I’m a sucker for an Australian accent, but who isn’t am I right? For years I listened to Nina Las Vegas’ charming voice between her fire selects on Australia’s radio station Triple J, but more recently I’ve become a huge fan of her original productions and her budding label, NLV Records. Nina recently released her first EP on the label titled EZY or Never and is cooking up a storm in the months to come. I had the chance to sit down with her after her extended set on Friday at Coachella Weekend 1 to talk about the festival, starting a label, her musical direction, and most importantly, to hear her charming voice in person.
You’re playing your first Coachella. What was it like leading up to the festival?
I’ve had such a busy couple of months--I started a record label, I put out my EP, I’ve been touring around Australia. I’ve played a bunch of festivals at home, so I’ve been able to really nail a set.
I saw the back half of your set, it was great!
Aw thank you! I got a call about two hours ago, before my set, saying Skepta had to cancel and they told me I could play longer. I’m a club DJ so I can play forever. So I was like, “Yeah I’ll do that!” I got to play more cool stuff I usually wouldn’t play at a festival.
Like weirder stuff? More internet?
That’s a big thing for me. A lot of DJs play the same things. I’m really proud of what I played. I played records I put out, I played rap, some grime, weird Japanese edits of Nero and some of my own stuff.
What was it like going from being a radio host to producing and then touring as a DJ?
It’s just a different head space. The work ethic is the same. I just put my heart and soul into producing and stuff now. The label took a lot of time, but that’s cool because it’s my favorite kind of work. I don’t really think of it as work, but the big difference is not having a designated space. At Triple J I had an office. And I would be there for three days and that kind of justified how I worked. It never felt like a job, at all--putting together mixes and going to gigs--but having a work space put me in a work mindset. Actually physically being in an office put me in that mindset. It's a big difference now. Getting in the right headspace for everything I’m doing each day is important. I’m so used to collecting stuff and playing it. Giving people stuff and hitting people up has been so different.
Are there any artist in particular that you’re trying to track down to get on your label?
So many people were ready for a new label. I felt really good about it. I’ve just signed two more acts that we’ll announce soon. Unique, but I want more girls in the scene and I want to represent what sounds I think are cool and coming up, and I’m doing that now!
How does it feel to be an artist instead of a presenter?
In terms of being an artists it’s been really fun. As a presenter I’m used to being very giving. People would send me music and I’d send them feedback or I’d play it. But as an artist I’m sending tracks and getting love. I’ve got [DJ] Snake tweeting it and that’s cool to me! I feel really good about how I was as a presenter. Not everyone has the time to reply to everything, but I would. The main difference is putting yourself out there a bit more and being confident in your own stuff. Like, “I think you’ll like my song. I’ve worked six months on it.”
Is there a direction, sound wise, you’re going with your own music and your label?
I’m making music I want to play. Like club stuff, but not trap. For Australians, we’ve been playing that stuff for ages. 140 is still sick, and it’s big, but I’m ready for other stuff.
Where do you see that sound going?
It’s more sonic. It’s more sound-designy. It’s less chords, more noises. It’s back to grime, it’s back to voices on the drop. Every pop song has a drop without a voice. It’s going back to songs, but with more interesting production. 130 again. Like really going hard on the Boys Noize and old Crookers vibe.
What acts are you excited to see here at Coachella?
I was excited to see Skepta! I had to play it. I just couldn’t not. I don’t know if people knew if he wasn’t going to make it. Like, it was just on the Coachella App right?
Yeah, my buddy was checking set times on the app and he said Skepta cancelled. We cried a little.
I’m also excited to see Grimes. I’ve never seen her. I’m excited to see Baauer and Flume...I can’t wait to see Carmack to be honest. I feel like he’s kept upping the game...I wanna see A$AP to see who he brings out. We were all at my house and we were thinking who’s going to bring out all the guests. If Skepta made it, you never know, Drake could’ve trolled. And Courtney Barnett, the Australians! I wanna see Calvin. I still love Calvin.
The Disco Don!
Ready for the weekend! I saw Calvin live with a band in Australia. Before he was big here [U.S.] he used to play with a full band and toured in Australia.
How do you feel about electronic artists making music for radio?
There are certain things you have to have for a radio track. There has to be less noises in a radio track, and that’s the thing that I’m struggling with. I’m trying to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable. “Now or Never” is a high energy club track, but it’s a pop song too. I don’t know if people are ready for that yet. But for the club DJs and the nightclub scene, they love it. So you just have to be ok with what you’re putting out as your own and find a balance.
What’s the end goal for Nina Las Vegas?
I want to be an alternative. And I’m proud to be an alternative. It’s my first time at Coachella but I’ve been DJing for like ten years. A lot of these guys, like Diplo and Skrillex, I’ve known them since their come-up. I don’t actually need to be them. I look up to them, but I don’t need those audiences. I’d like to be an alternative. Ultimately the music that I like, music that pushes boundaries, is always going to be less popular. As long as you stick to the music that you love and are proud of it, it will catch on in an ebb and flow. You can do something cool, and popular.
Nina Las Vega just released her EZY OR NEVER via NLV Records and has a few more tour dates in the US, see below.
US Tour Dates:
4.15 - Indio CA @ Coachella
4.22 - Indio, CA @ Coachella
4.29 - Portland, OR @ Euphoria (w/ Sleepy Tom)
4.30 - San Francisco, CA @ 1015 Folsom (w/ Sleepy Tom)