A place for concentrated solitude, self-discovery and self-expression – this is how the Ukrainian music producer Koloah defines Kyiv in his music videos.
In his minimal video for “Phenix Polyth,” a track which combines electronica with ambient guitar and heavy rhythms, the dancers of Apache Crew move expressively in one of Kyiv’s abandoned swimming pools in Darnitsa neighborhood. Blending modern dance techniques including finger-tutting and “bone breaking”, the dancers Anatolii Sachivko and Liza Riabinina describe the fragility of close relationships. And despite their expressive complicated arm movements – sharp hands moving to and from the knees to the sound of the heavy beat – the pair remain fixed and focused on self-reflection. The space of the old pastel-hued public swimming pool has an almost post-apocalyptic feeling to it.
In the video for “Dreamer”, which was directed by Koloah himself, Apache Crew’s dancer Dmitriy Chernyavskiy rides an old Soviet barge. He moves slowly on the Dnipro river, watching Kyiv’s skyline while Koloah’s retro synths create a dreamy atmosphere. Starting at Rybalsky bridge the barge slowly moves to The Harbour Bridge. The character stretches his back when passing the Metro Bridge, and trying to understand how he feels, what’s happening to him, until he is reborn in the vibrant pink neon lights, dancing in this new world that he created and realizes the creative energy that he has. By the power of the imagination he has changed reality, while the barge continues moving towards the Patona Bridge.
Either it’s an old swimming pool or the old Soviet barge, the videos depict a new generation of young people in Kyiv who are literally dancing on the ruins of the old days, trying to discover their own way of living. Both videos are successful collaborations between Koloah and Apache Crew. Founded in 2014, this modern dance collective has appeared in a variety of Ukrainian music videos from the jazz-collective Pokaz Trio to the pop-singer Jamala.
Dmitriy Avksentiev aka Koloah is one of the new faces of Ukrainian electronic music. Being a highly productive music producer, he performs under multiple names. As Voin Oruwu focusing on heavy, raw electronic sound he performed last year at Berlin’s Berghain during the Cxema Backstage party and at Boiler Room party in Kyiv. He defines his other project, Tropical Echobird, as “music for after hours”. Avksentiev organized parties, produced music for other Ukrainian artists (among his recent works was the magnificent album “Enigma” by Lucy) and even wrote the music for Apache Crew’s dance routine during 2017’s Eurovision in Kyiv.
When creating music for his 2019’s album “Salon Imaginalis” Koloah, who studied film directing in the university, emphasized in his interviews that it was important for him to have a cinematic quality in his music. He defines the inspiration of the album in his childhood memories of the shady 1990s video-salons in his hometown of Kropyvnytskyi, small smoky rooms where visitors viewed the film on a TV or were able to rent a bootleg VHS. “It’s a salon of fantasies. The stories are full of noir, foggy, with many colors and neon signs,” says Koloah. The 2019’s “Salon Imaginalis” is the collection of tracks that were created between 2014–19. “For me, the structure of the composition is the cinematic language, where there is an introduction, a resolution, a denouement. I pick up the theme and the idea for a track as a structural concept, based on genres such as thriller, sci-fi, detective story or noir. Sometimes I imagine a couple of scenes, an object or a hero,” explained Koloah.
The metaphor from the “Dreamer” video of a man who’s moving forward on his own boat despite the waves and the wind can suit the career of Koloah. According to his interview, switching between different music projects is challenging and it is very important for him to stay true to himself and his vision for Koloah. The music “Salon Imaginalis” holds that special sound that he was eager to capture, he defines the genre as “forward thinking electronic music”.