Vadim Crafts Beats To Last a Lifetime

DJ Vadim and the Russian Percussion Hit Cambridge with Hip-Hop from the UK

Aside from musical mixmaster and producer DJ Vadim, there isn’t anything particularly Russian about the Russian Percussion.

With members British DJ First Rate and Brazilian-Swedish poet and vocalist Yarah Bravo, the name “Russian Percussion” just doesn’t convey the band’s musical and ethnic diversity.

Vadim’s music is similarly multifaceted, defying the simple classification schemes that dominate the contemporary music industry.

Labeling it “hip-hop,” as some record stores do simply doesn’t do it justice.

In fact, there isn’t a word in the current musical lexicon that could easily summarize DJ Vadim’s sound. Born in Russia, he has lived mostly in the United Kingdom. Vadim (Vadim Peare) creates his unique sound from a hodgepodge of sources.

Even the first verse of Genesis finds its way into his music, supported by a laid-back, skeletal beat in “Lord Forgive Me” from his debut album U.S.S.R. Repertoire.

“It’s just like different sounds to me, you know? I don’t really differentiate between a violin, or percussion, or emceeing…I just see them as different sounds all in a sort of hot pot,” Vadim says. “There’s elements of all kinds of stuff in my music, because I listen to everything, from reggae, to rap, to hip hop, to soul, to funk, to jazz, to ethnic music.”

Vadim is a virtuoso instrumentalist who works the turntable with a confidence and skill comparable to any musical maestro. In execution, his music maintains its own integrity without recognizing the traditional boundaries of genre.

And don’t think he doesn’t know it. Onstage at TT the Bear’s Place on Valentine’s Day, Vadim wore a subtle half-smile, challenging his audience to come up with the right words to describe his art.

As a live act, DJ Vadim plays his music with skill but without frills. Aside from the occasional head-bob, he never moves—standing in stark contrast to his bandmate First Rate, whose performance is sprinkled with turntablist body tricks.

DJ Vadim’s appeal lies not in performance, but in his innovations as a producer, a composer and a conceptualist.

He says that every single voice, every section of silence and every programmed beat of each track is part of an intricately designed superstructure.

One of the few sample artists who doesn’t use loops, Vadim is emphatic about the need for musical form and design.

He sees the precise organization of his music as a protective shielding against the selective pressures of time.

“I look at music as something that is timeless, something beautiful,” he says. “I want to be one of those artists that people will listen to in 30 years’ time…just like people listen back to Jimi Hendrix, or Miles Davis or Black Sabbath. They still live on. You got groups coming out now, like Ronan Keating, S Club 7, Spice Girls…that everybody’s going to forget about in six months’ time.”

He’s got a point. On the other hand, it’s not like people know where—or even who—DJ Vadim is. As an artist he has remained on the fringes of hip-hop music for his entire career.