If listening to a DJ set from the back of the crowd or through your headphones doesn’t satisfy your urge to be up close and personal with the music, then St Petersburg-based TESTFM might be your idea of heaven.
Their online radio shows are recorded in an open studio, where anyone can witness the show being streamed live and chat with the DJ. It’s also a great place to find like-minded enthusiasts, whether you’re looking for a collaborator for a music project or simply want to chat to other electro fans. When you’re tired of dancing, you can listen to the music, flick through the magazines on offer, and enjoy a drink (there’s no fixed price at the bar, but donations are welcome).
Even before TESTFM moved into their well-lit space on the grounds of a carpentry workshop, they’d been throwing impromptu gigs at apartments and vinyl shops as a radio community. Word of mouth has made the radio station one of St Petersburg’s best-loved and most eclectic communities, with their live events giving the floor not only to established DJs, but also music collectors and wannabe performers who are invited to play their favourite tracks. You can also find artists on tour here, such as Que Sakamoto or Philip Berg, who host more intimate and experimental performances the day before or after their official shows.
TESTFM isn’t loyal to one particular genre. Freak-folk and dream-pop tunes are as common as drill and noise; over the course of their shape-shifting, hour-long sets, artists experiment with samples and percussion. Siberian synth alchemist Mårble, dance guru Kito Jempere, and Petersburg staple Ugamochi are among the usual suspects here, as well as Roots United, the St Petersburg promo group behind the annual Present Perfect Festival.
TESTFM is normally open to the public, although a detailed map is needed to find the venue, which is tucked deep inside a web of limestone buildings. This can be requested via TESTFM’s Instagram or fellow friends who have already visited.
We asked TESTFM founder Stas Kalivasin to share six of the most memorable sets broadcast on TESTFM, to give a sense of what the radio station is all about.
“Krayeved’s sets are a blend of genres. You never know what kind of track will come next, but you simply can’t resist dancing to it.”
“Charly B’s loyalty to vinyl is close to shocking. He has recently banned any electronic devices during his sets in order to keep his performances exclusively vinyl. Legend has it some of his vinyls are worth over $1,000.”
“Primitive, a member of hardcore band Bolo, can often be spotted at TESTFM putting on drum and bass from the 90s.”
“Timur Omar is one of the most acclaimed vinyl diggers in Russia, and I’m extremely proud and grateful to be supported by him.”
“Kira, aka Kierastoboy, is a St Petersburg local, famous for her performances on NTS Radio and Red Light Radio. Regular Sunday shows on TESTFM are among the few things giving her life after her return to Russia.”
“Tropic of Dancer is one of the regular programs on TESTFM, curated by Stas himself.”