Following on from our post last week with Steffi, it’s now time to turn the spotlight to her creative partner (with the best vocals in Berlin!) – Virginia! Armed with a mic on the decks, she’ll be partying with us on December 3rd – this time alongside Steffi, the Zenker Bros & Peter van Hoesen at Mantra Warehouse! If you’re liking what you hear then come along!
1 – Virginia hails from Munich, nestled in South Germany. Unsurprisingly given Virginia’s talent, she was exposed to music from a young age.
Virginia’s mother was a singer, her brother a sound engineer, and her father was often found recording in Munich studios. Growing up in a musical family meant that a young Virginia found herself settling effortlessly into a world of sound. (XLR8R)
2 – One of the great things about Virginia is that the list of those who have influenced her love for music is steeped with those you wouldn’t associate with electronic music at all. This has had a profound effect on the work that she does do in a more electronic context; and opens up exciting creative scenarios that you rarely see at a rave; a DJ picking up the mic and singing on top of tracks is all too rare. When asked about her influences, Virginia listed:
Sade, Tracy Chapman, Prince, Gil Scott Heron, Roy Ayres and some other soul legends, Dopplereffekt, MK, etc… just to name a few. The list would get too long otherwise. But also very important for my musical development is my sister. She is eight years older than me and certainly showed me a new musical world when I was very young. And my friend Steve B-Zet, who I wrote the album Twisted Mind with. (Dalston Superstore)
3 – Virginia learnt to spin records early on, and started to get opportunities to play. After a rather peverse gig DJing at a football match, she was approached by Tobi Neumann, who was a big cat in town. He asked her to play as a resident at Ultraschall, a club in Munich, for his party opening Flokati. Ultraschall was big deal (it has fake grass on the ceiling, that’s gotta be a big deal!) and it’s easy to understand how this set Virginia on her trajectory!
Tobi Neumann had this to say on the opening:
November 1997 was the first time Upstart and I spoke about it and in February 1998 our first party opened: Flokati – with Chez Damier. Half a year later, in about August 1998, Flokati totally took off. We were dumbfounded. We had up to 700 guests in the space of one evening and the party became firmly established in Munich. The Flokati became a fixed regular event.
Ultraschall is closed now but we did some digging. Check this out (courtesy of RBMA):
And our favourite – the ‘chillout’ room!
4 – Around this time and up until the mid 00’s, Virginia was hard at work on a totally different project – exploring her voice, and going under her mother’s maiden name – Virginia Nascimento. She garnered considerable commercial success, and dropped a full length LP Twisted Mind in 2008, along with putting out slew of releases and collaborations from producers such as Butch, Steve Bug and Abe Duque.
5 – Touching on point 2, Sade is a band that’s close to Virginia’s heart. She actually gave a full interview entitled ‘Virginia’s Lifelong Love of Sade‘ on how much she loves them with Electronic Beats – we thought this was quite a poignant quote that stood out from the interview:
“Back in 2009 I thought, “If I can make a career out of music, I want to do it like Sade: without compromise.
In the band’s 30-plus year career they pretty much kept to themselves, avoided public appearances and press and only stepped into the limelight when a new album needed to be promoted. Usually it’s Sade Adu doing the interviews. She never fell prey to the overexposed popstar lifestyle, so she retained the air of mystery that was so seductive in the the first place. I’m a big fan of musicians who—as they say—let the music speak for itself. It allows listeners to develop their own private relationships with the songs and interpretations of the lyrics. They aren’t overshadowed by the musician’s egos or by countless talk show appearances, tweets and interviews.”
6 – It was this attitude of making music without compromise which led to Virginia hitting a crossroads in 2010 – her interview with XLR8R is one to read to gain an insight into this:
“I almost gave up. I was doing the live tour but also I had all these shit records to play at these shit gigs. I thought I needed to stop. It just wasn’t where my heart was.”
But, like some of the best things in life, they often come to us when we’re least expecting and most in need – and it was right around this time that Virginia got introduced to Steffi Doms. Guess how they met? At a dinner, talking about a love of Sade of course!
Virginia’s creative partnership with Steffi has so far lasted six years; it’s clearly a very special and productive partnership (read this super cute interview of them interviewing each other to get an idea!). Together they’ve released three LPs (Yours & Mine in 2011, Power of Anonymity in 2014, and Virginia’s Fierce for the Night this year (more on that later)), five EPs, and work consistently on each other’s musical material. Check out Virginia’s EP’s Loch and Hill, and My Fantasy, both really great cuts of both electronic music with Virginia’s vocals weaving throughout.
7 – The first track that dropped of them together was Reasons. Steffi put it to Jus-Ed of Underground Quality if Virginia could sing on it, he loved it, and the rest as they say, is history.
8 – Let’s talk about ‘Yours‘, as this was the catalyst for Virginia becoming a Panorama bar resident in 2012. ‘Yours’ was the first major hit that Steffi and Virginia had together – Virginia had this to say on Steffi and how they constructed the track:
We have known each other for 3 years now. it is very inspiring to work with her. She´s very passionate about the music she produces. As we have kind of the same aesthetic for sound it easy for us to work together. I have a lot of confidence in her taste in music. And she is able to bring out something in me that I maybe didn’t really try before. For example with “Yours”. Usually I sing softer and dreamier than on this record but Steffi suggested to try something louder or catchier. So I came up with that vocal you hear on the record now. It felt really good and worked.
And it really does work – here’s Virginia singing it live – absolute goosebumps! The world reacted in the same way, as did Ostgut Ton.
For the launch party of the Yours EP Steffi asked Virginia to DJ without having heard her play before. No pressure!
8 months on from this, Ostgut Ton took Virginia on in all capacities – them as her booking agent and record label, and her as a resident DJ.
9 – Virginia in May of this year released her debut album, which you need to check out – Fierce for the Night. Released on Ostgut Ton, it’s been causing big waves as it’s the closest thing to pop Ostgut have ever released, and has been very very well received. RA commented that “Virginia pulls from classic dance styles the way she does in her DJ sets. Her voice is a steadying force as she moves through house, electro and R&B” – and on the production front? “cracking analog house music, bolstered by co-producers Dexter, Martyn and Steffi.”
As you can imagine – the album launch saw Virginia perform live with the full band in Berghain! For those who’ve been, this is pretty big departure from the norm of Berghain –
To share this feeling with someone on stage is really nice. At the launch party, we played an extended version of Believe In Time, and it was nice to make a cut in this set, to make a nice breakdown with these epic strings. And you could see that somehow people were moving closer to each other. There were people kissing and cuddling. How cool is that? None of us expected this. Because we were playing a concert in Berghain with DJs playing either side of us, we didn’t want to break it down too much. But it shows, if you present music in the right way, it has this effect on you. (Crack Mag)
10 – Let’s wrap it up with two endearing vids of Virginia – the first a cameo interview with Electronic Beats, and the second, well, we all like to have a bit of a crowdsurf sometimes. We can’t wait to have her play for us on December 3rd!!