In my nearly five years of working on FKOF, I can count the number of times I’ve worked with a female producer or DJ on one (maybe two) hand. Whenever it arises, why that may be is always a topic that inspires debate in the predominantly male field that dubstep is these days.
Thankfully, there are a few women out there who are showing the boys a thing or two. L U S H is easily one of the best DJs we’ve ever hosted a mix by, the more said about Eva808 the better, TUBA brand manager Corina is an integral part of the label, then there’s the amazing Katharina of KP Agency who represents some of the best artists/ producers in the sound.
Our next interviewee is another of these wonderwomen, and she also happens to come from the darkest depths of Russia. Of all places. Katya Shutnizza recently got in touch – after an appearance on GetDarker TV a few months ago – and asked if she could put together and submit a FKOF Artist Highlight mix. If you caught her set on GDTV (watch below if not), you’ll know why I said yes as soon as she asked. We sat down and discussed her roots, her vinyl and her goals in one of the longest and most in-depth interviews I’ve done in ages. I recommend hitting play on the Shutnizza mix, this one’s a long read…
Katya, how are you? Where are you in the world at the moment? Hello there! I am good, thank you – happy to answer these questions! I am in Yekaterinburg, my home city in Russia. I’m leaving for Outlook soon, so it’s a busy time – lots of things to finish before I go.
How did you first get into bass music – and when did you first start DJing? Well, that’s an interesting story. It all started with DnB for me in 2006. I was sixteen when I first heard this kind of electronic music. It was just about listening to the tunes ’til I went to the club for the first time. The guy on the stage was playing vinyl and I was just staring at him stunned! I couldn’t even understand what exactly he was doing, making the tunes I had heard before sound completely different by blending them into each other so smoothly and gently! It was a truly magical experience – the guy was an artist. I admired his performance much. To me, DJing is more than just fun – you’ve got to have talent and perfect hearing to do it. So since then, I’ve started listening to mixes for blends that trigger goosebumps with those strong moments. I always wondered if I could DJ, if I could also make people experience goosebumps – but those thoughts were more like dreams than a goal to reach. At the time, the DJ art seemed like higher science to me – something exceptional and incomprehensible.
I started listening to dubstep in late 2010 when it was extremely popular in Russia. It also was a time when DJ equipment and software was becoming readily available and every 10th person was becoming a DJ.
It wan’t the thing I had admired before – most of the DJs were just turning popular tunes on and fading them out to drop other popular ones. It’s a sad thing, everything is getting globalised – even DJing, the higher science! I don’t know, maybe the universe heard my thoughts, but by a happy and tragic accident I broke my leg one day and was unable to walk properly for a month . So I spent most of time at my boyfriend’s place. He’s a DJ and has the full vinyl set up at his place. Once I was sitting on a couch and staring at the tables and mixer and finally asked if he could teach me. And he showed me the magic. I started practicing every day using Traktor scratch vinyl time codes with my favourite 140bpm tunes, learning the science of blend, features of frequencies and philosophy of bass music.
In early 2012 I was supported by local promo group Sub-line and started playing at their events. I then became part of the crew and started to help organising events with the likes of Kryptic Minds, District and Sparxy in Ekaterinburg. I enjoyed being a part of community of people who were obsessed with the music, and it was my big chance to try myself on the other side of the (DJ) table. I loved it. This is how it all started for me!
You’re one of few other female DJs in dubstep/ bass music. Do you have any thoughts on why this could be? Well I should say dubstep is mostly not the typical girly kind of music. But it always depends on the person. Every kind of music touches specific strings of the soul and mind – some people feel the deepness and vibe of the bass, some people don’t. I guess it’s more about DJs in general than specifically about female DJs. There are so many DJs today, but lots of them seem to do what they do to seem fashionable and modern, not for the music itself. It’s sad because the image of the DJ – as in the creator – is turning into an image of an entertainer with a pack of popular tunes from a popular genre – it doesn’t seem to matter which one. I won’t name any of these DJs, but we usually pass them by and freeze in admiration in front of the true music lovers who really feel that they are part of a sound and want to bring the vibe to their audiences.
A lot of people will have first discovered you when you recently appeared on GetDarker TV with your epic three deck, all-vinyl mix. How did that set come about? Oh good memories! It was a big break for me to get an invite to GetDarker TV. I must pay tribute to Katharina Pristolic, who introduced Lee to me! I wasn’t sure if there I’d be able to play three decks until the day before the show. Nobody had ever done three decks in the GetDarker studio, even the table isn’t built for three decks! But Lee rebuilt the studio for this session – he placed the third deck (which apparently was borrowed from Distance?!) ) on a spare table for me. And, even considering the fact that I soaked in the rain, got lost in London, arrived at the wrong address and was really late, I did it. Big ups and much love to Lee for his patience and helpfulness!
You’re a pretty accomplished vinyl DJ – are you one that worries about what format you should be playing on or have you been known to play on CDJs?! Does it matter? Vinyl is my big obsession. As I said, I started DJing on vinyl time codes and I was happy with it – until I tried to blend real vinyl for the first time. It was love from first touch! Despite the fact that digital gives more opportunities and much more music is being released on the format, I truly enjoy the process of blending vinyl. Vinyl is the best expression of music to me. All the depth of the bass, emotions of the melody and strength of the drums is kept in a heavy plate. You can physically feel the sound under your fingers. Music becomes physical on vinyl, even if it’s been produced in digital.
Anyway, I still use Traktor scratch because some tunes are never released on vinyl or have never been released – so I cannot limit myself with vinyl only. But it is my big love and I really appreciate that people are getting interested in vinyl again.
You’re on SUB FM, having hosted a show since last year. What are your key ingredients for a good set on radio? My key ingredients are selection, good blends and soul. I truly love what I do and always do my best to make people’s day better with the vibe. Sub FM is a big and important part of my life because I can experiment there and get feedback, which inspires me to improve and move forward after every show. Besides this, Sub FM is a family, – a big international family – which unites DJs from different countries and it’s an honour for me to be a part of it. Bass matters, we all know this!
Any standout tunes for you from this year? I’ve got two favourites by now – both on Uprise Audio – Always Love by Asylum and Apollo by LSN. There are actually lots of tunes I could mention! The music is changing, it’s becoming more minimalistic and strong, which really my cup of tea. You hear it in the mix, but I should definitely mention Uprise Audio and Seven in particular. I’ve followed the label since its conception and have collected all of the vinyl releases. These guys are going to shake the foundations – that’s for sure!
As well as DJing, you also promote events in your local town of Yekaterinburg in western Russia. Our boy Sparxy came out and played with you 18 months or so ago. What’s your local dubstep scene like? There was a time when dubstep was extremely popular in Russia – particularly in Yekaterinburg. We were promoting huge events with Sub-line there, including the one where Sparxy performed. We had venues for this kind of music and people loved them!
But then people just started losing interest in dubstep, when new bass music like juke and trap came onto the scene. There were even people saying dubstep had outlived its usefulness. But there are still lots of people who listen to 140 and follow their favourite artists, there are still promoters who promote events in their cities (even just with local fans and DJs). The scene is being supported on some levels. I truly believe that there is a big chance to revive the scene. The music is changing, it’s becoming stronger and more confident – I felt that when I was in London this year. London is just buzzing with sound and this buzz should come to Russia. Again!
You’ve got a killer gig with Yunx and SP:MC coming up later this year – who else have you hosted in the dance? If there’s an artist you really want to book, who would it be and why? This is the gig I want to use to wake up the scene in Russia. Youngsta is an artist I’ve always admired, he’s a mad talented DJ with outstanding technique and a perfect selection. People in Russia follow him and they are definitely looking forward to his performance alongside SP:MC. The line-up consists of bright representatives of the scene who keep pushing true sound in their cities. Headspace from Saint Petersburg runs a local dubstep promo group and arranges regular events – we brought Gantz to Saint Petersburg in March 2014 together. Inkey, who ran the famous The FAT! movement in Moscow and arrange underground parties in his Vibrating Room project, Thirteen Seven and Mugrah, who run Techbureau events in Perm and educate the audience with some of the lowest bass they’ve ever heard. They’re all going to bring oldschool vinyl for a back to back session to the party.
So the line up appears to be really interesting. I hope the event will attract listeners from all over the country and that it will be very massive. If the party is a success, I’ll definitely continue arranging events and bring more artists to Russia. I don’t want to share all the secrets, but I really want to do an Uprise night next! These guys have built a very impressive sound. It would be a pleasure for me to introduce them to a Russian audience…
So DJing and promoting. Have you ever tried your hand at producing? Your GDTV set was a mix of old and new classics – what producers are you feeling at the moment? I actually did, but I’ve never shared it anywhere. I am very focused on DJing at the minute, improving my technique and experimenting with styles and scratching. I think it’s just not the time for me to produce yet. I don’t know maybe tomorrow I will wake up and feel like producing a tune though!
My mixes always consist of a few good oldies and fresh hits, so the blends always sound interesting and unexpected. For example good old Kalawanji by Kromestar and Compa’s Dem A Talk refix – the strongest blend I’ve found lately, you will hear it in the mix. So it’s hard for me to say who I am feeling right now, because I usually feel the sound in general and always choose tunes which will fit my selection best. I’ve got old Osiris music releases and Deep Medi ones, lots of Tempa old and new, Innamind, Chestplate, Uprise Audio on vinyl. The tunes I select for my mixes are always meant to make a story in the mix. Every mix is special and varies in mood and emotion, but it always make sense. For sound lovers!
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us? This mix consists of my latest favorites from Tempa and Uprise Audio, some unreleased materials and good classics. When I was thinking over the selection, I decided to make this mix about me, heavy and tender at the same time. Deep and sensible, atmospheric and strong. I hope you love it!
Any final words or shoutouts? Good luck for the Yunx show and hopefully see you soon! Thank you very much for your interest in me. Big up FatKidOnFire! Big shout to my girl Katharina Pristolic, who always supports me in both my promoter activities and in my DJ career. Out to Youngsta for being the biggest source of inspiration for improvements. Out to Beehtrix my big bro for being there! Out to Eddy Seven for his support, out to the Sub.FM crew for being a family. Out to my boyfriend who always cheers me up when I feel lost and for bringing me to this sound culture – which is now the biggest part of my life and my biggest passion!
Click to DOWNLOAD (115MB)
- Fat Freddy’s Drop – Cay’s Crays (digital mystikz remix) [The Drop]
- Biome – Genesis [Tempa]
- Kaiju ft. Flowdan – Hunter [Osiris]
- Indiji – Shake The Foundations [Uprise]
- Skeptical – Echo dub [Tempa]
- Youngsta ft. Seven – Architects [Tempa]
- LSN – Apollo [forthcoming Uprise Audio]
- Split – Jah no dead [Squinty Bass]
- Kromestar ft. Cessman – Kalawanji [Deep Medi]
- Mavado – Dem A Talk (Compa refix) [WX/WL]
- Epoxy – Vision [Phantom Hertz Recordings]
- LSN – Renegade [forthcoming Uprise Audio]
- Skeptical – Chain Reaction [Tempa]
- Beehtrix – Staying Still [dub]
- Kaiju – Belcanto [Osiris Music]
- Outbreak – The Hunt [Infra Tribez Free]
- Beehtrix – Soungyal Dead [dub]
- Youngsta ft. Seven – War Cry [Tempa]
- J:Kenzo ft. Rhianna Kenny – Eyes Wide Open (Youngsta and Jubei remix) [Tempa]