‘I’m not a pussy’
A strong statement from this week’s CTC Talks guest, Ukrainian DJ Nastia. A name that’s steadily risen through the ranks of underground music across the globe with her flexible sounds of groovy techno, rolling house and a flourish of pumping drum n’ bass.
An artist who carved a career for herself out of DJing alone – a rare sight these days – Nastia has rooted herself firmly in the dance music world with her colourful record collection and upfront honesty depicting the not-so-glamorous life of a DJ.
CTC chatted to Nastia to talk about her current and continuously growing journey in mixing music, relentless touring and personal sacrifices that this road brings, some that many music fiends can’t even imagine…
You just finished a stint of shows in Japan. What was the response to underground music over there? Is there a healthy scene at the moment?
Nastia: “Underground scene in Japan became smaller because EDM music has become more popular there. Clubs such as WOMB for example, now combine EDM parties with techno events. Most of the good underground clubs are very small so they’re not able to invite big artists because they’re not able to pay their fees. But people understand the most outstanding and experimental music you play – this is why I love playing there no matter of the size or fees”
What sparked your interest in DJing and learning the art of mixing to eventually make it your full time job?
“I was a dancer, which means I’ve been always into the music. I just wanted more opportunities: travel more, grow, to make a living with a profession. DJing was just a next step for me, cause dancers don’t dance long. I was successful from the beginning, cause I gave myself to it, I did it honestly and emotionally. For me it’s self-realisation – without it you don’t feel alive and you can’t resist doing it.”
You’re one of the few DJs who has yet to venture into music production. Do you think you’ll ever look into production or is there a reason you solely want to stick to DJing?
“To produce is not my thing. I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t want to stay in the studio, I am not interested about machines. The way I think is not made for producing. But I never said I will never do it. Maybe one day, just not yet.”
With Harry Klein club in Munich recently launching ‘Marry Klein’ – a female only series of bookings – and more steps being taken in the industry to include female DJs: What’s been your biggest challenge that you have overcome as a female artist in the music industry?
“I don’t have any problems or challenges with that. People who are trying to make it a problem for me because I’m female are ridiculous. It doesn’t touch me ’cause I’m not a pussy.”
How do you balance being a mother with your touring schedule?
“Uliana [Nastia’s daughter, featuring heavily on her Instagram] got used to it. In the beginning it was hard and there was no time when I would leave without seeing her crying in the doorway. Now she’s more grown up but that creates different pressures… She still needs me very much. When I come back home I don’t work in the daytime. I usually work while travelling and only if the hotels have a good internet connection. I have a family and they wait for me when I am gigging. When I come back I can’t work, because I need to compensate that time we didn’t spend together. If you don’t do it – you don’t live or you don’t have a family. That’s why most successful people are single and artists with a family aren’t over popular or over busy. Personally I work hard to stay good on both sides.”
Would you encourage your daughter to DJ after you’ve experienced the harsh side of the music industry such as trolling and sexism?
“I don’t wish her to be a DJ. I hope she will find something better. DJ life is fun, but it kills health and affects personal life – there aren’t many real friends, a lot of fakes and illusions.”
DJ life is fun, but it kills health and affects personal life – there aren’t many real friends, a lot of fakes and illusions
What producers and DJs are standing out for you?
“I love Ben Ufo and what Helena Hauff is doing, I love Rrose, Alva Noto, Planetary Assault Systems live, new live project of Anton Kubikov called Juras Lietus. There are many of them: old, new, unknown.”
You have been exposed to lots of cultures and clubs through DJing around the world, where has been your favourite city and venue to date?
“I fell in love with Melbourne, but for ages Moscow’s Arma17 owns my heart. I feel amazing at R&S events too, wherever they are but my favourite place to party right now is Closer club in Kiev. The last three years it’s been the best spot, the guys do an awesome job to make it feel like home with friends – it’s the most cozy and private atmosphere.”
Where do you think your journey in DJing will take you next?
“I want to build some other projects around music and my label, so I can work on that even without travelling. In the near future my schedule is already planned until March 2018. I’ll go to Unites States, Brazil, Australia, Asia, Argentina, Peru. But I learned how to take it easier, because with age I see my family is more important than my career and I can satisfy my DJ passion even at home.”
Finally, can you tell us your top five records?
“Dimi Angelis ANGLS003 for the track ‘Mars Pathfinder’; Baby Ford & Mark Broom ‘Bubble Bath’; Propellerheads ‘Take California’; Cinderfella LTD ‘Ephemeris EP’; Paul Johnson ‘Just Whistle’. These are not my real top five, because the real top five doesn’t exist. These are records I’ve played for a long time and first ones I found in my bag to mention here!”