Exclusive Interview with R^ST

With roots in electronic music and DJ experimentation since the mid 90s, R^ST’s journey has been an inspiring blend of activism, culture and music. His name means ‘growth’ in Slavic languages, and it symbolizes his path of learning and personal growth across diverse fields. In music, he fuses hypnotic melodies with strong beats to craft the feelings of inclusion, love and connection with fellow dancers.

Following a brace of successful single releases on his burgeoning HAAI LIFE imprint already this year with ‘If You Wonder Who I Am’ and ‘Sinnerman’, the hugely talented Belgrade-based DJ, producer and label boss now looks to continue his prolific run of form into the second half of 2023, with the announcement of his latest original release and debut extended player, ‘Kilim Weave’ EP.

Hey R^ST, great to have you with us today. For those of our readers who are not yet familiar with your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be an artist?

For as long as I can remember I was singing or playing instruments. At one point I started taking education and career too seriously, I became a lawyer, climbed my corporate ladder in a big law firm, but during Covid the early urges had become just too strong and I started DJing and composing music again. Last year (2022) I decided to take my game to the next level and I started getting larger and larger crowds at gigs. I guess that was a signal to start doing live performances and start producing more consistently.

Who and what are the main sources of inspiration for your musical output currently?

I draw inspiration from everywhere – meeting new people, seeing new places, seeing good art exhibitions, or just listening to other people’s music. Most of the time I just try to imagine my surroundings having a good time listening to music and then reverse thinking about what kind of music that would be.

Do you have a particular format you follow when you get into the studio to work on a new track?

Normally I start out with a tune or vocal in my head and then try to build the song around it. For a long time I was obsessed with sound design and blending too many elements in my tracks. More recently I started thinking about the process as consisting of three parts: addition, subtraction and the nitty-gritty. In the first part I try to add in a number of elements to create a vibe, then I start subtracting those that are unnecessary to the song, and finally I focus on the technical stuff. I want to control every part of the process up until the mastering stage.

What’s your favourite piece of studio gear at the moment?

Probably my Model 1 mixer – I like to run tracks through it to get real analog distortion. The runner up are my Audeze headphones – they allow me to work long hours without disturbing the rest of the household.

You’ve just released your new EP “Kilim Weave”. Can you tell us more about the project?

Kilim Weave is an adventure into organic / deep house sounds. Both tracks on the EP are inspired by ethnic vibes. Kilim Weave came about after an exhibit at Silosi in Belgrade where I saw the largest collection of kilims from Pirot (these kilims are one of Serbian national treasures), and Ephelia is a blend of creole sounds on a modern melodic track bed – how I imagine a perfect lush party.

This latest EP is released on Café de Anatolia. Is this your first release on the label? How did you connect with them?

Yes, it’s my first release on the label. I connected with them through a friend of a friend who was already published on the label. I sent him the Kilim Weave, and he suggested I reach out to Cafe de Anatolia. I did, and they asked if I had similar tracks. Ephelia was the natural choice, I had imagined the two tracks being released together.

Do you have any other releases in the pipeline that you might be able to tell us about?

I am planning a release with a combination of melodic and organic house tracks. A few tracks are far advanced and I released them on my Soundcloud to get some feedback from listeners. I play them in my sets from time to time to get the reaction from the audience. Depending on how that goes, I’ll decide how to proceed. I would love to gift an album to the public some time soon.

What are some of your main goals for the rest of 2023 and beyond?

My main goal is to continue experimenting with different sounds and genres. I want people to feel the music as an element that binds them together, rather than a collection of exclusive genres, subgenres and niches. I’ll continue to try to connect as much as possible with the audience as diverse as possible.

Anything else you’d like to say before we sign off?

I just want to thank you for the opportunity to speak to your audience about this. I hope that this release will move people and I really appreciate the possibility of House Music with Love being a part of that journey.

Thanks R^ST!

R^ST – Kilim Weave is out now via Cafe De Anatolia: https://rast.lnk.to/kilim