Interviews

The Adage Is True: There Is No Party Without Nina Kraviz

Nina Kraviz
Photo by Fredgasi
Nina Kraviz
It gets oddly personal to the audience when a DJ circumvents the nigh-constitutional guarantee that they will play only one genre during a set. And with more styles and sounds interwoven today than ever before, sonic homogeneity has earned its retirement.

Few DJs can warp, bend, and blur sounds together better than Siberian DJ, producer, singer, and label boss Nina Kraviz, who takes over the Club Space decks with her no-holds-barred track selection on Friday, November 19.

"I get bored quite easily and am constantly looking for a new source of inspiration," Nina Kraviz tells New Times via email.

Often with a vinyl record in hand, Kraviz's DJ acumen can keep the dance floor moving in organic ways as the beat rises and falls.


First, she may mix some Chicago house to entrance the early-morning crowd. Then, when everyone's guard is down, she may snap them back with acidic, stripped-down techno and then strike them with psytrance's smitten synths and rolling basslines — and voilà, you have the first 15 minutes of a Kraviz set.

During her upcoming set at Club Space's terrace, Kraviz says to expect "loads of psytrance," the hypersonic style of music with enough warehouse energy to generate chiaroscuro amid the club's skylight and foliage.

"I've always really been into psytrance and have been playing it in my sets for the last three to four years," Kraviz says. "Lately, however, I've turned it up a notch even as I really like how it sounds in a techno set."

The fierceness in challenging music's conventions extends to Kraviz and her colleagues on her label, трип (Trip), a collection of primarily Russian, Icelandic, German, and Canadian DJs whose music covers venues in permafrost.


Since 2014, трип has prided itself on testing the levels of abstraction and distortion that a track can handle. The answer is usually unlimited between jackhammering cymbal crashes, breakneck speed, and feverish futurism.

In contrast to трип's raging anthems, Kraviz's production is often more crystalline with familiar emotion, channeling her ability as a songwriter and vocalist. Kraviz produces sensitive and hip-shaking sounds with a vocal pitch ranging from matter-of-fact to poppy. Her latest release, "Skyscrapers," is a testament to her dedication.
"I worked on 'Skyscrapers' for around one year," Kraviz says. "It's been the longest I worked on a song. On my first album, songs were made really fast and easy. Most of them would be performed in a spoken manner. On 'Skyscrapers,' my approach changed drastically, and I would rerecord my vocals tirelessly and work on the arrangement playing with the keys until it sounded perfect."

Crestfallen synths moan against happier drum patterns, and Kraviz sings the chorus with brio — the freezing sense of loneliness is still there, albeit overlaid with Kraviz's balmy melodies. "Cry out of pleasure/I can't stand the pressure/Coz I can't stand the pressure /Stay away from you/Far away from you."

Kraviz has a new single on the way, "This Time," a song about love, due out on November 26.

It has been nearly a decade since the release of Kraviz's self-titled album. She still uses the record as a blueprint for upcoming projects.

"It has been used as a preparation phase for my next album. It's going to be out next year, ten years after Nina Kraviz was released," she says.

Transitioning from psytrance to leftfield, the '90s to contemporary, and Berlin to Chicago leaves the listener with more questions than answers mainly: What's the track's title?

"I usually play a lot of unreleased music from my label and some personal findings of mine that are not always available digitally," Kraviz explains. "Some songs are very special, almost personal to me, and I just want to keep that magic in between us."

With so few clues, fans are often left to untangle the hodgepodge of track IDs.

"It is great to see that it stimulates people to proactively search for the desired track, listen to a lot of music, and discover their superpowers in order for this mission to be accomplished," she says.

Kraviz adds a layer of difficultly to the ID'ing of songs owing to her playing mostly vinyl records during her sets.

"There is this one record that I bought at the secondhand record store in Berlin. I played a minute of it once at my Awakenings set from 2014 and lost it somewhere right after my set," she recalls. "Until this present day, not a single soul has been able to reveal what was that record I played. The torture is real."

Every DJ loves music, but few love music down to a molecular level the way Kraviz does. Her life as a producer, DJ, and her former careers in dentistry and music journalism morphed to create a love supreme. (In the early 2000s, Kraviz moved to Moscow to study dentistry, eventually working as a dentist while moonlighting as a DJ. She quit once her career took off.)

"I did loads of event and album reviews," Kraviz recalls about her music journalism endeavors. "But my main thing was doing these really cheeky interviews with musicians while I was driving them late to the airport. We've missed a few planes — and trains, too."

Nina Kraviz. With KiNK and Ms. Mada. 11 p.m. Friday, November 19, at Club Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-357-6456; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $20 to $50 via eventbrite.com.