Last weekend, techno-queen Nastia took over Ampere with her label Propaganda. After the warm-up by the inspiring label boss herself, we had the chance to ask her a few questions. Because this is our first international interview, we thought it might be better to leave it in English and keep her words as original and intended as possible. Enjoy!
Who are you and where can we find your roots?
I’m from a tiny village in Ukraine, where I spent the first 16 years of my life. I have had no musical education and I went to a regular school. Then, after I finished my school I moved to Donetsk.
There I studied marketing and graduated from university but I didn’t really like it. I told to my mum that I wanted to become a psychologist or that I wanted to study languages.
But my mum told me she didn’t want me to study psychology, because I’d be stuck dealing with other people’s problems.
As there was no good school to study languages in Donetsk, I chose to study marketing instead because I absolutely wanted to stay in Donetsk. I didn’t do it for myself, but for my parents. It’s a silly thing you know, this pressure from your parents.
What about your musical roots? How did you discover electronic music?
I started to go out when I was 12. With some make-up and a dress, I looked like a 16-year old and that’s how I used to get into clubs! I’d always go with my sister, she was the one who taught me about the club life. We always went to this shitty club not too far away from where we lived, but I thought it was really great. I’d be dancing all night, till the early mornings,…
Right now you’re touring a lot. Do you still have time to see your sisters?
I’m touring like crazy! I have little time to see my sisters because we live in different parts of Ukraine… I see my oldest sister only two times a year, my other sister lives in an occupied part of the country, so it’s not easy.
You also have an eight-year old daughter. How hard is it to keep a work-life balance, given that you work at night?
If I didn’t have a child I would be twice as good a DJ. I’d have so much more time to focus on music. Now I come home, I organize stuff, manage things and then I get to spend time with my daughter. But when I’m with my daughter I have zero time for work.
You own a label and you have your own radio show on KISS-fm, called Propaganda and you are also a resident at Arma17 in Moscow… How often do you play at Arma17 and what kind of club is it?
I don’t go to Arma17 that often, two times a year at most. It usually depends on me and how much time I have. I had my first residency at Arma after I met the guys from the club at Kazantip Festival in 2010 (which doesn’t exist anymore, ed.).
They saw that I was all about culture, and they wanted to keep me close and make me a resident. I was super surprised, because to be honest, I thought they were ‘too smart’ to see something in me! I was nobody, I didn’t do anything special, I was just trying to be expressive.
During that year my life started to change.
At that time I was still performing as DJ Beauty. A few years later I made the transition, which wasn’t easy. It just felt like DJ Beauty wasn’t me anymore. It was a very tough decision because I was very successful as DJ Beauty! But, I wanted to get better, more intelligent, … everyone knew me in Russia and Ukraine. To make that change, I had to shake off everyone and everything from the past to be able to start from zero. I probably lost 80% of my fans. And because of my past, nobody from in scene respected me or took me serious. It’s hard to prove yourself when everyone knows you as “DJ Beauty”, and you want to become something else.
“To make the transition from DJ Beauty, I had to shake off everyone and everything from the past to be able to start from zero. And because of my past, nobody from the scene respected me or took me serious.”
What else can you tell us about your label Propaganda? Do you have time to produce your own stuff?
We have released four records already and next year we’ll release four more. I’m also heading into the studio myself to record my own new EP. I met a guy and we became friends. I think we can work together on some studio tracks. The only thing is that he lives in the mountains which is super far away. It takes like 15 hours to get there by train. So in February I will spend some time with him.
Do you have a good chemistry together?
It’s more subconscious. We have a very good connection, we understand each other and his sound is just amazing. He sent me some of his tracks on Facebook, and I thought wow! How come? Who is this guy? Why doesn’t he have any tracks yet? He has an education of harmonist and he’s making amazing analogue sounds, he doesn’t use any type of computer and I was really amazed by it. I can’t wait to go there!
“If you go to a good party in Moscow, you hardly know the DJ’s in the line-up, but you always have the best underground music. People there trust the organization, they trust the club and they go for the music.”
When touring around the world, does it feel like different countries have a different vibe, or does this kind of music bring everyone together?
It’s definitely not the same, it mostly depends on the club and the party. You can find cool parties anywhere, but mostly they’re really small. It’s a different kind of thing when you play the big festivals.
In the US it’s more commercial, I didn’t like it at all.
I don’t think I will be going back to Miami, but it was a good experience.
Maybe the people are more used to your music in Berlin?
I don’t really like Berlin. I was there two years ago in Katerholzig, during the celebrations of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The party was great, but the next day I said: I’m not returning to Berlin. Everyone wants to go and live there, but it’s just too much, it’s too saturated.
The difference with the Eastern European scene is very different and in Berlin it’s big business now. It’s become a commercial kind of scene. They know what works and they meet those needs.
In Moscow the scene is more underground. When you go to a good party there, you might hardly know the DJ’s in the line-up, but you always have the best underground music.
People there trust the organization, they trust the club and they go for the music.
With our articles, we always try to inspire people so they would chase their dreams. Do you have any advice for people who want to follow their passion?
The first rule for people who want to follow their passion is: don’t do it for the money. I never was in it for the money. I didn’t want to waste my time earning money, I just wanted to do what I really liked to do. You have to be prepared not to be successful. But remember: it’s not always going to work out. You have to be really brave to follow your passion, without expectations. It depends on how much you want it and how much you want to give.
Thank you so much for your time!