Ukrainian electronic duo Kurs Valüt formed in 2017 by Eugene Gordeev with the intent of popularizing minimal electro and electro wave in his home country, with lyrics sung in his native Ukrainian tongue. Mixing EBM with electro, Synth-Pop, and Italo Disco structures, this mixture became known as a Dnipropop.
The self-titled album summarizes difficult stages of life experience inspired by solitude, austerity, and extreme mental states. In comparison to the debut album Veselo (2018), this album is more melodic and metaphorical in nature.
Post-Punk.com recently spoke with Kurs Valüt about the project ahead of the release of their second album, and in conjuction with the debut of their stylish video for “Karatin”.
Can you tell us how the project came together?
Kurs Valüt: In the Module club smoking area late at night electronic engineers and DJs often admit, that they love to listen to minimal wave music. The key difference between the minimal wave and what we performed earlier is the vocal component. In 2017 we attempted to sing words. Only a few take the risk of following this direction from the cozy format of instrumental live or DJing, but our step in this direction was pretty successful.
What is Dnipropop? And what sounds and bands inspire this kind of music?
KV: Dnipropop is a simple answer to the difficult question of “What exactly are we playing?” We play EBM mixed with synth-pop, electro, italo-disco, techno, and even syncopated structures hinting to the drum-n-bass past of the city of Dnipro. Dnipro-city plus singing of words equals Dnipro-Pop. The mentioned genres can be mixed in any proportion to each other, but the rule of minimality of music is invariably.
What is the dark underground music scene currently like in Ukraine? Or rather what was it like before COVID? What clubs would you perform at, and who are your peers in the music scene?
KV: The very appearance of Kurs Valüt is partly caused by the underdevelopment of the dark underground in Ukraine. The moment of the absence of the subculture itself, thematic festivals, events for Gothic or Post Punk music fans. On the dance floor, we observe a mess of ages and styles. We will not be mistaken if we assume that our project is interesting to the listener by the unusual Ukrainian-language versification and, secondly, by the exclusivity of the musical genre on a local scene. This is the result of a long disconnect of Ukraine from cultural processes in Europe and the World.
With your permission, we will refrain from answering the question about “peers” in our genre segment in Ukraine. We just didn’t measure the significance and impact. But we are pleased to mention such projects as Oleksiy Dyachkov (real Ukrainian synth-punk), Garden Krist (darkwave in all its forms), Spekulant (luxurious Kyiv-electro), Mariana Klochko (the future of our scene), and, of course, Ship Her Son (EBM, Industrial, Dnipropop)
Why are you called Kurs Valüt, and why make the second album self-titled?
KV: Kurs Valüt meaning is the current ratio of prices of internationally convertible monetary units, which in such a crisis countries as Ukraine became a daily continuing interest. In addition, the name looks beautiful in Latin transcription with umlaut. And the second LP is so full of hidden meanings that we didn’t want to multiply by adding a complex title to the cover. The measure is useful here.
How has the writing and creative process changed since the release of Veselo?
KV: The process changes every day. Although it never looked like work. Rather, a game playing and fixing momentary states of mind in the form of text in notes, or humming a melody into a dictaphone, or, if you’re lucky, a quick sketch into an Ableton. Music (and art in general) is about state, air, vibe, which are difficult to correctly describe with the available arsenal of words.
Can you tell us about what went into writing Karantin and any other background information about it?
KV: “Karantin” (means Quarantine) was created long before the pandemic and lockdown. It is about the extreme state of consciousness that the author underwent in one evening. Interrupted communication. Disappearing voices. Heat and cold, light and darkness, horror and absolute peace. It was a nice evening. A kind of quarantine. Asceticism. Escape.
Can you tell us about the production of the video, who worked on it, and what themes are being explored in it?
KV: The principled position of the band is not to rely on semantic content. Videos are just spots that move in time. We’re trying to make the spots look and move with minimal grace. Suprematism can be considered the graphic equivalent of minimal wave. This is when a strict spot, like a cell nucleus, floats in a white vacuole of an empty canvas, being in compositional balance. Technically clip was filmed during one evening in Module club with iPhone and all postproduction was made by ourselves, as we following DIY concept of our work, until we will find other people, who will fit into our workflow regarding video production.
Are there any other tracks on the new LP we should watch out for?
KV: We certainly hope for interest in all of the tracks on the album, because it came out much more diverse in terms of genre. But personally, we are especially toned by the tracks Superintendent, Nadra, Instrument and Kurs Valüt.
Are you aiming to perform live in promotion of the new album once it is feasible to do so? And if so, where do you look forward to playing?
KV: In July we will present the album at the clubs, that are significant for us in Kyiv (Club Otel’) and Dnipro (Club Module). This is possible, as now there is a phased lifting of quarantine restrictions. In addition, an open-air festival Dnipropop is scheduled for September in the abandoned Dnipro zoo. The dates are being specified while we write these lines.
The black and white accompanying video is an entrancing slow-motion, minimalist dive into the world of Kurs Valüt.
Kurs Valüt’s self-titled album is out on the 26th of June 2021 via No EMB Blanc.