Nina Kraviz the energetic, charismatic and alluring electronic artist living and working out of Russia has astutely appeared on the international radar with acclaimed deep house releases on labels including UQ (Jus Ed), Rekids (Matt Edwards) and also Naif (Phillip Sollmann). Carving out a refreshing sound signature underpinned by emotive, raw and textured spoken word heavily influenced by the late and great sounds formerly associated with Detroit, NY and Chicago. Nina talks openly, honestly and frankly about living for the now, the band she used to be part of Myspace Rocket and also chocolate cake. The interview took place quite late one evening in January over Skype and even though we both had no image of the other as reference the sense on authenticity, feeling, sensitivity and humour was very evident as Nina eloquently let me into her world and voices.
KID – thank you firstly and foremost for taking part in the interview for Keep It Deep, going back to your early days where were you born and raised?
NINA – I was born in Siberia which is near the legendary and deepest lake in the world Baikal and Irkutsk is the capital of Eastern Siberia and its around 5,000km from Moscow.
KID – what did you used to get up to in your early days?
NINA – My house was an example of records abused people, not abuse but real music lovers, especially my father. He has had alot of records and tapes. I remember listening to jazz music, but more like Elle Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday… maybe some later jazz like Weather Report. Remember we all: me, my father and mom listened to pop music from the late 70s . I remember listening to Fleetwood Mac,Brian Ferry, Grace Jones and to many other nice pop music,…like Chic you know? I remember not listening to alot of disco to be honest the only kind of disco sounding record i remember was maybe Marvin Gaye some of them, and urh a little bit of Randy Crawford this other singer. Then i grew up a little bit and i got my own personal records in my room and had a tape recorder and of course there was some teenage music as well. I continued to grow as a music lover in the house. At the same point around 1996 i started to listen to a very good radio show dedicated to electronic music …dance music mostly and that show was called Garage.
KID – how old was you then?
NINA – Well I was at school for sure and i remember how i got in touch with the show. I t was late, really really late and i never liked to go to sleep early so i was always doing something when everybody was asleep. I had so much fun being alone and discovering nights at home.
KID – So this was like your escape?
NINA – its not like i was escaping but it was just a very intimate atmosphere and its cool as a teenager to be alone sometimes and to have some private space.
KID – To explore?
NINA – yeah i found this private space..in my room with the radio… I remember it was really late at night,I tuned in and there was this one track by Armando.. I was shoked. From that point i turned into a constant listener, and i was always there to listen to my favorite radio show. I was recording the show on tapes to listen to it during the day. I still have some recordings at home. In Siberia. When I visit my parents (they are still living in Siberia), i sometimes take those tapes and i listen to them just to evoke some memories.
KID – Its also quite interesting that you studied a quite particular field, dentistry?
NINA – yes, yes yes i entered the dentistry university back in medical high school .I studied dentistry in general for 6 years and worked as a dentist so overall 9 years.
KID – You must have really nice white teeth i guess?
NINA – urh, yes i have really nice teeth, right!
KID – when did you get to the point of experimenting with music, djing?
NINA – I moved to Moscow in nineteen ninety nine and i was just studying my dentistry and i also used to work as a journalist doing interviews with my hero’s,
KID – Which ones?
NINA – With guys like Afrika Bambaataa, Jeff Mills and all those very special ones. Then i entered the promo agency and i helped to take care of the artists: bookings, flights tickets and visa’s etc and meanwhile at the same time i was studying. Some time after i started collecting Italian soundtracks for Italian movies from the 60s and 70s.
KID – any favourites?
NINA – Danger Diabolik or 10th Victim and alot more. I really enjoed music from masters like John Barry. Then i switched into disco and i started to play in cafes. But I was still into Chicago House and Detroit Techno though. So I started to buy records and then a couple of years later i tried the dancefloor… My first attempt was really really treshy…
KID – how was your mixing?
NINA – It was really bad, it was really funny! Because in the beginning there was a dance floor with maybe ten people and in maybe five minutes i made it one, i cleared the dancefloor, i cleared it completely!
KID – Do you remember which twelve cleared the dancefloor?
NINA – I played DJ Hyperactive and Dance Mania and Kenny Larkin and to be honest nobody was into this shit you know, nobody was just close to the point to really like this music, yeah that was the shit, that was my first ever experience or trial on the dancefloor.
KID – When did you get to the point where you started to promote your own party?
NINA – Propaganda thing is just around two years old.. Its pretty fresh, Propaganda is one of the best clubs i have played or have ever been to it has everything to see in a club. It’s 12 years old and its perfect in terms of sound system and you get a nice crowd. They are drinkers mostly they don’t take drugs or whatever. I wouldn’t say that 90% of them are music lovers ..no, not at all but around thirty % music lovers are still there and the rest just want to have fun and dance. I’ve been doing party called Voices and the concept is very sinple: playing good music, invite interesting musicians every month. I am very proud of my team. We are 4 people: Vakula, dj Vel, Sergey A.m. and me
NINA – Vakula is my old friend he is regularly playing at our parties, im like the head … mother of the project:)
KID – Mother or Dictator?
NINA – Mother of the big family, if i say something they listen!!!
KID – So you have the control?
NINA – yeah exactly they listen.. they have to, because otherwise i will be complaining . And thats no good. Believe me. Because if im not happy everybody is not happy.
KID – Its better to keep Mother Kraviz happy, do they keep you sweet with chocolates and cookies?
NINA – Yeah, kind of, yeah im playing everything from Disco to Techno and of course House. I really am so happy to invite some really cool musicians and cool people including Dopplereffekt, Marcel Dettmman, Jus Ed, Radio Slave, Efdemin, Cassy and all those nice people. Everyone has made it so special, of course we had some guests we were not that happy with. I’m glad to be able to organize something like that and in a few weeks we have Giles Smith from Secret sundaze playing!
KID – you have forged really strong relationships with UQ and Jus Ed who you met through Myspace and now you have released on Efdemin’s label Naif and also Rekids, how does it feel to be a lady joining the likes of Cassy, Tama Sumo and Steffi?
NINA – I don’t feel anything to be honest, i feel that i just smile, then i think that people like my music im so happy about it because until the last moments i wasn’t really sure about it and im so thankful somebody buys my music.I say hello and thank you! I am so glad That Edward(Jus-Ed) and Matt(Radio Slave) gave me that possibility to share my music with peope. It was never expecting even that i would be making some music and people would email me and say they like my songs and want to know the lyrics. I don’t feel myself as part of any movemen though i feel that im not lonely anymore you know? Its more family thing..
KID – Was there a point when you was lonely?
NINA – I am always lonely and im a very difficult person, very lonely and its not about people not calling me or refuse to be friends with me. Im really lonely deep inside and this thing is just so cool to feel your self a little less lonely you know you have some people who like your music and you have this certain connection… It warms you up inside. Your heart is not a stone anymore, which is cool and im very happy about that…
KID – Men and women Dj differently and engage with the dancefloor differently what are your thoughts?
NINA – i don’t really think it’s about the gender to be honest, i think its just the personality. If a person is a robot. if he doesn’t know how to dance. if he is out of the atmosphere, if music is a tool thing to him… I see alot of women doing the same shit you know playing like robots or being completely one hundred per cent professional on the decks, this is cliché. I don’t think it is a gender thing, that’s the shit.
KID – You mentioned you feel lonely sometimes, does making music in the story help this?
NINA – that’s tricky thing, that is really intimate i don’t really know if i have to talk about it but this is something very, very serious going on here, i spend alot of time thinking how does it work ,you know? The fact that a certain idea just appears in your brain out of the blue…That’s what always interesting to me… The Idea comes and gives you the right to you deliver something.
KID – any tracks that stands out?
NINA – I have many sounds that i didn’t put out. And sometimes i thought maybe i could make them sound better, sounding better..So I would start making them better and i realised in the end that no, no way i am going to touch what is aready made… i am not going to touch it, yeah it sounds a bit weird , far away from perfection… like my voice is not cool..or the bass line is not serious enough..I never did any rehearsals. Never used midi to make all the keys sound tight… they are all the first takes, like here we go.
KID – Like free association?
NINA – Free association completely, one hundred per cent, the song Voices for example is completely improvisation, i remember the moment i was at home 4am in the morning i was sat at home alone and i was just really lonely and i recorded this song. It was one take thing and if you talk about the quality of the recording or the way i say it, maybe i would change something …its not perfect, its far from perfect! But that’s the way it is…
KID – Your tracks have a certain rawness with the human feel, which comes across in your vocals and the emotions.
NINA – yeah maybe, i guess that is for you to analyse because i cant really analyse my music and i think i am not made to do that, i dont want to talk about my music because i know nothing, i just made it and here we are, here we go. I completely agree with you in that the main element or diamond is the idea, you deliver it sincerely, because you can have an idea but not deliver it sincerely. What i did before is that i was just making music. I didn’t know what i am going to do with it, i was completely on the road to nowhere i wasn’t even sure somebody would ever release it.
KID – At that point were there was no Nina Kraviz, no twelves and no releases, was you quite happy with just making music, having ideas and making them?
NINA – that is the point: i never had enough time even to think on why I am doing it..I started producing music just eight months before the first release. I remember Jus-Ed contacted me regarding the Voices when i was at Sonar in Barcelona. That was June 2008t and I made the song around four months before that and that was one of the first songs that i made. Before I was in a band Myspace Rocket and i really put everything into this band, and delivered our song to Greg Wilson who was remixing our song “Amok” (we did with Vakula who was apart of the project that time). And somehow we were in constant conflict because i was trying to invest energy and so many ideas but I never had a right feedback from them…They were like:” hey! come on! you are just the singer!, so chat up!But I new that I was more than a singer contributing alot more ideas. Then we got a proposal for our album from a British guy i am not going to tell you the name, and i said : ‘come on guys! why don’t we do this? its such a great idea! why don’t we finish these songs and mix them well! They were like always starting the protest and always like we will do it later, we don’t have time we have other projects. Then i said give it to me. ill do it, I’ll go to the studio and mix it myself, some of the melodies i sang and some of the ideas also. But they refused..and then the next time i said fuck off i am leaving!! I was like so pissed and thought what the hell. I am so happy i finished this band thing, because if it was not for the band thing i would never have started by myself. Just right after that i started doing this, and working solely on my own music and pushing me forward! That is how i started all this shit I really didn’t know were i was going, i just don’t know how to answer your question. I was just making music and i got someone to listen to, pay attention to it. it was pretty short period from starting to being release.
KID – NINA KRAVIZ is that your actual birth name?
NINA – Yes that is my real name yes, you spell it E instead of I KRAVETS
KID – The future what does it hold?
NINA – My plans, i don’t like talking about my plans toO much to be honest, because i told this so many times already… my very statement is that ‘God makes jokes about you when you tell him about your plans’ as far as you realise you are a small little person on this planet and you don’t decide anything-everything is fine. I mean, of course i have some plans but you cannot plan anything at all. I know only that tomorrow is tomorrow. But even this is not one hundred per cent:) How many times did we try to get in touch with you for example?
KID – Yes, yes, sometimes it happens or doesn’t happen but then sometimes you don’t know the force behind it, so what are your plans tomorrow?
NINA – I want to buy a tree.
KID – an indoor tree or outside?
NINA – indoor tree… Japanese one.. i am always trying to get some control and be better than today, i will try to be a little bit better a little bit more organised a bit more sensual to others and to try, try!
KID -Have you bought any new gear at the moment?
NINA – yes i just purchased Yamaha SK 20, and i am just thinking of buying a Minimoog . By the way..I really like touching real subjects, i like going to stores, touching and feeling the records… its so sensual,, to touch a keyboard , and stuff. Sometimes you want a synthesiser to behave the way you want and it will be like no, no! NO way i am going to play this melody the way you want, Nina! It will do some sounds like it is rebelling, which is completely fantastic! With software you can also do this but it is all programmed still!
KID – last question, would you say you are quite happy and content right now?
NINA – If i am content and completely happy, urh…how do you want me to answer? do you want me to lie or you want me to say how happy I am? laughs
KID – three options, you can be honest, you can be honest but give the answer you want people to read, or you just can go fuck it you ve asked the question i am gonna answer it the way i want to answer it.
NINA – I feel that i need to change something in me.
KID – Really?
NINA -that’s the real honest state of mind, actualy. I feel as if i was about to change something in me, im happy though, because i feel like i am at a very interesting period of my life and it gives me alot of fresh thoughts!
KID – Happiness?
NINA – i don’t know what it is. if you know tell me:)
KID – laugh that’s the million dollar question!
NINA – donno.. there is something i cant explain. something’s are so different but you can still call them the same thing..Like today… this morning i opened the fridge and I found this amazing, cool, beautiful chocolate cake.. I thought i had finished it yesterday but this morning by accident there was a small little piece of this amazingly, beautiful delicious chocolate cake. I was so happy to have this chocolate cake, you cant imagine!! I was so happy and at the same time i am happy because i am talking to you yeah or because, sometimes you are happy because you achieve something…. this is also happiness… or you fall in love..Happiness? Happiness. Different things. Different emotions..but only one word to describe it…something is not right here…
KID – that doesn’t happen so often, sadly?
NINA – i don’t know if it is real happiness because i have so many stages and the same thing is with love…i don’t really know what love is, i love chocolate cake!! i love chocolate cake, i really really mean what i am saying, and i really love somebody and i really love music and it is all called with the same word.. i am really confused.
KID – if i ever see you soon in the future do you want me to buy you alcohol or chocolate cake,
NINA – Chocolate cake!
K / D – NINA KRAViZ DELIVERED SINCERELY PODCAST 002
The second feature on Keep It Deep Nina Kraviz Delivered Sincerely and Nina has also provided a podcast to accompany the feature interview so the geeky, the great and the down right inquisitive, can enjoy and dance to the featured artist at there best! More details below:
KID – The mix where was it recorded and with what equipment?
NINA – at home. 2 turntables and alen&Heath mixer
KID – The idea or feeling behind the mix?
NINA – To play some music that I really like.
Nina Kraviz will be touching down in Londres Easter weekend to play at Secretsundaze alongside Morgan Geist of Environ fame, more info here.