When Virginia released her debut album earlier this year via Ostgut Ton, the world got its first taste of what an Ostgut Ton Supergroup would sound like. Featuring Steffi, Martyn, and Dexter on production credits and Virginia’s vocals the glue holding it all together, “Fierce for the Night” marked a seminal work within the Ostgut Ton catalogue – one which blurred the boundaries between the dance floor and the popular song format, and took the entire clubbing community completely by surprise.
“Fierce for the Night” brought a soulful dimension to cold measure electronic landscape where the vacuous vaulted ceiling spaces of a Berlin club found a more homely existence. The club-tracks and their repetitive progressions billow around the German/Brazilian songstress voice, modulating between verse-chorus-bridge forms, as lyrics talk of love and loved loss through dancing metaphors. Eighties percussion and synthesisers bounce between elements of Garage, House and Acid, transposing the pop-song permanently to the modern-day dance floor.
Virginia, formerly Virginia Nascimento might only have only released her debut this year as Virginia, but her extensive career extends much farther back, back to the nineties, to her teens, from where she recorded several EP’s and even an album as Nascimento. A career as a DJ would run perpendicular to her career as a vocalist, which would see her lend her vocals to to minimalist dance music from the likes of Abe Duque and Butch, while learning to to beat-match records through the tutelage of Disco B, DJ Hell and Posse in Munich. When she made the move from Munich to Berlin her voice found the ear of Steffi, and after featuring on Steffi’s “Yours”, Virginia would be inducted into the Ostgut Ton family with a few more EP’s alongside Steffi and Dexter, before “Fierce for the Night” would lead us up to this point and Virginia’s imminent arrival in Jæger’s cabin booth.
Naturally, we wanted to ask a her a few questions, but Virginia’s extensive touring schedule means it would be difficult, but thanks to the incredible people behind Ostgut Ton, Virginia made some time for us and allowed us to drop her line.
What’s the life been like since the release of your LP and have you enjoyed the reception?
After the release in May, Steffi, Dexter and I concentrated on the live show. It was nice to see and feel how the songs of the album came alive and how great it was after the writing phase to get direct feedback from the audience. We got very great response for the album. I am really happy with how good it was received.
It’s a remarkable album and odd to think it’s your debut (at least as Virginia). What does the album format cement for you as an artist?
Thank you. I am happy you like it. As you already mentioned it is my first “Virginia“ album. I released an album before in 2008 under my mother’s maiden name Nascimento. I think the format of a long player is very special and gives you the chance to really tell a story. To show a wider pallet. There is space for all kind of tempi – slower songs, faster songs, mid tempo. There is space for lyrics and through those it might even show a more personal insight of the artist.
You’ve had a string of EPs and collaborations leading up to this point. What exactly did you take from those into the album and how do you hope it communicates a Virginia sound to your audience?
I guess everything I’ve learned over the last years flowed into the writing process. My experience as singer, songwriter and producer. but I also had great help from my co- production team Steffi, Dexter and Martyn.
Vocals have always been central to your music, I assume. Are they the first creative step in your work and how did they affect the entire creative process of laying down the album?
Most of the time I start with a beat and a melody. Then I record first phonetic vocal ideas. I play around with them, sort out the catchy ones and arrange them to a structure of verse- chorus and sometimes a bridge. For some tunes this pop song structure is too much as it is meant more for the dance floor. So I reduce the vocal parts and add another instrument for the melody. For “Fierce for the Night“ we worked with my vocal ideas almost until all the instrumentals were completely finished. Through the guide vocals we knew more or less how the instrumental should be laid down. After that I wrote the final lyrics and had a couple of vocal recording sessions alone and with Steffi, and we switched the old vocals with the final ones.
So it didn’t start and end with you?
The process started and ended with all four of us. Everyone was working on every song at different stages. It was really important for us to have an homogenic album and not a patchwork of songs like a collaborations with Steffi and another one with Dexter etc.
Will you all be working together more in the future?
Yessssssss!!! At some point for sure. All three of my partners are working on their own projects at the moment, which they postponed for this collaboration.
What’s quite magnificent is the structure of the songs, where they are informed by club music, but can easily extend beyond the dance floor to a hi-fi system. It’s reminiscent of Roisin Murphy to me, but is there any particular piece of music or album you were referencing during the making of the album?
That was also my aim for this album, to write pop songs rather than club tracks, but building a bridge between the two genres. Writing songs that work on the dance floor played by a dj as much as on a stage played live with a band. It is hard to tell if there were some particular songs that influenced my during the production. I guess that all the music that ever listened to influenced me somehow.
Is there a particular track/edit/remix from the album that you currently enjoy dropping in your own sets?
Somehow, I often forget about playing my own music. I did play ”funkert“ a lot, especially the edits that Steffi made for the 12“.
I read in a recent XLR8R interview that you were very disenfranchised with the state of some of the Techno around, and wanted to bring a bit of Soul back into the music. What’s your point of reference (artists or tracks) that come to mind when you think of soul in Techno?
Just to name a few that pop up in this moment: RAC, the Austrian label Central, DJ Bone, the label Djax Up, etc.
In my opinion this is also a reason why labels like Clone Classic Cuts or Chiwax Ltd. are so successful. They re-release so much stuff from the early years of house and techno because this music has such a big recognition value. All this old dj Skull´s and Gemini productions. Obviously there is a high demand for music with a lot of musicality … or the complete catalog of Drexiya that was released again. This is great electronic music with soul. Music that people want to listen to even after 20 years. Not only some beats and a couple of noises no one will remember…
Is this something that you like to reflect in your sets too?
I do as much as I can; Not to be extra “old school“, but because it is really good music. I play probably 50% old and 50% new music.
For those folks that are only familiar with the album today, what can they expect from your set at Jæger?
A lot of fun is what I am hoping for!
We look forward to seeing you on Friday Virginia. Can you sign us off with a song?
I am very much looking forward to playing for you guys for the first time. My song of today is: Big Strick – “Twisted Faith“ (7 Days Ent).