For: The Warehouse Project
Purveyor of febrile, layered and percussive techno house, Nina Kraviz began producing in 2008 and before long had her first release ‘Voices’ on the Underground Quality imprint. Simultaneously making a name for herself as a DJ, Kraviz became a Friday night resident and promoter at Propaganda, one of Russia’s most respected clubs. Returning with the ‘First Time’ EP, which garnered acclaim from DJs and press alike, and led to the breakthrough success of ‘Pain In The Ass’. With a unique raw blend of House, Techno and Acid, Kraviz fast became a regular booking at some of the world’s biggest clubs and having made appearances at Fabric and Panorama Bar to name just two, Kraviz released her debut self-titled album this year through Rekids. Nina took the time to chat with The Warehouse Project as a preview of her appearance here this October
Before moving to Moscow, you lived in Irkutsk. What was the music scene like there and did it give you a strong musical foundation, or was that something you gained more after moving to Moscow? How do the two cities differ? Obviously Moscow is a lot bigger but how do they compare in culture and atmosphere?
Oh, I don’t think there was really a music scene. There were two or three decent clubs and one really good club, where I first saw a DJ playing vinyl. His name was DJ Depesh and I remember he looked so cool to me, like no other. He had these tight jeans and smart shoes, and he played amazing European Deep-House from labels like Paper and Svek. At that time, Drum ‘n’ Bass was especially big in Irkutsk; we had a really good radio show on an underground radio station called ‘Pick’. Just answering these questions, I am going through my memories and I have a really warm feeling inside, realizing how cool my teenage days in Siberia were! I think I might shed a tear now, seriously. I’m having flashbacks of listening to U.N.K.L.E. with friends near the river.
Moscow was different. When I was still living in Irkutsk, the capital was experiencing one of the most intense periods of clubbing ever. It was still very new and wild to Muscovites to go out and dance to electronic music. Everything was exciting and every event was a blast. There was a really high quality of music, spiced with a very unique, wild, bohemian Moscow vibe. Those times, of raves and parties, were priceless.
Considering you made your first release just a year after you started production, do you feel like you’re still finding/developing your sound? How do you think your production has changed since you began?
I believe that nothing remains the same. The world is constantly moving forward. It has its direction. The speed of this incredible change is so high that it’s hard to keep up unless you run after it all the time. I am not the fastest runner but I never wanted to be the fastest runner. I have developed my personal vision; I realized that the only important thing for me that really makes sense is the power of the moment, or as I call it ‘the power of now’. So far, my music has been a reflection of this. I am extremely sensual. I can be weak because of that sometimes. But I like it this way. And even the fact that I suddenly started to mess around with all those synths and drum machines back in the day is a good example of how it can hit you strong sometimes. Sometimes, you just feel what is around you on some invisible level and just follow something that you can’t even describe.
I like seeing how things move in life and as my music is a part of this genuine process that means I am also moving. After releasing my album I started touring a lot, leaving almost no time for the studio work. I had quite a long break but I already know that next time I’m in the studio I can’t use the same creative methods as I did one year ago. So if I happen to ever release a second album it will definitely be sounding different because I will be a different person. You know, I’m always so hard on myself. For a long time development, improvement and growth were the only important things for me. But now I see that to enjoy and praise every day, life is the greatest thing you can learn and really develop. If you really know how to do it-you will always walk hand in hand with time, so comfortably that it will even seem that time doesn’t really exist.
How did you find being part of the Red Bull Music Academy and what did you learn from it? It seems like the Academy is a very special experience for everyone who attends.
It was indeed a very special experience for me. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that it changed my life. Not only was it an opportunity to meet incredibly interested people, but also to test your own abilities with them. It was really helpful to gain trust and belief in yourself.
You released your first album this year. How does it feel to have reached this point and what is the process like creating an LP? What is it like being on Rekids and who are some of your favourite labelmates?
To understand how it feels you need to record your own LP. It feels just great. So quiet and calm with an occasional strong, exciting moment. When you suddenly see that so many people are feeling it, that is what it is all about. It’s like when you write a message to someone, send it and get a notification that it is received. You feel good just because the message is there so you kind of made it happen. But then you get a reply. A good one. You smile and you don;t really know why you smiling. Maybe it just feels nice.
In terms of my labelmates, my boss Matt Edwards is one of my favorite remixers, one of the most musically educated human beings I know and also my favorite person to argue with. He gets mental so quickly! James Masters makes everything work. And artists like Spencer, Mr. G.
I saw an interesting review of your album which described your music as sounding like the walk to or from the club – it isn’t necessarily standard music for the club or the headphones, it’s somewhere in between. Do you feel like you’re trying to create something that is both influenced by (but different to) typical dance music?
I am really far from that ability to plan something like that. With my album it was just about sharing a certain moment of my life. And everything that was around that moment. I was simply delivering emotions that were flowing non-stop at the time when I happened to be recording my dear album.
On that note, I think there are similarities in your music to producers like Nicolas Jaar and James Blake in some places, because it is quite a subtle electronic sound. There seems to be a growing number of producers who are creating music that is house music but not entirely based on a strict club template. Growing up, what were some of the acts you listened to as you became interested in dance music? And which acts now do you consider similar in attitude and style to you?
This question is interesting. But I am afraid I am not ready to answer it right now as I always found it very difficult to analyze my music on that level. I think I can’t be objective here. As for the bands that I used to listen to, my father and I used to listen to all kinds of pop, jazz, rock and even proto-electronic music. Mama thought we were all into learning maths and geometry after my school but we were much more into listening to records.
You DJ as well as produce. How do you approach DJing differently to producing?
Very connected. I think a DJ must make people dance. If he is able to deliver his musical and personal philosophy through the process of entertainment, he made the right choice to become a DJ. A recording musician is free to do whatever he wants on his own territory and basically has no real boundaries. The only force he is obliged to deal with is creative power unless he wants to be a performing artist. Then, things change automatically because he is in the public zone. So basically when I’m a recording musician (work in the studio and do not interact with the crowd), I have no obligations such as entertaiment until the moment I wish to perform my music in public and become a performing artist.
The main difference is an obligation to entertain. At home I can afford to be who I want to be in any mood I want to be and express whatever I feel via my music, and you as a listener when you listen to my CD are free to like me or dislike me. In a club when I am DJing it’s almost the same: I play my favourite and only favourite music, no matter where I am playing it and who I am playing it for, and delivering my personal view on life. But in the club no matter what my creative approach is, and no matter what mood I am in, I must make you feel good or at least try my best so you feel good. Because since you paid to get in it’s not my hobby anymore. Yeah. That’s what I think the difference is.
Where do you see your production going from here? What is in store for the rest of 2012 and what are your ambitions?
Hmm, I don’t have a clear vision yet but all I know for sure is that I’m already very, very excited to get a new studio and express some of the strongest experiences that I have collected during all those months of touring. Sketches are all in my head, rolling and rolling. For the next couple of months, check out forthcoming remixes for my album by Marcellus Pittmann, DVS1, Steve Rachmad, Radio Slave, Mr. G, Urban Tribe aka DJ Stingray, Jus-Ed, Fred P and many more. I plan to shoot more videos, so all that normal business. Ah! Almost forgot: my friend and simply great DJ Dor and I are starting a label soon. The first release is so good it already makes me cry!