A girl-DJ is not a rare phenomenon anymore, still the international scene is clearly male-dominated. Eastern European girls are famous for they beauty and charisma, and recently they started conquering the dancefloors all over the world. They create and play amazing music, they look fabulous and they are constantly pushing the boundaries. The charming representatives of the scene – Nastia and Dasha Pushkina – speak about themselves, the place of clubbing culture in society and the peculiarities of the party scene in Minsk and Kiev.
Dasha Pushkina is originally from Belorussia’s capital Minsk, but is currently living in Moscow. She plays either solo or together with her husband Alexey as Push’n’Pull duo. They coined their own unique style “hippie techno” which is a perfect match for their conscious lifestyle advocating healthy nutrition, reasonable consuming and protecting our planet.
Recently Dasha has tried her hand at design and proved to be a success: her hand-made hats and accessories surpass all imagination.
Who did you become first, a musician or a designer? How do you distribute time between those two occupations?
Together with my parents I started listening to Pink Floyd psychedelic albums when I was still in my mom’s womb. When I was 6 they bought a piano and hired a teacher with whom I studied scales and classical music pieces for 8 years.
At 15 I visited a couple of techno parties and decided to become a DJ. At 16 I started conquering the ex-Soviet Union area with my bold drum & bass sets, mixing it with Detroit and Berlin techno. This was in the remote 1990s… Now I’m 32 and I am still devoted to my favourite work and have no thoughts to abandon it. As for hats and accessories design, I got involved in it only a couple of years ago. It’s my hobby and I spare time to it only when I’m free from gigs and touring.
When you play as Push'n'Pull, are you really pulling each other in opposite directions? Or are you in fact going the same way, and the pseudonym was chosen just because it sounds so nice?
The band name “Push’n’Pull” was invented deliberately when we understood that we needed a name. It was a random choice. Alexey and me grew up having opposite music tastes, he was more hip-hop, rap, reggae, funk and deep house.
When we joined forces we got this mixture that formed our current musical store. That’s why all our productions are impossible to pigeonhole as any clear-cut style. We call it hippie-techno and stay in harmony.
Is it easy to be a hippy in modern Moscow? For example, I read it in an interview that you never buy new furniture but restore and redecorate old pieces. In which ways is your daily life different from that of an average Moscow family?
We are trying to consume as few new goods as possible. Even living in the very heart of Moscow we try to buy food not in supermarkets but at oldschool open-air markets. We know how to make some things with our own hands: cheese, yoghurt, sweets. We are active vegetarians.
We don’t wear leather or fur, we are constantly popularizing healthy lifestyle and we are against murders of living creatures. Sometimes we help animal founding homes.
We don’t use cool gadgets or iphones. It was Moscow that prompted us to do this. It’s a city where people become slaves for advertising and are up to everything to earn more money and spend it on something they don’t really need.
Have you ever been to Ibiza – an island that once was a favourite hippy destination?
We haven’t been to Ibiza. When I was 15 and was living in Minsk I was dreaming of going there. I imagined is as a paradise for a clubber and a DJ. Now I don’t follow what’s going on in Ibiza that much. Everything is available in Moscow. Arma17 brings crème de la crème here. But if invited to Ibiza we will definitely go there! In addition to this, we spend every august at KaZantip. They start comparing it to Ibiza now, some people even overpraise it. So we have a kind of our own Ibiza.
What does clubbing in Belorussia look like now? What’s going on, what music do they play there, what venues are worth visiting?
Belorussian clubbing culture exists only in Minsk. Other cities are lagging behind not only music-wise but also in clubs presentation in general. Minsk tries to direct its attention on Europe and Moscow. Youngsters are used to visiting music festivals, most of them are music erudites. Events are stylistically dominated by nu disco, house and underground hip-hop.
But it’s sad that the city is crammed with casinos with pop-glamour clubs attached to them. Advanced youngsters almost don’t have their own venues to make parties. But this will elapse soon. I’m sure that soon they will give up toilets decorated with gold for the sake of minimalistic design and cool sound. Like it’s happening in Russia now.
You tour a lot in Russia, you have seen virtually all the country. Are there many cities where they actually love and understand clubbing culture?
Yes indeed, we tour a lot in Russia. Sometimes it seems to me that it’s quite unusual for underground artists. But I’m happy that we are invited by small promo-groups, DJ-bars somewhere in austere Chelyabinsk or unpredictable Caucasus. Our joy has no limits when a group of radical activists tired of pop rubbish filling all the clubs and gigs of their native town collect money to rent a room, put the sound and bring us there. We go all out at such parties. We don’t spare their consciousness and expose all the delirium we are capable of. Then they tell us that our visit marked the start of an era of inviting quality musicians and making proper parties. Maybe we are creating history…
Actually, Nastia represents not Russian, but Ukrainian scene. Because of similar historical past and language proximity those two states form to a certain extent a common cultural area. Nastia started her DJ career in 2005 and in summer 2006 ended up playing at the legendary KaZantip music festival which made her name famous.
Now she is one of the best-known DJs from Eastern Europe as well as the most touring Ukrainian DJ.
What does clubbing in Kiev look like now? What’s going on, what music do they play there, what venues are worth visiting?
Clubbing life in Kiev has just begun to rise back on its feet this season. There is only one place in the city that’s worth visiting – Boom Boom Room. The guys approach the business in earnest and bring amazing artists, which didn’t happen for the last several years. The small (300-500 capacity) venue plays mainly deep-tech, house and techno. Boom Boom Room made Kiev’s nightlife fresher, more active and more interesting.
Romania, Ukraine and Russia are situated so close to each other, they experienced almost the same historical development in the XX century. How could it happen, to your mind, that Romania has such a thriving techno scene unlike both Ukraine and Russia?
This question is very simple and very difficult simultaneously. To my mind, it all depends on who and how sets the scene in motion in the country.
In Romania they had a set of circumstances that were conductive to such quick development and drastic ascent as a result. They have a strong team of like-minded people, serious representatives of the scene. Here we have different mentality and everyone acts just for oneself. As a consequence we have such cultural disorder and weakness. It’s difficult to instill proper clubbing culture in our own national culture. People often impede each other. That’s an important reason, but in fact there are even more.
Have you ever thought of moving to Europe? For example, to Berlin, which is considered to be a highly DJ-friendly environment.
This thought came to my mind in the beginning, when I just started touring out of Ukraine. Then I grew up and realized that right now I don’t need to move.
First, I feel very much ok in Kiev. Here I have everything I need, it’s an amazing city with nice people and fine atmosphere. I like it here.
Second, I’m a Ukrainian and there would be certain difficulties and restrictions regarding moving to the EU – documents, visas etc.
Third, I have a daughter and I need to think everything over a million times before making a decision that will affect her present and future.
Do you feel that the Sochi Winter Music Conference produces a big impact? It’s a nice event to participate, but is there any resonance when it’s over?
SWMC is an event I’ve always felt very cordial about. I go there every year for all the duration of the conference to meet my friends, to get to know new people and just to walk along the sea. It’s a kind of entertainment for me, I enjoy spending my time there. At this moment the project is only taking off. The guys have done a lot in the last 2 years, and the result of their work is quite tangible.
What is the attitude to KaZantip among non-clubber Ukrainians? Are they proud of the fact that their country hosts such an amazing event? Or do they complain about all those ravers, junkies and so on?
KaZantip has always provoked an opinion split. It has always caused a resonance and presented a topic for discussion. I personally think that it’s better for it to exist than to not to. It’s a good project but it suffers from a low organizational level and from some other difficulties. Hope they have a chance to fix it some day.
Have you ever been to Ibiza? Can it be compared to KaZantip to any extent?
I’ve been to Ibiza 4 times, but I never wanted to visit a club there. I prefer my friends’ company than going out to party. I go to clubs only when I participate in the event. In Ibiza I enjoyed relaxing, meeting my friends. I visited only several private parties. In general KaZantip and Ibiza are poles apart. They are too different and only few parallels can be drawn between them. They might be united only by line-ups, sun and sea, and that’s all.