Photo: Press (Alinka)
Chicago’s status as the birthplace of house is undisputed, however it is not like the city and its sound hasn’t changed since the years in which DJs like Ron Hardy or Frankie Knuckles helped making a new sound popular that quickly conquered dancefloors all over the world. Alinka was not born in the Windy City, but discovered and fell in love with the new house sound when it was still a regional phenomenon. Now living in Berlin, the Twirl co-founder still keeps the traditions alive while trying to push the envelope, either in tandem with her production partner Shaun J. Wright or as a DJ. Her contribution to our Groove podcast may at first feel vintage, however none of the tracks is older than three years. It’s one of those mixes that creates a dialogue between what was, what is and what may be.
You were born in Ukraine and relocated to Chicago in 1988, a formative year in house music history. You have specifically cited local radio shows as a significant influence. Which role did local radio have in these days, for you personally and for the scene?
Considering this was not the age of the Internet and we didn’t have all of the ways to access music that we do now, this was vital. For me personally and I’m sure for many others like me it was a way to access House music when you’re perhaps too young or unfamiliar with the scene to find it any other way. I started hearing it on the radio and hearing DJ’s mixing before I was old enough to go to parties or even knew what this music was. Hearing DJ Funk or Cajmere tracks on the radio and Bad Boy Bill and others was my gateway into it whether I knew it then or not. The energy of those tracks stayed with me for years until I dove into it fully when I was at university. I still get massive flashbacks into my youth hearing those tracks I remember from the radio, so I think it’s a tremendous part of my musical upbringing.
As a producer, you have been collaborating with Shaun J. Wright for almost all of your releases. What characterises your musical partnership?
I think our musical collaboration is a reflection of our friendship. There’s a lot of love and support and trust there. We let each other do our thing and push each other, and it’s always organic. We both grew up in Chicago so we have that bond, but also different perspectives in music and life. It’s always inspiring to work with him, he’s an amazing person and artist. When he entered into my life and we started making music everything changed for me, and I wouldn’t be here today otherwise. I gained the confidence to finally grow into myself and found the love I had for dance music again in 2012 when we met, and my life spiraled into what it is today. So I’m very grateful.
A few years back, you have relocated to Berlin, while Wright stayed in Chicago. How does your working process look like these days?
Shaun was in Berlin quite a bit the first years after I got here, so we finished a lot of music during that time some of which isn’t released yet. When we can’t be there in person we bounce ideas back and forth electronically, and then record the tracks when we’re back in the studio together. Shaun has also started producing music on his own and has his own studio set up so we’ll be working back and forth that way as well when we can’t be in the same room. But it’s also given us time to focus on solo projects right now, which is exciting. We support each other in all our musical endeavors and our collaboration is a big part of that, but not something we rely on exclusively to be creative and productive which makes it easier to enjoy it when we do have that time to be in the studio together.
Together with Wright you have also started the Twirl label in 2014 after organizing parties together with Mr. Wright under the same name in Chicago. While most of the earlier releases featured mostly your own productions, you have started bringing new producers in. What is the concept of Twirl?
We started the label as a way to have full creative control of our output, and to showcase our friends and the artists we love. We’re both very conscious about diversity and want an equal balance of artists on our roster representing just that. Stylistically we’re both into a wide range of music so we’ll never be put in a box as artists and I think Twirl is a reflection of that, we’re open to whatever inspiring music the future holds.
“‘File under: Music that makes everything bearable.’ – Thank you, Groove, you don’t know how true these words actually are for me”, you wrote on Facebook, quoting a write-up on Virginia’s remix of “Falling For You”. Is there a specific story behind that track?
I was more referencing that creating this music makes the rest of the things I have to deal with as an artist in this industry and generally in life bearable.
To me the music, and having the label feature artists I truly love and respect like Virginia makes it all worth it. As we all know this industry can be really difficult at times, so the tracks are a constant reminder of why I keep pushing on.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast puts an emphasis on acid sounds, but also vocals. What was your idea behind it?
I didn’t have so much of an idea behind it. I think that’s just naturally what I am attracted to musically, and a good representation of me as a DJ. I must say though it really meant a lot for me to do this podcast, and I don’t think I’ve ever worked so diligently on a mix. I’ve been a fan of the magazine for a long time and it was an honor to be included. I started out with 100 songs, narrowed it to 20 after three days of messing around. Recorded one take, and sent it off to Shaun and my friend Tijana for approval, and even though it was exactly what I wanted, I recorded four more takes for the hell of it to see if I can get it to sound even better until I was happy with the final version. I know, Virgo problems, but I hope you and your listeners enjoy it as much as I did making it.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label co-owner?
I’ll be at Berghain/Panorama Bar the weekend of January 19th. I’m currently finishing some remixes for Nein Records, Hannah Holland and Batty Bass, Joyce Muniz for Gigolo Records, and Jozef K for W&O Street Tracks. I’m also finishing a track for DJ Pierre’s Afro Acid label compilation, and working on a few solo EPs and more collaborations with Shaun and my friend Ahmad. And I have an EP that will come out on Posthuman’s label, so quite busy right now in the studio. Twirl has a really exciting year of releases scheduled. Our next one comes out December 28th with Lupe and a remix by LA-4A that’s included on this mix. I’m also playing at Sónar Reykjavik this spring so that’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward in sharing more music with the world; I think it will be a great year.
Stream: Alinka – Groove Podcast 191
01. Mavin – Time Is A Promise (Snuff Crew Remix) (Random Records)
02. Alden Tyrell – SAY WUT (808) (Original Mix) (Delft Records)
03. Lupe – The Prince & The Pilgrim (LA-4A Remix) (Twirl Recordings)
04. Helena Hauff – C45p (Dark Entries Records)
05. Mijo – THXTASY (Duro)
06. The Hacker & Jensen Interceptor – Time Echo (Lone Romantic)
07. Cowboy Rhythmbox – Vodonik (Phantasy Sound)
08. Broken English Club – Let’s Play (L.I.E.S. Records)
09. Tim Xavier – Post EMT (BPitch Berlin)
10. Cyrk – Superior Things (Vakant)
11. Chinaski – Ab In Die Ewigkeit (Bordello A Parigi)
12. Bézier – Centrifuge (Dark Entries Records)
13. Bawrut – I Hear Voices (Lauer Remix) (Ransom Note)