Underground sound
Free reign
Welcome to Johns’ Kingdom, the Russian record label in a realm of its own

We’re in Moscow in 2015. Tower blocks rise out of the tender blue fog like the walls of a castle. About a year earlier, 15 guys and girls got together in Moscow to make music. They were all from the rough outskirts of the city, and completely independent from the country’s mainstream culture.

What came out of it was Johns’ Kingdom, a Moscow-based record label and underground community, which has become an unlikely sensation in the international music scene. Set up by Pavel Milyakov aka Buttechno, Johns’ Kingdom united young producers who were used to making music independently from their suburban flats. Home to a dozen outstanding artists including Kedr Livaskiy (who’s just been signed by 2MR records), HIWAY, Jeff Boomhauer and many more projects and fictional identities, Johns’ Kingdom sparked curiosity from listeners, labels and international press alike. Earlier this year Johns’ Kingdom made a group appearance on Boiler Room yet resisted revealing anything about themselves or defining their art.

Last summer photographer Masha Demianova wrote to me saying she wanted to document the enigmatic group. Drawn to their voluntary isolation and the scarcity of their day-to-day lives, she set off on a journey to capture the world of Johns’ Kingdom. The project below is an intimate insight into what happens within the kingdom’s limits.

The Calvert Journal is hosting Eastern Promises, a club night featuring Johns' Kingdom artists, at London's Alibi on December 17. See here for more info.