14 Aug

Exclusive Interview: Nina Kraviz Gave Us the Ride of Our Lives

“What happens at DOUR, stays at DOUR!” but it would be cruel of us to keep our recent adventure for ourselves. Russian DJ Nina Kraviz was one of the most talked about headliners of the third festival day and doesn’t do a lot of interviews. Luckily, she made an exception for us and it quickly became the biggest interview adventure we ever went on.

It’s just past 3 AM when Nina Kraviz blasts the last beats through the giant speakers of Dour Festival and more than 25.000 festivalgoers make their way out of the festival site. Our interview is supposed to take place right after the headline set, but things get hectic very quickly. While Kraviz takes her time to warmly greet everyone on — and behind — the stage, our limited time with her ticks away. By the time she gets to us, we briefly have some time to take a couple of photos and are asked if we can do the interview in her shuttle — Nina has a plane to catch.

While we planned to stay in the car with her until we reached the exit of the festival, we ended up at Brussels Airport. In our one and a half hour drive to the airport, Nina gave us a special look into her artistry, life and music. What was planned as a ‘normal’ interview with the world’s biggest techno-DJ, became an exclusive and personal talk. From special anecdotes to her future plans, everything was discussed in probably our most personal talk ever with a global star.

Dour festival

The RedBull Elektropedia Balzaal is one of the largest techno scenes in Europe, so playing there is really special, even for Nina Kraviz. Asking her about how she felt about her show at DOUR, she says:

“That stage was huge! Every festival or every room has a certain speed, the BPM, the perfect groove. I am wondering if I actually found the right groove  today. If I tuned into the right frequency of the crowd. One festival is different from the other. Today I played after Paula Temple and she was around 145-150 BPM fast. She played great and I was challenged. I am no stranger to really fast BMPs towards the end of my sets and sometimes even my own tunes on трип (pronounced ‘trip’) are 170 BPM but I am not used to start with it right away. I tried to keep the energy. Nowadays, you really have to rock it at festivals or it didn’t happen. But I’m not always feeling that. The best thing about being a DJ is the ability to transmit your own personal message, your own mood once you connected to the crowd. State of absolute freedom if you want.”

As a phenomenon in electronic music, Kraviz is used to working nights and living on planes. It’s an upside down life, and because of this, she suffers from hearing loss. In order to calm down from the adrenaline of a show, she needs two things; a bed and a mini bar.”I eat all these nuts and chocolates while watching political shows on YouTube”

Going to sleep at a decent hour isn’t the norm for Nina, since her musical creativity peaks between two and six in the morning. When it comes to making music, she can be awake for two days straight: “My mind is overproducing ideas and is overactive, so it’s sometimes impossible for me to calm down.”

E19 towards Brussels

As Nina is most known as a techno artist, people may automatically think that she only listens to electronic music, but that’s not the case. Declaring her love for hip hop, pop and rock, she confesses that all these genres also have an influence on her own sound. But not only music genres had an impact on her. Cities and countries with strong music scenes like Detroit, Chicago, Berlin. Belgium, France, Holland, UK, Finland alongside her native Russia, made her into the artist that she is.

“I’ve been absorbing everything and what I’m doing now is the continuation of my experiences over the past years.” Resulting in her completely unique and unexpected Coachella performance. A performance that was one of the most talked about shows of the weekend. “I was doing a lot of stuff there; acting, singing, playing instruments, dancing, etc. It needed a little bit more practice. Somebody told me that live shows start becoming good after the 50th show! This was my first time doing this format. We had a lot of difficulties during the Coachella show with technical issues; hearing the wrong notes in the in-ear monitors or my knee cracking during a dance routine. Just imagine, dancing on a carpet in front of a huge amount of people and your knee cracks and you feel this crazy pain.” she explains.

Alone, behind her decks. That’s what you often see when Nina Kraviz is doing her sets. But even when she’s standing there all by herself, she never feels lonely. “Lonely? I don’t feel lonely! Of course not. Are you serious? There are thousands of people in front of you. I really don’t feel lonely, trust me.”

Even though she’s on the road all the time, she manages to stay quite healthy. Maybe one of her secrets to being relaxed, is that she doesn’t think too far ahead of time. “The only thing I think about now is: breakfast” Asking her if she knows where she’s going to, she just says: “Forward! I am definitely going forward!” But that doesn’t mean she can’t go backwards. “It’s like in the book Alice in Wonderland. To even stand still, you need to go really fast. So imagine how fast one should go to move forward. Going somewhere, doesn’t mean you’re actually moving. There might be no motion at all. Maybe we’re just creating the illusion of motion by switching parameters, but I think time is pretty still actually. Everything has already happened and has been done…”

E40 towards Brussels East

It’s clear that Nina Kraviz bursts from ambition and dreams, but when we ask what her goals are, she starts to get a little mysterious. “I wanna do some crazy shit. To make modern “new age”- happy music. All my music is kind of sad, I want to challenge myself to make happy music. Even the darkest stuff ever reflects happiness sometimes.”

This year marked the 25th anniversary of Brussels best nightclub Fuse. Since its opening in 1994, they attracted the biggest names in electronic music and had a massive influence on many popular names including Nina herself. “When I was a teenager, I bought an excellent double vinyl, Fuse presents DJ Hell, and it’s been a dream to play there one day. Playing there for the first time felt a little surreal and still does.” Remembering her first time at the legendary club, her smile becomes bigger. “I was playing after Robert Hood, who is one of my Detroit-heroes, and put on Gil Scott-Heron’s record ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’. After he finished, I put on this very slow funk song and he waved at me. It’s one of the most powerful memories I have!” Describing the time as memorable and sweet, she seems to embrace that moment in her life as if it was yesterday.


Doing the same thing all the time, isn’t something Kraviz sees herself doing. “I’m diverse because I’m bored easily.” Being well aware that a feeling is very personal, she knows exactly that the things she loves can be boring to someone else and vice versa. When something is done, she admits to over-analyzing it and reflecting on how it went.

“I’m a perfectionist. It’s very expensive to be like that because at times it brings consequences. Sometimes, it feels like you’re not making it happen. Like you’re not present or making people happy.”

Exit 4 towards Zaventem and Brussels Airport

Two hours after her set, we arrive at Brussels Airport. The sun is already coming up and people are rushing to their flight. Unlike Nina, who is calm and grounded as always. We join her until we arrive at her hotel, where she’s staying for a couple of hours before flying back home to Moscow. Nina Kraviz is not just a DJ, she is an inspiring personality with a lot of creative ideas that make her stand out. Thank you for the ride, Nina! See you soon…

Photos by Gonca Akbaba for Enfnts Terribles – Text by Maxim Meyer-Horn

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