FeaturesWritten by Sally McMullen on August 4, 2017
What have you achieved so far in 2017? Half-assed your new year’s resolution? Successfully broke your personal binge-watching record on Netflix? Well, unlike us crumbs, sitting still isn’t something that Australian EDM royalty Nina Las Vegas is used to.
This year, the 32-year-old triple j radio-host-turned-producer and DJ has already supported Diplo on his Australian tour, recorded some new tunes and produced a bunch of artists while running her record label NLV. Not to mention she’ll be spending the next few weeks touring the States before hopping over to Europe.
“I’ve been home for a month and a half and I was like ‘I’ve had the most boring year!’, until I realised that I did a tour with Diplo, I’m going back to the States soon. It’ll be the third time I’m going to America this year and it’s only July. And then I was like ‘Ok, Nina, you need to chill,’” she laughs when we speak about her schedule in mid-July.
As well as touring up a storm, Nina has released two new tracks this year: ‘Desert’ and ‘Freeze’. While ‘Desert’ draws on the history of her family’s migration from Egypt to Australia, ‘Freeze’ is an icy and otherworldly instrumental track. It was originally inspired by her boyfriend’s favourite jumper “Mr Freeze”, but the song also represents an alternative to the hyper-masculine (or “bro-ey”, as she calls it) culture within dance music at the moment.
“For some reason every song has to have a crazy drop,” Nina says. “Recently I went out to a club in Sydney and it was no joke all guys at the front and it was all about ‘hands up’. And I think that’s fine but dance music to me has always been about dancing and being able to enjoy it anywhere in the room. So, I’m just trying to make music that sounds pretty but is still tough.”
And ‘Freeze’ is just that. Driven by sharp synth, pounding percussion and otherworldly warbles, the track doesn’t rely on lyrics or aggressive drops to make its point. The absence of vocals is another way that Nina has created a dance track with versatility that makes it work at home or at the club.
“As much as I love showing emotion through lyrics, I like making emotion through sounds. I think it’s so much less intense if I don’t put my vocals on it because people can listen to the noises rather than me being the noise. It’s just a different way to produce music,” Nina says.
And while the new tunes have been welcomed with open arms by the likes of triple j and DJs in Australia, Nina is also enjoying sharing her unique sound to new listeners overseas.
“Audiences in Europe and the States like cool, weird music. So I’ve had such a fun time playing to them because they’re very responsive to everything,” she says.
“American audiences are amazing because they come prepared. If they see someone on the bill they’ll research beforehand and there’s so much more engagement in terms of how many people are there. And then you’ll play the set and people come up and ask, ‘Oh, what’s your Soundcloud? What’s your Twitter and Snapchat? Where can I find more?’” she says in her best American accent. “Whereas in Australia we’re just so chill.”
After no doubt picking up a few more foreign fans, Nina will be returning to Australia soon ahead of Snowtunes festival in September, where she’ll join the likes of Gang Of Youths, SAFIA, DZ Deathrays and Tkay Maidza Based in the Snowy Mountains.
Considering your typical music festival is characterised by warm weather and scantily-clad punters, it won’t be your average outdoor festy. As a seasoned snow-goer, though, Nina isn’t turned off by the frosty setting.
“I actually really love the snow. I’m from Wagga Wagga so I used to go semi-regularly when I was in primary school and high school. But I haven’t been in so long!” she says. “And yeah, I’m excited to see what it’s like. I want to see people dancing in jackets (laughs). Plus, the line-up is great, so I’m excited!”
When she’s not touring, the multitalented minstrel has planned to spend the rest of the year creating some new tunes. But when can we expect a follow up to her 2016 EP Ezy Or Never?
“I’m working on a bunch of stuff and producing other people at the moment, so that’s cool,” she says. “But I take a while with my tracks and although I’ve been doing it for ages, I still feel new at it. So, I would like to release a new body of work at the end of the year if it feels right.
“But people consume music in such a different way now. If I put an EP or an album out, there will be songs that get missed. With dance music or electronic music, I don’t think I’m at a place where people listen to everything I release a million times over yet. So, it’s kind of like, is it worth it putting out music that might get missed?
“I want a banger as well that isn’t obnoxiously intense,” she adds. “And I don’t know if that’ll work on an EP or on its own as another club track. So, I’m just working on stuff and finding the time to do it.”
If you’re worried about how NLV will find time to create said banger amid her busy schedule, don’t fret. There are still four months left in 2017 and for Nina Las Vegas, that’s plenty of time.
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