Djs amidst conflict – Nastia: ”Techno Music was born because of politics, because of the resistance”

Nastia, Ukrainian DJ unveils the layers of her creative journey amids the challenges her country is facing.  Our conversation spanned on her aspirations for the Ukrainian electronic music scene post conflict and how the war has reshaped local techno consumption. We also discussed emerging Ukrainian talents, like Kichi Kazuko, and her latest musical fascination, ”sky-fi techno”.

 

Nastia has made her views on the industry known. Her media presence has reflected the societal role of artists caught in the midst of conflict. There is a balance between highlighting the severity of the war and offering respite through rhythm. 

 

Her strong and grounded personality was palpable when speaking after her set at Insight in Cluj-Napoca. First impressions make an impact, and her arrival on stage the night before had a transformative effect on the atmosphere. The next day, she seemed pure and inspirational, with a distinct flare, just as compelling in person. 

 

As a fellow Eastern European, I found common ground in Nastia’s experiences. She shared insights on performing in a neighboring country,  Romania,  layers of expectations and musical evolution. ”It’s quite complicated for me to play in Romania. My story is long, and people have some expectations: one part expect me to play how I used to play 10 years ago, another part expects me to play how I play right now. Everything changed in the last 10 years, I don’t play music that I used to play then. I think I grew up out of that sound, it’s not exciting for me anymore. So yes, I like to play music that I have feelings towards. Also, the dynamic has changed for me. I like dynamic music and Romanian people like slow, chill, cool music. I like when it’s just high energy, when it’s fast and strong, but not necessarily hard or noisy, but a fat kick and a nice base line.”

 

Nastia embodies the transformative power of music from every angle, echoed by the roots of her real name, Anastasia, meaning ‘resurrection’. We discussed the Romanian party scene—its current trajectory and the potential for revitalization. ”I think it’s good in a way that Ro-minimal music is going a bit downhill, because for the last 30 years Romania has been stuck in its own bubble. It’s also good in some points that it’s a local thing and it’s well supported, but at the same time it’s a regress, not the progress. Because you’re doing the same thing all over again, the same music all the time, and there is no change. And where there’s no change, there’s degradation of the scene. I mean things must change; it doesn’t matter which direction. So, if Ro-minimal is a bit downhill it’s good because it had to happen already.”

Today, on the background conflicts in Ukraine and beyond, the way these resistance songs are used is major. The latest release under NECHTO, Nastias record label, “NECH022”, featuring Louwave & Splinter (UA), some of the best Ukranian artists at the moment, is one of the testaments to the resilience of Ukrainian culture. ”The guys who made this music, they are strong and grounded, and they are professionals. In terms of production and playing live music, they are killers, honestly. I don’t like to use words like smashing, killing, or the one for the book, but they really deserve this expressions and compliments, because despite the bombs flying above, they lock themselves in the studio every day, every night, and they jam in, jam in, jam in constantly. And the groove they got together is amazing.”

 

Louwave & Splinter (UA) „NECH022” is out now under NECHTO Records, check it here.

 

Another important protest song for Nastia is „I Need Ammunition” by Vitalii Symonenko, released under the label AC55ID. She used to play this track in the intro of all her sets at the beginning of the war. The track starts with the voice recording of a Ukrainian soldier that was on an island on the Black Sea, which was attacked at the beginning of the war, who said on the radio ”Russian warship, go fuck yourself”. This song has such a protesting energy.”

 

Listen to Vitalii Symonenkos’s EP „I Need Ammunition” here.

 

Nastia’s creative process combined pure emotion with her creation, capturing the essence of a nation with an undefeated spirit. Her music and that of her peers offer solace, temporary escapism, but also a reminder – to dance is to be free. When I asked her how often she is playing in Ukraine she seemed amused, but at the same time her eyes were sad and hopeful: ”It’s the first time in my life when I haven’t played in Ukraine for two years. It never happened before since my career started in 2005. But I’m coming back in January, I’m doing a little party for the nation. The entrance is free, and you can donate how much as you want, is your decision. I just wanted to make a little showcase of my label.”

 

The political charge of music is clear. People say “keep politics out of music”, but we are affected by these conflicts in almost every aspect of our lives. All artist endorsements can now represent a cultural weapon against oppressive regimes. Through voices like Nastia’s, we are reminded that even in dark times music is a light that never ceases.

 

I don’t know why or when people started to say that music is not political, it was born because of politics, because of the resistance, so it’s ridiculous to say it’s not.”

 

Watch the full interview with Nastia here.
Interviu realizat de Denisa Moldovan si video Andrei Bonda impreuna cu Gabriel Neascu.

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