Before Nina Kraviz‘ career as a DJ and producer really took off, she hosted a radio show in her home town of Irkutsk, Siberia and interviewed techno and house legends like Juan Atkins, Richie Hawtin and DJ Hell for the Russian club culture magazine Ptuch. With her new column for Groove she now returns to her roots as a music writer. In the first installment of the series Kraviz confesses her love of vinyl and her passion for record digging.
„I’ve read a lot about Ostankino Tower“, said Okino Shuya of the Japanese group Kyoto Jazz Massive when the duo arrived in Moscow to play a gig. For some reason the plan to visit the 540 meters tall television tower didn’t work out and instead I was instructed by my boss at the agency where I worked at that time in between my medical studies and part-time journalism to bring the guys to a second-hand vinyl record store. The store was famous for its incredible range of music from classical to jazz and especially for rare weird soviet 60s and 70s stuff. It was really huge. Exploring the store in anticipation of Shuya I almost got lost in one of the rooms, when he suddenly bumped into me with the face of someone with a great plan. He handed me a George Duke record and said: „Take it. That’s your thing!“
I was convinced. Many years have passed ever since, but the feeling of possessing a record remained as much thrilling as it was that day. There are many ways one can purchase music these days and it probably makes sense to combine them all as each way get’s you something very specific. But for me personally, there is nothing more exciting than finding a gem in a real record store. Waking up, ready to perform a ritual, a very meditative one in fact, an intimate and quite liberating procedure of going through layers of sounds creating your own little space where all concerns are left out(away) and the only big question is whether you like what you hear or not. Well not only hearing, but „looking“ the record in the eye, feeling it in your hands is actually very important to make the right pick.
I have noticed that most of the time I know how „my“ records look like. It helps a lot when I am digging in a second hand record shop. In Berlin, I always hang out at Record Loft. Going through unsorted and at times totally unknown records requires hours of time and loads of effort. But knowing the type of artwork, covers and fonts of your preferred records will most probably help you a lot with making a precise and relatively quick pre-selection and avoids going through the whole bunch of boxes. Of course, spending the entire day in a dusty store is not for everyone. It can be tiring even for a junkie like me, but I need this experience for building up and maintaining my own musical vision.
I love it when the majority of records in a store is unknown to me and everything is placed in a totally random order with not much reference to anything. Nothing is recommended, no notes about the genre or a record label, no „tip“, no „brilliant EP“, „limited edition“, „in store sales only“ or other form of stimulation. I think only in this case my choice is pure, comes directly from my heart and is processed with a clear mind and intense imagination. That’s how I normally find my secret weapons: Special records that trigger something in me. With those I establish almost a sort of intimate relationship. Dealing with records is very creative and it helps me to shape my sound, to find new inspiration. It is also very human because it includes massive amount of emotional interaction. Whenever I find something special, I feel absolutely ecstatic. It feels like you have just won a battle or at least a million in the lottery.
Record shopping is a very social thing. Sometimes I go to record stores just to hang out and still check some records, but in a different, more relaxed mode. This way a different fish gets in the net. It is fun to ask a store owner who almost feels like a part of your family „what’s up?“, to negotiate the price or exchange stories with a total stranger. Somehow it gives me a very warm feeling of unity. But the most important thing is that after all the effort, focus and dedication, I find something that I really value, which I can’t wait to take home and eventually – oh yes – share it with people on the dance floor. Back at home I put the record on a turntable and with a face of someone who has a great plan I think: „Great, that I took it. That’s definitely my thing!“