Romanian-born Toronto-bred DJ and producer Simina Grigoriu is an example of an artist who has put in the work to achieve incredible accolades during her decade-long career. Cutting her teeth in the industry as a DJ, she made the inevitable transition to production. Her sound finds itself amongst the haze of the late night festival dancefloor, propulsive and big-roomed techno cuts formulated for peak-time energy. Most significantly, Grigoriu launched her label Kuukou, a home for techno forward producers just like herself. Her latest EP Mission District continues her mission to create potent dance floor bangers rooted in the cortex of techno tradition but with touches of acid and melodic flourishes. Released on OFF, the EP is available now. We caught up with the Berlin based artist to get some insight into her process, and to find out what’s next for her.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
I was always into the arts. I played violin and piano as a kid and was always painting. In my early years, my parents and grandparents dragged me through museums and I hated it. I wanted to play with my friends but instead, I saw the Sistine Chapel and visited the Vatican and the leaning tower of Pisa at the age of 10. I can now look back and appreciate how those trips have formed my love of the arts. I embrace culture and I try to expose my daughters to everything life has to offer. Life is art and art is life. I hope they don’t resent me for dragging them through museums, too.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Yep. I was working in a bar whilst in university and I kept observing the DJ. I was like: “I can do better than this!” I can play better tunes. At the same time, I was good friends with some of Toronto’s founding techno promoters and knew all about DJing and what it meant to be part of this industry. I saved up 2k and bought myself a X:ONE 92, borrowed some players from my buddies and proceeded to spend most of my free time practicing at home. I graduated university and had a corporate job in advertising, all the while spinning records at home (I had turntables and players at this point) but it wasn’t until I moved to Berlin in 2008 that I did this fully and professionally. I haven’t looked back since.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It used to be the idea. Then I would jump into the studio, but now juggling family life with two children, I have to schedule studio time in advance. So then I come in with whatever ideas I’ve recorded in my free time. I usually write songs in my head, sing them into a voice memo and then build them in the studio, but sometimes it’s completely random and the inspiration only comes after sitting down with my machines.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I chop a lot. I pitch a lot. I try new sounds and experiment with synths. My entire life is an experiment.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
My phone (babies) and water (hydration). I also bring my DJ case everywhere I go even if it’s a small gig around the corner–I just feel better with her by my side. Her name is Brenda and she goes with me everywhere I play music. She holds all my essentials.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Chemistry is important in every relationship. I sometimes have to remind myself not to get lost in my DJ set and to look up at the audience because, after all, they are the reason I’m there. I like to maintain eye contact and smile and let the audience feel I’m present–I’m with them, just on the other side of the stage. I think they appreciate this, just as I appreciate them for their continued love and support.
What’s on your current playlist?
At home we listen to everything from Metallica to Bob Marley and 80s pop. On stage, I always have fresh tracks and I update weekly based on what the techno world has to offer. I get at least 50 promos per week and I’m always checking Beatport for new stuff. It varies.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
So many to name! I really appreciate what DESNA is doing. I also love Indira Paganotto. Deysa is an emerging artist from Romania and there are soooo many more who deserve credit for their effort and the energy they’re bringing to the stage.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Well, this year is almost over and it flew by in the blink of an eye. I have a record coming out on OFF and a remix for Juheun on Set About in a few weeks. I’ve got a record coming out on Kuukou with Stiv Hey in December and then the final edition of “Techno Monkey Remixed” featuring the last three renditions by: Hollen, Skober and DESNA. My first EP of 2022 will be Rooftop Ballerina, out on Kuukou Records featuring a banging B-side and I’m working on stuff for ELEVATE and Tronic as well.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Yes but it’s top secret for now! Stay tuned…
Famous last words?
Don’t believe the hype!
Preview Mission District below
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