Nina Kraviz: DJ, label-owner, model, vocalist, The rose that grew from concrete. The concrete of course refers to the bleak and harsh conditions of her Siberia birthplace. A region well-documented for having extreme conditions. Much like her meandering style of playing-out, her hometown can span anything from +35oC in the summer to -35oC in the winter. She doesn’t do things by halves. That she is incredibly photogenic is only part of her allure. Indeed, it has come with its curses as well as its blessings. But there’s little denying she has a mystique that sets her aside from the rest of the pack. When Mixmag lauded her with their DJ of the Year crown last December, they did so on merits beyond merely the music she plays. What has made her such an endearing personality?
Perhaps it’s her off-kilter jerks and gyrations behind the decks? Unafraid to show the music she plays physically moves her. The palpable energy she creates visibly transfers from the booth to the crowd. Or maybe it is her unadulterated passion for stock-piling obscure music, meticulously cataloguing an impressive collection in her head, only to pull hidden gems from her crate to rapturous applause. With Nina there is no genre off-bounds. With a penchant for acid-drenched bleep and blips of the 303, you can always guarantee splutterings of that distinctive squelch in her sets as they amble from house to techno byway of IDM. And need we be reminded that the current trend of dropping nostalgic old school trance mid-mix was her calling card long before Denis Sulta muscled in on the action.
Even as a producer, she has always opted to cut her own path. Her self-titled debut artist album was all together softer, ranging from loungey Deep House to electronica, all whilst retaining her natural quirk. She even provided her own vocal for several of the tracks, and it spawned the runaway hit Ghetto Kraviz. That all seems like a long time ago now. And it’s true she has journeyed a long way since.
Nowadays, she seems more focused on fostering talent across her two label, as opposed to spending undue time in the studio herself. Although we’d love to hear a new record, so long as she keeps unearthing talents such as prolific Icelandic wonderkid, Bjarki, we can have few complaints. Whilst many of the techno elite consciously distance themselves from releasing commercial mixes, Nina is a DJ who has excelled in that area. DJ-Kicks, the Essential Mix and fabric’s in-house series, she has submitted stunning entries for each of them. Perhaps it’s because it panders to her obsession as a music fanatic and an ingrained desire to share the joy of music?
And she’s not without her critics. Sadly, like many of her female peers, she has become an online target for (an admittedly small section of) antipathy with clear misogynistic undertones. Nina has responded to the trolls in the best fashion possible; she simply keeps getting bigger.
At her past Junction 2 Presents appearances at the beginning of the month, she was predictably unpredictable. Once again displaying unrivalled record selection, she delivered a pair of kooky sets littered with experimental numbers and techno stompers. Conspicuous by her absence last year, this paves the way to take centre-stage when the festival returns for it’s third edition on June 9th.
In a world of squares, Kraviz is a shape-shifting polygon. And for that, she makes no apologies.
She is Siberia’s Darling. She is Nina Kraviz.
Watch her interview for Channel 4 filmed recently at Junction 2 festival's launch party at Tobacco Dock.