If you happen to be in Siberia some day strolling through the dense taiga, the Angara river flanking one of your sides and the other: a husky; a furry friend to warm the cockles of your heart, so that neither the harshness of the Siberian anticyclones nor the ghost of Rasputin may penetrate your good will. Yes, if you happen to be in Siberia, namely the “Paris of Siberia,” Irkutsk, could you pick up a veal steak from local staple Novy Uzbekiston and take it to Nina Kraviz’s father? Could you thank the man for me? He’s certainly done more than his share of progressing the boogie, the begetter of Nina (the gentlewoman featured in the photos herein), who pleases the hot-feet of dancefloor denizens the world over. And if you make it to Nina’s father in Irkutsk, and you take that veal steak, could you ask him to play you a few records he shared with lil’ Nina? From what I hear it was mainly psychedelic rock à la Led Zeppelin and jazz à la Georgie Gershwin. “Kashmir” might pair perfectly with that veal steak.
Give credit where credit is dude—or due. Thusly if you happen to be in Siberia, could you take the red-eye to Moscow, grab a handful of flowers at the airport [I’m told she likes chamomiles] and present them to Nina Kraviz for me? For now that you’ve thanked her dad, you must thank her—and as we all know, the old Russian proverb goes “The first [cup of vodka] goes as a stake, the second as a falcon, and the third as a little bird,” and Nina Kraviz is a god damn falcon on the decks.
In the wake of her self-titled effort in 2012, and Mr Jones in 2013, Kraviz was selected to helm the wheel of her very own DJ-Kicks mix, the longstanding and influential series by !K7. According to the label, “Almost half of the 29 tracks are exclusives from Kraviz’s [own] label,” many containing buttery vocals, contributing to Kraviz’s reputation as the perfect DJ to accompany that late-night sparkle/early morning haze.
What makes a Kraviz set?
I consider myself an ocean DJ. In my sets, I try to create certain atmospheres that can happen only if you’re swimming in something as wide and unpredictable as the ocean. The ocean is deep and vast, and if you get comfortable with the depths below, you can actually enjoy swimming instead of worrying about drowning.
If the ocean is your style, what are the storms-at-sea?
The wind of the crowd can turn, and then you’re fucked! Some DJs swim on their backs, going one consistent direction, getting to shore quite quickly, where everything is under control. I’m not like that. The unknown currents inspire me to keep afloat. This is something that I truly feel and I find extremely creative, and it’s also how you find your true sound. There are no parameters for survival, no genre limitations; it’s just you in the ocean of sound, selecting your tracks by deep feeling, immersion.
And festivals are obstacles you must circumnavigate?
Over the years, I’ve learned that festivals are not places to swim without a life vest. It doesn’t work. I still navigate by intuition, I never preprogram my sets, but sometimes this way of working feels like drowning. You must oblige to the currents at all times. I don’t know how other DJs do it, but every time I swim, it’s always a surprise. It’s like a black cat in a box, how do you say, a cat in the box? You never know until you open it.
Interview by Drury Brennan