Check out our new interview with Romanian-born, Toronto-bred DJ & Producer Simina Grigoriu. Now based in Berlin, the Kuukou Recordings label boss and mother of two has been steadily racking up hefty accolades during her decade-long career and recently released her huge EP “Sycophantic Slacker” on Pig & Dan’s ELEVATE imprint.
Starting off as a DJ, she quickly made the transition as a producer and kicked off her own label Kuukou, a home for techno forward productions, where she calls all the shots. In this time she’s also transplanted to Berlin, a place she now calls home and the major source of her creative inspiration, a source as diverse as her influences.
Her first productions came to light on the Berlin label Sonat Records in 2010 with the huge “Mukluks & Ponytails” EP, followed by releases with Phrase Insane Records in Spain, Italy’s Intellectro Vibe, Urban Sound and Frequenza Records. A debut album was sure to follow, as Exit City became one of Susumu Records’ highest chart toppers.
After a yearlong break, where she focused her efforts on motherhood while keeping an active studio schedule, Simina christened Kuukou Records in July 2016 with her inaugural EP on the label “Techno Monkey”. Shortly after, she doled out “Matching Numbers” on POPOF’s FORM, an immediate hit EP complete with a smashing remix by Julian Jeweil. Since then, Simina has become a mainstay on some of the most notable labels in the techno world, with critically acclaimed, internationally-lauded releases on the likes of ELEVATE, Tronic Music, Set About, Prospect Records and Complexed Records to name just a few.
Follow Simina @siminagrigoriumusic
Hi Simina, please tell us a little about you?
I wear many hats. I’m a mom, a wife, a DJ and producer and a citizen of the world. I like to challenge myself so I read and continue to learn in any way I can. I’ve also embraced a spiritual path and have welcomed Ayahuasca into my life in hopes of refining the person I’m meant to be. Like most narcissists, I can talk about myself forever but I’ll leave it at this.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Mom. Wife. Ninja.
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
I learned to play at friends’ houses and afterparties until one day I decided, I’m gonna do this. I had a few promoter friends who helped me rent players and turntables so I could learn both digital and vinyl and I saved up 2K CND to buy my own XONE:92. This was 2006 and I was working at a corporate job, bartending on the weekends and learning to DJ in my free time. I played some small venues and got some experience under my belt and when I moved to Berlin in 2008, I gave it all I had. I got an agent and they started sending me out all over Germany, to start. The rest is history!
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Techno with FEELING.
Do you ever get nervous?
Always, but it’s a driving force for me and my work.
Tell us about your newest release “Sycophantic Slacker?”
ELEVATE is a very special label. They have a unique sound and are particular about what they bring to the world. Dan is a good friend of mine and I was honoured that he accepted my tracks after what must have been 10 submissions and many NOs. It’s called show BUSINESS not show FRIENDS so to release once again on ELEVATE makes me proud that I’ve gotten it right. The two tracks are straightforward techno, inspired by classic 90s progressions. They have punch and they have melodies and they tell a story. I hope you guys like them, too!
Which artists and styles inspired and influenced you?
90s hip hop, reggae, ragga jungle, 80s pop and rock, punk & ska, 90s grunge.
Here are some favs: Mobb Deep, Nas, Wu-Tang, Cypress Hill, Eric B & Rakim, N.W.A., Sublime, Nirvana, Hole, Metallica, Less Than Jake, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Dire Straits, Roxy Music, Bob Marley, Lady Saw, Sneaker Pimps, The Prodigy, No Doubt, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, The Doors, UB40 and SO MANY MORE!
When all the partying is over how do you like to chill out?
With premium quality kush on my rooftop.
Best stage you have ever played?
SOOO many! But I will never forget Awakenings, I Love Techno and WOMB Tokyo. Playing on the Great Wall of China was also an unforgettable experience! I also LOVE to play at home either in Toronto or anywhere in Romania. It just feels right to bring all my love back home and share it with the people.
Funniest thing that ever happened at an event?
Some girl came up to me and asked me to play this song from the radio. Then she started singing it to me since I had no fucking idea what she was talking about. I was in the middle of a transition and I tried my best to be polite but WOW! I just don’t understand what SHE thought I was up there to do!
What’s your favorite club to DJ in?
CODA Toronto. It’s home. It’s a special feeling when you happen to know almost everyone in the club, sharing an intense and long history together.
Did you had plans/gigs planned and cancelled because of COVID? If so have you done any online events or interaction with your fans?
Yep! All were cancelled–the last time I played for an audience was Feb 2020 in Greece and since then I’ve only done streams. I like streams but I need the interaction with the fans. I need that feedback–that validation, if you will. In that respect, streams fail to motivate me. But I’m happy to have at least found a medium for my craft during this challenging time. Playing at home for digital viewing or in an empty club is better than not playing at all!
What is fun and rewarding about what you do? And what’s not?
Knowing I’ve done my best to bring the energy and love to the people, that’s the best. Missing weekends with my little babies, that sucks hard.
What’s your advice for the newer DJ’s?
Never give up! You will hear NO a million times. I hear it weekly from big labels that wither have no space or don’t mesh with my sound. I don’t give up and neither should you! It takes one break to get a foot in the door and I’m trying to pay that forward with my label, Kuukou Records. I’d like to offer opportunities to artists just the same as were offered to me. Baby steps.
What’s next for Simina Grigoriu in 2021?
Well, we’ve made a baby! I gave birth to Victoria Rosalie (aka Rosie) in February so I’m just home “momming” and being present for Paul and the girls. I have my first gig post Covid lockdown coming up in August in Prague! I am SOOOOOO ready!
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Every PERSON should read: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Best advice ever given?
Don’t believe the hype!
Name one your strengths?
Relentlessness. This can be good or bad depending on the situation but I am a Taurus so I am loyal and honest and I stand up for what I believe.
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
On the couch cuddling my three babies (Paul is my baby, too) 🙂
What is your own definition of happiness?
Knowing that where I am right now is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Do you support any charities?
Yes. We have two sponsor kids from World Vision. We donate to SOS Kinderhilfe and Paul has donated and done a lot of work with Childrens football leagues in his childhood neighbourhood of Lichtenberg. Those are the big ones.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Fruit! Just plain fruit with a splash of lemon juice. I started eating all my fruit this way after going to India for Ayurveda and it’s just delicious!
And your favorite cheat food?
McDirty double cheeseburger, extra pickles. or anything from Domino’s.
What would be a deal breaker on a first date?
Bad manners and mindlessness. I can’t stand fools!
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Jesus. I’d like to know what actually happened! AND…
Delia Derbyshire – she is my electronic music GOD and I would have a lot of questions for her, too!
If you’d like to read more about her, check this
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
As a mom to an 11-year-old and a five-year-old, contemplating what do with the second half of my life.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Army strong with a hint of Louis Vuitton.
What do you think of Social Media?
Oh! This is a loooooong answer but the short version is this: perfect for promotion and super dangerous to the young kids of today. Many teenagers validate their self-worth in terms of likes and it’s stifling their emotional and intellectual development, self-esteem and skewing general life goals. Girls used to want to be powerful and self-assured, now, many of these young girls aspire to be influencers. Many see no value in continuing education and only look to the instant (yet fleeting) gratification of instagram feedback. This is a tool, not a way of life. I wish I could knock some sense into these girls and empower them to do something great in the world for their own sake and less online shenanigans for public consumption.
Where we can follow you?
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube / Soundcloud / Spotify / Apple
Discogs / Beatport / Residentadvisor / Deezer
Quote: Present opportunities are not to be neglected. They rarely visit us twice. – Voltaire
Movie: The Never Ending Story
Travel Destination: Madagascar
Sports Team: FC Bayern, Toronto Raptors, Steaua București