Body Parts' Olga Korol closes Ukraine Series...
Olga Korol's exploration of sound began in Odessa in the early 2000s, where she developed an innate curiosity for musical patterns. Through local grunge and trip-hop scenes, she eventually found her way to electronic music and immersed herself in records, playing at major venues in Ukraine, including the renowned (but now sadly defunct) Kazantip festival.
Best known for her work at the Body Parts label, the platform has showcased music from an astutely chosen range of guests over the years. Now based in Berlin (where she’s been residing for the past eight years), Olga is renowned both for her eclectic and a DJ as well as her ability to pick the right tune at the right time. Never afraid to challenge her audience, she’s a most welcome guest for our Ukraine Series mix, and her mix rounds off the series with serious aplomb. Listen to the mix here, and read on to learn more about Olga Korol…
It looks like it’s been a crazy busy time for you recently. What’s been the most exciting aspect of the last few years?
The highlight of last year was things getting back on track after the pandemic. The opening for me became the scene of Saudi Arabia, where I went to play a few times for the Facts events. Since the laws became softer they started to be open to cultural events and it became easier to build a local scene actively. Showing out quality and potential.
Another highlight was the big stage of the Puls event in Timisoara. Was fun and wild in a good way. I have many shows in Romania and this event joined my top list. The summer was filled with CDV sessions in Berlin, including a BodyParts showcase. And the cherry on top was the Garbicz festival in Poland which was fabulous and insane in many ways.
I read that pirate radio was so influential for you growing up. Did you immediately realise back then that music was something you wanted to take seriously?
Those speed garage grooves in the millennium definitely did something to me and catched my attention. And I never had a decision to go with music seriously throughout my life. It happened organically. I just kept on doing what I wanted until I realised I'm too deep in it to turn back.
At what stage did you begin to establish and find your own sound? What artists greatly influenced you in this regard? Was it mostly local Ukrainian DJs or more the sound of the radio?
At first I was influenced by the local artists from my hometown, Odessa. I can name one of them is Eric, who we have the latest BodyParts release from. He taught me many things and at that time we had a radio show and beach parties. The sound in 2005 was different of course and it has been evolving all the time. But I can't say my taste has changed much, like I went to hip-hop or drum n bass, no. I started to mix with progressive, electro and minimal and now I pretty much like the same, just then the house part has arrived.
Did Odessa have much of a ‘scene’ when you were growing up? Or was this more something you cultivated yourself?
The scene in Odessa and Ukraine appeared and started to grow before me.
I caught some outstanding clubs in the late 90s, where techno and house were, but since then it has been developing constantly. At some point we picked up the new format, more slow like minimal house and dive into prolonged parties. Educated an audience which grew big and after years of work the Port club was built by the Feeleed project that was a peak of Odessa electronic scene blooming. Right before the invasion, the new generation started to take over with a sound leaning towards electro and techno.
Has it been difficult to focus on music with all that’s happening in your home country right now? Or does music help you switch off from the reality of it all? Is it an escapist thing?
Music is always a helper, but at the beginning of the full scale invasion it was difficult to focus on it and play at clubs, almost impossible. Also, because it was absolutely not time to have fun but be ready. Music is what I make the most profit from so I had to do it to be able to help family, friends and donate. It is unbearable to see people dancing when you know what events unfold. But humans adapt to everything and after some time the spirit gets stronger, and come to understand that you have to be the best version of yourself in order to do a good job to be able to provide the support. Then the senses came back and the music became healing again.
Obviously you’ve close ties to Russia too, with Body Parts being a Moscow based label. Has the electronic music community as a whole shown its best side during this war do you think?
Body Parts is the label group. It has its sub labels BP Digital, Mind Series and Tooloop, all registered in Ukraine. All the profit from our Bandcamp page has been going to Ukraine since the beginning of the full scale invasion. I haven't seen almost any support from the Moscow music projects and it doesn't seem like most of the people are conscious there about the real situation. That's why Ukrainians banned the Russian scene.
Do you see it as your role to educate the wider community more about what’s happening there?
Of course I do post and talk to people all around the globe, updating on certain events from the war, where to donate and it helps to make people not forget that we have a war in Europe right now. I would not pass by the possibility and make it clear again that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine has been attacked.
Tell us a bit about your move to Berlin. What prompted the move in the first place? What’s been the most challenging aspect to it all? What’s been the most enjoyable?
I’ve been playing all over Ukraine since 2006. Around eight years ago I got an opportunity to join a German booking agency. Since then I have started to travel and play abroad, which was not easy to do at that time from Ukraine. I had to get a visa every time I went somewhere, flight, train, bus connections were harsh and exhausting, expensive tickets didn’t make anyone happy. My booking agent prompted the idea to move to Berlin and start work on my shows properly. It took me almost a year to collect all the documents but I got the artist visa in the end. That's how my new career chapter started. It is challenging to handle the German bureaucracy and the tax system but I'm glad to have the permanent residency here so it is worth it.
You’re best known for your Body Parts label, which has been crazy productive over the past few years, and hosted music from everyone from Triptil to Zendid to Oshana to Nu Zau and more. How did you first become involved with Body Parts? What’s your day-to-day role at the label? How does it all work?
I launched BodyParts together with my partners D.Korablev and Alex Sancho 12 years ago. First it was two labels. A digital and a vinyl label, both named BodyParts, but with different music. We never released the same music on both formats.
We have many talented friends who were doing cool production but not many foreign labels put attention to them, or eastern Europe. So we created a platform where we pushed unknown names. It was a chance to expose ourselves and it worked out. Bigger labels started to follow our artists' production and offered then releases. We took a lot of risks at that time but when the music is good - it’s good!) Eventually we signed many known and famous names as well.
After a while, the sub label Mind Series was launched with more deep and dark stuff. And the last one is the white label, Tooloop. All of them are BP recs labels groups which I still run daily with my partner. Signing artists, looking for remixers, listening to tons of demos, managing with distributions for both digital and vinyl imprints.
You don’t tend to actually push much of your own music. Is this a conscious thing or are you just very particular about what you put out there?
Even though I consider myself more a DJ than producer, I love to jam at the studio, but don't have the patience to sit down and finish a track alone. That's why working in a collaboration makes me happy and turns out more productive. Therefore I release my own production on Bandcamp.
I really loved the record with Per Hammar from a while back. Should we look out for other releases from you both?
Thank you. Yes definitely! We have been working with Per in our favourite playground lately and completed two releases, which are going to be out this spring on Dirty Hands and Abartik.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix that you’ve done for us? How and where was it recorded and what was the vibe you were going for with it?
It's a blend of records and unreleased material from friends, upcoming tracks on several labels including BodyParts.
Finally, what’s next for you - musically and personally - that you’re really excited about right now?
I'm excited about the summer season. Have many places on my schedule that I've never been to before. Thanks to my lovely agency Forward Artists I'm in a very good place right now.
I feel I have to work harder and reach a level up which is a natural process for every artist every few years. Plan to spend time at the studio as well.
Personally I wish the only thing is the war will be over and we can start to recover. All of us can help today to spread the real information and donate!
Listen to the mix here
Please consider donating to Ukraine at: https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate-en/#donate-army-card-monthly