'Don't be scared to experiment with sound, and think outside the box.' - TØTAL
Razmik Makhsudyan was born in Yerevan but grew up in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. He grew up listening to rap and metal music. After moving back to Yerevan he produced for local rap artists then went into techno in 2010. After a few years of playing as a DJ for local clubs in Yerevan, he decided to become a techno producer. In 2016, he introduced the live alias TØTAL which he uses to represent a headier and darker techno sound.
After years working for other labels, in 2017, he founded his own label "Death Bell Records" where he released 8 EPs and 1 LP. After holding down a residency at Nine Club, he was invited to Tbilisi underground techno club KHIDI. TØTAL was a part of the Bohemoc, Tooyn Fest, and Unsound Festival events. His tracks were played by Blawan on the Essential Mix BBC Radio 1, by Matrixxman on Boiler Room x Dekmantel and by many others. In 2019, he played Boiler Room Yerevan, and became known as the "local star of techno music".
How did you come up with the name TØTAL?
Back in the day, I was performing with my name, Razmik Makhshudyan, but after some time I understood that my name is not easy to remember for non-Armenian people. I started to think of something that would be easier to remember and I came up with “Tøtal”.
What genre of techno music do you make?
There is no “genre” in techno music for me. When I am producing, I only think about the mood I can create.
You have collaborated with many artists. Do you prefer collaboration or producing solo?
It is the same for me to make music alone and with other people. The more important piece is to make sure you are making music with good people.
How did you get started with music? Who were some of your early musical influences?
I started as a beatmaker. Then, I listened to more and more electronic music, mostly the darker sounds. Artists who inspired me were: Oscar Mulero, Norbak, Luigi Tozzi and Tadeo.
Who are the artists you look up to now? Can you give us the names and artists of 2 techno songs you recommend everyone to listen to?
The artists I look up to now are KamavoSian, förm, and WHT MOTH. A few songs to check out are: “Message (Remaster)” and “Her Loved Word Was Solitude” by KamavoSian, “Little Devil's Lullaby” and “Polar Vortex” by förm, and “Cangalia” and “Lv66” by WHT MOTH.
What is your favorite part about creating a track?// What is your favorite part about playing live?
My favorite part about creating a track is the mastering part, because it means that the concept of the track is already finished. And my favorite part about playing live is the beginning of the set, because I get excited that in only a couple of hours I will be listening to my favorite music.
Where do you think the coolest techno music scene is in the world these days?
We all know about the Berlin club scene so, I won’t talk about them; everybody knows they are very good at everything that is connected to techno and underground culture. Now, I am interested in Spain, Portugal, Ukraine and Georgia.
How did you learn to produce and play music? Did you have formal training with music?
No, I don't have any training. As I said earlier, I was a beatmaker in the beginning and started learning to do everything by myself. Sometimes I go on the internet to learn more interesting techniques and things.
What equipment and programs do you use for producing and playing music?
Mainly I produce on Ableton and with lots of MIDI controllers.
How do you come up with ideas for your music?
Lately, I'm experimenting a lot with various sounds and techniques. I came up with a very interesting sound and have started to work on something related to that.
Any last words or advice for up and coming producers and artists?
Don't be scared to experiment with sound, and think outside the box.
Interview by Hannah Kazanjian Brewster