In Conversation
Nina Kraviz Ponders The Influence Of Iceland On Trip With Bjarki & Exos

It was in the spring of last year that the renowned international selector Nina Kraviz announced she would be expanding into A&R territory with the launch of her label, трип. The first release was a double pack compilation featuring a host of handpicked upcoming artists as well alongside some fresh material of her own. Roughly translating into English as 'trip', the label moniker functions as a clear summation of where her ear is at when it comes to techno - a sound that is rooted in deep and enveloping loops with an affecting dose of acid.

While the artists who have featured on the label to date have been spread wide all across the globe from Kraviz's native Russia and the USA, it's hard not to take notice of the time she's spent uncovering two Icelandic artists. Local veteran Exos was one of the first individuals to be signed to the imprint and, as we hear below, the influence of his production reaches far back into Kraviz's own career. Having been active for decades Exos's inclusion in the трип family has forged a new passage in his career while for Bjarki - the second Icelandic artist to be joining us this Saturday night - his solo EP release earlier this summer marked the beginning of his own.

With the trio all set to grace Room One this coming Saturday night we set about leading a discussion between the label owner and her signees to uncover Nina’s motivations for the label, her future plans and how Iceland has played its role in informing its resulting techno aesthetic. What's more we've also got hold of the archive Kraviz' BBC Radio One session which aired earlier this year as part of Resident Advisor's takeover which is is entirely made up of трип material.

Nina, a number of the artists who you’ve signed to trip are from Iceland and two of them, Exos and Bjarki, are joining you for the label night this weekend. Can you tell us a bit about how you connected with them and discovered their music?

Nina Kraviz: One of the first techno records that I bought was by Cobalt (aka Steve Stoll) and Exos, on a sub label of Thule. I immediately connected to this type of ‘90s sound - trippy live cut techno that comes in out of the blue and goes to a vast nowhere in a long sequence of countless loops. Dreamy, mystical and always a bit unfinished, leaving some space for a further mind altering. When I was thinking about the sound for my label those two tracks were a big inspiration.

I always wanted to go to Iceland. I dreamt about it a lot and finally did it one year ago. It was really impressive. First of all the Icelandic nature in some weird way reminded me a lot of my native Siberia, especially the Martian landscapes of lake Baikal and its strong overwhelming energy. I felt at home there. I met Exos and some other really interesting people but contrary to logic, the most eccentric Icelandic character I met outside of Iceland. He appeared like a storm in the middle of the party at Culture Box club in Copenhagen where I played that night. Totally drunk, he mumbled that he was Bjarki and asked his girlfriend to hand me a USB stick. The music on the USB sounded exactly like the person I met in the club - absolutely all over the place. I didn't sign anything from that USB but I already knew that I would hear more from this strange Icelandic guy very soon…

How about the other artists that you’ve signed? Do you always feel you need a personal connection with them or does occasionally a demo in your inbox get through to you and impress you?

Well the only thing that actually matters when it comes to signing a new artist is a personal connection to the music. The rest plays quite a secondary role.

Nina Kraviz © Tombo

What’s next for the label - I heard there’s another compilation in the works. Can you tell us a bit about that? Who’s involved and how it’s sounding?

I have just put together two new трип albums. Eight tracks each, and as always one can mix them all together or just listen to it at home as a proper album. They are out in mid-November and early December respectively. TRIP004 sounds quite tough and it’s about a guy called Ivan who is going against all sorts of rules and searching for the key from the future. The entire album was built around a track by Russian born Phillip Gorbachev, whose repetitive voice says “Ivan come on unlock the box” (Иван, давай! Открой коробку!). It could have been some random late ‘80s low-fi cut recorded in a garage studio but those spoken words, pronounced in a very casual right-in-the-face manner make it sound very special.

There are even more Russians this time on this record-17-year old producer from Tambov, Vladimir Dubyshkin and a mysterious Siberian artist from Krasnoyarsk who calls himself Roma Zuckerman. Nikita Zabelin, who recommended both of them, is also coming back with a new dreamy live cut. There are also two simple jams from me that I recorded with a modular synthesiser.

The artwork for this release by Tombo reminds me early 20th century soviet art. In addition I feel very honoured to have signed two previously unreleased Barcode Population tracks originally recorded in the mid Nineties. I decided to keep them exclusively on the vinyl format, as how they would be released in the nineties when those tracks were made. I am also very happy to sign two new tracks by one of my favourite Detroit-based producers, Kelli Hand (K-HAND).

TRIP005 centres around the subject of a question and was named around Roma Zuckerman’s track “I have a question”. To be honest Roma really blew my mind with his music. I don’t know much about him but apparently he has a normal job and he’s been making music for quite a long time but never released anything before. There will also be bits from Terrence Dixon, Fred P (the edit that I used in my DJ-Kicks mix), DJ Sodeyama from Tokyo that I always play my Dommune shows with and Bjarki. Contrary to TRIP004, the fifth release is slower in tempo and sounds much more subtle.

“When we play together we are very connected and our visions match up which gives us this comfortable, cosy yet very inspiring feeling.” – Nina Kraviz

Is there a way for you to sum up what the sonic identity of the label and your intention with it?

Even though трип is considered to be a techno label it’s not about the genre. It’s about a certain texture in music and a very particular unpolished human approach to it. From one album to another the sonic story telling ranges in very particular atmospheres but it always goes hand in hand with Tombo’s hand drawn artwork and the entire concept of the label.

You’re hosting Room One with трип as well as doing more label showcases at the moment is it pleasant to have familiar faces and companions to share gigs with? Does it bring in that other level of enjoyment to your DJ sets?

Definitely. Up until last year when I started трип I have been pretty much on my own - both musically and ideologically. To say that I was an “outsider” would be a bit forced but sound-wise I have always had a very particular vision that not so many people in my surroundings have truly shared. Now it feels different, like I wanted it from the very beginning. трип seems having its own life and has slowly become a little family where people can share their ideas, inspiration and experience. When I play with my трип bros I feel supported. When we play together we are very connected and our visions match which gives this comfortable, cosy yet very inspiring feeling.

Exos © Danny Seaton 2015

Bjarki: For me, it's two different things to be honest. When I do the трип parties, I feel comfortable being more experimental. Seeing Nina and Exos play and go b2b is very inspiring. Usually Nina winds up playing most of the tracks I have already played during my set. Nobody can play my tracks the way she does, which is pretty amazing to watch and I really enjoy this a lot. Touring alone has its nice moments too, although I have to say that I prefer not to be on the stage but prefer to be on the floor, surrounded by people so that I can have more eye contact with them. I want to feel close to the people I am playing to, it’s a more communal and personal experience for me. Making and playing dance music is like a coming together type of thing and about celebrating together. I prefer to have a more personal interaction with people.

"Nature has a big role in the music culture in Iceland, there’s nothing quite like it.” - Exos

Exos, I know you have been involved with music for quite some time, but Bjarki you’re relatively a newcomer to techno in terms of releasing records from what I can tell. Can you each tell us a bit about your respective backgrounds?

Bjarki: I’ve been making music since I was very young but I just never felt the need to release the tracks. When I was living in Amsterdam, I had started to upload tracks to a Soundcloud account under a different name, and had people contacting me to release them so I just gave the tracks to different people and then at some point I just stopped doing that.

Exos: Well, my backround comes from the dubtechno scene in Iceland, in the past I’ve made three albums, twenty EPs and am working on my new album coming out early next year. [It’s been] a spiritual journey.

For someone who’s never visited Iceland could you give us your inside view point of what is going on there right now in terms of people making techno, the events and the community that supports it?

Exos: A lot of exciting things are happening now in Iceland; we have a static club called Paloma where we can play whatever we want and Iceland has always had very good artists involved in the electronic music scene. The community is getting stronger.

What do you feel about the country and its environment lends the creativity and the music being made?

Exos: Nature has a big role in the music culture in Iceland. There’s nothing quite like it.

Bjarki: I actually go back to Iceland really often, like this summer, I went to visit my family and went hiking with my Dad. I liked being on top of a mountain, and staring out into the unknown, gazing out at nature. Oh, and Iceland is a very windy place too. I love the wind.

Bjarki via facebook

How to do feel about being signed to трип?

Bjarki: I’ve been on трип since its very first release, and it has been really nice to be on a record label from the very beginning. Nina's vision is very strong and has been very inspiring. She puts a lot of time into selecting a specific sound for each release, so the tracks all flow well together. I’ve also met Tombo, the label's exclusive artist because of трип. We have become good friends since then. The трип parties have been fun and I feel like this is just the beginning.


Related Posts

Popular Posts