To begin with, could you introduce yourself and give me an idea of your musical background and early influences?
My name is George Potopalsky (Kasprzhak) I have been living in Kyiv since 2007. In 2007, started a project called Ujif_notfound.
The main activity is the creation of multimedia systems based on algorithms of the kinetic relationship between man and program.
“Live ” performances are based on the generation of audio and visual streams in real time. By controlling the prewritten programs ( patches ) Ujif_notfound, with each new startup creates a unique audio -visual space, which exists only during the performance, and repeat which is exactly impossible.
I started playing music when I lived in Moscow, playing the guitar in a hardcore (rap core) group. Then I became interested in experimental electronic music. In the 90’s I listened to Autechre, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin. Labels Ninja Tune, Warp. Label ~scape. Pan Sonic, Muslimgouse… a ton of music. I really liked the Flanger project (Burnt Friedman, Atom Heart). In 2007 I moved to Kyiv and dived into programming max/smp/jitter.
Then I decided for myself that I want to make music in close connection with the visual. The landmarks were Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto and others. At the same time, I became interested in the academic avant-garde. Stockhausen, Xenakis, Luigi Nono, Ligeti and others.
What is your set up and your favourite piece of gear?
Max has been at the heart of my studio for a long time. Only Max. With the help of the patches written in it, I recorded the first albums and made a number of interactive installations.
Then I began to collect synthesizers. I have a few of them and for the most part they are cheap simple ones. Korg ms20 mini, Nord drum 2, Nord modular g2, Korg minilogue, Doepfer Darkenergy 2, a pair of guitar pedals from Strymon, EHX … these are probably the hard equipment I use most now. The software is still the same Max and now Ableton with max for live.
How would you describe your city and which are your favourite aspects about it?
I fell in love with Kyiv as soon as I arrived in it. For me, this is a city that combines ancient culture, traditions, and modernity. I love Kyiv for its anarchic spirit and unshakable will to freedom.
I know that no matter what happens, no matter what severity and hardships fall on the local residents, they will still unite and defeat anyone who came to this earth with evil and destruction.
“Volya about Smert” (Will or death) is the slogan of Ukraine.
How would you describe the experimental music scene in your own city and in Ukraine in general?
The experimental scene is changing. I got acquainted with the experimental scene of Ukraine thanks to Dmitry Fedorenko (Kotra project. Founder of the Kvitnu label), Katya Zavoloka, Alla Zagaykevich, Edward Sol, Andrey Kirichenko. Festival of “Detaili Zvuku”. It was in the early 2000s, when it was something new for Ukraine, then the situation changed. Thanks to technology and hype, the experimental scene has lost its original essence of protest and transgression.
The search for something new has been replaced by flirting with fashion. I don’t see now what was the essence of experimental music for me, and I don’t see it in the whole world either. But this is a process. Time ruthlessly structures. Energy is transformed into other manifestations.
How has the live scene been impacted by the pandemic in the past couple of years and has lockdown curtailed your creative life?
Of course the pandemic has had an effect. All the same, the music that I play requires live performance. Engagement. Having lost this opportunity, many locked themselves in the studio and took up recording and editing.
This method of making music shifted the focus to post-production, more focus on quality and composition. During the pandemic, I only made a couple of interactive works. For the most , I was engaged in the development of new technologies, the study of new programs and entertained myself with recording live and new albums. Although I am lucky and thanks to the fact that my friends and I have a Fotinus studio, we are involved in many projects, I had the opportunity to show everything that I have been working on lately.
There has been conflict in the Donbas region for a number of years but now Ukraine has been invaded. Granted that the situation on the ground is evolving very quickly and dramatically, could you give us a sense of the current state of play on a day to day level in your own city in terms of transport, food chain supply, medical care? And what have been the more immediate changes in your life on a personal level?
Not so long ago, we studied the 2nd World War from textbooks. Destroyed cities, millions of victims among the civilian population, Nazi atrocities. It all seemed crazy and impossible in the 21st century, but we were wrong. Everything that we saw in the pictures, we see now. Many cities of Ukraine are in ruins. People are dying. Children are dying. It’s impossible to describe. I have a little son, he turned 7 on February 14th. We hid in a bomb shelter, in parking lots under the house. They lay in the corridor while the siren howled and bombed Kyiv. We hardly slept for 5 days. One day I fell asleep for a few minutes and woke up because my son was screaming “Hurrah hurrah hurrah!” I asked him what “Hurrah”? He replied, “I’m awake and alive.” It’s scary in the city, there are shootings, it’s very dangerous on the street. Products are running out. Houses are being shelled. You can find many videos on the Internet – evidence of this.
What can one do to help the artistic community in Ukraine? On a more general level, are there any local charities that operate in your town/region you would like to highlight?
To be honest, the last thing I can think about during the war is creativity. Now I get a lot of offers to participate in residences and concerts, the European community is trying to help and support, but I just don’t think that I can participate in all this when my city is being bombed, my friends are being killed. It took me a lot of effort to even answer these questions, but I want other countries to know the truth. I hope to get back to creating when it’s all over… if it’s over.
And could you recommend a book / film / artwork about either your town or your country?