Directory Free Newsletter Contact  

Profiles: Professional Watch                      Solo Act

East Beats: the prominence of DJ Roment in Vancouver’s Eastern European club scene 

By Malcolm Morgan, Canadian Section Editor

When it comes to djing, what does it take to be the best in the biz? 

Lone ranger 

             Roman Radomsky, known professionally as DJ Roment, sits juggling his cell phone and a pack of smokes with an ultra-cool manner that could only belong to a leader in Vancouver’s club circuit.   

             The 22-year-old Ukrainian native’s voice during the interview, relaxed back in the throat, to the point of being at times only vaguely audible, reinforces the sense of his own security in his industry power position.   

             On top of this, he buys me a coffee, not the other way around.  The dude knows when he’s in control.  And he should: Radomsky is the premier beat master for the throng of young Russians, Ukrainians and other Eastern European nationals filling the venues of Artiom Balykin’s Baltika Russian Club, the single remaining Russian youth-focussed club party series in town. 

            Balykin has been Radomsky’s steady employer for the year or so that the Baltika party scene has been alive.  This was a wise hiring decision, as Rodomsky is an obvious crowd favorite – to the extent that when guest DJs are booked to appear at Balykin’s party, for example, a Russian pair from Seattle who often alternates with Radomsky during the course of a night, club regulars approach Radomsky with praise for his work and critiques of theirs. 

           When you’ve got it, you’ve got it – and you let the music speak for you, while you drawl matter-of-factly with minimal vigour.  But just where did DJ Roment get it? 

Sound training  

            Leaving his birthplace of Kiev, Ukraine due to the 1991 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the half-Jewish Radomsky took up residence in Haifa, Israel for eight years, only arriving in Vancouver in 1999. 

            Radomsky’s DJ self-training began at that point, when a friend gave him the primitive equivalent of the turntable-amplifier-speaker set he uses now: a, Radomsky admits, junkyard-worthy pair of CD walkmans, which Radomsky used simultaneously with an earpiece from each walkman in each of his ears, the walkmans plugged into speakers.  With this makeshift DJ starter kit, Radomsky was able to teach himself to mix and blend the sound of two songs playing at once, one into each ear.  It was a humble arrangement, but it facilitated what Radomsky describes as his basic passion for the core material of his work: “I started with just listening to music, you know,” he says, “I loved music.” 

           This love soon found Radomsky “going on and on, and listening to music, and training [his] ear.”  He emphasizes the necessary step of accustoming oneself to listening to music, so as to play it back in a unique and compelling way, repeating, “you have to train your ear.” 

           Self-training on the cheap meant no formal lessons in djing for the emerging Roment. 

          Radomsky never entered the doors of such facilities like The Rhythm Institute, a DJ training program at Vancouver’s Boomtown Records, or the courses in djing currently available at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, one of them taught by a professional DJ who works with Canadian musician Nelly Furtado.  

          He is proof that desire matters more than privilege, giving himself his start on a bare-bones equipment set, confident that it would lead to bigger and better things.  

Owning the Russian party scene 

          For Radomsky, djing feeds into both his personal and professional ambitions; it’s a professional devotion motivated by a very personal affinity for the craft.  “It’s a fun job,” he says, rephrasing slightly to say, “It’s not a job for me – you can go to your job, and say you work at a gas station, and you aren’t really attached to it, and hate to go to work, but with this you love it.”  He concludes the discussion of personal tie to his job directly and simply, as usual: “This is a hobby…you’re happy to go there.”   

           Indeed he was happy to do it when he was starting out playing hip hop and rap favorites at the house parties of his high school friends, when he was a participating DJ at summer Stanley Park raves, to the point when he took over for the DJ at the now-closed Russian club that was formerly Balykin’s competition, djing for them at Alexis Restaurant in Vancouver.   

           He’s more than happy to now be Balykin’s resident DJ, his position as of 2004, working at all of the upscale downtown clubs that host Baltika events, making $150.00 per gig, and finding it “easy” because the downtown clubs have their own in-house sound equipment.  When Radomsky is invited for djing at an alternate venue, he has to assess the size of the room, and the type of equipment already available, then usually rent extra speakers and/or amplifiers to accommodate a larger space.  He drives this equipment to the venue in his own car, sometimes using a friend as a second driver if there is extra equipment.  The pay-off for this added inconvenience is that he will charge perhaps $250 per night – hourly pay of $20-30, plus extra to cover his equipment rental costs. 

          And, like a true professional, before any gig, he practices in his equipment-filled room at home, each time reaccustoming his ear to the playlist that he prepares for the night.  During the course of the night, he is open to readjusting his playlist order, saying “I see how the crowd goes, and see what works,” and what works sometimes entails him putting in a few improvised tracks.  To keep his material current, he gets constant access to the newest music, finding Russian techno the most interesting, because “it moves on and on,” continually producing unique sounds and tracks.    

The global sound system 

          There is a clear recognition in Western society, and in global pop culture generally, that club music, particularly performing and/or writing it as a DJ, is a hot choice.  It’s basically the equivalent of what starting a rock band in your buddy’s garage would have been 20 to 30, or even 40, years ago.  The pop culture music makers who become the centres of attention, eliciting the attention of groupies and, if good and well-known enough, obscenely high salaries for even a night’s work behind the turntable, as popular music magazines such as Spin have identified, are now headphone jockeys, manipulators of electronic sound, complete with the same dry ice and light show that the now prehistoric guitar jockeys used decades ago.  

          Perhaps we can view it as a nod to the influence of the computer age – that those we look to as our Jimi Hendrixes, or, to risk hyperbole, even our Beethovens, are winding music through a sound system, nodding and bopping to a heartbeat bass thump, while turning dials on a table.  Even the dinosaur guitar wielders seem to realize that if they want their image and work to stay alive, they’d better join forces; for instance, U2, the world’s last larger-than-life rock band, employed dance music producers on their 1997 Pop album, introducing techno and jungle beats to their rock sound, and more than one DJ has released a dance remix of one of their songs. 

          Radomsky, of course, is aware of the kind of status djing confers, admitting that there is a degree of female attention in addition to compliments on his work.  More important to him, however, is that he tries to use his European origins as part of how he markets himself; not only does he play the newest Russian techno together with other European dance and trance music, but he sometimes wears the jersey of his home soccer team, Dynamo Kiev, at his venues. 

          And he wants to forward his image of a successful European in a highly contemporary and wildly popular music trend as far as he can.  “I’m popular in the Russian community,” he says, “but I want to be popular all over the world.” 

          Given the hypothetical that he might someday DJ in L.A., New York, London, Paris, or other international cultural centres, Radomsky says that, wherever he went, he would insist on being known as a Russian-speaking DJ from Vancouver.    

          But he holds his Vancouver position at as much value as he does these ambitions, saying of his satisfaction with Balykin’s club over other Vancouver clubs he could go to, again, simply and directly, “I’ll be staying there.”  He also holds the Vancouver atmosphere superior to that of neighbour cities like Seattle: “I went to dj in Seattle, and it was a pretty small club,” describing the older, more laid-back Seattle crowd.  Of Vancouver, he says “here there’s more energy, it’s more wild, people are going crazy.” 

          Radomsky seems to be in absolutely the right city at the right period in music history, and he knows it, commenting on how central djs are to the club scene: “Yeah, because, right now, if there’s no dj in the club, and you just play the music, there’s not the same energy.”  Energy is certainly an understated way of describing the reactions his work generates, having myself seen him in action.   

          At the end of the interview, he strides away ultra-casually to prepare for his upcoming weekend gig at Baltika.  I picture him there in his Dynamo Kiev jersey, headphones with one earpiece on, one resting on the side of his head (both a practical stance for sound mixing and a DJ style point), and with his characteristic two-finger victory-like salute behind the turntable.  Keep it ultra-cool, Roman, and keep the beats coming.         

Roman Radomsky invites comments and inquiries, at:



© 2007 All content property of European Weekly unless where otherwise accredited