She’s infamous, she’s Siberian and she utterly blew the roof off Snowbombing, playing inside an igloo at the top of a mountain to a select few hundred before playing to several thousand at an arena in Mayrhofen. Now on her way to the US, DJMag caught up with Nina.
You have a string of forthcoming US appearances. What do you make of the US community compared to your European crowd?
“It’s very different. Well, I still play to very underground crowds in San Francisco, in LA, in Miami, so that’s my crowd. But that in itself is very different to the overall US EDM thing. DJs press play on second one. By second two everybody’s happy. I have to win trust. The first ten to fifteen minutes, it’s about finding the right keys, and the key of the crowd. But this way it gets better and better as people get hooked. You get to win people’s attention in a less obvious way and when it works, it’s exciting and I think 'This is the shit.”
“However, I played at Stereosonic in Australia a while back and when I finished my set I went to check out Avicii and I was just astonished, almost paralysed to see 40,000 people raising their hands, so happy. It feels like the music’s not actually that important. However the moment, the effect, is amazing. It’s like the wind blowing, it’s so powerful.”
You’re known for your very distinctive sound. How has that developed?
“Here’s how it works. Looks matter, they really do. Music has it’s own face: artwork. All the music I like - regardless of artist or label - has the same look to the artwork. This trippy, acidic direction I’m on at the moment? it’s all about very minimalist, dark colours. I put a load of vinyl in a box, then I put them on the turntable - 30% of the time it’s a mistake but 70% of the time I think 'Yes!' and it’s like a kind of orgasmic release. Then I feel like I’ve been sent a signal from space and I need to show it to other people, to make them feel trippy, to make them feel different. When that happens, I love it.”
Artists like Swanky Tunes, Arty and yourself are playing ever more internationally. So what’s Russia’s own community like?
“I have no fucking clue! Decadance in St. Petersburg is a legendary club. I used to work in a club called Propaganda, they had a gay night on a Sunday, that was great. When I first started going out, I would go to clubs in Irkutsk. Looking back with what I know now, those resident DJs were awesome. You know what? I got a Facebook message a while ago from these five Russian DJs from some remote city. I mean, remote. Like, on a map, just this city and nothing else. Except woods. And bears. And oil. They play this vinyl only night, which is amazing because they buy it in from London so it’s expensive and half the time it won’t even arrive because post in Russia is a mystery. It made me want to cry! I just thought the whole thing was so amazing. So I sent them a massive package of records.”
Will Russia eventually develop a US or AUS style EDM scene?
“It’s actually already happening. There are so many artists in the international arena that are actually Russian. Across all genres too. I wouldn’t say I’m patriotic, I’m not proud of everything my country’s done, but whenever I see Swanky Tunes or similar doing well I’m like 'Yes my brothers!' And I feel it with my whole body.”
You’ve had your fair share of media attention. What do you make of the celebrity DJ effect? Is it good for electronic music’s profile, or does it detract from the focus?
“From my own experiences. I really don’t think about it. As I become more famous, then I have the chance to play this same genre of music to more people. I’ve been loyal to my music, so it feels right. I can have a positive effect. I’m a girl, from Siberia. A producer, with no manager, that created her own sound. That’s how I came into the spotlight. That gives beginners some hope. The more stories like that we have on the radar, the better it is for electronic music.”
Do you think your sound would be different had you grown up somewhere other than Siberia?
“Darling, who knows! What a great question. There are so many circumstances that can change your path. I mean, imagine you’re at a wedding, going to be married and suddenly a random girl walks in the room and you think 'Fuck! She's the one.' You know?”
So, is your own sound ‘Russian’?
“I make Nina music. But because I’m Russian, every song I make, there’s some Russian in it. I felt I was diluted, because I travel so much, you know? But I’m pretty open and I’m very emotional, so yeah. I guess I am Russian. I didn’t know before but I think I love my country.”
Nina Kaviz US dates
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 - Coachella Festival 2014 Weekend 1
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 - Sound X LED X Goldenvoice present: Nina Kraviz at Sound, Los Angeles
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 - Coachella Festival 2014 Weekend 2
Sat, 19 Apr 2014 – Harlot, San Francisco
words: ALLY BYERS