Ghetto Kraviz: Queen of techno and acid aficionado. Growing up in Irkutsk in remote Siberia, Nina Kraviz was worlds away from any established scene. Sheer unwavering passion has nevertheless propelled her on to the world stage. Founding a local radio show for electronic music in her subarctic home, her infatuation with electronic sounds blossomed and she set her sights on a concrete jungle. For Nina, that meant fixing cosmonauts’ teeth in Moscow. But alongside her doctorate in dentistry, she mastered her trade at every level: as a music journalist, promoter, producer and DJ.
By 2008 she was running her own night at the Russian capital’s legendary Propaganda, perfecting her craft of selection and honing her skills as a resident. Releases on JusEd’s Underground Quality and Radio Slave’s Rekids thrust her further into the spotlight and, in 2012, she released her début self titled album to much critical acclaim.
Since 2014 Kraviz has added “label boss” to her long list of credentials. Her трип (Trip) inprint’s first release was a compilation that Resident Advisor rightly said “puts most label compilations to shame”. Since then, the label has done what it says on the tin, exploring the darker, trippier sounds of leftfield techno.
For Kraviz, where dance music is coming from is just as important as where it’s going. “I have always been very responsible in front of crowds”, she said last November in a guest lecture at Oxford University. “I try to play a lot of music from the past to create this bridge and to educate new people”. With her infectious hit “Ghetto Kraviz”, the Russian gives a nod to Chicago’s Dance Mania label, which played a pivotal role during Kraviz’ formative years. Despite being more firmly rooted in harder sounds these days, remnants remain. One need look no further than her label’s bigroom counteranthem of 2015, Bjarki’s “I Wanna Go Bang”, sampled from Dj Deeon’s jacking disco bomb from 1996.
Alongside label duties Kraviz has cemented her position within the upper echelons of techno, featuring on Radio 1’s Essential Mix and !K7’s DJ Kicks series, as well as writing a column for Groove magazine. In 2016 she added a prestigious residency show on BBC Radio 1 to the list, billed as “late night alien acid transmissions”.
In an age of rockstar DJs, Kraviz’ handson approach comes as a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t have a manager, updates her own social media and you’ll often find her dancing the night away in the DJ booth after her set, not being whisked back to some hotel. She has built a brand around her talents, but it’s one that allows authenticity to triumph over commercialisation. Shattering through the glassceiling of a male dominated industry with such integrity has shown that the sky really is the limit for the Russian Queen of Techno.
By Nicholas Potter