more appealing status than total erasure.
This is a stance we can see elsewhere, far from either London or Moscow. The young beatmaker Yolki (aka "Bobby Green" and shown below) operates from the Russian city of Togliatti, and has just published a mixtape though the 716 label. Yolki has nothing to say for himself online, and even in the alternative persona of "B. Green" he stays fundamentally silent.
"Our music does not recognize today's borders. It recognizes neither frameworks nor nationality. We strive for a creative realization in sound; we even aspire to fall outside the limits of long-established styles and genres. This new age of sonic creativity allows each and every one of us to express our individuality!"
Selfhood, in a word, is best expressed in emptiness. It does not, we're informed, benefit from any association with a given place. Yolki therefore ponders the aesthetic benefits of homelessness.
This dalliance with absence is - arguably - a form of elitism, well exercised in certain venues such as stylish clubs, in which the most confident, fashionable clientele is somehow present and absent. In attendance yet unavailable.
Toying with these forms of erasure and elitism of late are DJs Dasha Pushkina and Aleksei Blagodatskikh (below), otherwise known as Push 'n' Pull. Their stage name speaks directly to the nurturing of standoffishness and an uncanny ability to remain surprising. When Pushkina's and Blagodatskikh's combined efforts first took shape as a neophyte duo, it seemed sensible to draw upon a maximally broad series of influences - that would both "push and pull." From contrary or opposing genres, a bright and often gaudy synthesis resulted.
The mainstream was avoided at all costs. And, as a result, anonymity can now be transformed into declarations of willful, deliberate solitariness.
Mundanity has been warned.
This feisty position is well formulated on the newest project in which Pushkina and Blagodatskikh have been involved, "Eye" (Glaz). Its members do nothing to advertise their participation, thus allowing for public ignorance to be dismissed as conscious mystery. It's not, in other words, that these artists are unknown; they simply have no desire to crudely promote their enterprise.
What could be more gauche than PR work..?
Glaz is an 'alien rap project'
And so Glaz comes into psychedelic being, which we know happens to involve Push 'n' Pull, Rostov rapper Noggano, and a few other artists. It's described as follows: "Glaz is an 'alien rap project.' The participants' names aren't on the cover - but they're not trying too hard to hide themselves."
The social elite, after all, needs to be seen somewhere.
"Initially these 'aliens' learned how to construct buildings. Then they built entire cities, changed the paths of rivers, and cloned themselves, too. Next they built an entirely new world... and another, and another. Be warned. These aliens see everything. They are Glaz."
Be warned. These aliens see everything. They are Glaz
The outsider, perhaps shunned by the mainstream, claims - thanks to that external position - a superior viewpoint. Hence the desire of Lokiboi, Yolki, and Moscow's dancefloor trendsetters to dimiss the very fashions they spawn.
Staying one step ahead of the game can be a very lonely business. Moments of melancholy are handled through the kind of outlook we see below. Yolki's poster, filed under "Bobby Green," shows a willfully masked figure - as if anonymity is consciously chosen. And yet the slogan reads: "God Save the Underground." That could be understood as: "Please maintain our special status" or "Heaven help [and rectify] our borderline insignificance." The very ambiguity in those three Russian words shows why our artists would want to champion the former of these options - and claim to be unique aliens.
Wearing a daytime helmet is only the first step to life on Mars. In avoidance of "mice in their million hordes...
from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads." Not to mention the crowds on Togliatti public transport.