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Your Need Tour: Kedr Livanskiy at Rozz-Tox

by Cole Otting

Photos by Ellie Zupancic

Kedr Livanskiy: electronic artist from Moscow, Russia Photo by Ellie Zupancic

Kedr Livanskiy: electronic artist from Moscow, Russia
Photo by Ellie Zupancic

Moscow producer, Yana Kedrina--better known by the stage name, Kedr Livanskiy--approaches the stage at exactly 11:00 PM. She is performing at Rozz-Tox, a popular Rock Island venue in Illinois. The space, often dubbed a cultural hub, includes a bar, cafe, mini library, and is riddled with old board games, VHS tapes, and notebooks which guests have written or drawn in over the years. However, in the performance space, Livanskiy is accompanied on stage with only a microphone, DJ pad, Macbook and a makeshift slideshow. The projections glide behind her through warm, dreamy hues and dark purple spacescapes. The lights are low, and the dance floor is sparse.

Livanskiy fiddles on her MacBook briefly before offering a short introduction: “my name is Kedr. I come from Moscow to play here. Let’s go!” The set begins with her deep house cut “Your Need,” the title track from her most recent studio album. Immediately, the precedent of the night is set as the four-on-the-floor kick drum bursts through the speakers, accompanied by deep bass, warm synths, and a sparse hi-hat akin to 90’s style deep house and electronic music. She grabs the mic with one hand and raises the other to the ceiling. Her mellow vocals cut through the mix and reverberate throughout the dancefloor. The juxtaposition of Livanskiy’s club-ready production and the intimacy of Rozz-Tox's audience space creates an ambience that feels both personal and transformative.

Although each of Livanskiy’s releases have a distinct style that sets apart one from the other, she seamlessly intertwines her discography of tracks that span many genres into a coherent experience. Her songs encompass a wide variety of electronic genres including breakbeat, deep house, electropop, dub and techno music. Her vocal melodies are the thread to tie them all together. She sings every track in her mother tongue with an ever-present vocal delay that harmoniously weaves in and out of her arrangements.

During breaks from her MacBook and DJ pad, Livanskiy steps to the microphone to sing. Photo by Ellie Zupancic

During breaks from her MacBook and DJ pad, Livanskiy steps to the microphone to sing.
Photo by Ellie Zupancic

When Livanskiy isn’t singing, she’s on stage DJ’ing and dancing to her tracks. She moves with calculated elegance, stopping at one timed synth hit and starting on another. She adds elements to her live sets that exude club culture and emphasize a dancefloor-friendly atmosphere. Sirens sound during an interlude before “Bounce 2,” an 808 heavy rave anthem featuring an explosion of crisp bass kicks and compressed vocal samples from Livanskiy herself. She plays with volume, tempo, and sound control during key moments of her tracks to create an effect that commands the audience to move, and the audience obeys. 

There are few transitions between songs. Instead, when one track ends, another abruptly begins. Livanskiy is not interested in the traditional, seamless DJ set, but rather in showcasing her production skills and vocal melodies. Although capable, she sacrifices mixing in transitions for atmosphere, treating every track as its own story and offering its own spotlight to perform in.

Livanskiy closes her set with the same song she opens with, this time with minor tweaks in arrangement. “Your Need” acts as the monolith for her most recent LP and the entirety of her U.S. tour: a euphoric and introspective groove, a clear departure from Livanskiy’s earlier, darker works, and a glimpse at what future creative projects may be.