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Q+A: Dinky

Potentially life-changing pregnancy complications have resulted in Dinky’s most affecting album yet

  • Words: Ian McQuaid | Photo: Uli Weber
  • 23 September 2016

‘Valor’, Dinky’s sixth album, is probably the most accomplished – and definitely the most personal – record the DJ has made in her 15-year career. She had already set the bar high, having released numerous tracks of melodic, wonky techno for labels including Cocoon, Ostgut Ton and Visionquest, as well as holding down a residency in Berlin’s seminal Panorama Bar for over a decade. But the creation of ‘Valor’ was a challenge beyond any she had previously faced.

While pregnant with her second child, Dinky was told by doctors that she was at extreme risk of losing the baby, and confined to her bed for months. Rather than allowing herself to cave in to depression, she decided to channel her turbulent emotions into writing an album, setting up a studio in her bedroom and pouring her energy into creating a body of work that was both cathartic and hopeful. The resultant project turned out to be a passionate and beautiful work; lyrically she addressed her situation over rhythms that yearned for release on the dancefloor – ‘Valor’ is an album of house music with a beating, exposed heart. Crosstown Rebels jumped in to release the album, and now Dinky – who thankfully ended up having her son with no complications – is preparing for the release of what may well be the album of her career.

The new album had a particularly intense genesis. What happened to you?

I was expecting my second child and the doctor told me I had to stay home in bed, and not move for seven or eight months, because if I did my son could be born early and I might lose him. So I had to do that, even though towards the end we realised that what they’d told me was just a preventative measure, it wasn’t actually going to happen; that I wasn’t high risk, although they’d thought I was. I had to stay in bed for two and a half months, only getting up to go to the bathroom. And so I decided to make an album and channel that energy. I had a studio in the corner of the room, so I’d be sitting down at it to record ideas. The main ideas were recorded in my bedroom while I was waiting to be released from this prison! I replayed some of it afterwards in a proper studio, but it was mostly written in the house. I drew inspiration from this time of my life, even though it was quite depressing.

How hard did you find it to translate this extreme emotional situation into music?

Lyrically it’s very different from anything I’ve done before. You’re told that pregnancy is supposed to be the most beautiful time in a woman’s life, but for me it was the most stressful and frustrating time! I was dealing with two opposing energies: I was so happy to be pregnant, and that I was having a second son, and then I was thinking that maybe he wasn’t going to survive. They tried to send me to hospital and told me that if I went to hospital everyone would do everything for me, but I rejected that. The doctor said, ‘It’s up to you, it’s your responsibility now’. It was difficult to decide what to do, but I knew at the back of my mind that it was going to be alright. I took the two energies, the beautiful pregnancy and the fear of losing him because I hadn’t gone to the hospital, and put both of them into the songs. My husband helped take care of me. It was quite a thing.

It must have been so satisfying to start DJing again once you got out of the house.

Yeah it was, although I even played at Panorama when they released me from my house while I was eight months pregnant! There were only two months when they told me to really not work. I also did a UK gig in a wheelchair. And at Panorama I was sitting down, I was out in the Garden so there wasn’t too much pressure – it was a nice set.

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