Youth culture in the Ukrainian capital is on the rise, manifested in art, photography and fashion. But Kiev’s rave scene particularly stands out as a channel for the unruly energy and DIY spirit of the city. People come to Kiev to party from all over Europe, and special credit for that has to go to Slava Lepsheev’s rave Схема. Repurposing the city’s empty spaces — from disused factory buildings to a graffiti-covered skatepark on the riverbank — and providing a platform for local musicians and producers, Схема has drawn together a whole new generation of young ravers. Lepsheev started Схема in 2014 because he missed the city’s nightlife, which had ground to a halt during the Maidan revolution. From a small party for friends Схема has grown into a major rave attracting over a thousand partygoers at a time. Lepsheev and his team have also launched Volodia, a night seeking to resurrect Kiev’s culture of rock and punk gigs, and they also organise Схема Backstage parties in cities abroad, like Lviv, Warsaw or Vilnius.
What was the starting point for Схема?
It started from a small party for a hundred people in April 2014. I found a location in a disused factory, invited my DJ friends, printed flyers and for a few weeks kept giving them to people who I wanted to see at my party.
How much has Схема grown since then?
At the moment each party is attended by approximately 1500 people. In the beginning the team was just me and a graphic designer, and now it has grown to seven people, and this is not counting tech support, bar staff, bouncers, cashiers and cleaning personnel working at the events. We also collaborate with architectural studio Forma and the new media art school Blck Box to create new set construction projects and light design for each event. Last summer we started bringing foreign artists but most of the people who play at Схема are still Ukrainian DJs and producers. I am more interested in supporting local artists rather than booking superstars for whom it’s just another date in their tour.
Схема’s also attracted a lot of international attention. i-D even produced a short documentary about it. What do you think is the reason for that level of success?
I was dreaming of something like this but I didn’t expect it would happen so quickly and on such a large scale. I think in the last 30 years economic and political crisis has often triggered the development of rave culture all over the world, and our situation in Kiev is no different. What’s more, every teenager knows about techno nowadays and it is played even in small bars.
Do you think Схема is a Kiev phenomenon or it could happen somewhere else?
Kiev is a unique city and Схема was initially meant for the new breed of Kiev youngsters, whom I hadn’t seen in any other places. At the moment people from all over the country come to the party and we’re considering hosting raves in other Ukrainian cities.
What are the roles of the people working with you as part of the Схема team today?
I work as curator, dealing with programming, artistic production, visual identity, the planning of events and choice of locations. Executive director Lera handles communications. Other permanent members of the team are Dima, technical producer; Ihor, graphic designer; Bohdan, bar manager; Kostya, Схема Backstage manager; and Alexandra who conducts interviews for Cxemcast.
You also put on nights in different cities, for instance recently did in Warsaw. What’s the secret of transferring the unique atmosphere of an event to a completely different location?
We definitely can’t transfer the atmosphere of our Kiev raves to other places because Схема is known for its locations in reclaimed post-industrial spaces of the city, and for the use of architecture and light — we create a new set for every event. For our Схема Backstage parties we collaborate with clubs and promoters in other cities to showcase artists: the main idea for these events is bringing together a lineup of DJs and producers who are connected to Схема and share our vision and aspirations.
Text: Anastasiia Fedorova