Photo: Press (Jana Woodstock)
Jana Woodstock played her last gig in Ukraine on February 19th in Odessa. Less than a week later, nothing was the same anymore. Having been based in Kyiv for the last years, the DJ and producer relocated to Berlin and found a new but familiar home in the capital of the country in which she had grown up. Since the invasion of her home country, she has been tirelessly spreading awareness, effectively turning her work as a DJ into political activism. Her sound, however, has changed, she says. Her mix for our Groove podcast is thus also a document of how the past seven months have affected her not only emotionally, but also artistically.
You played your last shows only a few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and left the country for Berlin. How have you been doing in the past months?
We all are not having an easy time right now, but we try to stay strong and support Ukraine. It’s the most important thing for us now.
Ever since, you have donated parts of your fees, played fundraisers and urged your followers to donate. Which organisations would you recommend, and what do people in Ukraine currently need the most?
I am very proud of my people and how they protect our country. Of course we all played at fundraising parties and tried to donate. It’s the least we could do. The Ukrainian people need a lot of support, especially when it comes to medicine, water and food, rebuilding their houses, animal care, cars, army equipment and so much more. So many people have lost their houses and families. They need new homes. We organised a fundraiser party at Urban Spree with local and Ukrainian artists that included a vinyl and merch market, tattoo artists and a music programme. All the proceeds were sent to Varya Lushchyk and her team from Lypa. When the Russian forces attacked Ukraine, these beautiful people started to volunteer, helping with food and rebuilding houses. There are also many organisations that came together and help to buy cars and army equipment like the Kyiv Angels and Livyi Bereh. Even local cafés or hair salons started to raise money for the army and food for civilians. Cities like Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mariupol and others in the region need the most support right now. People are without water and food there. Organisations that you can support are Kharkiv Help or the ones focusing on helping animals like Animal Rescue Kharkiv, Adopt Pbf, Ekozahust Starkon and many more.
You have very close ties with a lot of Ukrainian clubs and event series like Closer, ARSENAL XXII, Cxema, or SNAKES. How is the mood among them, what are you hearing from your friends and colleagues in Ukraine?
I am very happy to know these amazing people. From the first days on, everybody started to help the best they can. Some clubs opened their doors and provided shelter from the bombing attacks. The staff started cooking for the neighbourhood, old people and the army. They all tried to speak up about the invasion in all social media. Many are now volunteers and try to provide as much support as possible. Some are even in the army, protecting our country. We are very proud to have people like this.
What role does culture and especially music play in times of crises like this one?
I think all crises lead to more music coming out than before. Pain and the struggle for freedom and love result in a lot of writing and music making. There are many new voices, poets, and artists who have a lot to say.
You have been raised in Germany and have been in Berlin regularly over the past few years. How did you experience the city and its scene once you came earlier this year?
Berlin has always been near to my soul. The vibe is similar to Ukraine. Maybe it’s because I was born in Germany and it triggers some warm childhood memories. In Berlin I liked the professional sound system in clubs that artists from all over the world as well as many underground projects. You have many choices when it comes to concerts you can visit, etc. Ukraine already had a big underground scene with a rough and powerful sound. After a while, a strong electronic music scene in Ukraine emerged—many amazing local artists and also a lot of guests from Berlin and elsewhere.
In fact, you first got into music thanks to the German VIVA Zwei TV channel. What drew you do electronic music specifically?
I have always loved to listen to music ever since I can remember. In that period, VIVA Zwei and MTV were very big. As a six-year-old, I was a big fan of grunge music, but I also listened to many different genres and always found something new that interested me. In a sense, that was my music education. I listened to many vinyls, tapes, etc. At some point, I came across electronic music organically, but I still listen to a lot of stuff as well.
Your DJ sets and mixes are also clearly influenced by punk music, another passion of yours. Where do you see the connection between that and dance music?
The connection is inside me. I don’t know! I feel so inspired after going to doom metal concerts, for example. They give me a lot of ideas for my DJ sets, for creating and finding music with a specific sound. I feel something similar when I’m producing music.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
The last seven months were not easy for my country and I. The war is still on-going and it’s painful. In the beginning I felt broken and didn’t quite know how I could start playing again. But I understood that this is one of the things that we can do to help our people, it gives them a voice. So step by step, I started to play again, but my sound changed and this is what you can hear in this mix.
In recent years, you have also released your own music, contributing to a couple of compilations. What role does producing play in work right now?
It will be next step that I will be taking in the near future.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Rebuilding my country with good music all around.
Stream: Jana Woodstock – Groove Podcast 353
01. Homva – Palindromes
02. Marooned – Consequence of Intellectualism
03. The Dark Makers – My Mind Is Over (GODO remix)
04. Mindmatter – Le serment profane
05. Astral Scare – Echoes of Normality
06. Fangarm – The Chariot
07. NX1 & ROMMEK – Foreign Bodies
08. Last Days Of S.E.X. – Distress
09. Surit – Vera Icon
10. Achat – Chaos Walking
11. Makornik – Violent Voltage
12. Rommwick – Beth (ANFS Remix)
13. Last Days Of S.E.X. – Counter Attack
14. Dynamic Forces – Werewolf
15. AEIT – Cranium
16. Sirio Gry J – Kimera (Original Mix)
17. Uun – Liminal Space (Reprise)
18. TUNNEL – Knowing You (Liza Aikin Remix)
19. Samot – Multiple Existence
20. Evil Dust – Brotherhood
21. Cøunts – Sick Of Being Ill
22. Agency – Scooped Out Baby By The River
23. Hermeth – This Is Hardcore