An interview with Dinky

Dinky is a Chilean born, New York bred (to a degree) and Berlin based DJ, producer and live act.

At the age of twenty she put together her first album which was almost immediately snapped up by Kompakt.  Since then she has put together four more albums. Having spent months bed bound during pregnancy she recently put together her fifth artist LP, Valor on Crosstown Rebels.

Her distinctive, existential vocals and catchy acid beats are enough to captivate and wrap up any listener.

In the wake of her latest EP, ‘Slowly’ and her show with us this Friday we thought we’d talk to her about everything from family life, to integrating with new cultures.

How’re you?

I’m fine, and you?

I’m good, I’m working from home today so I’m having a slightly more relaxed day. So what’re you up to today?

I’m just at home working in the studio.

So you’re studio is in your house?

Yeah we have a three story kind of town house, and the third floor is all studio.

Nice. Yeah I’ve read you’ve had some pretty big names work in your studio, like Jamie Jones.

Yeah my husband mixes sometimes for him, and for some of his artists and his label.

So you have a lot of people coming in and out of the house then?

Not so many. It’s something that he does by long distance, because they’re always travelling. They live far away or they’re travelling, so they send stuff by email.

So what gave you the idea of making a studio in your house?

Well the chance that we could buy a house that could have a studio. Like for example we don’t have many problems with the neighbours, we don’t have problems at all actually, we like it. I mean it’s also nice to have it [away from the house], but it saves you a lot of time.

You can make as much tea as you like.

Haha, yeah sometimes you get distracted, but it’s nice, I like it a lot.

Yeah I sometimes get distracted by things like the internet.

Yeah and the kitchen and the food and stuff. Go have a snack.

So yeah, you’re playing our show on Saturday, how’re you feeling for that?

I’m excited! I haven’t been to London for a while. I mean there’s not so many things happening there, so I’m really looking forward to going there.

Have you played at Corsica studios before?

No. But I’ve heard good things.

Well it’s got a lot of history to it. Its quite small, it’s loads of small rooms which can feel quite intimate.

That’s nice, I like that.

Is there anything we can expect from your set?

Not really, like I always prepare a few days before. Tomorrow I will prepare it, because I like to come fresh from the week before. Because I played twice, like I heard the records already, so I will prepare something fresh and new. And I will go shopping for music as well.

And will you do any music shopping in London.

No because I am actually arriving quite late. You know, in and out.

Ah, that always seems the way with DJs playing shows, you know, you’re literally just there for the show, and then you’re gone.

Well when I’ve seen the city I feel I don’t need to see it too many times. I’ve seen London many times. I’ve got a family so I need to rush back, because they are very young. My husband needs help with them, I cannot just be two days and two nights away.

So yeah I saw in your email that you’re having to juggle family life a bit with work, how is that, is it a lot of work?

Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but it’s fine, it’s not something that’s terribly exhausting or anything like that. It’s just a lot of organisation, you have to plan a lot, its fine it does work for us, its not a problem. It’s just there’s less time in the day to work, but before I used to laze around more as well, so it’s not so different.

I saw you’ve had a lot of residencies both in Berlin and Ibiza, do you find you’re having to bring the whole family with you?

I used to bring my boys with me when they were really young. And it was really exhausting I have to say, I wouldn’t like to repeat that again. And now that they’re bigger they can stay home, or their dad can take care of them or a babysitter, but not for a night, more like a few hours. Yeah I used to do that, but it was too exhausting, driving kids in an aeroplane, it was really exhausting for us and for them it’s double.

Yeah, I saw Sven Vath brought his kid on stage.

Well he can afford, haha. I think it’s good, if I was at a festival during the day that’s like suitable for them. But my gigs are usually during the night at smaller venues that I’m headlining, so bringing them is not really a choice.

Well I guess when they’re older they’ll be more interested

Yes hopefully haha.

So you’ve recently had an album out?

On crosstown records? Yeah it just came out about a month ago.

And you changed the name from Casa to Valour?

Yeah, it was just a technical problem. So when the single is the same name as the album there’s some technical problems and people get confused.

So you grew up in South America and then moved to North America, and then on to Europe. Quite a lot of cultural changes I guess. Was it quite a big moment moving to New York?

Yeah it was big, I was nineteen, I was really young, but it’s quite Latin American people there as well. So there was a lot of people I could speak to, my English wasn’t so good at the time, I thought I had good English but I realised maybe it wasn’t so much because they speak very fast. So yeah it was a big change and it was very fast, but it was fine because I was super young, I had no fears and it didn’t matter that I didn’t have much money. But yeah it was really great.

I guess you’re English improves very quickly when you have to live in a different country and speak it all the time.

Yeah, I mean I went to British school where all the subjects are in English. So I learned a lot of English from when I was four, but you don’t get to practice it so much as when you live somewhere.

And were you interested in electronic music when you moved to New York?

Yeah, I was already very interested; I knew had to DJ already. For like a year, so not so well, but I knew how to beat-match and everything. So yeah I was already very interested.

Because the Night Life in New York was really big in the nineties, but then died a bit in the early two thousands. Was that the reason for moving to Berlin?

No, I had wanted to move to Berlin already, but I had some Visa issues. So I had to wait, and I couldn’t get out of the country for a few months, maybe six months. Because I had to wait for Visa to come through, which it didn’t. So I left because of that basically.

Ok.

But I wanted to leave, I was fed up. I had friends in Berlin that were telling me, ‘Come here’. And they got me a room, and they got me started.

Yeah I feel like having friends in a place that you move to definitely helps.

Yeah it’s super important. Like in New York I also had really good friends. But if you move somewhere with no contacts it’s hard to make friends. Especially in Berlin, like if you don’t know the language as well. The language is complicated, not like English, where you can pick it up really quickly.

So you didn’t know German when you moved to Berlin?

No, not at all.

But you’ve managed to learn German I assume.

Yeah, but not like my English, its very tough concept. German has too many rules, it has hundreds of rules. Like an English person wouldn’t even think about this, it’s too much.

Yeah they have three genders don’t they?

Yeah three genders, and declensions for everything. And it changes, the verb is always at the end. It’s quite difficult.

But you’ve had residencies at places like Panorama Bar so you must be fairly integrated in the scene?

Yeah. I speak in German whenever I have the chance, but it’s very difficult to maintain a long conversation where you want to get a bit deeper, then I may face some troubles. I might have to go and see what something means and look in a dictionary.

So you were classically trained ballet and the Suzuki method in piano?

The Suzuki method, yes but when I was like three years old a very long time ago. And yes I did ballet for many years, and contemporary dance.

Do you feel like that gave you an interest in other types of music?

Yeah for sure, it helps. In dance you need to study a lot of music, a lot of measurements, like rhythm especially. An OK you get to know a lot of classical music in ballet, but especially the rhythm which is quite important in music. I mean in the end people dance because of music no?

Do you feel like it’s helped you with production and producing electronic music?

I think so, yeah definitely. I mean I made my first album when I was twenty, and that was definitely helpful to have some knowledge of classical music. Then I went to study jazz and I think that really helped me more, because it’s more related to classical music and I think that has helped more, but I studied that when I was in my late twenties so that was much later.

So you went from learning to DJ at the age of eighteen to releasing your first album at the age of twenty?

Well I couldn’t really DJ out in New York so much. I was studying, so I spent some time at home, and I just really wanted to make my own music. I just did my first album with a sampler actually and I sent it to a German label and they accepted it and they liked it. So yeah that was kind of a smooth entry for me. I mean of course it didn’t come out when I was twenty , it came out when I was twenty two, but I was still very young. Also it was a very respected label,; Kompakt.

Kompakt?!

It was not Kompakt, it was a sub-label from Kompakt, it was Traum. And this gave me a good foot in the door because it was a relaly respected label and people liked it.

And that was the first label you sent it to?

It was one of three that I sent it to. Because my music at that time was very simple, so I didn’t have any equipment, it was quite ambient. I had to choose the label carefully, because if I sent it to another label they might not hear it, or it was just a waste of time. But they [Kompakt] chose it for their sub-label.

Well I guess if its that good you should get it straight away.

Yeah I was delighted, I could not believe it, I was not expecting it really.

Do you feel like that contributed to your move to Germany?

Definitely, it definitely helped a lot. And I already toured their when I was twenty-five or so and to Cologne where the label is. So the first time I was in Germany I toured with them and that gave me a huge taste for the scene, and Isaw a completely different thing to what I had in New York. There was a lot of money from labels back then, people were living off of label, off of their music, and not even touring often, so that gave me a lot of inspiration and I thought OK, I need to move out from New York.

You followed your own music there. Have you had to do many interviews for this album?

I’ve had to do quite a few yeah. I’ve had to do a lot of radio work, there was like a forum for stations who wanted me to do something, like Electronic Beats and John Digweed’s show in the UK. But yeah there was a lot of interviews.