Nina Kraviz appears in a film from vinyl store The Record Loft. It’s short, but she’s strikingly economical and insightful in talking about what it means to mix records, find records, and make records.
The Siberian-born PhD dental doctor-turned-DJ/producer is especially noteworthy at the beginning of 2015. Last month, she helmed edition number 50 of the legendary DJ-Kicks series – the gold standard of what a mix should be.
What’s nice about the interview is how quickly Kraviz gets to the emotional essence of all the dimensions of her work. Feeling, and capturing a moment, is at the heart of how she puts together a mix and digs for albums and sings and plays synths. I think people who haven’t gotten to explore the range of her work might not fully appreciate how far afield she can go.
In all three categories of what she says, it’s also clear what can be special in an age of identical mechanical reproduction. Mixes are not sterile affairs to be made perfectly in the home; they’re about connecting with people, live. Finding music is not about algorithms and SoundCloud listener counts and Facebook likes; it’s about the surprise of an unordered box in a second-hand record shop. And even vocals and synths can be about imperfection and real-time accident. Now, I’m personally partial to the unexpected pathways you can find online and perfectly at home with digital tools and distribution, but I think the emotional reality of what she’s suggesting here becomes even more important to underline.
That sense of rediscovering the emotional core seems essential, too, in techno, which especially given its raw commercial success can endanger itself in becoming cold and unfeeling. This is a roadmap, in other words, on how it can keep its soul.
Let me be unequivocal in what I think of Nina Kraviz. I think these are two sides of the same coin: to be undiscriminating about the ideas and output of unknown (or even uncool) artists, you have to also keep an open mind with well-known ones. (And, don’t worry, I’ve spent roughly equal time as a result getting in trouble as I’ve gone out on a limb for people I respected in each group.)
I think she’s one of the smartest, most versatile, most well-rounded people in the electronic music scene today when it comes to those who have had some commercial success. And I suspect that anyone saying otherwise either doesn’t connect with what she’s doing (which is perfectly okay, and always the case with artists) — or they’re jealous of that kind of breadth of success. The latter is a shame, because people like this, from Detroit to Berlin to Bangalore, are the people some of us find inspirational. When we look at the gap between what we’re doing and what they’re doing, we see an opportunity to make ourselves better. And we’re happy to listen to them wherever they feel comfortable – baths and record stores certainly being two ranking high on my own personal creature comfort list.
But enough of that thinly-veiled rant. Let’s listen to some music instead. Her track IMPRV proves her chops in the no-it-won’t-ever-die mold of techno:
Also highly recommended, speaking of mixes, is her mix for Boiler Room:
By the way, next up for DJ-Kicks is the also-pioneering artist Actress, so I’m looking forward to that, as well.
If the video at top is hidden because of YouTube/GEMA, here you go, via Nina Kraviz’ Facebook page:
You can buy the record as digital or vinyl via !K7 Records (or other digital stores):
DJ-KICKS – NINA KRAVIZ
Also, this being CDM, don’t miss her interview with Mixmag on Soviet synths. Or don’t read it… I still hope to get to Moscow and get really lucky in finding something in someone’s closet on the cheap:
Lots more on her neatly-organized site: