EP Walkthrough: Ninajirachi takes us through her innovative new EP, Blumiere
The five-track release shows the Central Coast producer's mammoth growth, and arrives ahead of an online launch party tonight.
Header image by Christie Wilson.
Over the years, we've had the pleasure of watching some of the country's best dance musicians evolve into the heavyweights they are today, whether they're now-internationally dominating festival headliners, or musicians that back then, seemed like unexplored gold mines that'd later become the next big thing; their eventual growth maybe not taking them to a Coachella stage just yet, but they're well and truly on their way there.
Ninajirachi is an example of one of those artists, with the first time we discovered her being from tracks now-wiped from the internet (they were bangers though, promise). Back then, she was a teenager from the Central Coast still in high school, making sparkly dance music that in the space of a few years, would soon distort and warp itself into forward-thinking production that'd rival that of some of the sound's leading, cult-adored international stars; a sense of evolution - both personally and musically - near-unrivalled for anyone in the Australian dance music scene.
Over the last three years, we've seen flashes of her brilliance go by. As a producer, she's become a go-to collaborator behind-the-scenes, working on records that span from left-of-centre pop (Hartley, KLP) through to crafty, cross-continental dance collaborations (Robokid). She's been hand-plucked for remixes by Anna Lunoe, Flight Facilties and Hermitude, and in the front-and-centre spotlight, there's a sense of growth you can follow from her earliest singles, into her 2019 debut EP Lapland, into the work she's putting in today.
Her sophomore EP Blumiere, arriving today, is perhaps where this sense of internal evolution and growth is at its most potent for Ninajirachi (thus far), edging into the spotlight with five tracks that seem to encapsulate her charm and ability to showcase this through cutting-edge and creative production and songwriting unrivalled in Australian electronic, albeit for the musicians she works alongside. It's five tracks that show how she's refined her sound and dived deeper into her craft in the year since Lapland, encapsulating the sweat and tears that go not just into personal growth, but how this sense of growth effects your art, too.
From the second Blumiere hits, this feeling is instant. The EP's opening title-track is a gradually-building kaleidoscope of colour that moulds woodwind and experimentalism together in a way that makes you feel like you're listening to an off-kilter Zelda soundtrack, the rises and falls of its production intertwined with hazy vocals and melodies which range from this soothing flute-like sound to darting bursts of synthetic sampling. It's a contrast that finds itself in much of the EP in many different ways - you're constantly being kept on your toes, despite times that give the sensation of comfort and warmth.
On Alight, Ninajirachi's blend of subtle vocals and comparatively low-key percussion takes her sound into its most pop-centric territory to date, while the Coucheron-assisted Rainbow Train reminds you that you're indeed listening to Ninajirachi, stomping from the get-go with its pacing melodies and warping breakdowns that reach fever pitch in time for the song's second half. On Cut The Rope, a similar blend to Blumiere unites flashes of experimentalism with distorted vocals, while Tethered To The Body feels not so much like the end of the EP as the start of something new, presenting another pop-adjacent track whose sheen and shine could easily be Ninajirachi's next mastered sound.
Over the space of five tracks, the prowess of Ninajirachi can't be ignored. It's a nod to how far she's come since her earliest work while also seemingly paving future paths for her future to explore; its blend of riveting dance music and lo-fi pop opening a world of doors for future evolution to come. In the meantime, however, take a dive into Ninajirachi's Blumiere below with a track by track walkthrough, which sees the musician walk us through the EP's inner themes and creation one song at a time:
This song has been through it a bit. I started it in April 2018 and there have been many versions. It sat on the hard drive as a rough idea for ages - I'd come back to it every few months and chip away because I believed in it but couldn't figure it out. Even up until a week or two before it was totally finished it sounded pretty different to how it does now. I had a beta version that I was playing out on the What So Not tour in March, and I'm super bummed that shows have stopped running, because I won't get to hear how the finished version sounds on a big system for a long time. The finished version is so much better! This song was definitely a lesson in persistence though and I'm so glad for it!
When I first wrote Alight I thought it was the most exciting thing I'd ever done, because it was the first time I'd been able to transcribe my feelings into music with real accuracy and honesty. In the past when I've written lyrics they've been pretty abstract or about random and made-up stuff, but one night in December last year I was feeling very inspired so I freestyled melodies over some chords and the song literally fell out of me in an hour or so. I still have the original voice memo and the first minute of it is almost exactly the same as the first minute of the song in its final form.
It was like one in the morning and I was very sleepy, but I finished the freestyle and I was like ok, I need to write this thing right now while I'm feeling it or it'll be lost forever. I remember recording soooo quietly because I was scared of my old sharehouse-mates hearing me sing haha. At the moment I had a short-lived but weirdly intense crush on a guy, so it's kinda about that. I also made a little home video for this song which was fun. My Mum came through with the green screen and I just filmed it on my phone.
Rainbow Train (feat. Coucheron)
I started Rainbow Train on my laptop sitting outside of Whole Foods when I was in America last year. A week or two later I met Coucheron for a session and I think we made about five songs that day, one of them being this one. It was seriously one of the most productive sessions I've ever had, Coucheron is really great.
Rainbow was a suuuuper rough demo and I really liked the idea, but it was underdeveloped and I didn't know how to continue. I showed Coucheron and he helped take it to the next level. I don't really use any hardware personally but the laser sound in the drop came from one of his synths. After I got back to Australia I added the second drop and finished it all off. This song was one of my favourite moments in my sets from the last few shows I played before everything got shut down.
Cut The Rope
I started this song last year when I was in America and it was just a short, 30 second chords/melody idea. I loved the melodies and I was really obsessed with it but I didn't work on it further until early this year, and then I got to finish it off when I was staying on a friend's farm in Tasmania, which was really gorgeous and special. I usually never work this way, but I had been thinking about making a song called Cut The Rope for a while before I sat down and wrote something. The lyrics are pretty random aside from that one phrase. For a while I didn't think the drop could work with the rest of the song at all, and my plan was to split them into two songs. I have a good friend who also produces music and he convinced me to keep at it, and eventually the two parts started working together.
Tethered To The Body
Making this song was interesting because the lyrics came first, and I 'wrote' them over a few weeks while I was doing miscellaneous tasks like showering and walking to work. I would sort of just think of the next few lines and add them to my phone notes. Because of this it doesn't really feel like my writing, it feels like a ghost was gradually planting the song in my head haha. One night after a few weeks I was like, 'cool, there is a whole song here', and then I built the instrumental around the lyrics. The verse that comes after the drop was meant to be for a different song, but I got super attached to how it sounded over the Tethered chords so I decided to mash them together. I think the lyrics in that part are totally mismatched thematically, but I figured it's fine since this song kinda jumps around a bit randomly anyway.
On its release day - today, June 5th - 100% of Bandcamp sales of Ninajirachi's new EP will be donated to Australian Indigenous Legal Services & Agencies across Australia. Furthermore, she'll be launching the EP with an online party as a part of the ongoing (and very fun) Club Immaterial series, with all donations through the show being split between Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT and Black Rainbow. Get more information on the show here, and if you're able to donate money to these causes (and others), head here.
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