We talk about equality a lot, especially regarding diverse lineups filled with both female and male artists. It sounds simple enough, just book an average number of both artists and you’ll have a well-rounded and well-curated lineup that tailors to anyone’s favorite genres. Yet, it’s been anything but simple; women have to work extra hard to ensure that they and other artists like them can play headlining slots at festivals and clubs. Due to this, women are breaking molds and growing their influence all over the world.
One artist who is doing just that is techno phenom Nina Kraviz. Nina was born in Siberia, in a relatively isolated area of the region where she studied dental medicine and listened to underground techno as much as she could. In her hometown, there weren’t any DJs, and there definitely weren’t any female DJs, so she struck out on her own and moved to Moscow where her interest and dedication to techno really started to blossom. While in Moscow, she worked at a dental hospital for war veterans, and by night was holding down residencies at local nightclubs, paving the way for her immense success in Russian dance music community.
While she experienced success early on, it wasn’t always such an easy road. In contrast to a lot of her DJ cohorts who pre-recorded or synced sets in advance, she played completely organically. Her sets bend genres, often playing host to different ones throughout the course of her live performance, weaving dramatically between trance, hardcore, ghetto house, and acid. This creativity is what makes her stand out among the throng of techno DJs.
To Nina, it’s not just about the music. It’s about the entirety of the performance and this can be seen in her dynamic stage presence. She loves what she does and that can be seen throughout the set where she throws her entire being into it. Whether she’s dancing or hyping the crowd up, she’s never still or robotic; she’s as alive as her music.
However, her gender paired with the genre of music she chooses to make made it incredibly difficult for her to catch a break. She started playing shows in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until 2012 that she released her self-titled debut album. Throughout her career, she’s been met with resistance from the opposite sex, and Nina has stated that “people were suspicious of a pretty woman making music on her own, with a vision. They couldn’t handle me. It was like: ‘it cannot be true that you can have lipstick on and make music.'” A lot of criticism regarding Nina and her music is centered around the idea that she put her sexuality above her music and many people (and yes most of them men) are threatened by how free-spirited she is.
Even today, she is still met with criticism; men leering at her while she’s playing, and many DJs still making sexist remarks about her. It is said that success is the biggest form of revenge, and the amount of success that Nina has had despite the negativity she is always confronted with makes the fight worth it. She’s paving the way not just for herself, but for other women as well. What’s more, is that she doesn’t let that negativity stop her from doing what she loves, nor has she let it change the person she is. With hard-work, thick skin, and a never-say-die mentality, Nina has cemented her place among the elite of DJs, regardless of their gender.
If you ever have felt that you were discriminated against, treated unequally, or downright had to deal with sexism as a norm of society, then just know that you too can be successful as long as you don’t give up. It’s not an easy road, but people like Nina are making it easier. Keep fighting that good fight, keep icons like Nina in your mind as inspiration for your own life goals whether you want to DJ EDCLV or just want to find your passion. You’ve got this, don’t let anyone stop you from shining as bright as you possibly can!