London-based DJ and production duo Kiara Scuro are all about contrast. From the lavish breadth of their club sets, which flow through low-slung UK techno and dark EBM cuts into proggy rollers and euphoric trance, to their striking moniker — inspired by a renaissance painting technique that utilises light and shade. For Rosie Ama and Nadia (aka ZaaZaa), who met through a mutual friend back in 2016, it’s an approach that feels instinctive. “We’ve always played one for one, so it’s something that happens naturally,” Rosie affirms.
The pair’s first link-up came via the airwaves of Reprezent Radio, on a show they bagged completely “on a whim”. Nadia had worked with Reprezent during her grad scheme at Red Bull Music, and asked the station manager if he had any show openings. “He did, and so she asked me if I’d like to join her,” Rosie remembers. “[Radio] has been the breeding ground for Kiara Scuro to form really.”
A string of semi-regular radio shows and residencies followed, from NTS and Noods to Balamii and, most recently, Rinse FM – always underpinned by a dark, impulsive energy and a melange of body-moving club gear. It was during the duo’s residency at Worldwide FM, though, that they stepped fully into the Kiara Scuro identity, curating shows on everything from leftfield Polish electronica to Belgian new beat.
Kiara Scuro’s sets at clubs and festivals have evolved with a similar fervour, fusing the spontaneous spirit of their radio shows with their shared appreciation for progressive selections. “Now we have a monthly residency on Rinse FM, which we use as an outlet to give people a taste of what you’d hear us play in a club setting,” Nadia explains, “I think whatever happens, radio will always be part of what we do.”
The pair’s mercurial style has taken them to clubs and festivals across the UK and Europe lately, building sets with a disregard for genre and a technical precision to rival their underground paragons, Optimo (Espacio). “They’re unafraid to play whatever they want and they always, always pull it off,” Rosie says, emphasising the Glasgow duo’s ability to “connect the dots” between tracks by Julio Bashmore, Led Zeppelin and Donna Summer during their recent Glastonbury set. “I guess that’s what comes with playing together for more than 25 years!” Nadia laughs, “hopefully we’ll be there in 18 years time.”
At the time of talking, the duo are fresh from behind the decks at Croatia’s Love International festival, which happened to fall on Rosie’s birthday for the second year in a row. “Our set was really fun, lots of our mates came down and Nadia’s friends even busted out a choreographed dance routine,” she grins. “I think we’ve both had our worries as we’ve gotten a bit older that music is something we’d have to let go of at some point, but we don’t feel that way anymore... We’re just going to continue enjoying every moment and embracing everything that comes our way.”
In the spirit of breaking new ground, the pair have also made the leap into production recently, acquiring a taste for its infinite creative scope. “It’s like being able to recreate that feeling of playfulness when you’re a child, completely carefree and not fixated on outcome,” explains Nadia, “We’re still learning and growing but finding so much enjoyment in being able to immortalise our own tastes and influences.”
Their first track arrived in late 2021 on London via Brighton imprint Accidental Meetings — the sublime ‘Trance Would Be A Fine Thing’, a wiry trance gem that sounds like it’s been soaked in a vat of acid — and they’ve since released music on compilations by Leeds’ Limit cru, GODDEZZ, Müstesna Records and Ritmo Fatale.
In what Nadia describes as a “very full circle moment” after spending her teenage years cutting shapes in the Clerkenwell club, the duo have also just appeared on the ‘fabric SELECTS III’ compilation, presented by Love Hertz, fabric’s new music brand specialising in deeper, more experimental sounds. The debut Kiara Scuro EP is also on the horizon, which the duo attest is loaded with “both fast and slow tempos” and all the “proggy, acid and trance influences that we love”. Although, in true Kiara Scuro spirit, you never know what you might get – and that is really the magic of it.
The He-men 'Evolution 1'
Eden Burns 'Smudge'
Mystery Affair 'Trippy Candy'
n_o 'You Deserve Beauty and Spa Juice'
Medicine 8 'Love Of Tainted Acid'
Simple Symmetry 'Problem (Red Axes Remix)'
Pirate Jams 'Acid Party People'
Babylon X 'Milliard Prisma Cliche'
Shades Of Gray 'Slave To The Rhythm (Kuba Sojka Remix)'
Posthuman 'The Fixer'
Moonoton 'No Question'
Play Boy Joe 'Track 1'
Time Moden 'Kennedy (Ich Bin Ein Berliner) (Club Mix)'
Sound Factory 'Understand This Groove (Fear-E's '23 Revamp)'