True to form, it’s been another hugely abundant start to the year for Simina Grigoriu. Hot off the back of her immense Rooftop Ballerina / Pirouette EP in January and a subsequent brace of remixes for Torsten Kanzler and Dok&Martin, the first quarter of the 2022 has also seen the Berlin-based DJ, producer and label head release her first NFT collection on CryptoDJs and embark on her most extensive tour of North America to date. Now, as Simina looks to continue her abounding run of form further into the New Year, she announces an imminent return to her beloved Kuukou Records with the majestic new single 1981. Released as a follow-up to her nostalgic 2021 hit record Bucuresti, 1981 is nod to the year Simina was born and was created as a touching tribute to her mother, who protected her and her brother through some incredibly tough years growing up in an oppressed Romania in the early eighties. We caught up with Simin to find out more…
Hey Simina, great to chat! How has 2022 been for you so far? Are you feeling optimistic about the year ahead?
Yes! It feels like things are finally coming together again and I’m choosing my bookings wisely as I have to juggle my passion for music and touring as well as my love and responsibility to my little girls—think of the acrobat on the beam tightrope—that’s me! The summer looks promising and I’m SO ready to play my heart out to make up for the last couple of years. Having said that, I’m in a happy bubble at home with boring mom stuff and loving every minute of it.
Congratulations on your recent tour around North America. How was it being back on the other side of the pond?
Playing in Toronto is always the best. I have the ultimate pressure there as these are my homies with whom I grew up. They’ve seen ever side of Simina including the university / corporate nerd as well as the struggling bedroom DJ when I was starting out. 15 years ago. So I feel I need to impress them the most. The tour was only a handful of gigs and NY got dropped out unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances but I will be back again soon.
On that note — where do you feel your best environment as a DJ is? A small dark club or a big outdoor festival stage?
The grass is always greener but both are “the best”. I can slam my music in any setting and if I’m honest, it doesn’t really matter. I see the happy faces at festivals and the hardcore ravers in clubs and I love them all. It’s my pleasure and my passion. As long as they dance and have a good time, I’ve done my job well.
Tell us about your new single 1981?
1981 is soulful, hard and driving the right direction—just like I am! I am gravitating to the 90s heart-pulling synths again (since I was born in the 80s) and I started raving to music just like this (plus Ragga Jungle) and I want to bring that feeling back, not just to the audience, but also to myself. And with this track, I think I’ve achieved that goal. I often don’t like listening to my own music after a while. In fact, I play so little of what I’ve produced, but this track… I fkn love this track.
What does the rest of 2022 have in store for your label?
A ton of great new artists on board and some spectacular releases from our core group. Wait for it….
On to production, what gear do you use currently to make music? Do you use lots of hardware to create your sound?
Nope. I’m an Ableton junkie and that’s all I need. I use VSTs mostly but I am the sample queen and can turn anything into a rumbling bassline. Just try me.
How do you work when creating music, do you have an idea in your head you work towards or do you just experiment and jam and see what happens?
I start with a hero sample and work from there. I find that extorting a sample to various frequencies brings more harmony than trying to create/find one in some sample pack and then glue it all together, having to change keys and whatnot. It’s all about the process and the EQ8 can work magic like nothing else. I learned this early on and I use it more than ever these days. You’d be surprised what you can do with Ableton and nothing more. Simple, no?
Do you make the tunes you want to play in your own sets, is there a direct link like that?
I sure hope so! I often create music tailored to the labels on which I hope to release but it’s always stuff I would play myself, otherwise, what’s the point?
Are you concerned with your environmental impact as a DJ, and what can you do about it if so?
Hmmm.. good question. I will not compromise my travel plans but I do my best at home to educate my daughters (and husband) on what we can do do better the world, in general. We recycle, reduce and reuse what we can, we choose wisely and we make decisions together, holistically and as a family. But if you’re asking me if I’ll take a 12 hour train instead of a one hour plane to get to whatever destination, the answer is no. I’ve paid my dues and I deserve to travel comfortably. Anyone who works hard deserves a break and is worthy of comfortable travel and accommodations. I make no apologies here. It’s about balance.
What else have you got coming up in 2022 that you can tell us about?
Festivals. Festivals and more Festivals! I cannot wait to be on stage with my favourite people again. And I hope to see your lovely faces there, too!
Thank YOU and much love!