Interview - Nina Las Vegas
We talk the future of dance in Australia, whose killing it elsewhere, and just good club music.
As people's obssession with the Australian dance music scene grows and grows with peoples' eyes and ears on us more firmly then ever, it's become essential that we have someone not only championing what we do here, but introducing us to sounds from around the globe to keep us on our toes. It's a tiny bubble down here, and while the Internet has seen to the ease of music discovery/sharing, it can get easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Enter Nina Las Vegas, the former House Party hostess who after a well-deserved few months "off" (see: exploring music all over the world), she's back with a new tool for exposing the world to our scene and vice versa. Taking full control of Triple J's Mix Up Exclusives, hosting DJs and producers from here and abroad, it's the perfect platform for discovering new music, find out who's killing it here, and listen to something you perhaps never thought you would.
Ahead of her closing set at CIRCO Festival this weeend (TICKETS HERE), we got talking about who/what's blowing up overseas, what role Mix Up Exclusives will play going forward, and the future of events down under. Keep your eyes/ears peeled for part two, where we'll get stuck into CIRCO, along with who she thinks is killing it in Perth and abroad.
How was your trip overseas?
It was great, really good, super inspiring, exciting, fun.
Was it a good chance to do some exploring musically?
Basically it made me realise the world was huge. There’s so much going on and it’s really easy to get caught up in what’s going on at home. Which is also exciting. But also just having a broader perspective. Like what could the Australian scene be like? What could my show be like? What could my gigs be like? And also taking that energy – like everyone is focused on Australia right now in America. But in London not so much. Which is interesting. And it’s like so how do we push it further?
What was going on over there that stood out for you?
Honestly there’s so much that hasn’t hit here yet. Like the whole PC music thing. In London everyone is frothing about PC music. It’s like AG Cook, Sophie etc. And then when I was at Miami everyone was going crazy over a guy called Ape Drums and Kid Kamillion, whose made all the Boys Noize stuff with Spank Rock, and then Diplo tweets a Major Lazer photo and obviously those dudes are there. And then you see Diplo is working with Sophie and it’s like wow… I feel like there’s so many great scenes happening. And there’s other stuff, like in France the ClekClekBoom stuff is huge, the Bromance stuff is not just Brodinski there’s a whole bunch of people working on stuff, and likewise with Marble and stuff like that. There’s definitely scenes that we don’t really know about, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Mix Up Exclusives.
For me the radio is really exciting in Europe. NTS is killing it, and Rinse in France is also really amazing. BBC are also all over it but in different ways, targeting their UK audience first… We have such a big perception of what BBC is, that it’s huge… But that’s because it has a history, as Europe has been across dance music for ages. I started to realise while I was away that Mix Up could be a really amazing hub for cool shit that’s happening in Australia (because people have their eyes on us), and also what’s hidden deep within the dance scene. You know, not just what’s making the charts, not just EDM, not just Soundcloud stars etc.
It’s not a negative perception either, I just can see a gap here, and can say, ‘Okay people are loving Australians in America’, and it felt cool because everyone that knew Wave Racer and Flume and What So Not and everything kinda knew Triple J as well. I find it pretty rare that we’ve got this nice interaction with America happening, which is amazing. Like Skrillex is co-signing everyone, like Anna’s release happened because Emoh, Anna, me and him were hanging out and she played it for him. And it’s like, that stuff is so cool, and only made possible now because we’re in it. And it’s exciting.
Now you do have a bit more time, I’m gonna ask you what I always do and see how your own stuff is coming along?
Yeah that’s the goal this year, I’m playing some shows in America this year like the Mad Decent Block Party and some other stuff early next year, and so I guess I have to actually pull my finger out and do stuff that I’ve started. Now’s the time!
Can you focus more on your own stuff now?
Yeah and Triple J are really supportive of that. It’s not something I’m distancing myself from. I want Mix Up Exclusives to have the same spotlight as BBC’s mix shows – that’s my goal. To do that you actually have to scream a bit louder, if that makes sense. I feel like I’ve been in the game long enough to be a bit more vocal about what I do. When for ages I used to just be in situations and occasionally swap stuff, but now… I was saying to someone before, now I can actually say, ‘Hey, I want that to play’. Whereas House Party might not have been the platform to play more obscure stuff, now I’ve got a platform for that. And hopefully it can get out.
And also playing cool events. Like what you guys do with the festivals is cool, but it’s also a weird time. Because, Sydney especially is having these weird lock-out rules, and there’s no shortage of people making music, I just think now we have to work on having good parties. And how different it is going out in London than it is going out in Sydney, you know? There’s people who wanna hear cool stuff, you don’t have to drop stuff everyone knows, you can just do what you want. And that’s what I wanna push, be myself, and encourage other people to do.
How do you do that?
You just start small. So if I do another NLV series, it will just be small – that’s the thing. I’m just gonna be realistic about it, you have to kinda sit back and say, ‘Okay we can do the big things, that’s cool, but I’m gonna do a party that sick people playing sick stuff for people that wanna hear that’. Communities have to start small you know?
How’s your record crate looking after being away for a few months?
I’ve DJ’d like three times since I got back! Trying to recoup missed income while I was away haha. I’ve been playing heaps, and I swapped heaps of music while I was away.
So what are your sets looking like at the moment?
My first set was Newcastle, and I gotta play Canberra tomorrow, so I dunno how much I can push it, but definitely… Like Sinjin Hawke played here last week and kids loved it right? He was able to put that kind of clubby, voguey scene into his mixes while keeping it bassy. Obviously people know I like bass music and stuff like that, but maybe I’ll switch between old school baltimore stuff and a bit of Jersey as transitions, and you know playing stuff that’s cool, and I still like heavy things too, and I do like good, well made club tracks. I really like what DJ Snake does you know? I think it’s cool!
Good club music is good club music.
Exactly! I like that Anna is back, I like that Bag Raiders are back, The Aston Shuffle, The Presets… I think that’s really cool too, you don’t have to focus on everything that’s new all the time.