Monday, 28 October 2013

ALINKA (Twirl, Chicago) interview

ALINKA is one half of the production/dj duo TWIRL with the wonderful Shaun J Wright. On her Soundcloud she describes herself as "music-maker and believer in magic" with releases on Classic and NBD, among others. We're excited about TWIRL here at CVNTY, and as we've interviewed Shaun here before, thought it only right to interview the other half of this duo.

Who/what is Alinka? 

Well I am Alinka :) It's actually the nick name my family calls me by. I was born in Ukraine and grew up speaking Russian, and  it's pretty common to take your name and add a ka at the end as a kind of nick name or term of endearment. It's kind of like saying Mickey for Michael and etc. Alena is my real name and I used to DJ/Produce under that when I started in 1999, but  I took some time off to be in a band and so when I began working on dance music again I decided I needed a fresh start and so Alinka was born.

How did you get your start in this crazy business of music? 

I went to a University 2 hours south of Chicago, which had a club that was bringing in Chicago DJ's every week. I started going there and really just fell in love with house music, and became obsessed with it. So it grew from there. We drove up to Chicago to go to raves on the weekends and after a year of non stop dancing I decided I really wanted to learn to mix. I worked double shifts at a water park all summer and by the end of summer I got my turntables and was immediately hooked. I didn't get to class much the following year, as I was practicing all day :) Six months later I started opening for the Chicago DJ's at the same club and soon after moved back to Chicago, and everything kind of grew from there. That was around '99-2000. 

What is Twirl and how did you get involved in it? 

Twirl is a party I throw with Shaun J. Wright at Berlin Nightclub in Chicago. We wanted to have a home to play at and bring in DJ's we really love that we haven't really seen in Chicago and so we teamed up with Scott Cramer and Berlin and they've been really wonderful and in letting us run with our vision. So far it's been really amazing, and we're looking forward to building it more and expanding to other cities. 

How did you hook up with Shaun? 

Shaun and I met in 2012 through my manager Scott.  He was friends with Shaun and Kim Ann, and knew I was a big Hercules & Love Affair fan so he made the introduction and suggested we work together. We instantly bonded over our love of Chicago House and started working on tracks and then kept going. This past spring I left my band and so we were able to devote more time to our project and it's been really amazing.  Meeting Shaun was the most life changing experience for me, in my life and my career. He's the most inspiring person I've ever worked with, and I think now I'm finally making the music I've wanted to make the past 13 years so it's pretty magical. It's a bit crazy a few years ago I was really down and thinking about quitting music all together, but I used to listen to the Hercules records and tell myself that's the music I really want to make, it got me through difficult times, and then all this kind of transpired organically. Universe is a bit mental :)

Do you see your work with Shaun as a detour/side project, or is it your main focus now? And what have you guys got coming up in the future?

It's definitely my main focus, I am working and collaborating with other people and doing solo stuff as well but I love working with Shaun and it's always going to be a priority for me. Right now we have some more remixes coming out for JD Samson's band MEN and also one for her label Atlas Chair for Baby Alpaca, both of which we REALLY love. We're also working on a few other remixes and have are shopping a lot of solo stuff. Always working on new material so that's kind of the focus, staying busy and creative. 

Who has been the biggest influence on your dj sets?

Chicago has been the biggest influence on my DJ sets. Crowds are very hard to please and DJ's in Chicago don't mess around, you really gotta be on your game to make it here as there's so much talent in house.   But if we have to name names, I think Derrick Carter, DJ Heather, Justin Long. I was a baby DJ watching those kids and I opened for Justin's night .Dotbleep at Smartbar from the time I turned 21 to around 2009 so that was kind of where I grew into myself as a DJ.

All time dance floor top three? 
Daft Punk - Burnin
Cajmere + Dajae - Brighter Days
Markus Nikolai - Bushes (Derrick Carter Remix)

All time non-dance floor top three? 

Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence 
Joy Division  - Ceremony
Michael Jackson Billie Jean

Who's your top style icon? 

Parker Lewis (Can't Lose.)

What does the future hold for Alinka?

A location change to NYC, lot more music, less sleep, more memories, more friends around the globe, lots of love.

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