Q&A and Global Vibe Radio 170 Feat. Mary Yuzovskaya

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
July 10, 2019

Q&A and Global Vibe Radio 170 Feat. Mary Yuzovskaya

The 170th guest of our weekly Global Vibe Radio mix series is NYC-based vinyl-only techno DJ, producer and record label owner Mary Yuzovskaya. 

By way of Berlin and before that Moscow, Maryhas been cultivating her unique orbit in the electronic dance music firmament for over 10 years.

Having graced the decks of all 
Moscow’s hotspots back in the
 mid-2000s, Mary moved to Berlin,
where she quickly became 
recognised for both her 
blisteringly-precise vinyl-only 
techno sets and her painstakingly professional approach to the craft
 of DJing. Based in New York City
 since 2013, Mary currently holds 
a residency at Unter, a notoriously
 secretive underground techno 
party showcasing the best in local 
and international talent. Also, in
 2017, Mary launched her very
 own record label called Monday
 Off, where she curates and 
presses work from artists that
 explore techno’s trippier, more hypnotic side.

Mary has been fortunate enough to share the decks with many talented and internationally recognised musicians such as Marcel Dettmann, DVS1, Erika, Developer, Somewhen, Claudio PRC, Henning Baer, Xhin, Tommy Four Seven, Perc, Deadbeat, Anthony Parasole, Edit Select, Dino Sabatini, Norman Nodge and many others. She has been busily traveling the world and performing her unique take on techno music’s deeper vibes at many noted clubs across the world, including Tresor, Arma 17, :// about blank, Distillery (Leipzig) and Output, to name only a few.

With an upcoming debut Los Angeles gig at COMPOUND Summer 2019 alongside Derrick May and Matrixxman, we took the time to have a 360-degree chat with Mary to find out what she has been up to.

Read on for the interview and fully GVR Track Listing!

Hi Mary, thank you so much for the mix and chatting with us!

Hi! The pleasure is all mine.

Tell us a little about the mix first. Where did you put it together, with what tools and what was your mood and the vibe while you were selecting tracks?

This mix was recorded in the comfort of my own home. I used my technics turntables 1210 and Alien Heath mixer. When preparing a mix, I usually go through my records for a few days, play around and once I feel that I know which records and in which order I’d like to play, I press rec on my recorder. As all my other mixes, it was recorded in one take, hand mixed, vinyl only, of course.

The mood, while I was recording it, was pure focus, the vibe – psychedelic (because why would we ever go for any other vibe?)

What do you hope the mix communicates to listeners?

I always have one simple (maybe not so simple, but at least it’s clear) goal when I record podcasts or play at a party – to take my listeners on a trip. This mix is not an exception, hope you all enjoy the ride.

You live in New York, and have previously resided in Berlin and of course your home city of Moscow. What do you feel these three cities have taught you about electronic music and DJing?

Moscow is the city where I first started DJing and learned all the basics. This city witnessed my very first steps, my first mistakes, my first victories. In Moscow I first realised how important the programming of the set is, how to correctly pack your record bag, how to beat match, how to beat match with shitty monitors, how to beat match when there are no monitors at all, etc etc. Back in my days not only was Moscow a vinyl only city, but also people there were incredibly anal about mixing/beat matching skills. You had to be ideal or not go on stage at all. Two records should play together for at least 50 seconds, EQing must be very delicate and smooth and no one should be able to tell when one track ended and another track started. It has to be blended in perfectly. That mixing of mine that people recognise me for today is the mixing of a Moscow based DJ in early-mid 2000.

Since Moscow saw my very first gigs, it also saw my worst gigs. Therefore the city gave me a platform to learn by my mistakes. When I moved to the EU I was quite skilled already, thanking Moscow for that.

Berlin taught me a lot about all the ins and outs of how the music industry works.  Record labels, record shops, vinyl distributions, booking agencies, clubs, festivals, traveling with gigs, label nights – I started understanding the structures of these processes only after I moved to Berlin. I wanted to learn about record labels and what it takes to run one as I was dreaming about putting together a label of my own since I bought my first record back in 2003 and Berlin was the city where I got a chance to gather a lot of organisational information that is very useful today.

New York gave me an opportunity to test all the knowledge I gained in Moscow and Berlin. I went there with a very clear vision of not only what I want to do, but also how I want to do it. New York scene, of course, is very different from Berlin (and was even more different back in 2013 when I first moved), so things were often not what I expected, but because I knew exactly how I wanted things to be and also because I’m incredibly stubborn, slowly I was able to build a working environment for myself that reflects my vision.

In short I’d say that Moscow and Berlin were cities where I did all the learning and NY is the city where I put everything I know into practice.

How would you describe the main differences between the three city’s scenes, beyond the obvious size and scope of them?

Given that I left Russia 10 years ago and haven’t played there since 2013 I would avoid making any comments about its scene’s current state as I simply don’t know enough.

If we are trying to compare scenes in EU and U.S. (broadly speaking), I think it’s important to remember that there are many circumstances that influence the development of the scene. Each country, each city is fighting its own battle, has its own difficulties or benefits, including economical, historical and even geographical aspects. As of today I believe it’s much easier (for many reasons) to throw a party in Berlin than, let’s say, in LA, even though in both cities people equally want to dance and enjoy music that they like. Good example – Europe has never faced something like cabaret law in NY. Nuances like that affect the way the music scene grows in certain areas and which direction it takes. It’s a big topic, but I think the bottom line here is that it’s important to learn how to make the best out of what we have and how to use the circumstances to our projects advantage. The US scene today is without a doubt growing and becoming stronger and offers more options to listeners attention. Things have changed big time since I moved to NY six years ago, and I see these changes as mostly positive.

I used to have a really hard time to get American promoters to actually focus on my incredibly standard, shamefully basic technical rider and get things done right, but lately I’ve had less and less trouble with that, which makes me happy. Back in the days, when I first moved to U.S., when people were asking me what’s the main difference between NY and Berlin I’d say: “the way my technical rider is treated!” It’s better now, I’m very glad. Maybe being a drama queen about it eventually paid off?

NYC is home now, where you also hold a residency at Unter. What makes Unter a special place for you as a resident?

There are many great things about Unter. For me personally that would probably be the following: Unter finds sick venues all around the city; has an awesome, very diverse, friendly and beautiful crowd; creates a safe space, goes until very late in the AM (which is rare in the U.S.). The Unter team cares a lot about sound and lights. The crew is very professional and is a pleasure to work with. And not only they are my colleagues, but also friends and family. Also, have you seen our flyers? How cute are those!

It may be hard to choose, but what has been one of the more memorable (of many I am sure) nights playing at Unter?
Definitely not an easy choice! I love closing the most, so every time I get to close the rave I’m at my happiest. One of my morning Unter sets for the true survivors was recorded and you can give it a listen here:

Has holding a residency changed the way you approach the art of DJing?

It hasn’t.

You’re a fantastic vinyl DJ. Do you always play vinyl or do you change it up at times?

Thank you, you are very kind. Yes, I play vinyl only, I’m very strict about it and I plan on remaining a vinyl only DJ moving forward.

Why?

Because the minute you take the records out of DJing it all stops making sense to me personally and doesn’t bring me joy anymore. Why doing something if you are not enjoying it? I started as a record collector and for 3 years I was record shopping regularly without even thinking to become a DJ. I am a DJ because I collect records, not the other way around.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge other artists for choosing to use other gear – people should use whatever works best for them and not listen to anybody who says otherwise. I understand completely why CDJs have many advantages. But for me personally DJing is about collecting records, not mp3 files. It’s about an ability to physically hold music in your hands. Every record has its own personality. Every record behaves differently in different hands. Every record holds memories of past raves. If you take it away from me I’m not sure what I’m doing here.

How many records do you have in your collection? Do you have a photo you can share?

In Moscow I have about 3,000 and in NY about 1,000. The size of my collection in NY is quite modest (for now).

What about owning and playing vinyl, versus other mediums, is special to you?

As I mentioned above, record collecting is a starting point for me. It’s all about the relationship you build with your records. I’m most certain they are alive and have their own moods, energy, memory and thoughts. Touching the sound is another thing that no other media can give you (unless, of course, you are playing live. But that’s another story for another time).

Do you have a must-buy record or two you are still hunting for?

Yes, there are quite a few, and the list is always changing. This morning I woke up obsessing on this one:

By the way, what other venues in NYC do you enjoy playing at?

Just played at Basement and I’m completely blown away. Love this space.

While on the subject of playing other venues, you’ve played quite the illustrious list of clubs and stages in your career. Are there any clubs or festivals still missing on your to-play list?

Festivals like Organik, Monument, Dekmantel, Mutek and Parallel are the ones I’d love to be a part of one day for sure.

You just got back from playing several gigs in Germany and have a few lined up through the States now. Any highlights from the shows overseas?

I played two shows in Switzerland and three shows in Germany while being on the road. This trip overall turned out to be very successful and every gig went really well. The whole festival totally blew my mind, Augsburg was an absolute blast, Swiss shows and About Blank in Berlin were fun as always, these parties never disappoint.

Any particular American city you’re looking forward to seeing that you haven’t visited yet?

LA!

Will you have some time to do some non-music activities while gigging here at home? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to?

At home I mostly work, I am a very boring person once I cross the American border.  Studio/Label/Gigs – that’s it. Looking forward to Smangtasia – it will definitely be a ball, looking forward to visiting LA for the first time, looking forward to working more on my solo EP –  it’s all sketches for now.

Congrats on all the work you’ve been putting in on your label, Monday Off. Are you happy with what the imprint has done so far?

Thank you! Yes, I am quite happy, I feel like the label is moving in the right direction. I learned a lot for the past two years since the first record came out, and while there’s still a lot to learn, I’ve started gaining confidence. I’m very excited for the next releases, I find them very strong and can’t wait to share with all of you.

What are some of the challenges you have faced running a label, and how did you overcome them?

Often it’s very challenging to meet the deadlines as there are, sadly, tons of pressing-plant related delays. I hate being late and waiting is something I’m pretty bad at, so obviously I stress out about things like that. However, with each release I learn how to build the schedule with all possible delays in mind.

Obviously you’re a vinyl fanatic (meant in a very positive way of course) and Monday Off is a vinyl-only label. Do you feel this is sustainable in 2019?

In 2019 – not really, there are much bigger labels than mine that struggle today. I try my best to remain a vinyl only label, although I have to admit – it’s not easy. Since I started DJing 12 years ago vinyl made a few comebacks and disappeared from the scene a few times too, so I believe it all works in cycles. Some years vinyl sells better, other years – worse. Just need to be patient and learn to see the bigger picture.

Who are some artists whose releases you one day hope to host on Monday Off?

I’ve been quite lucky so far – the majority of artists I reached out to expressed interest in releasing on Monday Off. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but there will be a few new artists appearing on the label already starting this Fall, stay tuned.

What else is in store for you this year?

There’s going to be one more release on Monday Off before the end of the year. It will be a VA compilation and include my track, as well. I’m working on music a lot these days and some of my production will probably see light outside of Monday Off too. Aside from that – planning some trips with gigs to Canada (can’t wait!) this fall. As well as some other gigs, local, national and international.

Let’s veer off music to finish off. I had the chance to go to Russia last year and will be going again this year for Gamma in St Peterburg. Any food suggestions I should 100% try?

I left the country 10 years ago – I’m afraid I’m the worst advisor in that regard. Nothing crosses my mind, sorry!

How about in NYC, any favourite spots?

There are too many, depending on your personal tastes I guess? I can’t really pick…

Ok this is kinda music related, should have asked earlier but… what are your go-to record stores in NYC?

I only shop online lately as I’m mostly focused on European music that is not that well represented in American stores unfortunately. The records that I play either never make it to US-based shops or make it 7-8 months after release date which doesn’t work for me. If you want my honest recommendation – you should shop at Bandcamp too. Support your favorite labels directly – they need it more than you might think.

What is your favourite record store of all time?

As mentioned earlier, I prefer to shop online. If I order to the USA I will use Juno (for some reason faster and cheaper than any other online EU-based store), if I order to Germany I’ll use Decks.De. Otherwise I like Space Hall, OYE and Hardwax in Berlin.

Ok, I will let you go now. See you in LA for COMPOUND next month!

Looking forward!

GVR Track Listing:
1. Refracted – Vortice – Sublunar
2. ASC – Barycentre – Dusk Notes
3. Claudio PRC – Atik #2 – Attic
4. Blazej Malinowski – In Reverse – Semantica
5. Anthony Linell – Sculpting Energy – Northern Electronics
6. Yan Cook – Lowlight (Wrong Assessment Remix) – Planet Rhythm
7. Ness – Mentalist – Attic
8. Claudio PRC – Atik – Pole Group
9. Oscar Mulero – Metalix – Reclaim Your City
10. Psyk – Voiceprint (Shifted Remix) – NON Series
11. Von Grall – Transformation 1 – Kontrafaktum
12. Distant Echoes – Volume Orizzontale – NON Series
13. Petter B – Angst – Parabel
14. Amotik – Teint – Amotik
15. Anthony Linell – The Level Of Existential Space – Northern Electronics

 

Catch Mary Yusovskaya at COMPOUND Summer 2019 on July 27th. Tickets HERE

Connect with Mary Yuzovskaya: Facebook | Instagram | Resident Advisor | SoundCloud