Check out our interview with talented DJ & producer Simina Grigoriu who just released her new track Radiocarbon via Kuukou Records. Simina joined the Berlin-based talent joins Felix Kröcher and non-profit organisation Rave The Planet to deliver a captivating techno hit for their Supporter Series.
Simina Grigoriu stands as one of the most promising talents on the European Techno circuit, with an ever-flourishing back catalogue of authentic cuts gracing some of the industry’s leading imprints. Kicking off the year with hard-hitting releases on Kuukou, Dolma Records and Kaligo Records, Simina continues her rich vein of form as she returns to her own imprint with the majestic solo offering, Radiocarbon.
Follow Simina @siminagrigoriumusic
Hi Simina, please tell us a little about you?
Hi!!! Thanks for having me!
A little, ok 🙂 I love music, as you know. I also love art and traveling and laughing and learning about the world, in general. It’s also important sometimes to just turn off the world and I cherish the moments when I can simply exist, sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. It’s fun and challenging balancing work, gigs and raising my little ones at home and the combination of all of the above brings deep meaning to my life. I’ve been a firecracker for so long that now, with some unavoidable life lessons and the blessing that is Mother Ayahuasca, I’ve finally been able to settle down. A little bit. Most days I feel like an anomaly but that’s also a good thing. I’m also still a firecracker and that will never change.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Fata din Cartier. Translate it.
We’re sure you have been asked this a million times but how did you get in the industry?
After university I got comfy behind the decks and started playing mini gigs for my buddies at Platform Entertainment in Toronto. I was working in communications/marketing which I loved but I also had this undying passion for music and spent my weekends learning to mix—mostly vinyl, then digital, then with Traktor. When I moved to Berlin I focused entirely on music and spent (not enough but some) time trying to learn the ultimately confusing German language. It’s still not perfect but it’s good enough, I guess. I soon released my first EP ‘Mukluks & Ponytails’ on Susumu Records and by that summer I belonged to an agency and was already on tour. I continued to study Ableton and eventually learned some pretty useful studio tricks. I’m not going to pretend I’m an engineer (we have professionals for that) but I did learn the basics and then just kind of flew with that.
How has this changed your life?
Doing what I love for a living is magical and I don’t take any of this for granted. I am grateful for every opportunity as much as for every setback because it’s brought me to where I am today. Sure, there were lots of ups and downs—there still are—and the journey has not been linear (or easy) but it took me in the right direction and now I’m exactly where I need and want to be, in both my career and in life. I balance traveling for gigs with being a very hands-on mom as well as running my baby techno label, Kuukou Records (with a heavy helping hand from my label manager, Marcel—I could NOT do that alone!). It takes effort and energy to stay on top of it all—it’s often overwhelming and seems impossible—but the reward is that very fulfilling feeling that I’ve (hopefully) done a good job on stage, in the studio and especially at home.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Heart Exploding Techno
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
I’ve been in love with music since I can remember. And not just electronic music. My grandparents were big on music. The house was always full of anthems from Edith Piaf, Maria Tanase, Frank Sinatra, Al Bano & Romina Power and Raffaella Carrà, just to name a few. My parents were into Eric Clapton, The Beatles, The Bangles, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, Queen, Bob Marley, Kraftwerk, UB40, Hendrix, Cat Stevens and so many more. There were also the soundtrack artists: Vangelis and Ennio Morricone, my musical heroes. As a kid I was into all of the above as well as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, Snoop Dog and KNOTB (haha, stop laughing). Later on, I got into NWA, Cypress Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Da Brat, Big L, Mobb Deep, Nas, Wu Tang Clan, Fugees, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Lady Saw, The Prodigy, Aphex Twin, Sneaker Pimps, The Chemical Bros., Gigi D’Agostingo, Gino Soccio and Claudio Coccoluto, who was a dear friend. Then there was my love for Nirvana, Hole, Garbage, NIN, Rancid, Metallica. Also, ANY jungle DJ from the late 90s, classical music, in general, and pretty much good music from any genre. I do not discriminate.
On the electronic front, Jeff Mills is my personal hero but it was this early stuff above that made me want to get into music before I even knew what electronic music was. My mother said that by the time I was six years old I used to burst into tears at the end of most movies (during the credits) because the music and feeling were just that powerful and overwhelming for me. It was actually one of my first memories. I don’t think I do that anymore though, only during ceremonies 🙂
Do you play any instrument?
I used to play piano and violin but have long since forgotten how to play either. I learned theory and played in an orchestra as a kid in school but now my “instrument” of choice is a good midi controller + Ableton. I don’t need more. I am not a purist nor do I pretend to be. I’m also not an avid producer. I like to work with engineers to raise up my sound and get a better result. Again, not a purist. Also, I haven’t had a lot of time lately. I guess I need to work on making space for that.
Do you ever get nervous?
Yes, but it’s a good thing, I think. It keeps me grounded. I try to let it motivate me instead of holding me back. Who wouldn’t get nervous in front of thousands of people watching/listening and expecting you to be great? It’s an honour to do what I do and I keep my reality in check. So nerves, I accept them and I go with the flow. They disappear after the first track anyway.
Tell us about your new single and video of “Give Me A Voice?”
Rave The Planet epitomises the spirit of love and individuality by way of music. As a long-time supporter of Love Parade, I am honoured to be part of this collective and am eternally grateful to Dr. Motte and his incredible team for trusting me and accepting my contribution to this project.
What’s the story behind the song?
Partly what I wrote above but the sound itself has quite an old school 90s vibe. Perhaps an homage to when their story started and though I wasn’t around back then, I fully support the cause and wanted the track to speak to that feeling. Straight up techno with a melodic vibe was my goal and I think it works well on the dance floor. At the end of the day, if the audience is happy, I’ve done my job well.
How was working with Felix Kröcher and the non-profit organization Rave The Planet?
Felix and I produced two separate tracks so the extent of our collaboration was contained to the release itself. But yes, I love working with RTP and I’ve played for them a bunch of times. I believe in what they’re doing and I like to align myself with positivity. It wasn’t always all positive for me but I’m changing my perspective and I love to work with passionate people. All good things on the horizon. Also, VERY much looking forward to playing on the main float this July.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Easy. Smiling faces and booties shaking. It’s really not that complicated.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Lots here but if I have to choose one, it would be Sun Tzu – The Art of War. It also applies to all aspects of life.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Humility, respect and kindness. Everyone you know has a struggle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always. It’s also easier said than done. Ego gets in the way—often and unnecessarily, especially on stage and with what we do as artists. It’s important to distinguish that feeling of what I do with who I am. They are not one and the same. They belong together but not one and the same. Does that make sense?
Also, incredibly sacred to me is what I’ve learned through my work with Ayahuasca. I only started a few years ago but she is calling me all the time. She is the ultimate master teacher. Without her I would be lost and stuck in some never-ending ego trip loop. But that’s an entirely other conversation. I appreciate her so much. She saved my life.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
It’s none of your business what people think of you. Only what you think of yourself. Stay focused—don’t give up your energy so easily. This is also much easier said than done and is also a current and never-ending challenge for me.
How would your best friend describe you?
Totally insane in the best possible way.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
The Art of Never Growing Up.
As to the why? I don’t know. I have so much to learn still. Not growing up doesn’t mean avoiding responsibility. On the contrary, accepting accountability is the epitome of taking responsibility. Just don’t lose that joy for life. I’ve been trying to take myself less seriously and just be present. Fun. Light. The heavy overthinking needs to take a backseat because I did that for a long time and it was exhausting and draining. I’m slowly learning to take some of the pressure off. Ayahuasca helps with all of it. Gives me clarity and a renewed sense of purpose. There is a big difference between being childish and being child-like; careless is not the same as carefree.
What’s next for Simina Grigoriu in 2023?
I’ve got a bunch of releases coming up on OFF Recordings, We Are The Brave and my own imprint, Kuukou Records. Summer festivals are coming and I am super stoked to play some massive ones including Deichbrand and ANTS at Ushuaïa. Lots in the pipeline. I am excited!
What is your favorite healthy food?
Raw organic lemons. pH neutralisation is important and lemons fix everything. Ask your grandma.
And your favorite cheat food?
Greasy messy burgers after a long night of dancing. Even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Sporty Fashionista meets Motorcycle Chic with sky high platform heels that need to come out more often. There’s also the techno uniform of black on black on black on black on black. A Berlin thing.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Being able to accept and let go of the things I can’t control. It’s not easy and I’m still learning but it is incredibly liberating to just sit back and watch the world burn sometimes. It’s a strange and lovely feeling to know everything is ok (or is going to be) even when it’s not. Thank you, Ayahuasca. Again.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Jesus. I want to know which parts were true!
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
The North Pole, with Rudolf.
Best advice ever given?
Don’t believe the hype.
Do you support any charity?
Of course. We support two foster kids with World Vision and regularly donate to the cancer ward at a hospital here in Berlin. We visit them too. Sending money is cool but spending time (some, in general) is also important. I am no saint. I’m quite selfish quite often so this is a reality check for me. I try to pay that forward with my girls too. We have so much. Sharing is caring. To be grateful is a gift I’ve not always had the power to manifest. I want more of that in my life. Gratitude and helping others. I’ve really been very selfish in the past and have been trying to change that lately. Also, to just enjoy every single day for what it brings because life is precious.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Playing awesome music for all of you still. I try not to think too much into the future, or the past. It’s about the here and now. That’s not to say I don’t have goals and dreams—I do and they’re pretty big to be honest—but I try to stay present as much as possible otherwise my thoughts run away from me and I begin telling myself stories. I often get in my own way and trusting in me helps me stay focused. That’s also part of a very non-linear learning process for me.
What is you favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?
Euro Trash. 80s pop. 90s gangsta rap. Italo Classics. Anything Nirvana. Anything Queen.
What do you think of Social Media?
Love/Hate relationship. Social media is great for self expression, for fun, for promotion and of course for socialising. It’s also very easy to get caught up in all that is fake and unnecessary, which leads to illusions and unrealistic expectations, especially regarding beauty and success. It worries me for my daughters because there is no clear definition of reality and it’s my job to help them figure that out as they grow up. I’d rather keep it far away from them. I’d like to see someone go ahead and post their “worst” photos or when they have a bad day. I’d pay good money to see that actually. It’s all very carefully curated and that’s something I think we all have to keep in mind when the mind wanders to places of comparison. Having said that, I could spend days laughing on TikTok and sending unnecessarily ridiculous memes to my very mature best friends.
Book: Jiddu Krishnamurti – Freedom From the Known / Sun Tzu – The Art of War
Quote: Disappointment is the gap that exists between expectation and reality. – John C. Maxwell
Movie: The Never Ending Story (1984)
Tv Series: Sorry, impossible question again. From a writing POV, probably Seinfeld. He’s pure genius. But there are SO many good ones.
Favorite Food: Pizza, Sushi, Fresh Mozzarella and Romanian Salata de Vinete (Eggplant Salad, as my grandmother used to make it.) Not all at once. Or maybe.
Travel Destination: Anywhere I’ve never been before. And many places again and again. Turquoise waters and soft sand come to mind. I love water. I also love mountains and grew up exploring it all. No limits here.
Sports Team: Bulls / Raptors / Maple Leafs / Steaua București