Our first ever published post was about an exemplary Romanian release from an exemplary DJ, producer and and label owner from our beloved city of Bucharest. It was about Romansoff's third and best release on his own Raw Tools imprint. We managed to get in touch with him right after the holidays for a friendly chat which turned into the cheerful interview you are about to read. So without further ado I give you Bucharest's finest raw house and techno rising star Romansoff!
Hello Romansoff and thank you for taking the time to do this interview for us.
Let's start with some basic stuff about yourself. Where are you from, where did you grow up, what food do you like (besides shawarma), what type of women do you prefer?
I'm from the Baicului neighborhood, in Bucharest, a pretty tough place to grow up in. Food… let me think… bacon? Bacon! Anything with bacon on it. Regarding women preferences, well I like funny, open-minded women. They should know how to take a joke and they should definitely enjoy coming at my parties, haha.
Before getting into music production, you used to DJ for a few years under the name of TROE. Why made you decide to change it, was it the natural next step in your evolution?
Well, the name Romansoff came up when I decided to start the label. I actually had in mind to keep both my old name when I DJ and use the new one as a producer moniker, but somehow the label turned out to be quite a success here in Romania and many people responded very well to my sound and to my name. So people started recognising me more as Romansoff than as Troe. It actually had nothing to do with my previous name, but this personal rebranding turned out to be a very good idea!
Speaking of which, what does Romansoff even mean? Where does it come from? I can see a hint of nationalism in the name, but as a fellow Romanian I can't make much sense of it…
Nah, it has nothing to do with anything you might think of, it doesn't actually mean anything. It just sounded good to me one day, so I decided to stick with it. I don't even think how I feel about it, I never gave it much thought, but I wasn't looking for a word with a meaning either. It still sounds pretty alright in my head.
Pardon my bluntness, but you basically appeared out of nowhere over night and sold out your first release in a matter of days. Do you think that being P&D by a behemoth like DBH had anything to do it or is it 100% the music that you make? Do you think you would have had the same success entirely on your own?
No, being on my own wouldn't have accomplished much. I do not have the proper networking to sell the music on my own. Having a proper distributor is very helpful at first, when you are new to this business, and I wouldn't advise otherwise. DBH helped me a lot with the promotion and I am very glad to work with them.
And since we're on the subject, how do you make your music? I bet you have an impressive analog gear setup rom which to dish out these raw nasty sounds from. What is Romansoff's workflow like?
Well, I don't have that much, I am not this analog head as you might think. Even though I like keeping my tracks as hardware-made as possible, I don't have that much analog gear. I tend to keep the process simple and focus on the groove of the track. I am actually very impatient, so working on too many elements at once doesn't cut it out for me. My workflow is somewhat unusual. I never finish a track once I start it. I always have fresh ideas and I start all these sketches that remain as such for days, even months, sometimes I just forget about them. But if I put my mind to it, I can be very productive in the course of a single day because everything flows easier when you already know what sound you are looking for in a track.
Why raw house, why techno, why analog even? Why didn't you just jump on the deep house bandwagon and make some easy cash on beatport? Do you think the deep house hype is over and soon the next big thing will be the harder, rawer side of house music?
Actually my music is not that raw in comparison to other releases out there. I would rather call it "punchy" than raw. When I make music, I always think about the kind of tracks that I would play in a set at peak-time or tracks that are always handy in a DJ set. That's why all of my tracks are more or less designed for the dancefloor because it's my main target. I don't tend to follow trends, I don't know what will the next big thing be and I don't really care. I am only trying to release good quality music for the people who appreciate it.
That's a very respectable concept and approach and we salute it! Let's talk about your releases for a bit now. All your records are vinyl only limited edition pressings. How important is vinyl to you? Is the limited aspect a marketing trick or do you want to keep it as underground as it can be?
Well, vinyl is important, but keeping it underground also has its benefits sometimes. I do feel there is a small buzz going around my label and it might be the fact that the releases have always sold well and fast! People don't know what's behind the logo and that makes it interesting. But besides that, I will continue releasing vinyl only records, it's my way of supporting the vinyl industry.
All your releases feature the label's logo printed on a plain white label. It's an interesting choice considering most white labels are stamped. Why no artwork or tracklist and why no credits? Is it a financial aspect to cut production prices down or simply put it's the music that matters and nothing else?
It's about the music mainly. As I was saying, keeping a low profile also gets people interested in having a listen and there are some DJ's who have an eye for the obscure, unknown stuff. I don't really care about credits, the music is important and the logo looks great on its own. I want to keep it simple and effective.
How is the vinyl scene in Bucharest and Romania in general? There is only one record store in Bucharest and they are doing pretty well regarding sales. Does it show in the gigs around town or is it still just a hobbyist thing?
I don't know, I don't go to many parties other than the ones my friends play at. It's a trend mainly, the vinyl industry has seen good income in 2013. For many labels it's all about the sales since vinyl is going well now, but I don't think they care much about vinyl music in general. I see a lot of new vinyl labels based in Romania though. They all came basically out of nowhere and I am sure there are still many out there that I have no clue about. I think it's a bit of a trend now, but any vinyl release coming from a Romanian label should be a good thing, regardless of the genre.
Yes, this whole vinyl revival comes at a time when the digital revolution is at it's peak with the ability to sync, quantize or loop in time using a simple CDJ and your USB stick. Do you think more and more people will start leaving their laptops and memory sticks at home and start carrying their their weight in records to every gig?
No, who the hell is that crazy? Playing vinyl is hard man. You always have to carry it wherever you go to, you always have to be updated with new releases and be super fast when buying them. Mixing records is not that easy either: they can skip and warp, so it's basically a "thing" that you have or not. It could be about the unique sound, the challenge of playing them, the pleasure of digging or just a trend. I don't judge people playing from laptops or USB sticks, I sometimes play from USB sticks too because it's efficient. It all boils down to the vision you have and always had on music and I think it's more of a personal matter, there is no such thing as right or wrong here.
Cool. So what to expect from Romansoff and Raw Tools in 2014? Any plans to expand the label and support other artists as well, or is Raw Tools just your thing?
Well, there will be a release from another artist this year, so not just my thing. I will try to focus on that aspect for a while and work on expanding the label's image and network first. Hopefully it will all go well, but I have 2 more releases from myself planned for this year on Raw Tools and maybe, just maybe, on a different label. I don't know for sure yet, we will see…
Thank you very much for the words and best of luck!