Interview by Shannon Lawlor
German-born, now London-based synthstress NINA has been a spinning-cog and adhesive bond in the ever-growing Synthwave community since it’s hazy, nostalgia-fuelled inception. As well as heading her own innovative imprint Aztec Records, a label built around progressing the synthwave/synthpop scenes into the neon-lit giants it is today. Since 2011, NINA has released numerous singles and EPs, as well as her newly released LP Sleepwalking.
As well as working closely on commercials for Hugo BOSS, Mercedes Benz, among others, her music was also featured on the SyFy Network’s television series Being Human, gaining the synth-queen her deserved attention. NINA’s humble appeal makes her stand out from the rest with inevitable results. On April 27, Aztec Records will release a 20-track compilation titled Pure Synthwave Vol.1, curated by and featuring NINA herself, featuring genre-favourites VHS Dreams, Oscillian, Sunglasses Kid and many more!
We caught up with NINA on working with some her favourite producers and the upcoming Pure Synthwave compilation:
For anyone foreign to NINA’s cascading luminosity, how would you personally describe the music you create?
I create 80’s inspired Synthwave and Synthpop music.
Your latest LP Sleepwalking was released in 2018 via Aztec Records. Could you detail this recording session, and how it may have differed to recording 2017’s One Of Us EP?
The album took a few years in the making. I recorded with producers based in the USA, UK and Sweden, and each song I wrote is very personal. I took my time to make sure that every track was as good as it could be, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist. But it was well worth it!
NINA has just curated an exciting upcoming compilation Pure Synthwave Vol. 1 for Aztec Records. What are you most excited for about this compilation?
It was a great experience – as I got to pick some of my favourite tracks and create a ‘Synthwave Dream Team’ playlist, with some established acts, and some up and coming artists in the scene. It was very hard to settle on only 20 tracks, as I had many more that I wanted to include, but sadly I had to stop at 20. I hope people enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed curating it! Ideally it should be listened to while driving around a city at night.
How would you compare the synthwave scene, or performing in London as opposed to Berlin?
We have lots of fans in Germany, and Berlin in particular (my home town). It’s great every time we perform there, and the fans are super welcoming. There is a fast growing Synthwave scene in Berlin, whereas in London I feel the Synthwave events are bigger at the moment. But they are both awesome cities to play in!
Do you feel the synthwave and synthpop community is growing? What steps do you feel need to be taken to explode this scene?
Absolutely, I discovered it around 5 years ago and it was pretty small. Now we’re headlining Synthwave festivals around the world and the fanbase keeps expanding worldwide. There’s a growing Synthwave scene in the UK, USA, Germany, Sweden, Poland, France, Spain, Russia, Netherlands and even Argentina. Youtube channels like New Retro Wave, Netflix shows like ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Riverdale’, and record labels like Kiez Beats and Aztec Records are fantastic at spreading the word and releasing new quality Synthwave acts.
Could you detail the meaning, or influence surrounding the track “Born To Live”?
‘Born To Live’ is about being hunted for being different, and sticking together until the end, no matter what. Together we’re stronger!
If NINA could collaborate with anyone on the planet, who would it be, and why?
There are many artists that I admire, but I’d love to collaborate with Empire of The Sun or Kate Bush. Although they’re both very different, I love their songwriting and vision.
Care to name some of your personal favourite releases of 2018 so far?
Oscillian has a new album coming out this year called Escape from Antarctica, it sounds awesome – and I was lucky to lend some vocals for it!
What does the future hold for NINA?
I’m already working on my second album, and working on some collaborations with amazing artists.
Order Sleepwalking by NINA
For more information follow NINA on Facebook