Interview by Kris Griffiths
After meeting each other four years ago in Rostov-on-Don, South Russia, PPK’s Sergey Pimenov and Alexander Polyakov swiftly established themselves as a pretty nifty promotion team – organizing the biggest rave in their country’s history. After creating a few ripples in the local dance scene with their 1998 debut album FEEL INSOMNIA, the Soviet duo soon notched up another momentous achievement when they released their tunes onto the world wide web – they became the Internet’s most downloaded act with over two million worldwide hits. Upon hearing PPK’s trance track RESURECTION, Paul Oakenfold knew he was on to something and immediately snapped them up onto his Perfecto label. Commemorating man’s first jaunt into space, RESURECTION lifted off on the 26 November and impressively crash-landed into the British charts at number 3. For their first trip abroad since forming their partnership, Sergey and Alexander came to London for a few weeks which is where I briefly caught up with them two days before the single release. Neither of them spoke English but Sergey did most of the talking. Both were in quite a humorous mood.
DJ magazine has championed RESURECTION as “undoubtedly the trance record of the year”. What are your reactions to this praise?
PPK – SERGEY: Well we always believed in the track and always knew it was going to be a hit. Ever since it was created four years ago in ’98 we’ve made sure that it’s remained unchanged and its current success hasn’t really surprised us. We never did any remixes of it and have never wanted to.
On the single there are five remixes.
PPK: They’re not by us but by other English artists.
What do you think is the best one out of the five?
PPK: Ours (laughs). The original one.
If this hit single has been around unchanged for four years, why do you think no record label wanted to sign you until Paul Oakenfold came along?
PPK: That’s a difficult one. Since we live in Russia we’ve always suspected that we’ll be cheated. Some small labels offered us a contract but we never signed any of them because they asked too many questions and there were too many conditions. But when Paul Oakenfold rang us up and offered us a contract we were forced to accept it (laughs).
Have you got your follow-up hits sorted out too?
PPK: Well we’ve got several tracks to choose from at the moment. We haven’t actually got round to picking one yet but when we do it’ll be out next Spring. The album will be released later on in the Autumn.
How do you think the dance music scene in Russia compares with England and the rest of the world?
PPK: Unfortunately, sometimes it’s a bit too embarrassing to answer that question. In Russia there isn’t really a dance scene as such. There are DJs and a few clubs but there isn’t much of a ‘scene’. There are many reasons for it being that way. Russia by origin has never been a rhythmical country. The main reason is that the national media, the papers and the radio, don’t really support dance music. There isn’t a single dance radio station. All you get is Russian pop.
What British bands are doing the business in Russia at the moment?
PPK: Everything in the British charts over here will be in the charts in Russia. English-language music is always represented well.
Are there any British artists you like in particular?
PPK: Yes – Paul Oakenfold (much laughter). No but really, we are old fans of the Perfecto label. Then there is Faithless. They are a band that we look up to.
What music did you grow up listening to?
PPK – ALEXANDER (piping up): Pink Floyd…The Beatles…(pause)…Pet Shop Boys (loud laughter).
PPK – SERGEY: I used to listen to a lot of heavy metal and punk, then in the early nineties I started getting into dance music and then became a DJ. I’ve never exclusively listened to dance music and even nowadays I listen to all kinds of stuff. With records that I play as a DJ, I rarely remember what they are called.
Now PPK is an acronym of your surnames, Pimenov and Polyakov, but who is ‘K’ and where is he?
PPK – SERGEY: DJ Korzh is an old friend of ours. We worked together in Rostov-on-Don for a long time. Then all three of us got together and formed a band and decided to name it after our initials. So we rang all our friends and fans and told everyone that we were now a band called ‘PPK’. The next day we decided to make some music so we got together in the studio and Korzh started to scream (Alexander screams loudly).
PPK – ALEXANDER: He was screaming like this non-stop for several hours (laughs). And this happened the next day after we formed the band. After he left we had to keep the name because we’d already told all our fans.
(Confused) Right, so what is he doing nowadays?
PPK – SERGEY: Still screaming (laughs). No, he is still working as a DJ in Rostov-on-Don.
So despite Korzh only being in the band for one day, you’ve never thought of changing your name?
PPK: No, no, we like it. ‘PP’ is not good (loud laughter).
This is your first trip abroad as PPK. What do you think of England?
PPK – ALEXANDER: It’s cool, fantastic, absolutely brilliant (laughs).
PPK – SERGEY: It’s hard to say why we like England. It’s totally different from Russia – a completely different country, different people and different culture.
Where have you been hanging out around London and what else are you doing while you’re over here?
PPK: Every Friday we’ve been going to Turnmills- we like it there. We’ve also been to Fabric and the Cross Club but we prefer Turnmills. We’ve been over here for two weeks now and have one more week. On Monday we’re going to HMV for a photo shoot, then we’ll spend a while uploading it all onto our website.
Have you got New Year’s Eve sorted out yet?
PPK: Not yet because at the moment all our efforts have been concentrated on the release of the single and the album. We’ll most probably be DJing somewhere like we did last year.
Have you sorted anything out for the near future?
PPK: We’ve got a lot of proposals now. Our first performance after the single will be in Hong Kong on the 22 December. Then in January we have a lot of plans for Europe: Finland Germany and Holland.
RESURECTION has the theme of cosmic travel. If you had the chance to travel into outer space, would you do it?
PPK: Alex really wants to, and I’d really like to but I’m too scared. I’ve actually purchased a plot of land on the moon so there is actually somewhere for me to fly to (laughs).
Did Russia qualify for the World Cup?
PPK – SERGEY: No… (pause)…I mean yes, of course. We’ve been working so hard recently we’ve lost track of what’s going on in football. The last time we were at a football match was when Spartak Moscow beat Arsenal. We got very drunk that night.
PPK – ALEXANDER: (Loudly) Four – one!
PPK – SERGEY: A football fan in Russia is a very dangerous person when there’s lots of vodka involved. (Alexander does a quality impression of a drunken hooligan).
And on that raucous note, the interview draws to a close. RESURECTION entered the UK Top 40 at number 3 on the 26 November. The album release will follow very soon. In the World Cup draw Russia ended up in the relatively easy group H along with Tunisia, Belgium and the host nation Japan. Good luck to the boys and their country.