There may be a lot of political focus on the troubles unfolding in the Eastern European country of Ukraine, but under the media frenzy and publicised brutality lies a very true, honest and integral population. Local DJ, producer, record label owner and supporter of underground music Nastia is the latest in a string of Ukrainian producers to show the world her DJ prowess and deep love of dance floor music. with her Propaganda brand firmly in tact while also juggling the responsibilities of Motherhood in a country with no dance music scene, Nastia has got her hands full. The epitome of a strong woman,capable of holding her own, she tells MEOKO about the obstacles of life and adapting to change, balancing many strands and roles, her views on the current political crisis and the coming together of communities to fight injustice’s together. Oh and of course, she’s weaved an exclusive, upfront club mix for all readers of MEOKO to enjoy. Fight the power , listen up and read on below as a raw Ukrainian talent looks to break into the global scene..
Whereabouts in the world are you at the moment?
I am in Kiev right now. Happy to be here. Missing home too much sometimes..
In your biography it states you are involved as an event promoter, radio DJ and more in your home country of Ukraine, what was your original entry point into the world of electronic music and DJ culture?
My original entry point was my freedom. I was lucky to have a family especially my mother and my sisters who trusted me and let me go to the night club when I was 13. It was so impressive… and my passion was to dance. Any time I went to the club I felt like I was in a trance. They are all the lasting memories I’ve collected when I was a teenager.
In a part of the world that’s still discovering freedoms and opposing oppressive rule, how difficult (or how many obstacles did you overcome) was it to stay up to date with the scene?
I think you can imagine how difficult it can be to stay up when you are young ukrainian female DJ who doesn’t even produce music. People around me support me, friends pushing me and my agents believe in me. When I feel weak to go ahead I think of it. At the moment I am quite depressed again. Its always hard to do a next step or at least to stay at the same level. I am very sensitive. But I try.
Was there/is there an illegal party scene in Ukraine? what are the mainstream clubs like and is there a healthy sub cultural scene that counteracts that?
The electronic scene in Ukraine generally very poor. Especially after crisis in 2008, the second step back has happened just this year because of our political problems. But we still have some brave and strong communities as Feeleed team in Odessa and Closer club in Kiev. These guys really know what to do and how to make a great party.
Listen HERE for MEOKO‘s latest podcast by Nastia
We are seeing a growing amount of Ukranian talent explode across Europe, including yourself and the likes of the shadowy Vakula and the ever impressive Volta Cab there seems to be a unique, shadowy element to the artists coming out of the country. Do you think its representative of the music culture there?
Yes, I am happy to say that we have such a talents. Also Sunchase in drum and bass, Etapp Kyle in techno. Subforms in dub techno and ambient.. And more guys are coming . We all know each other, keeping connection, meeting sometimes. But no one apart from us is building a scene here. We all are going out, working outside of the country. Of course we all represent our country, our culture, our vision about music in the process.
You’ve amalgamated all the different strands of what you do into a single banner named Propaganda what is the ethos and ideas behind this? It sounds extremely political…
Ha I was thinking of it not so far. Its sounds extremely political after our media war and propaganda of Russia. Its still sounds strong for all of us Ukrainians. But I don’t regret that I gave this name to my label, cause it has another story. I was changing a lot in 2010. I changed my name, the music I play, the way of thinking and carrying myself everything. And it was quite hard because I was very popular and was becoming known for the music I play. But I made my decision and this name speaks for my protest at that time. I didn’t want to be a slave of people’s likes, I wanted to let them understand that I changed and I’ll never be the same again. So I was making my own propaganda. And I still am. Also I have my weekly radio show on KISS FM Ukraine since 2006 and from 2010 the name of it Propaganda as well.
Speaking of politics, Ukraine is in turmoil at the moment… do you think politics have now become everyone’s business? And how do you think the electronic music scene can counteract the injustices that are being inflicted upon the Ukrainian nation?
Yes.. For sure. We all became such a politics at one moment. The most popular pages on Facebook all my friends and me are reading is from our independent journalists and it’s about news and facts, of course. We all became so much united and clear. We have this powerful energy to fight for our rights with everyone. Its a very strong feeling here now. And it fills all my heart. Every artist from Ukraine expresses it how he can. Guys made a wonderful charity project in a compilation “The Grassroots: United Over Ukraine”. Some of the artists making music with Ukrainian melodies or names, songs about it. I am wearing wreaths on my sets. I don’t know about counteraction. But at least we try to express out feelings about it.
In general, do you think music is still a powerful vehicle for change?
I don’t think so.. I mean for sure, there is still something to create and find in it. But generally nothing’s really gonna change much. That’s why we are a bit stuck now.
“I am not a producer. I am a true DJ. I am one of a few, who builds their music career through the performance of DJ’ing” how do you feel about the current climate of people feeling that they need to make music to book themselves more gigs, or vice versa? Do you think its better to be a master of just one skill, rather than jack of all trades?
I think everyone should do what he can do really good. Otherwise we can see where from all this trash is coming. Now it’s difficult to find a new good music not because everyone makes shit, but because it gets lost in that crazy stream of tracks all these “producers” making. Its became so poor and pathetic.. And the most scary thing the same ! Everyhting sounds same\’85 Loopy, no ideal, no melody, just some instruments and very simple structure. I think same even about my own first EP Maslo which came out on Nilla Records. I can’t pretend I did something really nice.. Maybe Maslo track only. These things makes me feel even more depressed.
You’ve worked on the Republic of Kazantip for many years, being heavily involved in the promotion and mechanics set on the island of Kazantip. But the festival’s reputation is changing and growing for the better in recent times, how different is the festival now compared to when the concept first broke?
This is very funny because it gets better for you or maybe for tourists, but not for us. Kazantip I loved so much is dead for me already. The last point was when they moved to Georgia. I think it will be just totally different festival now and there is no connection with that Kazantip before. As for me this project became an usual festival with the same names in the line-up you have everywhere. Nothing special. But it was. Before, it was very special.. I still believe somehow and don’t wanna say they don’t have a chance to create something interesting no. They have a chance and I will be happy to be wrong about what I said before.
After spending your waking minutes putting work into your fledgling career, you now call yourself mum how does this work for you? Both jobs are high focus and high energy, you must have a strict routine to juggle everything?
Yes, I am very focused, extremely responsible and well organized. But sometimes it’s just too much for me. When I come to this point called “too much” I try to gather all my power and I am remembering that I am Ukrainian. I think you know that western European women are very strong, we are a bit different cause somehow we become stronger than our men, that’s why we are like this and I am one of the million examples. I have no option. I need to protect my family, to give everything I can give to my daughter and support her. I feel like a man sometimes. That’s a pity, but then again it works.
You have, very excitingly, prepared us a special, bespoke MEOKO mix what is the flavour that forms the backbone of this set? Is it a typical insight into your usual style and aesthetic as a DJ?
I think this mix I made for you is one of that rare mixes which are very similar to what I really play on events. I was just choosing my favorite dancing records I like to play at the moment and I just mixed them. Usually I like to do something I can’t do at the parties.. But this time I felt like doing it like this. It’s more techno, more powerful, sometimes old school.. I like it!
Finally, and as if you’re not busy enough already what do you hope to do in the latter part of 2014? Do you have any new plans to expand your horizons further?
I have my calendar and a couple of records to release on Propaganda Records. The rest will come naturally and without planning usually I am very spontaneous. And sometimes, the best also come to me too!
Catch Nastia in action, grab a ticket to Sonus Festival.
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