After a year of Mix of the Month winners, the competition continues to shine a light on a health seam of underground talent. None more so than our current champion Invinta.
Natalie Bolshakoff (Invinta) is a London based, Ukrainian-born DJ and producer who has played at some of the capital’s clubs including EGG and Ministry of Sound. Classically trained from a young age and extremely passionate about music, she attended SubBass Music Production and DJ courses and is currently busy in the studio harnessing her skills.
Winner of the Tough Love (GetTwisted) DJ Competition 2016 and now Junes edition of Decoded Magazine’s mix of the month, she has also guested on some European radio shows, she previously held a Subnation Radio (UK) residency, and currently goes live with a weekly show on HouseFreqs Radio (UK). Mixing house music she aims to inspire people with electronic music and bring them to a higher state of consciousness.
UK Editor Simon Huxtable went to find out more…
Hi Natalie, congratulations on winning this months competition, how are you today? We hear Cargo was pretty great last weekend.
Hi! I’m fine, thanks. I am so happy to be featured by Decoded Magazine in June, I’m so pleased my story in the mix impressed you. Yea, DJing at Cargo was nice – plenty of house music and talented DJs. For me, this is one of the best ways to spend time – play good music, meet new people and see my friends.
Tell us about growing up in Ukraine. Did you have access the ‘western’ music as a young girl?
Well, I grew up in a family of music lovers. There were always lots of audio tapes and vinyl at home and different genres could be heard throughout the day – from my parent’s Russian/Ukrainian popular dance music to my brother’s underground stuff. In the late 1980s Toto Cutugno, Adriano Celentano, Modern Talking and CC Catch were popular in the Soviet Union. Audio tapes could be hardly bought, but my father succeeded in getting the ones, which was very cool.
In the early 90s, I was living with my parents in Germany. As you can imagine, in contrast to the Soviet Union there was a completely different world, where I was lucky to experience western culture with MTV, punks, leather jackets, jeans, tattoos, etc. And of course, the “Iron Curtain” in music also fell down for us there, discovering such legendary bands and artists like Roxette, U2, Depeche Mode, Madonna, Moby, Vanilla Ice, Guns N Roses to name a few.
As a result, I brought those overseas cultural influences back to the Ukraine in the mid-90s. Looking back I would say that all the above trends in some way contributed to shaping my musical taste.
Music has been forefront in your life since you were young and your bio mentions being classically trained. Which instrument do you play?
That’s right, I play the Piano. When I was 5, we went to my parent’s friends who had a piano. I touched it and fell in love. A couple of years later I entered musical school and for the next 8 years, not a day passed without practising. It was an exciting experience that changed my life.
This explains why I love tunes containing bright elements like classical instruments and live sounds, strong ethnic or jazz vocals – those things that add life and a soul into electronic music. Not mentioning that musical knowledge and skills appear to be very handy to me in DJing and сreating music.
Now based in London, what brought you to the UK and how do you find living in London compared to home?
I enjoy living in the UK. This journey started 6 years ago in Newcastle upon Thames where my partner studied MBA. Later on, we moved over to London as obviously, the capital promised more opportunities for both of us. In terms of my current music activity, I see London as the best place to develop myself as an artist because here I find more inspiration for creativity, access to the global scene and the ability to learn from top industry experts.
Brexit has been big news for weeks now, and we were appalled to read about an increase in violence towards foreign nationals (particularly Polish). Have you or your friends experienced any negative comments/incidents? What’s your take on the whole situation?
Unfortunately, I’ve read much on Facebook about incidents against foreigners. Lucky neither myself or any of my friends have experienced anything similar so far. Actually, it sounds terrible and a bit strange to me as the UK seemed to be benefiting from multi-nationality.
You know that the Ukraine is outside of the EU, so I am familiar with having no freedom to move around the Schengen Zone and having to get visas and work permits. Considering this, I think Brexit will bring many problems to the clubbers, touring bands and DJs unless both the UK and EU governments implement hassle-free travel terms for the specific occasions.
SubBass has been critical in honing your talents for dance music. How did you find the courses?
Indeed, Subbass made an invaluable contribution to my growth as an artist. Once I realised the fact that in order to progress in the electronic music industry learning from the professionals was required, I researched on the Internet, found some DJing courses, checked out comments, compared alternatives and selected the one matched my requirements.
The main criteria included an informative course program with lots of practice, experienced helpful tutors, acceptable price, suitable location and schedule. SubBass looked the best for me and so I did 2 levels of the DJ course followed by the intensive 3-month music production course. I am happy with my choice because they definitely enhanced my skills. Moreover, being their student I got the chance to play at Ministry of Sound in London. I would say their promise to boost my DJ/producer career has been fulfilled!
Decoded MOTM isn’t your first competition by any means, can you tell us about winning Tough Love earlier this year?
I like participating in DJ Competitions as I see them as a great opportunity to be heard and stand out. I remember it was April, I was on holiday in Ukraine and found that Tough Love team set up a mix contest. Definitely, I gave it a try: submitted a mini mix via Mixcloud and was awaiting the results.
When the competition ended, one of the DJs who also took part in it asked if I knew the winner. So, I tweeted to Tough Love and got the reply “You”. I thought it was a joke but seeing more messages on winning, I finally realised it was true!
I changed my flight date to London for an earlier one to get the prizes and, above all, to warm up the main room at Egg London ahead of the Tough Love artists. It was amazing! Hard to describe how proud and happy I was to be chosen as a winner. It was a great and unforgettable experience!
We’re all impressed by your mastery of Social Media (you’re something of a Twitter Ninja actually!). A certain DJ recently caused quite a stir with his comments on the Dallas shootings. Do you think the older artists appreciate the power social media has? Should they be allowed to write whatever they feel given how damaging it could be to their brand?
Thanks. I just do my best to be heard and noticed. Indeed, it is seen today that Social Media plays a big role in any business area. It became a very powerful tool for promoting products like artists, tracks, events etc. All advertisements are built on Social Media and the older artists seem to be appreciating it`s power as it definitely helps to widen the potential audience.
I can not comment on the case with a DJ you mentioned as I do not track it. Basically, in a ‘freedom of speech’ era anybody has the right to speak without censorship. However, I believe it makes sense to be very careful with the words and ideas expressed via social media. Saying things can be damaging. Anything can be interpreted in a wrong or undesirable way and it will be very hard to convince people of the opposite.
Things seem to slowly be falling into place for you now. Social Media is good, you’re playing the right parties; regular radio and you’re winning competitions with a unique and fresh take on the House music aesthetic. What’s in store for the rest of 2016? A release perhaps?
Well, I am very proud of my achievements and see plenty of room for further development. I’m very ambitious and have a clear vision of how I want to progress as an artist. While I am always up for more gigs and radio shows, my main focus is on music production.
After completing Ableton music production course last year, I have been working hard to release quality music with a unique noticeable sound (in new tracks or at least remixes to start with). I have been working on some projects and hopefully, I can share more news on this soon. Very excited about upcoming events.
It’s been an absolute pleasure, Natalie. We wish you every success in the future, we’ll be casting a close eye! Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Thank you. I am glad to be chosen as a winner among the other great mixes. Congrats to the runners up. Massive thanks to all at Decoded Magazine for the provided feedback and promotion which is extremely helpful and valuable for me as a starting DJ. Big love to Decoded Magazine!