At the end of 2020 Cold Spring Records released the official debut album “Devalaya” from the Russian collective JAGATH. The band name is taken from Sanskrit and means ‘world’ or ‘universe’. Even if JAGATH doesn’t feel connected with the early Industrial music movement, the album and its global approach both reveal noticeable links like the use of recycled- and hand-crafted ‘instruments’. “Devalaya” is a true fusion between typical Industrial elements like percussion and Ritual elements accentuated by voices and didgeridoo-like sounds. I talked with Gregory Skvortsov about the album and the project.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Let’s start with the beginning; how did JAGATH saw the daylight? Can you introduce the band members and tell us something about the input of each other? And what’s the original goal of the project?
Gregory: JAGATH never saw daylight, it is always in twilight… It started in 2014, we are urban explorers and we began to dig into construction shafts of a sewer collector nearly 30 meters deep. We found a very interesting reverb, I immediately decided to record something there, but Nils got ahead of me and wrote some music with a friend. It nudged me, and we began to go there and write sound samples, then made several jam sessions. Chaospasm and one of his friends brought ethnic instruments, then Max Wolf appeared with his homemade didgeridoo. We also played a big live show there, with lights, lasers and fire. All this material is still waiting to be released.
The guys wanted to make something more like Ethnic or Psychedelic, but I suppose my goal was to release inner demons, audiolize the feel of Post-Industrial age, ‘unveil life in the abyss’. I don’t really know why my concept won, and the other guys are sabotaging this interview.
Then I finally brought this party to the oil tanks located at an abandoned power station and we started recording material which later became “Devalaya”.
Q: You’re composing your music with hand-crafted instruments while recording in very special locations. This way of working clearly evokes the early spirit of Industrial music! Do you feel connected with the early Industrial music movement and tell us a bit more about this way of working? How does it happen?
Gregory: We have only some Ethnic instruments and mostly use found objects -junk that lays in the tank like sticks, metal scrap, rocks, bottles, etc. We also make our own things, like a didgeridoo made of plastic sewage pipe (which was broken several times), a strange sounding thing consisting of an IKEA metal bowl and a bearing ball and a gong made of a metal tray. I also like using cheap contact mics, clamping it to everything.
I don’t really think JAGATH is connected with early Industrial music although the spirit still inspires me. Once when I lived in a commune in Saint Petersburg, I found some local junk and made a spring guitar-like thing, then I realized it is like one that FM EINHEIT used.
Q: You last year released your official debut album “Devalaya” which means “Temple”. Tell us a bit more about the writing and eventually concept of this work? How did you create and produce the different tracks of the album?
Gregory: We were writing it for 5 long years, we have done multiple sessions. Then I just removed everything bad and stitched good parts together. Everything was (and still is) recorded on a single cheap Zoom H1 recorder, so it was hard to clean up the records, but I got a clear picture in mind how it should sound, and it worked.
Some tracks were augmented with didgeridoo overdubs and smashes recorded in the final stage, like “Agadha” (Abyss). The track “Devalaya” consists of 3 parts -basically 3 different tracks from different sessions.
Our later albums –“Agni” (self-released on Bandcamp), “Inodaya” (upcoming on NEN Records) and “Svapna” (looking for a label) -were much easier for production, they were recorded fully live, because maybe we became more ‘professional’, but they sound not so rich and intense, as for me, though they are different, and that’s good. And the concept always stays the same.
Q: “Devalaya” clearly sounds Industrial, but there also is a Ritual element in the production. What does this Ritual part stands for and what means Ritual music to you?
Gregory: Industrial Shamanism. We are getting really stoned during the recording process, by the way. It takes a lot of effort to get over the concrete fence in the end, and then get to home, especially during Winter.
Q: You already talked about abandoned industrial locations where you’re composing your music. How did you come to this idea and what’s the importance of such a location and the impact on the music?
Gregory: Post-Industrial and Post-Cold War abandoned environments always inspired me -around Urals you may find enormously big desolated factories (like Uralmash), hundreds of dismantled nuclear ICBM positions. An abandoned power station and its tanks is one of such places showing power of something huge but eventually unneeded. (Last photos of it, 2020, before snowfall: https://yadi.sk/d/4ctzBoPGYNojeQ )
I recorded the reverb of the oil tank, so we can take it everywhere and play live.
Q: Do you’ve concrete plans to play live? And how would you transpose the sound of JAGATH in front of an audience? What brings the future?
Gregory: We’ve played live several times in Perm and in Saint Petersburg, played at an open-air forest festival Systo and at an abandoned Red Triangle factory in Saint Petersburg: https://youtu.be/okMVGH-kQb8
We are going to perform at the Perm Wave-festival at a local jentrified factory on April, 24th, and at an abandoned warehouse, later in May, maybe we will even stream this.
I want to play live at huge Industrial locations officially, in front of the public, but I think it is impossible in our lovely totalitarian Russia, where everything must look nice. I hope someday we will play live in Europe in some Industrial museum (like Landschaftspark in Germany) or maybe even in an alive factory. Got some ideas of more electronic sound.
My personal future seems to be much more obscure than it usually is, I don’t have any job right now. And I see no future here in Russia.