Nina Kraviz interview: "It is all about human feelings." The Muscovite underground house producer talks us through the creative process behind her debut album.
Nina Kraviz has been a fixture of the underground house scene ever since her debut ‘Voices EP’ on Connecticut producer/DJ Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality label in 2009. Her sound is often characterised by raw, after-hours beats mixed up with woozy careworn vocals that haunt and prey on its listener.
The Siberian-born, Moscow-based producer is an RBMA alumni (school of 2006) where she met Rekids co-founder and Radio Slave producer Matt Edwards. The meeting proved to be quite fortuitous since Rekids has just put out her first full length album (read the review). The self-titled record has both solidified her standing as a talented producer and put to rest a lot of criticism that unfairly overlooked her musical abilities, instead focusing on her appearance and sometimes controversial views on music, DJ-ing and sexism. Having been won over by her album, I dropped her a few questions about her creative process.
So this is your first LP, Nina? How long has it been in the making?
Nina Kraviz: Yes, it is :). It’s been around 7-8 months in the making. I was not in a rush so I can’t say exactly how long it took. The was no stress around it or time frame. I just was accumulating my emotional content to express it later with my songs. I would often make a single beat, switch off the lights, close my eyes and just talk to someone from my imagination while listening to my voice flying through a series of reverbs and delays…I love doing that.
How is the process of making a full-length album different than making a single or EP?
Nina Kraviz: Making an album is a great opportunity for me to express something. I
read somewhere that a real creator can share his whole world even in one little song, and that it only takes a few minutes for the listener to get a little closer to him and his mysterious world. To get hooked and to feel attracted to a good songwriter – it can be true. So now that guy is in his mellow/relaxed mood and it just feels right for him at the moment to show you more than just one or two rooms. Today he is in the mood of showing you his entire house. That’s what an album is. Does it make sense? It’s a very personal album that’s been influenced by my own experiences during a very intense period of my life. It is all about human feelings. Man vs Woman.
Your musical background includes playing in bands, right? Do you plan on performing your songs live, or even with a band of sorts, anytime soon?
Nina Kraviz: That’s right, I used to be in a band several years ago now, but I left that to focus on my own music. I recently finished putting together my live show actually. I kept things quite simple. I’ve already performed three live shows, starting off at Rex in Paris. The third show at Robert Johnson club was just amazing. More shows are coming soon. I think the next one will be in Milan.
Your vocal style is incredibly unique. How exactly do you arrive at the harmonies and interesting vocal lines present throughout the album?
Nina Kraviz: Everything that is in the album was recorded in Moscow. I would be truly happy to tell you “how,” but it appears to be a secret even for myself. I guess it is all about meeting the muse and getting along with her. I just closed my eyes and sang. With Ghetto Kraviz for example, I wanted something raw because I was a little bit angry at the time. I was singing “Summer’s gone I have come home, summer’s gone I have come home. Spring- ding down the stroke, spring- ding” at the same time as singing “Do you need else what? Do you need?” It’s all about a moment of your life when you face something very crucial and factual, and that fact is so tough that it is probably going to drastically change something in you. You were still a child with a naive outlook, but then after this strange moment it’s like the system doesn’t work the way it used to work. There was summer and now it’s gone forever. You have come home to and are now struggling with a new reality…
Some of the instrumentals on the album have more in common with ambient music than house or techno. What influenced you to make these tracks (ie 4 Ben, Fire) both situationally and musically?
Nina Kraviz: 4 Ben was made in the morning around 6-7 o’clock with my Korg synthesizer. It took me exactly 4 minutes and 23 second to produce it. It is a totally first take production. I was inspired by the beauty of the moment. I remember it very well. It was summer in my Moscow apartment, in early morning sun, and I felt love. With Fire it was same story: first take, home alone, and super inspired. The only difference is that it felt lonely as hell and if you can hear the words you don’t need any further explanation. Musically I can’t really say…it was just an experiment!