For as long as I’ve been in the dance music world, Nina Las Vegas has been a voice, an artist, and a selector I’ve looked up to. For years I’ve been listening to her triple j House Party and MixUpExclusives broadcasts because they were the best place to keep in touch with what was going on, both within the Australian and worldwide club scenes. She’s played a pivotal role in launching the careers of acts like RL Grime, Cashmere Cat, Flume, Flight Facilities, Swick, and many others, and this year she’ll be moving forward more quickly than ever with her own productions and recently launched label, NLV records. Nina has always been a champion of the weirder side of club music; the stuff that’s both fun and progressive. 2016 is the year she sets sights on her own original work, as well as developing the foundation of her exciting new imprint. I think we’ll be seeing and and hearing a lot more of NLV in the near future. I can’t wait.
Check our interview with Nina and her NEST HQ MiniMix below:
To start off, let’s go through a history of 2015 for you. What would you say were some major moments?
I toured America and Europe twice, which is kind of crazy. Starting a record label was massive — the NLV Presents with Djemba, Monki, and Mssingno was awesome. I think it’s hard to point out one moment, it’s all really been massive. Oh and I left the only ever job I’ve ever had… so, I guess that’s most of 2015.
Was leaving the show tough?
Honestly, things have always got to end. I don’t think anyone in Australia was surprised, really. I think I just had this moment where I was looking around and realized that all my friends I had started with had really grown up a lot; they were literally conquering the world. It’s crazy when you see friends, really good friends, sell out American and European tours, and you look at yourself and think, “Wow, I’m still doing the same job.” I just wanted to see what else was out there. You see people hitting a Jamie xx show in California and think, “Man, if I just lived a little bit closer, I wouldn’t just be sitting at home.”
So is a move to LA something that you’re considering?
No, it’s just the ability to be flexible that interests me. No one realizes that my job at triple j was produced and presented by me, and I had to be in a workplace four days a week — there’s also something to be said about having to curate that much music that you feel is worth putting out there every single week — and that makes flying across the world really hard. I have no problem being mobile and being all over the place, but I had to be somewhere at least once a week.
I felt like I did as much as I possibly could for underground club music through the show. I remember going to an RL Grime concert when I came back from Europe in July. I walked in and he had sold out two Metro Theatres in Sydney, which is about three and a half thousand tickets, and I was thinking, “He’s done it!” I felt really cool because I had been to his first show and I had put him on blast.
How do you see yourself prioritizing your time in 2016?
The label is a big priority. Recently I’ve been figuring out the timeline for the first six months, and talking to the guys at the label, and the people that we’re potentially signing as well. I want to try to do something similar to how I worked before, 9-5 pm, and then enjoy the scene outside of that. I want to go out at night, travel, tour, and all that kind of stuff. My year is pretty much filled with touring and releases, at least the first six months, so locking in the next NLV Presents, and trying to put together a tour around Australia; I’ve never done one as just myself.
What would you like your label to be, ideally?
I like to play what I like, so ultimately I’d like to create a community in which those sounds are recognized — interesting club stuff, bass stuff, faster stuff, tougher stuff, etc. An alternative to what already exists… Cross genre-ing is not as popular as other specific sounding club nights because they’re just not pulling the same kind of numbers. It’s really hard to host a pretty big, alternative club night in Australia. There’s no way you could play a nightcore set to a full room or something, y’know. A small room, yes… but maybe not 600 people.
With the label, I want to develop a community that is strong enough to pull someone completely unknown and have people believe in them. I’ve made the label non-exclusive, but I really want to do a good enough job that they’ll want to stay with me. It’s about making sure that I can provide them with what I’d like from a label, I want to make them know that I’m proud of them in the same way that Brodinski and Bromance are so tight knit; there is no urgency to sign everyone. I want to give these guys a solid support network.
It seems like there’s a drive for a feeling of family that is lacking in the overall scene right now.
Do you feel that? I do feel that. I’m not part of a particular scene, I’m friends with a lot of people but I want to make my own scene. There’s one thing to sign to a label and have the boss tweet about it, and it’s another to be on tour with that person, or to have a session with that person, or have that person as a friend. I want NLV Records to be close like that, for the signees (my friends!) to know that no matter what they need help with they can ask me. I really want them to know that I’m there.
The best example of that, to me, was Ed Banger at its peak. They all had different characters and they were all equally branded and you wanted to know everything about them.
Yes! When I first started the triple j House Party tours it was me, What So Not, Flume, and Beni. We were all there from doors open to late; start to finish the whole night, and we all danced on stage, and at that point of time (2012 & 2013) it was almost like a new thing. We were friends. We were playing together! I think I look up to collectives and labels like Ed Banger because they exist with something real behind it. Friendships existed within records labels and parties, clothing and artwork, not necessarily just co-signs and likes.
Recently, you’ve put on Trekkie Trax and JACK, do you feel like these scenes have a similar family vibe to what you’re talking about?
I love those guys. For me, Trekkie Trax are so new and so exciting. I’ve been a big supporter but I’ve also been pretty honest with Seimei [TREKKIE’s label co-head] about a few things, like, “Okay, you don’t need to do that, just chill on these, etc.,” and really trying to guide him because he’s so new to the world. But, I think that independently they’ve created this scene that is ready to fit in with everything else.
With Simon [who runs JACK and the RADIO JACK show], I went to the NTS studio with him and that was one of the most animated hours on radio I’ve ever been part of — and I’ve done a lot of radio! Every element about it was legit and real and he was so fun and excited. He only wanted me to say hello. He made the NTS studio a space where you hang out when you’re in town and he’s doing a show, and it’s so cool. He loves what he does, he’s not pushing it, he’s not doing a show a week, he just makes those moments really special. It was so cool.
For the label are you going to continue the free release platform?
No that was just a sampler. Maybe there will be another sampler or compilation done online but at the moment the goal is to get the singles and EPs out. Swick’s EP is mad. Cool collabs, vocals you’ll love, mixed in with his bubbles and killer drums. Lewis [Cancut] has been doing a lot of work with JPOP acts so that could be in his EP, Strict Face’s will not disappoint and Air Max ‘97 has just dropped two Kelela remixes, so who knows if further collabs are in the works! Air Max ‘97 has also set up his own label but he’s leaving his banger, club-tools tracks for my releases, and that’s really cool too.
For your own production, how do you like to form a track?
I like making stuff that I can play. I have been influenced by elements of nightcore and hardstyle, and I like playing fast songs, so that’s what I’m trying to make. I also have one track that’s more like 100bpm stuff, because, if you’ve seen me play, I often do go down to moombahton or Hi Tom edits of dancehall because that’s the sound I started in. At the moment I’m just getting better at writing the chords. I usually do a lot of drum rhythms first and then kind of plug everything into that, but now I’m starting to do stuff totally without drums to just get better as a songwriter.
When you make club music you have to remember what it’s for. People complain that “Contagious” was too short but I even struggle to play it all out. No one is driving home listening to “Let It Happen” by Tame Impala and then wants to go to a Miami Bass track at 10 in the morning. I want to be able to play a set with music I love and music I made. My EP is pretty much done, I wrote two tracks with my voice on it. I wrote a topline for one of the songs and kept asking other people to sing it and then Julian of The Presets told me that, “Everyone has features, you should just keep you on it.” The CZ track is pretty wild, it’s pretty much a Hardstyle track.
I am really excited about the EP, I can’t wait to hear it.
I really want to send you the bounce of this, you’re going to love it. I think, if my EP doesn’t go nuts, that’s fine. If you think about Diplo, he’s 38 and last year was the biggest year of his life. He’s so accomplished in so many ways and it’s kind of great.
I think the test of a good song is if Ike freaks out about it.
It totally is! When I had just launched the label, someone came up to me and asked, “Can you play the Lewis’ track, the one off your label?” And it almost shook me that they knew my label. And they were like, “Yea… we know your label… that’s why we’re here. We like you.” When I was at NTS with Busy P, I played Air Max ‘97’s track and he was like, “This track is amazing, I played this last week,” and I thought, “I put this out! This is mine!”. I sent Ollie [Air Max ‘97] an email and told him that Busy P loved his track and played it out before he even knew what it was. He was so excited. Even when Swick and I did the NEST release, we had a serious conversation about it. I said, “I’ll feel good if it gets 20,000 plays,” and it did, then we stopped and said, “It would be cool if one of the Illuminati DJ’s played it,” and then A-Trak tweeted that he played it! It was a total success for us.
I can’t wait to hear all the new stuff, this has been a really inspiring chat! Yea! And also, big love to the NEST, because I really do feel like it would be so easy in my perception of what LA is, for you guys to just all post the same stuff and play the same stuff, and you guys don’t, and that’s cool. It’s noted. You guys should be pretty proud of your year. It’s nice to know that weird stuff is getting love.
Check Nina Las Vegas’ NEST HQ MiniMix and tracklist below:
NEST HQ MiniMix: Nina Las Vegas Tracklist
Poor Sport – Till the World Ends
Joseph Marinetti – Jumpstyle is Low Art (Carpainter Remix)
Strict Face – Rouge Park VIP
DBM (Deadboy & Murlo) – Ride With U
DUCKY – Work
lilangelboi – Other Side Of Luv <3
AWE – 3MV
Davoodi & Bestien – Give Me Everything (CrunkD Remix)
Snappy Jit – Time 2 Go
Rebound X – Rhythm ‘N’ Gash
Masayoshi Iimori – Whirlwind
Smasher – Time Machine
Carpainter – From Your Eyes
Nina Las Vegas – Now Or Never (ft. CZ & Swick)
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Nina is on Tour!
Thurs Feb 4 – Montreal, QC – Newspeak
Fri Feb 5 – New York, NY – Slake
Sat Feb 6 – Calgary, AB – Hifi Club
Tues Feb 9 – Miami, FL – Holy Ship Pre Party
Wed Feb 10 until Sat Feb 13 – Miami, FL – HolyShip
Fri April 15 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
Fri April 22 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
Words: FAN FICTION
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