What is punk? “Punk is when the whole world goes crazy listening to your joke,” says Hespermen. He is the boss of Moscow label Private Persons, and it still seems surreal to him — “like a trip to another planet” — that the hand-stamped, 12” white-label records he puts out are beloved by DJs like Helena Hauff, Boys Noize and DJ Seinfeld, to name just a few. In 2016, there was a photo of Aphex Twin holding a pack of Apollo-Soyuz cigarettes on the label’s instagram. In 2019, Richard D. James dropped PRIVATEPERSONS006 during his set at Coachella. The label’s success is not all that surprising when you take into account Hespermen’s passion and dedication. “This is all really nice but I prefer just to keep working on the label, not to revel in it,” he comments on the recognition.
Long before the pandemic, Hespermen had his own reasons for wearing a mask in public. He doesn’t reveal his identity, saying that he was born in Siberia, he works in IT and he’s been active in the music industry for about 13 years. Staying anonymous let him start all over again; he didn’t want his previous projects to influence his new one, feeling that this would help him stay more focused. He’d often think about doing something more solid in order to reach the international audience, and in 2014, he was so captivated by American producer Gazatech’s dreamy, cloudy house demos that he wanted to get this music on vinyl.
Two more years passed before the first drop. “Deciding on the name, building connections and choosing the right partners — it didn’t happen right away. The image and the nature of the label composed itself, or I have just projected it from my own aloofness. I often come up with stories, names, tracklists for releases. And, of course, hand stamps. With some demos, I have to give them a run in my player for quite some time in order to understand whether they suit me or not, and what kind of story I can tell via them as a DJ. Generally, everything is very private,” he says, smiling.