Meet Vladimir Putin's Favorite DJ
DJ Fenix turned 600 years of history on its head as the first DJ to ever perform at the Kremlin.
In 1492, construction began on the Moscow Kremlin, better known around the world as The Kremlin. The compound serves as an international symbol of Russian political virility and the home of the country's President. It has survived centuries of tsarist dynasties, invasion attempts, the rise and fall of communism. Recently, it met the world's most recent unstoppable force: big room house.
"When I found out I had a performance at the Kremlin, I knew I needed to do something to show the best from the EDM industry," DJ Fenix tells THUMP about his history-making gig. "It was really stressful situation before, but when I played, I needed to be more relaxed, more happy. I needed to show people that the DJ is a good guy, he smiles every time, he's happy, to show that the DJ is good, y'know?"
Born Alexander Mamonov, Moscow-based DJ Fenix is the first DJ to ever perform at The Kremlin. A far cry from past performers like the Bolshoi Ballet or Stravinsky, Fenix took a crowd of dignitaries and upper crust sorts attending the Musicbox Awards on November 19 to a place we're all familiar with—the throes of ecstasy that can only be wrought by a big fat drop.
The weight of the occasion, nearly 600 years of history, was not lost on him. "It's really important for everybody in Russia," he explains. "It was a big responsibility to be on the stage in the Kremlin. I represented the whole EDM industry. When I started ten years ago, nobody knew about DJs."
Many in the audience were clearly not regulars at their local disco, perhaps unprepared for the volume if not the overwhelming feels if a dance music experience. "When I played on the stage, I could see a big crowd," Fenix says. "Some people were dancing, but I don't know who is politik or not. Some people dance, hands up, feeling the energy, but it's not like a club."
As a performer who regularly tours, notably throughout Europe, Fenix has an insider's perspective on what it is that separates the Russian electronic music scene from that of other societies. "If you come here, to Russia, I can show you what life in Moscow is like," he says. "DJs who work only in Russia, they take what people can already hear on the radio and on the TV. People who push music on the radio, on TV, they're old people. They don't understand who a DJ is. DJ is a really new word to them. That's why it is difficult to create something on an international level."
Fenix goes on, "The music industry in Europe or America, everything is ready to take some new thing, yeah? DJs, producers like Skrillex and Martin Garrix are young guys. They start to write music and they go up really fast because the industry is ready. In Russia, it's really different. I think it's the same in Asia. You don't know big DJs from Asia. Maybe Steve Aoki? But I don't think he was born in Asia." [Aoki was born in Florida and grew up in California.]
As one would expect, Fenix's November performance at the Kremlin was vetted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It wasn't the first time the Russian leader has given a nod to the rising star. "I have met him before," says Fenix. "I played on the stage when he became President for the second time. He spoke about young people and about sport and universities and I played before he spoke. You could say that I opened for Vladimir Putin!"
So does Vladimir Putin likes big room?
"No," Fenix laughs, before adding, "I think… no."
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor and was, in fact, born in Asia.