Buzzer and vinyl: a conversation with DJ Katro Zauber
June 05

You've been DJ-ing for 13 years already. How did the industry look like when you just stepped in?

I’ve been playing since 2007, and before that, I used to work in nightclubs, in Dmitriy Slukin's Party Salon Agency. He is now running a coffee business and has nothing to do with club or dance culture. But when I was 20, he was the only promoter of such a high level, who worked with several clubs simultaneously and brought the DJs from various countries almost every week. I was very impressed by his work.

How did your work in an agency have grown into a DJ career?

I started following DJs: who are they, what do they do, play, and so on, and started meeting up with them. These were artists who played vinyl records exclusively - there was no digital stuff at all. At that times I had a boyfriend, a famous DJ from Moscow. He often toured in Ukraine and every time he brought me a bunch of new CDs with mixes: it was the music that I nurtured my taste on.

It was a house I was completely and totally in: a “four-on-the-floor” type, a confident rhythm, harmonies of exceptional beauty. This is how my style of that time formed: it became the foundation.

Vintage suglasses 2GLAZA, YASTREB JEWELRY

Sometime in 2006, I started learning playing records, and in 2009 I met Stas Twi, who told me how easy it is to play the music just from the CD: we downloaded music on the computer and then recorded it on a compact disk - it lasted for several years until it became possible to use flash-cards.

How did your show “Get High” appear on Radio Miami?

On sets, I usually play disco, house, funk and sometimes hip-hop. For “Get High” I choose rather atmosphere music than a dancing one. It can be lyrical, sad, emotional - any music you’d like to think on rather than dance. I share the niche, but up-to-date music with my listeners.

The program was first live on radio “Aristokraty”, then on “Prosto Radi.O”, and then I was invited to Radio Miami, and this appeared to be the best platform for “Get High”. At the same time, every week I publish previous sets on my SoundCloud, people listen and give feedbacks. I'm glad that they like it, and that's how I get to know myself and develop professionally. I guess, “Get High” was created primarily for this purpose.

You do have a lot of funky, soul and disco motifs. Even in one of your hip-hop radio shows, you put on music in these genres exclusively. How and when did you fall in love with ‘em?

I think it happened while my emerging interest in how the music I love has formed. If you dive deep into history, it turns out that the house originated in the '80s. Before that, there was a disco, meaning a house formed on the basis of a disco, and a disco came out of a funk. At the same time, we do have hip-hop showing on the arena.

Disco has become a logical continuation of a live sound, and hip-hop is a mixture of sliced funk samples, almost the entire discography of James Brown.

Vintage sunglasses 2GLAZA, YASTREB JEWELRY

Describe yourself and your music?

It will be one word about me - it's buzzer, and about music - it's a total buzz.

How many records are in your collection?

Not a lot though - about 200, I don't do it too actively. I always bring from 2 to 25 records from each trip. Actually, few years ago I was in Miami and my suitcase was overloaded at the airport cause I was taking home 25-30 records.

Before quarantine, I visited London for the first time and went to a vinyl shop. I met a man who worked there, and most likely it was his shop and his lifestyle.

I'm always interested in talking to such people, asking for advice on what to buy, a kind of smalltalk.

And that's where I bought what I'm not used to buy: records with swing and rock 'n' roll music. It's very interesting to explore the music evolving, especially with old vinyl.

Is that why you collect vinyl?

I know people who have thousands, and even tens of thousands of records, but I'm not into that sort of things. For me, this is a kind of obsession with stuff. I have the same story with clothes: I always give it away, exchange, recycle.

Vinyl is cool, it's a sort of a fetish, a style. I have records by Erykah Badu, whom I adore and other signature artists for me: Barry White, James Brown, Michael Jackson - all these people found a way to influence my musical education as a child. Over the years, my styles and approaches have changed and I have gained a wealth of cultural knowledge not only about music, but also about the history of certain musically-important people: Brown, Hendrix, Jackson, Quincy, his producer. And when you know the stories of these people, you perceive music differently.

From entire collection, what are your most iconic albums and artists?

Well, it’s really complicated to choose my TOP 5-6 albums. These popped up in my mind at first:

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise

Erykah Badu - Mama’s Gun

Michael Jackson - On The Wall

Rhye - Blood

FKJ - French Kiwi Juice

Bonobo - Black Sands

Ukrainian club culture is actively developing. As a DJ, how do you like the movement of this industry?

I grew up in night culture and loved it very much. And that's so cool we have it all developing so fast, but I don't like that the music has become monotonous. We do have Pasha Plastik and Filip Markovych setting up LOW parties at Closer, where they invite foreign artists playing awesome music that I play on my sets as well: the music of kindness and love. For me, parties are more about communication than constant dancing, which is probably why I'm not a fan of nightclubs in their current sense.

I was in Berlin a few years ago and have visited many places: bars where you can dance, nightclubs and nobody plays techno there. There is house, funk, hip-hop - very enjoyable, intellectual music with a positive vibe. This is exactly what I miss at parties: bars where you can gather an audience for whom you can create a warm atmosphere so that people feel positive emotions. And there is an atmosphere at the raves, as I call it: "to drive out the devil."

There is a stereotype about doping as an integral part of club culture. How do you feel about experimenting with "substances"?

It is important to have a culture of “taking in” something - we have a very big gap here. That's what I exactly like about Western culture. For instance, in the Netherlands there is a YouTube channel where the authors talk on how drugs might affect human brain and body. It's great that you watch and understand, "No, it's not mine" or "Oh, you can try it.". I believe, there’s a place for everything: it is important to know about the possible consequences and be liable for both yourself and your actions.

You do yoga and practice meditation. Does it affect your work?

One thing is impossible without the other, that's for sure. Even when I do yoga, I can do it with music, but it's not kind of music I would play at parties. Or music I’d like to listen and feature in podcasts on the radio. Sometimes I find myself in the state when music makes me not only laugh and feel pleasure. I can also cry during the meditation, considering it's a form of purification.

Is your stage image a matter of aesthetics and show or just practical?

In fact, it's both. It does not happen that my image is uncomfortable, but beautiful or vice versa. 90% of my shoes are sneakers are from Puma, because I am the ambassador of this company and quite satisfied with the way we work together. I have a lot of sportswear that mixes well with non-sports. My style was formed up to experiments and the influence of the collaborations with Ukrainian designers.Then a lot of things from Ukrainian designers started to appear in my wardrobe: they are very cool.

RICK OWENS dress, vintage sunglasses 2GLAZA, YASTREB JEWELRY

I like people wearing vintage clothes in the 60's or 80’s style.

Not for Halloween or a themed party, but on a daily basis. I can't do that, cause I don’t like limits. But I genuinely respect people who boldly express themselves, regardless of what others think of them. They are the zingiest.

Vinyl, funk, soul and the old leather jacket bought at the flea market: did it happen by chance or this is utter love for everything vintage? What attracts you to vintage?

I am attracted by both vintage and modern technological things. I have no fanatical attitude to this. I just love everything beautiful, I'm for loveliness. If it's really good vintage, if it's dishes, jewelry, clothes, then why not?

It's all about knowing the world around you. It's cool that you can come to a place with vintage furniture and feel like you’re in the past. With these things you can travel through time. It seems to me that the love for vintage is expressed exactly like this.


Words: Maxim Lymanskiy, Lena Tsysar