Gritty house and techno from the Russian underground.
It would be easy to apply the word "controversial" to Nina Kraviz but we think that "honest" is far more accurate. We first spoke to the Russian DJ/producer at the tail end of 2009 as part of our Breaking Through feature, in which her views on DJing ("I hate tight mixes") sparked heated forum debate. Her thoughts on the subject ("everyone's so perfect it's disgusting") came up again in the middle of last year, again eliciting much discussion. What we're essentially saying here is that Kraviz has an MO and she's more than happy to defend it. The upshot of this is vinyl mixing, digging deep for her music and laconic productions. In terms of the latter, Jus-Ed's Underground Quality imprint was an early home for her simple, smoky house tracks. Rekids have also been a key imprint and will release her eponymous debut album at the end of February.
We could try and explain the message behind Kraviz's mix for us but it would be completely inadequate given her response to the question below. We will say this, though: Dance Mania.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been traveling around the world and experiencing some really good times. I've been meeting very interesting people. And they have been introducing incredible things to me that I have never thought of before. So I think recently I've been learning a lot...
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded at home with two turntables, two CD players, a mixer and computer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
The main idea is to present myself as a DJ. I was a DJ long before I started producing my own music. I hosted my Friday nights at Propaganda Club and played there every week. Since I've got the most recognition for songs like "I'm Gonna Get You" people often expect me to play this song or something similar. And I truly appreciate that people like my music. And I would love to make them happy but as a DJ I've always been more into playing acid house, for example, occasionally leaving some space in the end of my set to play my well-known songs. I always wanted people to appreciate my wish to separate me as DJ from my productions.
So I decided to record a mix which will be more or less about what I've been playing in clubs recently…simple as that. Of course I can play much harder (totally love playing techno sets) or indeed much softer—it all depends on the vibe in the club. But ideally I like spinning for three to five hours, to play anything that inspires me at that particular moment. To follow my dancing instinct rather than a genre. My instinct would probably guide me to the right place where I can finally get to drop a Dance Mania record. Sometimes I think that my only purpose of DJing is to play Dance Mania records! I love it so much. This mix contains some of my all-time favorites like "Blackholes" or Baby Pop's "You Know What I'm Saying," "Egotrip" or Pink Floyd's "On the Run." I shared some truly beautiful moments on the dance floor with these songs. By the way: I wanna use this chance to say "thank you" to people for sharing these moments with me.
You have a pretty distinctive style of vocal delivery, but are there other performers you draw inspiration from?
Inspiration can be very inspiring! I like Billie Holiday and her way of projecting pain; Grace Jones for her true narcissism; Letta M'Bulu for wild expression; Robert Plant for white voice of the century; David Bowie, Jim Morrison and Gina X for being David Bowie, Jim Morrison and Gina X in their very murky meaning. These are big names, yeah, but there is the name that stands out particularly in my world—Kate Bush. It's not really about the voice, it's a bit of everything that comes out of her inexhaustible creativity.
Your sound has always felt classics-rooted: do you tend to dig for old records as much as you do new ones?
I don't know if this is a bad sign or good one...but I am a "hard to find" track freak. I always loved it to go to the second hand record store to spend an hour, two, three there. My hidden diamonds are the only logical explanation for why it is so exciting for me to lose myself in dusty records. Even if the salesman is far from being a friendly dude, even if he's quite annoyed that you keep on asking all these ridiculous questions, that you ended up visiting his lovely store at all…even if you spend a day looking for a cool record, found it and a day later found it available on Discogs for less than a dollar (that happens pretty often to me). My heart beats faster when I enter a record store.
What are you up to next?
Continue experiencing every day of my life. It appears to be a true miracle. And it is not that I am a perfectionist, but I would love to be a little bit better than I am now.
Coming back to the music thing, when my album is released I would like to sing some of my songs live. I am working on it at the moment to be ready for my first show at Rex Club in Paris, 24th of February. It sounds unbelievable to me but finally I will be playing my own music for at least 50 minutes. This is very exciting and a little bit scary to be very honest with you. Apart from that I would like to continue working on my techno stuff that I never put out so far. I hope we can continue collaborating with DJ Stingray. And of course my DJ thing. I am looking so much forward to spin some records in good company! Wholeheartedly.