20 Questions: Nina Kraviz

The Russian artist talks about travel, her new label, cacti, and why acid sounds so good.
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photo: Obi Blanche

photo: Obi Blanche

At this point, the Nina Kraviz story is well known to just about anyone who's been paying even a modicum of attention to dance music over the past few years. Born in Siberia and trained as a dentist, Kraviz worked her way into the electronic music circuit and eventually became one of the world's most recognizable DJs. She's prompted plenty of conversation (some might say controversy) along the way, but most of the recent chatter has been squarely focused on her music, namely her excellent recent entry in the esteemed DJ-Kicks mix series. In hopes of unearthing a few new facts about Kraviz, we asked the Russian artist to withstand a barrage of queries for the latest edition of 20 Questions. As it turns out, she was more than up to the task.

1. Where were you born and raised?
In Siberia, 50 miles away from the deepest lake in the world.

2. Where do you now call home and how do you like it?
Berlin. I love it.

3. Who or what do you miss most when you are on the road, and why?
I miss the routine of my everyday life, martial arts and German classes.

4. What is the hardest thing you have learned since becoming a full-time artist?
To stay awake when I should have been in bed a long time ago.


5. You post lots of pictures of you doing stuff while on tour. Do you stay extra long in places to do tourist things? Or do you just force yourself to go out when you might rather sleep?
My job is the perfect chance to explore new countries and integrate into different cultures. I am very curious and excited to meet new people, enjoy local food, and learn the basics of their language. I find this experience truly inspiring.

6. What is the one thing everyone gets wrong about you?
Everyone is clever enough and gets it right about me.

7. What was the last thing that made you really laugh and why?
My boyfriend's refusal to marry me. It's hilarious.

8. What was the last book you read?
Hiromi Shinya's The Enzyme Factor.

9. You have a clear affinity for acid. Why is that and can you describe what it does to you when you hear it?
It just feels right. Every time I listen to it, it's like aliens have landed and are talking to me.

10. When writing music, do you always start with a specific idea, or do you just experiment until you find something you like?
It comes across in a very unpredictable, spontaneous way, with my inspiration as a central point. Normally I feel like my muse comes to me, then I connect everything quickly, hit the "record" button, and start fooling around with a melody or an idea in my head. Then my synth will suddenly do something crazy and I deviate into a totally different direction. In the end, out of an hour of live recording, I only leave the best mistakes, authentic-sounding sporadic moments in between wonky harmonies that sound the most interesting.


11. Tell us about the new label, трип, and why you have decided to start one now. What is the main reason for starting one up?
I have reached the point where I have developed a certain musical sense and I didn't see a place where this kind of sound would be presented in a proper way. So I thought it was time for me to create an independent platform where this aesthetic could find its home. Every трип release has a story, a trip behind it. They are not just random various artists. That's not the point. All of the music is connected and is visualized graphically and sonically according to a concrete narrative.

12. Will you release music by anyone, or must you know and have a relationship with artists before they appear on трип?
The most important thing is to find great music that will resonate with my musical vision in the sense of groove, texture, and spirit. It can be a legend or a total stranger.

13. What is the best trip—of any sort—you have ever been on?
When I played Coachella, I went to Joshua Tree park and got lost there counting cacti.

14. About the DJ Kicks—did you set out to represent yourself or a certain side of you, or did you just put together a club-style mix?
I recorded a mix inspired by some of my musical background. Psychedelic rock, dreamy '90s techno from Detroit, New York, Stockholm, and Reykjavik. Dusty house from Chicago. IDM and Italo disco. This music seems perfectly connected to me. When I was thinking about the right concept for my mix, Goldie's track ["Truth"] suddenly popped up in my memory and I realized that the murky way David Bowie's voice dilutes into the trancey atmosphere is exactly the way I feel right now. This is exactly my vibe at the moment, at home and in the club. Trippy, repetitive, going nowhere patches of words or just a voice that appears for a second and never comes back again... deviating harmonies and a very specific groove that I built in my mix around Goldie's track. There is a particular story behind it, but I wanted it to be little untold to give more space for the listener to dream their own dream inside the atmosphere I prepared.


15. For you, is the dancefloor a lonely place where you lose yourself in music or a communal place where you feel connected to everyone?
Normally, it's this magic place where I relax my mind and truly enjoy the music that opens up a certain channel. I call it reaching a state of flow. Once it happens, everything connects into a perfect voodoo sequence. The DJ, the people, and the room become one.

16. You lead a very intense life; how long do you think you can keep it up at the current rate?
I hope I can release another 10 albums before I even start to think about it...

17. Would you describe yourself as a feminist? Do you feel some sense of responsibility towards other women in the scene, or the world at large?
Every time I play music publicly, I feel responsibility for my listeners. Both women and men, yes.

18. How would you like to be remembered?
I'd rather answer this question next time...

19. Have you made any New Years resolutions?
I will compose new music, keep on developing my трип label, hopefully start a new label, assemble my own modular synthesizer, and eat fewer carrot cakes then usual.

20. What's the first thing you'll do after answering these questions?
I'm going to invite you for a cup of coffee and play you this song: