Anastasia Kristensen: “DJs being more genre-fluid motivates producers to be more fearless"
Ralph Moore talks to Anastasia Kristensen about unconventional rhythms and her new Houndstooth EP ‘Volshebno’
Born in Russia and moving to Copenhagen as a teenager, the restless creativity of Anastasia Kristensen doesn’t ever stop. When we Zoom in September, she's preparing to release an excellent new EP on fabric’s Houndstooth imprint – her second for the label – and preparing to play at the club, before heading home to start thinking about that long-awaited debut album.
Like many people, Anastasia found lockdown both useful and frustrating, but it did at least allow her to think about what matters in her life. As with her exploratory and imaginative DJ sets, her music is all about digging deeper. In Russian, ‘Volshebno’ is a word for the magic you feel when something special is happening, and in Ana's words, the EP is inspired by "the feeling when you when you have a brilliant new idea or realising you’re developing a new crush on someone." Remixes come from KETTAMA, Ctrls and Quest?ionmarq but in truth, it’s the main techno version of the track that we’ve had on repeat. Turn it up!
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Hi Ana! How are you?
I'm good, thank you. It's been a very busy run for me before the release. The shows started picking up so it's been really intense time. We didn't have bank holiday in Copenhagen but I was playing a festival here, and then I also played a club opening yesterday, because that's when opened. I was also in Belgium. It's just nice that the world is opening up and everything is coming back to somewhat normal — if it ever is going to be the same normal, you know.
Tell us about your new EP.
This record is pretty much my Corona record! It was made when the spring was approaching, and I think it reflects this uplifting feeling of some kind of new energy coming again, maybe falling in love or getting great ideas, even for the renovation of your apartment and stuff like that. It's a mix of all the positive and magical things, and a way to express an emotion that's feels very physical. I didn't want to intellectualize it at any further because it felt very, very natural. So it's both kind of abstract, but at the same time, also very particular: an experience of something delightful coming up.
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You’re a fan of breakbeat and drum n bass aren’t you! Both feature heavily here.
Yeah, for sure! It's releasing on the London label Houndstooth and I'm inspired by the UK sound.
Breakbeat has come back in into fashion again.
I find lots of new generation DJs are way more genre fluid now, which is good; I've been that from the very beginning. There's definitely more focus on shifting beats and rhythms, sounds that are not so predictable. I think that allows artists to be fearless in what kind of music they will release, so it gives more confidence in the creativity we have today. Because I feel like there's always pressure to make the next dance banger, but because DJs also became more liberal with their choices, it motivates producers to go more weird, quirky and unconventional. Even though there is nothing unconventional about drum 'n' bass as such, the fact that the techno scene and the house scene are using more of those elements is exciting.
It’s an exciting time for electronic music and DJ culture full stop isn’t it.
I think it's definitely a renaissance period. But I also believe it can create a bit of a false idea that it's super easy. I believe in order to make quality, you still need to spend some time on some fundamentals and some knowledge and some digging, and maybe learning about music. It's great that things are booming but it also creates a bit of a shallow level to it, if you know what I mean! We still need to encourage youngsters to go explore and actually observe what you like and why you like it, maybe read the background and what this music is about and where it comes from. But of course, that's just my view on it.
Do you have any other plans that you haven't told us about?
I've been so focused on my EP and preparation that I actually didn't really give it another thought, but I'm definitely starting doing more music and remix work. I actually want to really enjoy going back into touring, because it's been so long; I don't mind just focusing on that and enjoying that for a bit. I found the beginning of 2021 really tough, because of the cold, shitty weather, and there was no prospect of anything.
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It was the uncertainty really wasn't it? Not knowing.
I felt like by the end of 2020, everyone was kind of hoping, like, okay, now the new year comes, everything's gonna be fine. And then it didn't really go that way at first! But we're in a much better place now.
Any final thoughts?
What I really want to focus on now is to acquire some more gear. And that's what I'm doing now after the renovation of my studio. I spent almost all summer on that! I was lucky to get an artist fund from the Danish Arts Council, so that is the budget I want to channel into new gear, so I can develop a bit more of a new sound! That's the plan.
Anastasia Kristensen's 'Volshebno' EP is out now via Houndstooth, get it here
Ralph Moore is Mixmag's Music Director, follow him on Twitter