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INTERVIEW: Technomate co-founder olesia

olesia is a Russian-born, London-based queer DJ. As a selector, it’s safe to say olesia goes in HARD. Think slamming techno, gnarlier 90s tunes and an occasional jaw-grinding vocal thrown in at just the right moment. Having played across the UK capital for Lobsterfest, Unfold, Riposte, Find Me In The Dark, Boudica and Inferno, she’s navigated fluctuating crowds and various club settings, allowing her to expand her skill and ultimately hold the dancefloor in the palm of her hand. 

Most techno heads in London will also know olesia from Technomate, the collective of which she is a co-founder. She uses the platform as an event, educational, and podcast platform to champion and showcase international FLINTA (female, lesbian, inter, non-binary, trans and asexual / agender) artists. While Technomate garners an online presence via a residency here on Threads, every aspect of TM8 is about nurturing London’s techno scene for the better, and making a tangible difference on the scene for those who are starting out or want to meet like-minded people.

Reflecting on the collective’s most recent party at Unit 58 in April, we chat to olesia about all-things TM8, what she’s at now, and a little more about her personal journey as an artist beyond her affiliation with Technomate. —Niamh O’Connor

Photographer: Michele Baron

Hey olesia! Thanks for chatting with us about all things Technomate. Before we chat about Technomate’s new show here on Threads, let’s go back to the beginning. Why did you co-found the collective back in 2018?

Woah, pre-pandemic feels like a different lifetime now! Myself and 3 former members of the collective were learning to DJ at the time. Every week we came together to practise; exchange tracks; teach one another and just generally catch up to talk about all things music. The idea to start an event came up organically. We all recognized the gap of proper platforms geared towards marginalised beginners in the scene, providing a safe space to make mistakes and embrace their newbie status. Everyone needs to start somewhere, so we created a space in which we could enable ourselves and inspire others to make their first steps in the industry.

How has the collective evolved over the last four years? As in, who is currently in the collective and what kind of projects are currently under the Technomate platform? 

We started out doing free parties in a pub basement, and over the last 4 years (minus two, thanks to the pandemic!) our parties have grown in capacity and have become a lot more geared towards queer folx. We now exclusively represent *FLINTA (female, lesbian, intersex, non-binary, trans + asexual /agender) artists across all of our outputs – parties, podcast, radio shows and .edu. Cishet men are still welcome at our events, providing that they are allies and able to respect and celebrate our values. We support allies with educational content that we share via our social media channels.

During lockdown we didn’t want to give up on the project simply because events weren’t happening. Technomate has always been more than just a party for me, so we channelled our energy into editorial content – interviewing people, writing features and collating playlists with *FLINTA productions. Now that events are back in full swing, my capacity to focus on content is slim as the events are my top priority, but we’ve kept up our bi-monthly podcast which is great fun to curate!

For each podcast we ask our guest one question – some serious and some very silly. It makes the listening experience more personal, and I love picking our artist’s brains, discovering their musical tastes and understanding the wider ways in which they see the world. 

Over the last few years members came and went, but I’m currently a one-man show. I run parties, podcast series and a bi-monthly show on Threads as well as our recently launched .edu event series in which we bring panellists to talk about all things music industry. It’s geared towards those looking to start out in the industry, and open to advice from industry experts. .edu is an incredibly important part of our platform, as constant learning is at the core of our values at Technomate.

Technomate has been a deeply personal project for me. It’s a reflection of the journey I’ve been on the past few years; learning and unlearning things, coming to terms with my gender and sexuality, and growing as a person. I hope to create a safe space where constant growth and individual expression is both accepted and celebrated.

The thing about queerness, there’s no definition to it. You just embark on the journey and frame it up on your own terms along the way. It’s never stagnant, it never stops.

What is the Technomate ethos?

*FLINTA folx to the front! Embrace change, learn from mistakes and put yourself out there. If you wait for the “right” moment, it will never come. The time is here, now, in the present. We’re all humans, flaws are what define us and make life so interesting.

Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. I think people in the industry often forget that we’re here to entertain, not performing heart surgeries. 

Technomate’s first-ever party took place at The Castle in Aldgate in 2019. What have you learnt about running events since then? Give us the good, the bad and the ugly.

To be completely honest, there’s a lot of gatekeeping in the industry. Many artists and promoters aren’t willing to make space for newcomers. I had to cop a lot of shit from venues, promoters, DJs and ravers and it’s made me grow a thicker skin in order to defend myself, and the ideas and values I hold.

I truly believe there’s space for everyone with genuine passion. Within a seemingly oversaturated techno scene, each artist has their own personal form of expression, and their own unique take on sound. Newcomers should be encouraged, not intimidated. Especially those who come from marginalised backgrounds. They already face discrimination in their day-to-day lives, they don’t need that in the music space. 

To end on a positive note, I have encountered plenty of beautiful souls while curating TM8, and would even go as far as saying that I’ve found my tribe. Having a strong set of values organically filters certain people out, which leads to forming a community based on genuine connections with other *FLINTA babes from London and across the globe. It has been so inspiring and exciting to meet loads of new, like-minded people.

And now back to the present-day. Technomate hosted its 5th party last Friday night. How was it? After you tell us, use one word to describe the DJ sets from the lineup (including yourself!)

The latest instalment of our event was truly special. It was sexy, it was raw and it felt really safe. It was high energy and good vibes from start to finish. Massive thank you to our TM8s, artists, venue, staff and contributors!

Alva: rolling
Lolsnake: euphoric
olesia: groovy
Tsuniman: sexy
XNBTNI: eclectic

As well as DJs, who else do you work with behind the scenes of each event? Any photographers, VJs, door crew or security heads who contribute to the beautiful energy at Technomate parties?

I’ve recently had quite a few people jump on board to help me out with bits and bobs. I couldn’t have managed without them!

Niamh O’Connor is our contributing writer. She’s responsible for all the stellar podcast, radio and event copies we’ve been putting out since January this year. Aliyah Husna has recently taken on the moderation of our .edu panels under their wing and they are incredible at what they do. Yiota also joined in January, and is running our social media. We’ve been doing rounds on Tik Tok all thanks to her! Content goddess.

Our photographers: Julio Juan [former] and Michele Baron [current]. Both just nail it every time.

Design hun Marco Cacioni who’s been an invaluable contributor across all our visuals from the very beginning. They are an incredible graphic artist who you should all check out / book! I’m very excited to hand over the design reins to Marco in the coming months.

From our next event onwards, I’ll be working with Safe Only Ltd – a newly established London-based queer security and welfare team. I love what they do and can’t wait to begin our partnership – as a queer-friendly event, safety of our guests is paramount.

Venue owners tend to be quite an unpleasant breed of people, but it’s absolutely not the case with Unit 58 where we do our events. Ed who runs the space has been a pleasure to work with, and so are all of their bar, security and cloakroom staff. Big ups!

Let’s talk about Technomate on Threads. Ahead of each radio show, how do you find or select each artist to contribute an hour to the airwaves? What draws you to them?

Threads focuses on the London scene and I try to embrace that sense of locality with our shows. I only invite up and coming London-based *FLINTA babes making their first steps in the industry, unlike our standalone podcast series where I prefer to focus mostly on international talent.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new artists, it’s always top of mind for me. I dig online as well as physically show up and listen to DJ sets IRL.

Outside of Technomate, you’re a full-time graphic designer. For the design geeks out there, how has the aesthetic of Technomate changed over the years? Do you keep up to date with (or care about) visual trends in dance music? 

I am currently splitting my time between part-time work and studying amongst many other things. ☺

Marco and I developed the initial branding & visual identity together. Since we “borrowed” our name from a satellite dish brand, we had a lot of fun finding references when putting this identity together. We looked through Technomate’s [OG Technomate*] old-school user manuals for inspiration; and Marco also mocked up a few 3D renders of satellite dishes which we use to this day and often project at our parties. Over the years we’ve kept the logo and some of the basic typefaces and gradually introduced more elements.

When working on Technomate’s visual identity we wanted to create something timeless; a simple, yet long-lasting identity which would allow some flexibility to it at the same time.

Creative industries are very fast paced and trends come and go very quickly. In my opinion leaning into trends too much results in a lack of clarity about the brand. Repetition and a sense of familiarity are very important in order to make an identity recognizable. Of course, with both of us working in the field, we’re up to date with anything that’s happening in the design world, but we pick and choose what’s reflective of our brand and would add an extra value to it. And we don’t have an issue leaving behind the things that wouldn’t, no matter how visually striking they may look.

What’s next for Technomate this year?

We’ve got another 3 parties and 2 .edu events lined up for 2022, and we’ll be joining the Body Movements Festival this summer. Keep your eyes peeled on our socials for updates! 

Leave us with three of your favourite tracks by FLINTA* producers and tell us why they tickle your ears. 

I currently dig pretty much everything Sara Landry puts out – love the raw & sassy energy of her productions. 

Samntha Togni’s latest EP on TITDM is dope – check it out if you haven’t already.

MarcelDune x Nara – We need to talk on Childsplay. Gun fingers material!

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