Artist Spotlight

PROFF

Russia

Progressive house is at the center of PROFF’s universe. The Russian DJ and producer, born Vladimir Vladimirovich Ershov, revolves his fresh sound around core dance sensibilities with organic samples balanced masterfully. 

In PROFF’s world, piano melodies patter like raindrops, and synthesized strings turn a breezy atmosphere into a chilling rush. His full-bodied percussion and silky leads can move you towards enlightenment. PROFF’s charm is in how he sustains and extends the range of natural instruments to slowly diffuse their innate emotions and conjure what he calls “magic.” 

PROFF’s latest EP Your Light evokes a familiar feeling in a new environment. His recent works have appeared on Monstercat Silk, Armada Music, and Anjunabeats, with guest mixes on A State of Trance and Group Therapy radio. Although his name is now on the same roster as EDM legends, PROFF cut his teeth over years of transition before and after the popularity of electronic subgenres rose and then plateaued. PROFF’s decades-spanning career lets us plunge into the evolution of the melodic house and trance scenes. He recounts his beginnings in the 2000s Moscow rave scene, which he describes as “raw, revolutionary and truly underground.” 

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He focuses on minimalism across the sonic landscapes that he builds. After steadily releasing singles for years, he is conceptualizing a debut album. PROFF also shares greater aspirations such as creating his own soundtrack to a video game. He has dabbled in DnB and techno, but when it comes down to it, PROFF holds a beacon for house music. 

We can take comfort in PROFF’s idyllic sounds as we get over the weirdness of returning to the dancefloor. And as we await the upcoming release of “Whale Song” via Monstercat, take a deep dive with PROFF and Gray Area into the roots of organic house, and bask in what’s on the horizon. 

What do you remember from the Moscow rave scene when you began DJing in the 2000s? 

It was raw, revolutionary, and truly underground. I don't think I will ever be able to open for Above & Beyond in a real bunker somewhere in the Ural mountains. Nowadays, it's absolutely mainstream, trend following, and boring. Of course, there are some nice clubs and parties, but overall, all the main events look like rock concerts.

What are the biggest differences in the club and festival scenes today compared to back then? 

Probably, it is the fact that the revolution has ended. EDM was so fresh and bold back then, [now] is just a part of the music industry like any other genre. Both states have their own pros and cons.

Your tracks are sometimes labeled “organic house” and you seem to enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors. How do you go about including nature into your sound?

Real organic instruments have some special magic in them. All these harmonics can’t be calculated and played by synthesizers. All of the beauty that, for example, the piano does with its pedals, hammers, and strings are like nothing else. For me, “Organic” means having all these tiny details combined into that amazing feeling but keeping the record fresh and musical.

How has your production evolved over the decades? Has your process of selecting samples and creating original sounds changed? 

I'm pretty sure that my music is a projection of my own personality. I'm changing through the years, and it is absolutely fine that my approach to any aspect of production changes with me. The main rule for me has always been “less is more.” 

Your track “Dark Magic” was featured in Rocket League. How have video games influenced you and your music? 

Video games always had a huge impact on me and of course, I always paid attention to the OSTs. So I’m really proud that my music was featured in such a huge project, but my biggest dream is to make some music specifically for a video game, not license the one that was already made.

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You are greatly collaborative and have a prolific library of releases across well-respected labels. What are the best pieces of production wisdom you have learned from fellow producers? 

Sometimes, as producers, we are all drowning in the beauty of tiny details, forgetting to find that one big idea. That main idea is something that will be memorable. Also, people may be having different tastes, but they always know if a musician is not sincere. Do what you really love yourself and people will feel it.

You have projected a debut album with many different moods and electronic flavors, what else can you tell us about upcoming releases? 

If we are talking about Your Light EP out on Anjunabeats, I wouldn't call it an album. It is definitely more than a regular single, but the album I want to produce will be a real journey through my vision of beauty, emotions, and different kinds of energy. Now, when I move to London, I’ll start working on it, but knowing myself, that will probably take more than a year. I’m really looking forward to “Whale Song,” my next single on Monstercat Silk, and I’ve got some nice music scheduled as well, so stay tuned!

What do you see for the future of progressive house? Where are you hoping to take audiences?

The reason I love progressive house is that it can be literally anything! melodic techno, organic house (mostly), these are all kinds of fake genres like dream house or vocal trance back in the day. It is all - progressive house and as long as it stays full of melodies, beauty, and emotions, I don't care what will be the next big thing.

Words by: Aurora Zboch

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