Nina Las Vegas On Keeping The Club Scene Alive With New Talent, Weird Sounds & Communal Vibes

Written By Sam Murphy on 08/20/2015

[notdevice][full_width padding="0 150px 0 150px"]

Busy doesn't even scratch the surface of explaining Nina Las Vegas' current schedule. In the past year she's released original music, continued as the host of triple j's Mix Up Exclusives, toured the US twice and played countless club nights in Australia. That's without even mentioning her NLV Presents tour which is returning for a second time this year. Earlier this year Nina brought UNIQU3, Eclair Fifi and Sam Tiba down-under to tour the country with Swick and herself and starting tomorrow she's doing it all again this time with Djemba Djemba, Monki and MssingNo.

In a climate where everybody is talking about the demise of clubs, NLV is doing her bit to introduce new, weird music into the clubs and keep people out discovering and loving electronic music. And it's working. The latest Presents shows in particular gather together three of the most current names in overseas electronic music and according to Nina herself, "tickets are flying." It's exactly the breath of fresh air we need for the electronic scene in Australia.

We spoke to a jet-lagged but still-firing Nina ahead of the Presents tour about the state of the Australian clubbing scene, whether our audiences are up for weird sounds and transitioning into releasing her own music.

How did your tour in the States go?
It was unreal. It’s funny, in America you just have to work really fucking hard. You have to put the hours in or as Zac Efron says - a hit song. I’ve got songs out and I’m putting more out but you just have to be in people’s faces and play and so I’m up for it. Two tours within four months it’s kinda wild. And it’s cool because there really isn’t any girls in that scene at all and there’s me, Anna [Lunoe] and Alison [Wonderland]...it’s kinda crazy that the three of us are playing so much in the States when America is the biggest first world country in the world and it’s like how are three Australian girls playing the most?

Do you feel like you have a good community over there now?
Well I didn’t see Alison this time. But yeah of course. America and Australia are kind of like best friends when it comes to the dance world right now so…

How does the crowd compare to Australia?
It’s funny because in America I’m new there so they’re really excited because they haven’t seen me before. American kids are crazy cool and they’re so much more interactive so like you play a set and finish and you have 30 snapchats and 30 tweets. Australians love it but we’re a bit lazy, like someone might come up to me and be like “oh yeah, that was pretty good.” In America they’re Snapchatting, Instagram, Facebook...it’s like whoah. They’re just more vocal.

How are you feeling about Australian audiences right now? It’s your third presents tour and you’re bringing fresh music to them, do you think they’re responding well?
Yeah, the parties are always...the last one was so rad. It’s just like a weird time full stop. Everyone’s feeling it a bit in our scene with the venues shutting down and lock-out laws in Sydney and Brisbane. It’s not the same as it was three or four years ago but I dunno, I like club world - Bowler, GoodGod is like my second home, Revolver is sick, I’m really excited. And also tickets are flying so it’s pretty excited.

The lineup for this latest Presents show is awesome. I’m particularly excited about seeing Djemba Djemba, how’d you get them all to come down-under?
Well Djemba is a friend and he’s wanted to come back for a while now because he obviously did all that work with Alison and Maribelle - he’s working with so many Australians actually. I think he just wanted to play club shows like he did that big tour with RL [Grime] but that’s really hard. People don’t realise when you play those big shows, if he’s playing with RL Grime people expect a certain amount of trap or EDM. Djemba can do a whole bunch of things so I think he’s excited to come to this tour because it’s a looser kind of music policy. I dunno, there’s not a music policy but he could play ambient sound for an hour if he wanted too, I’d be like “yeah cool, do whatever you want.” I think that’s the thing about NLV Presents, people know that. Mssingno, I know for a fact has some really cool shit coming up and if people come see him in the same way they came to see Flume and What So Not and like Ta-Ku and Wave Racer that I toured first...I hope people trust me on this because the track record is pretty good.

[/full_width]
NLVPRESENTS1

[full_width padding="0 150px 0 150px"]

It seems like a big part of these Presents shows is the vibe between you guys up there performing?
That’s the rule, if you’re going to play these shows you have to come from the start and you finish at the end. These aren’t just coming in for the hour. That stuff doesn’t really happen anymore. Like, obviously the Warehouse Projects were a bit like that. I didn’t get to go because I was overseas but I do feel like it’s those kind of like...that’s what happened with House Party and that’s why they were so successful because you saw Flight Facilities on stage from when Wave Racer was on. It’s that party vibe.

How does it feel to be up there playing your own music now?
It’s so good. It’s the best feeling ever.

Is that nerve-wracking?
Well, people don’t really know sometimes. I’ve been playing new stuff in America because it’s cool to test it out. And then if it goes off you’re like “oh, sweet.”

Does it feel like the audiences at the Presents shows are really open to hearing new tunes?
I think so because I think that’s what’s happening with the club scene because we’ve lost a bit of that rave vibe due to the lockouts particularly in Sydney. We’ve lost the 4am to 5am slots, you know, where people play weird shit and they can do it because everyone’s there still out but now you have to go in and if you buy a ticket to a What So Not show you know you’re going to hear What So Not stuff. I’m not saying that’s bad it’s just a different vibe to club shows. The idea for my tours are always going to be club shows. I want people to come in and stay there and be up for a dance.

And I guess it’s also seeing how far you can push the last set to get people sticking around?
Yeah! And that’s the thing like last time to be honest no one knows who I toured but they were all mad fun. You hear songs you know and you hear songs you don’t and as DJs that’s the funnest.

How did you go from DJing other people’s music to deciding you wanted to make your own stuff? Was it a conscious decision?
Yeah it was. I’m a really hard worker so I couldn’t do it while I was working full time on the two radio shows so in the back of my head I just had to leave House Party to give myself more time in the studio and I didn’t want to do it half-arsed. I’ve been working really hard to get better at producing to write better songs - do my 7000 hours. You just have to. I’m up every night working on stuff. I’ve got an EP coming out later this year which is pretty much...well, it’s not done but the ideas are there. That’s been a whole years work. I wrote it with Swick as well but they’re my songs. Me and him work really well together. I’ve written songs for him and he’s written songs for me so he’ll fix my drums up and I’ll write his chords.

How did you land on your sound? It’s such a perky, colourful, bouncing sound.
Alot of the sounds Swick and I make are samples or they’re soundwaves that we make into something else and because I do listen to so much music I like pushing my ears so I guess that’s just the result. Like, I’m going to play weird stuff in the club and I wanna have people go “Oh, what was that? That was kinda off but cool.” That’s how the sounds get made, I guess.

I feel like you’re A.D.D in your approach to changing up sets. Do you feel like you get bored often and have to get new songs in there?
I struggle with that because I’ll...you know, when you do a tour and you have a set and you have stuff that you wanna play and you want to fit everything in and I did 20 shows in America just gone and by the 20th I was so bored of every song. I just had to snap out of it and think, “Ok this audience hasn’t heard this, you might’ve heard it but they haven’t heard it.”

11866418_1150058455021058_6579894524661177136_n

[/full_width][/notdevice]

[device]
Busy doesn't even scratch the surface of explaining Nina Las Vegas' current schedule. In the past year she's released original music, continued as the host of triple j's Mix Up Exclusives, toured the US twice and played countless club nights in Australia. That's without even mentioning her NLV Presents tour which is returning for a second time this year. Earlier this year Nina brought UNIQU3, Fifi Eclair and Sam Tiba down-under to tour the country with Swick and herself and starting tomorrow she's doing it all again this time with Djemba Djemba, Monki and MssingNo.

In a climate where everybody is talking about the demise of clubs, NLV is doing her bit to introduce new, weird music into the clubs and keep people out discovering and loving electronic music. And it's working. The latest Presents shows in particular gather together three of the most current names in overseas electronic music and according to Nina herself, "tickets are flying." It's exactly the breath of fresh air we need for the electronic scene in Australia

We spoke to a jet-lagged but still-firing Nina ahead of the Presents tour about the state of the Australian clubbing scene, whether our audiences are up for weird sounds and transitioning into releasing her own music.

How did your tour in the States go?
It was unreal. It’s funny, in America you just have to work really fucking hard. You have to put the hours in or as Zac Efron says - a hit song. I’ve got songs out and I’m putting more out but you just have to be in people’s faces and play and so I’m up for it. Two tours within four months it’s kinda wild. And it’s cool because there really isn’t any girls in that scene at all and there’s me, Anna [Lunoe] and Alison [Wonderland]...it’s kinda crazy that the three of us are playing so much in the States when America is the biggest first world country in the world and it’s like how are three Australian girls playing the most?

Do you feel like you have a good community over there now?
Well I didn’t see Alison this time. But yeah of course. America and Australia are kind of like best friends when it comes to the dance world right now so…

How does the crowd compare to Australia?
It’s funny because in America I’m new there so they’re really excited because they haven’t seen me before. American kids are crazy cool and they’re so much more interactive so like you play a set and finish and you have 30 snapchats and 30 tweets. Australians love it but we’re a bit lazy, like someone might come up to me and be like “oh yeah, that was pretty good.” In America they’re snapchatting, instagram, facebook. It’s like whoah. They’re just more vocal.

How are you feeling about Australian audiences right now? It’s your third presents tour and you’re bringing fresh music to them, do you think they’re responding well?
Yeah, the parties are always...the last one was so rad. It’s just like a weird time full stop. Everyone’s feeling it a bit in our scene with the venues shutting down and lock-out laws in Sydney and Brisbane. It’s not the same as it was three or four years ago but I dunno, I like club world - Bowler, GoodGod is like my second home, Revolver is sick, I’m really excited. And also tickets are flying so it’s pretty excited.

The lineup for this latest Presents show is awesome. I’m particularly excited about seeing Djemba Djemba, how’d you get them all to come down-under?
Well Djemba is a friend and he’s wanted to come back for a while now because he obviously did all that work with Alison and Maribelle - he’s working with so many Australians actually. I think he just wanted to play club shows like he did that big tour with RL [Grime] but that’s really hard. People don’t realise when you play those big shows, if he’s playing with RL Grime people expect a certain amount of trap or EDM. Djemba can do a whole bunch of things so I think he’s excited to come to this tour because it’s a looser kind of music policy. I dunno, there’s not a music policy but he could play ambient sound for an hour if he wanted too, I’d be like “yeah cool, do whatever you want.” I think that’s the thing about NLV Presents, people know that. Mssingno, I know for a fact has some really cool shit coming up and if people come see him in the same way they came to see Flume and What So Not and like Ta-Ku and Wave Racer that I toured first...I hope people trust me on this because the track record is pretty good.
NLVPRESENTS1

It seems like a big part of these Presents shows is the vibe between you guys up there performing?
That’s the rule, if you’re going to play these shows you have to come from the start and you finish at the end. These aren’t just coming in for the hour. That stuff doesn’t really happen anymore. Like, obviously the Warehouse Projects were a bit like that. I didn’t get to go because I was overseas but I do feel like it’s those kind of like...that’s what happened with House Party and that’s why they were so successful because you saw Flight Facilities on stage from when Wave Racer was on. It’s that party vibe.

How does it feel to be up there playing your own music now?
It’s so good. It’s the best feeling ever.

Is that nerve-wracking?
Well, people don’t really know sometimes. I’ve been playing new stuff in America because it’s cool to test it out. And then if it goes off you’re like “oh, sweet.”

Does it feel like the audiences at the Presents shows are really open to hearing new tunes?
I think so because I think that’s what’s happening with the club scene because we’ve lost a bit of that rave vibe due to the lockouts particularly in Sydney. We’ve lost the 4am to 5am slots, you know, where people play weird shit and they can do it because everyone’s there still out but now you have to go in and if you buy a ticket to a What So Not show you know you’re going to hear What So Not stuff. I’m not saying that’s bad it’s just a different vibe to club shows. The idea for my tours are always going to be club shows. I want people to come in and stay there and be up for a dance.

And I guess it’s also seeing how far you can push the last set to get people sticking around?
Yeah! And that’s the thing like last time to be honest no one knows who I toured but they were all mad fun. You hear songs you know and you hear songs you don’t and as DJs that’s the funnest.

How did you go from DJing other people’s music to deciding you wanted to make your own stuff? Was it conscience?
Yeah it was. I’m a really hard worker so I couldn’t do it while I was working full time on the two radio shows so in the back of my head I just had to leave House Party to give myself more time in the studio and I didn’t want to do it half-arsed. I’ve been working really hard to get better at producing to write better songs - do my 7000 hours. You just have to. I’m up every night working on stuff. I’ve got an EP coming out later this year which is pretty much...well, it’s not done but the ideas are there. That’s been a whole years work. I wrote it with Swick as well but they’re my songs. Me and him work really well together. I’ve written songs for him and he’s written songs for me so he’ll fix my drums up and I’ll write his chords.

How did you land on your sound? It’s such a perky, colourful, bouncing sound.
Alot of the sounds Swick and I make are samples or they’re soundwaves that we make into something else and because I do listen to so much music I like pushing my ears so I guess that’s just the result. Like, I’m going to play weird stuff in the club and I wanna have people go “Oh, what was that? That was kinda off but cool.” That’s how the sounds get made, I guess.

I feel like you’re A.D.D in your approach to changing up sets. Do you feel like you get bored often and have to get new songs in there?
I struggle with that because I’ll...you know, when you do a tour and you have a set and you have stuff that you wanna play and you want to fit everything in and I did 20 shows in America just gone and by the 20th I was so bored of every song. I just had to snap out of it and think, “Ok this audience hasn’t heard this, you might’ve heard it but they haven’t heard it.”

11866418_1150058455021058_6579894524661177136_n
[/device]