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24 JUN 2024
12:44
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katiusha.wav

Berlin-based DJ and producer Katiusha who has recently launched her own record label GRACE, a sort of kindred spirit to the wav.world platform in its ethos. Aiming to make releases more sustainable for everyone involved.

NOTE
"There were a few moments that led to calling it GRACE, but the most recent (and cute) one was when a stranger in the Berghain toilet queue ranted to me about their friend using the word ‘grace’ to describe a rave moment, and I excitedly ranted back to them about how I’d been thinking about using ‘grace’ as a label name."
NOTE
"People find ways to properly pay DJs even when it means losing money - normally DJ and venue gets paid first: then the promoter from what’s left. It’s bonkers to me that producers get ‘leftovers’, especially when they work for years on a release. "
NOTE
" I’ve always been interested in questions around sustainability. I used to run non-profit parties in the UK, and part of the satisfaction of doing that was finding ways to compensate everyone properly while still raising money."
NOTE
"...then there was Mosca’s label RENT, which pointed out most producers couldn’t pay rent and were still expected to send free promos to A list DJs"
NOTE
"I have to highlight ‘Doppelgänger’ by writer and activist Naomi Klein. I blazed through this book in about three days. It gets into the weeds of all the mad shit that’s been happening in our crazy little world these past few years"
@katiusha_lives
@chanelthecowboy
@kasiazacharko

Hi Katia, excited to have you on wav.world to celebrate the launch of your label GRACE, could you talk us through the story behind GRACE and what motivated you to launch your own imprint?

Hey wav.world, thanks for having me! I started thinking about GRACE a year ago.

After pausing side projects for two years to focus on music production, I was itching for a new motive. A friend sent me some tunes he couldn’t find a home for, which I really liked - they were ethereal and groovy, two moods I often look for in dance music. A week later I was like ‘ohh this person wants to release music… that I rate… and he can’t find anywhere to release it… obviously I should start a label and release it??’

There were a few moments that led to calling it GRACE, but the most recent (and cute) one was when a stranger in the Berghain toilet queue ranted to me about their friend using the word ‘grace’ to describe a rave moment, and I excitedly ranted back to them about how I’d been thinking about using ‘grace’ as a label name. I really hope there’s a chance for me to bump into this person again and update them.

We have shared interests in ensuring that people in the music industry are paid fairly for their work, ensuring sustainability for all. How do you envision this playing out via GRACE? What was the moment that made you want to put producer’s payment at the forefront of GRACE?

When I sat down to figure out budget, I wondered if I should outsource the cover art or do it myself. It seemed like external artwork would probably cost more than what a producer might get paid from the actual music. That led me to think “hold on - what if I just do this artwork myself, skip pressing vinyl, and pay the producer with that money instead?” It just made sense.

People find ways to properly pay DJs even when it means losing money - normally DJ and venue gets paid first: then the promoter from what’s left. It’s bonkers to me that producers get ‘leftovers’, especially when they work for years on a release. That kind of thinking is reflected in mainstream music economics, big artists making only 16% of profits after streaming fees, label cuts and production costs are factored in.

So I wanted try paying producers an upfront fee for each release, similar to how DJs get paid for a set. As the label grows that model might change - e.g. if profits increased significantly then a rolling percentage split between me and producer might make more sense. (In this case, because the first release comes from myself I’ve donated €400 to a Palestinian family raising money to leave Gaza.)

I also don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all for this: what works for me might not work for someone else. At the moment I have advantages like wanting to do my own artwork, and being able to use funds from my own DJ sets. Who knows, maybe down the line I’ll have to reassess - right now I just want to try something. Every time I see anyone taking on the producer payment issue, I’m like, yess, what a relief to see people in our scene aren’t giving up on this question.

How does GRACE fit into the wider world of Katiusha?

Musically, it’s been interesting to consider what I like through a different lens. Like many people who started clubbing in the beginning of the post-genre DJ era, I’ve been quite wide ranging in what I play - there’s so much good stuff out there across all genres. But setting up GRACE has made me look closer at my core sonic values: for example, I love techno, but I want it with heart, whether that’s expressed in swirling atmospherics, a super wet acid line or an addictively groovy kick drum. I can’t stand techno tracks that just sound like misery in 4/4. DJ-wise, I’m happiest slamming 140-150 rollers, but I also need to be able to soften the edges of that vibe with warmer sounds, or tracks that have extra breathing space like deep dubstep and percussive workouts. I like things to be powerful and dreamy at the same time, and I can’t wait to experiment with that tension via the label.

The second thing is I’ve always been interested in questions around sustainability. I used to run non-profit parties in the UK, and part of the satisfaction of doing that was finding ways to compensate everyone properly while still raising money. Since moving to Berlin I’ve missed the sense of community and passion that ran through that era - me and the other organisers used to argue for days over a pound difference on our ticket pricing, for example. We cared on a pretty granular level. So I see GRACE as a new opportunity to support musicians in a personal, direct way, just like other music people have put faith in me and my DJing over the past few years. I want to chat to producers about creative process, exchange feedback, and ultimately platform tunes that I think belong in the club casting spells.

Which labels, artists or people do you look to for inspiration when it comes to creating a fairer environment for those involved in this industry?

I first became aware of producer equity when I read about Aslice, DVS1’s initiative, which I still want to see more consistent and meaningful coverage of. Then there was Mosca’s label RENT, which pointed out most producers couldn’t pay rent and were still expected to send free promos to A list DJs: in his promos, he disabled downloads and said ‘if you like this music, please consider supporting it with actual money, here’s my Bandcamp…’ Then there’s El1jah of yellow square fame on Insta - I’m inspired by his curiosity around the industry and the way he asks people to challenge the models we’re served. Right now we’re being fed a lot of information without much guidance on how to engage with it critically, so I think he’s a beacon in the dark. Liz Pelly has written extensively about Spotify and streaming, which educated me on how DSPs foster a different kind of listening from consumers who expect music to be free. Label-wise, I didn’t have any specific inspiration for this model. I knew that producers sometimes fell out with label heads cause they didn’t get paid properly haha… maybe that planted a seed.

Could you sum up the mix you’ve created for us in 3 words?

Groovy shimmering impact.

And to end with a recommendation - what’s one book that you’ve read recently that you think everyone should read?

Only one… savage! Well I have to highlight ‘Doppelgänger’ by writer and activist Naomi Klein. I blazed through this book in about three days. It gets into the weeds of all the mad shit that’s been happening in our crazy little world these past few years, from exploring why yoga mums are susceptible to anti-vaxxing, to reflecting on 21st century Jewish consciousness and its relationship to white European colonialism. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be affected.

@katiusha_lives
@chanelthecowboy
@kasiazacharko
TRACKLIST

1. Mark Van Hoen - Evig Tak

2. Women's Hour - unconscious manipulation

3. Viiaan - Poco a Poco V1

4. Was A Be - Hallucination (Noroi Remix)

5. CAIV - Ötzi 2.0

6. Fetus - Behemoth Jaw

7. Rush Plus - Apollo

8. Leibniz - Bomba (Verbotene Version)

9. Batu - Other Means

10. SAM - Delaphine002

11. Om Unit & James Bangura - Sapporo Drums

12. Jako Jako - Metal Goat

13. David Spanish - One New One

14. Natsumi Hirota - er.______

15. Pugilist - Destructor

16. Mulholland - L4YERCAKE

17. Erik Jabari - Sandwave

18. Little Simz - Torch (HØST Remix)

19. DE GRANDI - Vincente de la Makina

20. NVST - Tiny Mistakes Feeling Hot (Hellisnotamyth Version)

21. Massive Attack - Special Cases

22. windowseeker - Play With Me

23. Sepehr - Delicate Senses

24. Naco - Wavefunk

25. Sciahri + CONCEPT - Ritmo Oscuro 2 (LDS Remix)

26. Lars Huismann - See You Soon

27. M4rty Epitom - Exoti:Erik

28. Jonny Megabyte - Jazz Crumbs

29. Bromic - Rollertrain Acid

30. Glaskin - Hydrogroove I

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