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DJ Nastia’s Ukrainian Propaganda (interview)

pic: archive of the artist

“My show is called PROPAGANDA and its concept corresponds to the name - I am advocating something new and bold.”

Though her official DJ biography highlights the fact she’s the ‘possessor of impeccable Slavic appearance’ Ukrainian DJ Nastia is anything but a bimbo.

Striking and articulate, and impressively focused, she’s instead one of Ukraine’s most popular and busiest DJs, spinning underground, cutting edge techno and tech-house two, three or four times each week, in both her home country and increasingly abroad.

Playing this weekend (April 9) at Berlin’s Salon Zur Wilden Renate (her second gig at the uber-hip squat style Freidrichshain haunt, she is also impressively wired in to Europe’s thriving techno underground as well as Ukraine’s greatest contribution to global club culture (yet): Kazantip.

“I’ve worked for Kazantip since 2006,” she proudly explains, “As an ambassador from 2007, then as a manager of one of the floors since 2009.”

Describing the infamously wild month long Black Sea mega-fest as ‘a very important part of my life’, she hosts the Kiss FM stage throughout the event, representing the same national radio station on which she broadcasts her radio show Propaganda each Thursday ((from 22 to 23 GMT+2 on )

Though she first joined Kazantip five years ago, the key catalyst for success came more recently, when a life crisis forced her, in her words to take a ‘self-realization as an artist at 100%.’

“About two years ago, my family life dissolved and I found myself with nothing left except my daughter and music,” she explains. “At that particular (rock bottom) moment, I decided to devote myself to being an artist totally.”

Two years on, her leap of faith has been vindicated and chatting to Skrufff today, she’s both candid and cool and impressively confident for her age (she’s still just 23).

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Your DJ schedule is extremely busy with all sorts of international dates such as Berlin’s Salon Zur Wilden Renate this weekend (April 9):  what sort of preparations do you make for gigs generally?

Nastia: “It's really very simple, I don't prepare at all. I don’t want to limit myself and instead prefer to arrive at each club and immediately understand what I need to play to improve the party. The only limit I have is whatever music is in my bag, and all the music in there are tracks I’ve chosen before because I like them. For Renate, I’ve played there before and it’s one of my favourite places, and the set time I’ve got is ideal. It’s at parties such as those where I fully reveal myself.”

Skrufff: How different is it playing in Germany or Switzerland compared to Ukraine?

Nastia: “Audiences are different everywhere and it can vary even more between cities. Of course, people will often try to suppress me and try to persuade me to play music that suits their own tastes, but I am very strong and try not to be affected. In any case, whatever I play is always selected from the music I have with me, and whatever is in my library has always been chosen by me originally- because I like it.”

Skrufff: How much attention are you paying to what’s going on in Western Europe; eg Berlin, London; generally?

Nastia: “Right now I’m paying the most attention towards Europe because in Ukraine there’s not too much that interests me, I’m too well studied in it all. Tours in Europe teach and develop me as a DJ, they allow me to observe and absorb new and interesting ideas.”

Skrufff: How much do Ukrainian clubbers follow trends in these countries (or care what’s fashionable in London- or Berlin?)

Nastia: “Unfortunately, they don’t care at all. There are very few of us who are trying to influence musical developments in Ukraine and most people actually resist them but it is not my goal to teach them. If they want to follow they can, I’m not interested in imposing myself on anyone. I’m a person who offers.
But in general most people are still musically uneducated.”

Skrufff: How about Russia; how much do Ukrainians and Russians mix as one group? Or are there rivalries?

Nastia: “There aren’t actually that big Ukrainian or Russian scenes generally, instead there’s the Moscow scene plus quite a lot of large scale events and festivals. Western culture remains alien to many people here and the drug of choice remains alcohol, which also affects developments.”

Skrufff: Many of the Russian girls at the recent Sochi Winter Music Conference were wearing super-high heels and long hair, whereas you were always wearing flat shoes and have short hair: why is that high-heel, mini-skirt look so popular in Russia?

Nastia: “Speaking about myself, I just think that I look good without that image. I want to look serious and I do not want to draw attention to my appearance, I wish that people would listen to the music I play. And honestly, I myself do not understand why our girls always dress like that. Maybe they are afraid to miss something, or they just want to present deceptive perfection.”

Skrufff: How much have encountered hostility or sexism from macho male DJs or promoters?

Nastia: “I think there’s a lot of talk, but I'm so far away from it all, to be honest . . .”

Skrufff: Ukraine remains well known for being the site of the world’s greatest nuclear disaster Chernoybl, what do people think in Ukraine of the Japanese disaster? How much of a topic of conversation is it?

Nastia: “I do not watch TV or listen to the radio, and I’m not interested in politics and do not read the news my time is instead split between music and life. 80 percent of my time has everything to do with the music and what I do. 20 percent is taken by my daughter, who suffers from a lack of attention, but I am confident that she will understand me and appreciate my actions in the future.”

Jonty Skrufff:

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