Meet Lobster Theremin’s Maruwa: Russia’s Newest Rave Ambassador
A classically trained pianist hailing from Saint Petersburg, Russia, Maruwa burst onto the scene in 2019 with two EPs that have commanded attention everywhere. Following a solid debut on Mall Grab’s Steel City Dance Discs imprint, Maruwa teamed up with Lobster Theremin to release her On My Mind EP — an acid and trance-imbued junket with a sharp breakbeat foundation that plays like a rejuvenating love letter to ’90s ravers.
In addition to discussing her production process, influences, plans for the future, and her hometown’s growing underground scene, Maruwa graces us with a diverse mix of fluorescent and shadowy tracks that accurately demonstrates her astonishing dancefloor aptitude.
How did you first get into DJing and producing?
I was 14 when I started to make music. For me, it was a way of escaping the rigorous technical training that comes with studying at a musical college. I also found it to be therapeutic when it came to dealing with various teenage situations. I produced some piano pieces and songs and even played keys in a rock band (I still remember my Korg X5D). Around that time, I realized that the piano was not enough for me. My cousin used to produce electronic music, and I frequently visited his home studio. He had quite a modest setup ,with a Roland MC 909 and a few other synths. I was super curious about how some of the tracks I listened to were produced; that’s why I decided to continue my education as a sound engineer at university.
Being a student, I loved hanging out in clubs and going out dancing with friends. Gradually I dived deeper into a club culture and started to produce dancefloor-oriented music. I got acquainted with lots of local musicians and DJs, trying to compose music across various genres. After making music for five or six years, I finally got into DJing, and I feel blessed it happened. DJing gives me the things that I was lacking as an academic pianist — the opportunity to interact with people during the performance and to exchange vibes with them.
How does your background as a classically trained pianist inform both your DJing and production process?
It helps me with melodies, chords, arrangements, and analyzing other music. But sometimes, this knowledge can interrupt the process because I have too many rules and restrictions in my head. It’s often quite hard to step over them and create something fresh and memorable.
What are some early electronic records that made a serious impact on your sound?
I used to be a big fan of all kinds of moody and dreamy stuff when I was younger, listening to lots of Depeche Mode, Moby, Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and so on. I think it still can have some influence on my music. As for dance music, I’m keen on all the stuff produced in the ’90s and early ’00s: Underworld, KLF, Orbital, Autechre, Black Dog, CJ Bolland, Omni Trio, and even something from Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyk!
Tell us a little bit about the house and techno scene in Saint Petersburg. What makes it so unique?
I think Saint Petersburg nowadays is a unique melting pot, as people from all over Russia come to town, and everyone brings something different to the underground culture. From here, many various subcultures emerge within the framework of techno and house; you can hear everything from new beat and minimal house to electro and rave. Also, I’m delighted that a few years ago, TEST FM — an online radio hub and community — was launched here in the city. It has played a major role in developing the underground scene as it brings together so many musicians and DJs.
In your opinion, what makes a great music label?
Besides having a solid concept, I think it’s all about intuition and the taste of the label owners. The other thing is a compromise between releasing club bangers and experimental or risky stuff.
Tell us about your mix. Where and when did you record it, and what is the idea behind it?
I recorded this mix at home on the first day of winter, trying to combine the bright and dark sides of music that I love: breakbeat, trancey stuff, electro, and rave from both my productions and the artists I draw inspiration from.
What’s your 2020 looking like so far?
In 2020 I’m planning to continue moving in the same direction — to put out a few releases and possibly have some gigs outside of Russia!