Exalted strings reach heady heights as syncopated hi hats flit in and out of earshot. A thin guitar strums through the shadow of the offbeats while languid keys drift off on some memory of a motif. Eventually a voice comes in, a whisper dissolves into an ebullient quaver with the simple suggestion; “lose yourself from reality.”
“Lose yourself from reality is the latest track from DELLA (Kristina Dunn) and Homero Espinosa where they’ve joined forces with west coast House monolith, Mark Farina for a single outing on Espinosa’s Moulton Music. A funky bassline, strings and guitar evoke references from Disco, which Farina and Espinosa repurpose in a progressive House metre. DELLA’s vocal brings the arrangement to life in the middle eight as she skips through the syllables of the main chorus.
In the House tradition the simple refrain speaks volumes about a night out, in the embrace of a club soundsystem, losing yourself completely on the dance floor. It’s a feeling Kristina can relate to as a DJ and electronic music artist whose music career and work is ingrained in her formative experiences on the dance floor.
Those experiences have resulted in two music careers for Kristina, one as the frontwoman for Norwegian House duo, No Dial Tone, and the solo career she’s cultured since as DELLA. DELLA’s primary pursuit is as a DJ today, fulfilling most of her obligations as a resident for Jaeger, where she’s nurtured a night for the last three years called DELLAs Drivhus featuring guest appearances from Honey Dijon, Tommy Bones and Homero Espinosa.
Between sets, DELLA has a full-time job and when she can, she’ll moonlight as a singer, lending her vocal to friends like Espinosa and Farina. It’s her second foray on the Moulton music catalogue with Homero Espinosa and her second record this year. The record is out via Traxsource today and it’s accompanied by a mix from DELLA for Traxsource LIVE.
Let’s get right to it… You’re about to release a track with Mark Farina and Homero Espinosa. How did this collaboration come about?
Hello, hello, yes I am about to release my next collaboration with Mark Farina & Homero Espinosa on Moulton Music out of Oakland, CA. The release date is 30.08.19 and is available for pre-order on Traxsource.com, so go get it!
This is the second time I have recorded in the Moulton Studios with Homero. The collaboration was not intended, it simply happened. I laid the vocals down last year when I was on a short US tour, Homero flew off to Dallas to work with Mark on his upcoming album, Mark liked the vocals, and bam, we now have a killer track together.
You’ve worked with Homero before, but is this your first collaboration with Mark?
Yes, this is my first collaboration with Mark. Frankly, this collab brought my DJ career in full circle. Mark was a DJ that highly influenced me in my early days in House music. He is a strong representative of the west coast sound, where I resided from 1999-2005. I have spent many hours on the dance floor with Mark behind the decks. He was also the DJ that starting leading me into the idea of wanting to DJ myself. I have immense appreciation for Mark and how he’s inspired me, now 20 years later, we have officially united in House music and it’s pretty f-ing amazing!
This your second time working with Homero. What is it that makes you two so compatible on a record?
Homero and I totally bounce together. He produces pure House music that is true to the sound. We are both Househeads through and through, so it’s no surprise that we flow well together. He is also a great director in the studio and has a clear vision when starting a session. I absolutely love working with him and wish we were closer to make music more often together.
How did “lose yourself from reality” come together?
Homero and I met up in the Moulton Studios in the fall of 2018. We started talking about inspiration and he popped on Evelyn Thomas’ album “I Wanna Make It On My Own.” We skipped through the tracks until we both landed on ‘Back to Reality.’ He did a quick sample, looped a beat, and I hit the vocal box. Our intention was to make a late night early / morning jam. A tune that simply lifted the soul and was a reminder of why we do what we do. I dug into the feelings of how I feel on the dance floor in the wee hours of the morning and we pounded it out. It was that easy.
Your lyrics always capture the feeling of a night out, and this track is a prime example of that feeling you get when completely enraptured on the dance floor. How do you usually arrive at those kinds of lyrics?
I’m a dancer first and foremost. I am not into this music for any other reasons other than that. I have spent an incredible amount of hours floating free on dance floors and I channel this feeling directly into my music. House music is a feeling, I guess I am able to relay this via my voice and with the words that come when I am in the vocal booth.
Were the vocals the final piece of the puzzle on this track?
No, the vocals were laid first and then Mark and Homero worked their magic following.
How much inspiration do you draw from the music and how much does the vocal influence the music when you’re usually working on a track?
I usually do not intentionally search for inspiration, it simply surrounds me. I listen to a lot of dance music and vocal music tends to resonate more strongly with me. When I am asked to do vocal work, the track is normally in the early stages of development. A simple beat and some chords. So, the vocal influences the track direction very much.
Besides this release what has been happening the world of DELLA?
This past year I have actually taken a step back from dance music. My ears are suffering from Tinnitus and I need to heal them. It has been very frustrating. But, I will never quit this music fully. At the moment, I have this exciting release on the way, the debut of my Traxsource LIVE! Mix, my jam, ‘When I Want To,’ with De Fantastike To has resurfaced on the Paper Recordings 25 Year Anniversary Compilation, and I have two new projects in the works. I will continue to DJ, but I am taking things slow ATM.
There’s been a lot of collaborations for you in the last few years. Is there anything coming by way of a solo DELLA release in the near future?
I doubt it. I am not a producer and do not have desire in becoming one, but who knows what the future holds. I’ve always been a DJ, not a producer, and this is where I put my focus. I am happy I am able to bring my voice to the dance floor and right now this is enough for me. As long as I can keep on dancing and keep others dancing with me, I have reached success.
I spoke to Carl Craig recently and he told me that DJing was the day job to afford the passion of making music. But I have a sneaking suspicion that’s the other way around for you, that DJing is the true passion?
There is a lot of truth in what he is saying, most DJs are out their hustling hard to pay the bills and to build their studios. I am lucky enough to have other passions in my life aside from my djing (building my natural skincare brand) so it keeps the music alive for me. I am now taking a new approach to my music. I am simply following what I love, have stopped letting the industry influence me, have stopped trying to “keep up,” and am taking it each day at a time. I am in this music forever, it’s not something that just comes and goes, you are either a lifer or not. I continue to celebrate House music and the music continues to flow. And this is my true passion, being to leave my ego at the door, step behind the decks, and bring the flow to my community.
And I imagine that’s because you came into it as a dancer.
What? Della dances? ;) No idea what you are referring to, HAHA.
You’ve just compiled a Traxsource LIVE! Mix too. Can you tell me a little about it?
Oo, I did! And I am SUPER stoked about it. Traxsource has been very supportive on my journey and in return I am a huge supporter of them.
The mix is a reflection of me and the music I love. It is pure House music, booty bumpin, and an all around feel good mix. I recorded it in the basement of Jaeger, which was incredibly special, me alone with that sound system was magical. Also, the mix was recorded in the wake of my dear friend’s passing in New York. He was definitely with me when I was bouncing from track to track and it also features his final work. This mix is dedicated to him, RIP Andrew Hobold.
It’s quite funky…
I would hope so, haha. The last time I checked, it is called dance music. ;)
And it’s very much a House mix, but House music today has so many different interpretations. What does House music mean for DELLA?
Unfortunately, the current industry has completely whitewashed House music and has demeaned the actual genre of what it truly is. It makes me quite upset honestly that kids now Google House music and white bro EDM has replaced Frankie Knuckles, Paul Johnson, Ron Hardy, Gene Farris, Kenny Dope, Honey Dijon, etc, as ‘House.’ Gurl, please.
House music is so much more than a genre with a 4×4 beat. It is community, it is a form of dance, it is a sound that vibrates in time with the heart, it is the true meaning of love. It is a feeling of the soul that is not found on multi-million dollar mega-produced silly festivals. It is found in basements, warehouses, low lit shady bars, roller rinks, loft spaces, parks, you name it, wherever the dancer is found, the sound is found. True House music has an army of devoted bass soldiers and we all continue to push the boundaries of bringing this sound to the people. A sound that’s been going strong for 40 years and is nowhere in site of coming to an end. It is a sound that the establishment fears because it is the one place where everyone unites (gay, straight, black, white, young, old), revolts against the system, expresses themselves, and IS 100% FREE. THIS is House music.
It’s a recorded mix for the sake of the internet, but you’ve always struck me as a DJ that feeds off the energy of the people. How do you channel that into a mix like this?
When I DJ, I play music to dance to. Whether it’s a pre-recorded mix or a 6 hour club set. I can guarantee you that I am shakin-it behind the turntables whenever I make a pre-recorded mix and this can be heard in the final result.
Recorded mixes like this is part of the whole process of being a DJ today, alongside regularly releasing music and constantly being proactive on social media. How do you think this affects the scene ultimately?
After 20+ years of involvement in this music, I don’t think any of this truly matters at the end of the day. If the DJ touches the hearts of the people, they’ll keep coming back. The fame and stardom dies as quickly as it rises. Instagram likes is just some silly facade trying to crown someone the king or queen of popularity. All crowns too fall to the ground someday. Genuine quality produced music will always remain once the ashes rise. Maybe I still have an old school mentality of: it doesn’t matter who it is behind the decks, as long as the floor is bouncing, than this is all that matters.
At the end of the day though what matters is happening on the dance floor on the night! You know Jaeger’s audience fairly well. What’s the crucial ingredient to making that important aspect work in your opinion as a DJ?
My motto: I dance. They dance. We all dance together. And that’s the key ingredient.
DJs that play simply to fill their own ego should step out of the booth. If the DJ cannot touch the hearts of the crowd, then they have failed. I’m a people DJ. This music is about community and unity, not about a string pretentious selections that only feed the ego of the selector.
Speaking of which, what’s in store for the next DELLA’s Drivhus?
GENE FARRIS! The next Della’s Drivhus is Oct. 12 and I am hosting the House legend Gene Farris from Chicago. I have been trying to land this booking for over 1 year and it’s finally happening. So, get ready ‘cause we are going to ROCK the basement.
And what else lies in the immediate future for DELLA?
Traxsource LIVE! Mix airs 28.08.19
‘Lose Yourself from Reality’ w/ DELLA, Mark Farina & Homero Espinosa releases 30.08.19
Opening party of Pride Trondheim on 07.09.19
B2B m/ Chrissy @ Oslo Camping 14.09.19
Della’s Drivhus w/ Gene Farris 12.10.19
Possible US tour later this year
Soon visiting my friends of the Gothenburg underground
Until we speak again…